To understand this post, you should really read the previous one.
Trigger warnings: child molestation, religous wackjobbery.
shivered and considered asking for the heat in the counselor’s office
to be turned up, then thought better of it. I wasn’t cold. I was
My in-laws had agreed to meet with us, my wife’s counselor, and our pastor. It wasn’t going well.
wife and I talked a bit about why we were mad. My in-laws had come to
visit before we knew about the molestation that had occurred. Our three
year old daughter had slept in their bed.
my mother-in-law assured us that she “had prayed about it” (for my
non-Christian readers, this is Christian-speak for “If you tell me I'm
wrong, you're disagreeing with God, who conveniently agrees with me”).
And she had asked Nathan if he thought his father was a threat to other
children. He had said no, he didn’t think so. Well, gosh, how could
we be mad when she had done such exhaustive research! She had asked a
deity! And the victim of her husband’s abuse!
we laid out our requests/demands, which seemed very reasonable to us:
we wanted her parents to get professional counseling, and tell the
deacons of their church (where her father was the pastor) about the
molestation that had occurred.
in-laws had assured us they weren’t going to try to defend themselves
during this meeting. They then proceeded to defend themselves for two
solid hours. They threw up excuse after excuse for not telling the
deacons: the molestation had occurred before they were at this church.
It had occurred years ago and had been dealt with. This was the first
church where my mother-in-law felt like she had a real church family.
They hadn’t sought out this church, the church had sought them out
(which they offered as ironclad “proof” that it was “God’s will” that
they be at this church.
if your god is SO all powerful, why don’t you just tell the deacons
what happened? If he really wants you to be at this church, he’ll make
sure you stay there no matter what.” I said angrily.
They danced around that question the whole time without answering it. Because they didn’t have one.
counseling was out of the question. It wasn’t “biblical”. When I
asked them why they didn’t have a problem with doctors (another topic
not addressed in the Bible) they hemmed and hawed and didn’t really
answer the question. Because they didn’t have one.
“I DON’T GIVE A FUCK WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS!” I screamed.
“Well, I think you’ve made that perfectly clear.” my father-in-law replied calmly. Oh sure, make ME look like the crazy one.
were assured that they had gotten counselling with a pastor. That’s
past tense - the counseling is over as far as I know. This pastor who
found the question of whether my father-in-law should confess to his
deacons such a stumper that he had to ask multiple other pastors about
what the correct course of action was. And when those pastors couldn’t
agree, he told my father-in-law what they had said and left the decision
up to him.
Gee, I guess the Bible isn’t as clear as some make it out to be.
didn’t come out and say that the molestation was Nathan’s (my wife’s
brother) fault. But they didn’t have to. Nathan had come to HIS bed,
my father-in-law insisted. And he was sixteen, not a child.
the thing: if you’re a parent, and your kid crawls into bed with you
and initiates sexual contact (I find clinical words to be very helpful
when writing about this), you have....oooohhhh, let’s say, five seconds
to stop it. That’s the amount of time you need to have this discussion
in your head:
“Oh, my kid is in my bed. Weird, since they’re sixteen...”
“HOLY SHIT WHAT ARE YOU DOING STOP IT RIGHT NOW!”
then you JUMP THE FUCK OUT OF BED. Like there was a king cobra in it
that was about to strike. And get your kid some counseling.
you are fully or partially asleep, I’ll be gracious and not count the
time spent waking up toward the five second limit. I’m a reasonable
only did my father-in-law violate the five second rule, it happened
several times (I’m not privy to the exact number). But, my
father-in-law assured, he had PUT A STOP TO IT.
Here’s the other thing: sixteen is below the legal age of consent. What my father-in-law did is a crime. Statutory rape.
we never got around to that subject at the meeting, I don’t know why.
I wasn’t thinking very clearly, to be honest. At one point I was
yelling so loudly that someone in an adjoining office had to come in and
politely ask me to keep it down.
thing did keep coming up: why was it any of the deacons business?
After all, my in-laws pointed out, everyone’s a sinner. No one gives a
list of their prior sins at a job interview, even pastors.
- my in-laws are ultra conservative Baptists, always bemoaning the fact
that nobody takes responsibility for their actions, and that churches
don’t talk about sin enough and portray God as loving but not judging.
Now they were suddenly concerned about grace. Oh well - Michael J Fox
probably didn’t care about Parkinson’s disease before he was diagnosed
of course, would have been the perfect time to point out that what my
father-in-law had done WAS A FELONY, but like I said, it didn’t occur to
me. We did point out that my father-in-law was head of the youth
ministry, and had lock-ins at the church with the youth group.
were informed that was OK, because there was a chaperone. Who? Why,
my wife’s younger sister, of course. The one who just couldn’t
understand why we were so mad about the whole situation. Phew, what a
in-laws asked for some time to consider whether they would tell the
deacons. We were OK with this. They still refused to get counselling.
They said it “was OK for some, but it wasn’t for them.” Huh, the
fundamentalists who insisted upon black and white answers to everything
were now suddenly comfortable with shades of gray. Halle-freakin-lulah!
Well, forcing them to get counseling wouldn’t really do any good.
Counseling is only effective if the people being counseled want to be
there. So we were disappointed, but there wasn’t much we could do about
did the counselor and our pastor do during all this, you ask? Well,
not bloody much. To be honest, I didn’t expect the counselor to say
much, she was there as more of an observer and for moral support for my
pastor in question, for those of you familiar with my blog, was not the
one who had been caught in adultery, or in an unspecified
“inappropriate relationship” with his secratary. It was the head
pastor. We had hoped he could talk to my father-in-law pastor to
pastor and talk some sense into him.
he didn’t say much either. In fact, he said almost nothing. He did
say that my father-in-law should consider telling the deacons so he “had
some accountability”, but that was pretty much it. It was pretty
fact, my father-in-law told my wifes other siblings that he felt
vindicated because both our pastor and the counselor agreed with him
that he didn’t need to tell the deacons anything.
What. The. Fuck.
Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. Sometimes it’s a river of shit running straight through your living room.
now my wife and I are faced with a choice: do we notify the authorities
of what happened? Do we tell the deacons at her father’s church for
answer, of course, is YES WE SHOULD. The authorities can’t do much
because my brother-in-law has said he won’t come forward as a
complaining witness. Also, he’s no longer a minor and isn’t living with
his parents. Our counselor confiemed as much (since she’s a mandated
reporter). I don’t know what the deacons would do if we told them, but
we taped the entire meeting and didn’t tell my in-laws, so we have
if this involved Joe Schmoe down the street, we would have done so
already. But we haven’t. You see, I’m a coward when it comes to
conflict. And I don’t think my wife or I wants to believe that this was
anything but an isolated incident. Who wants to believe their father
is a predator?
I’m pressing you into service, dear readers. True, I blog anonymously,
but I am hoping comments from you will light a fire under my cowardly
ass. Because the fact is, we don’t know that this was an isolated
incident. And if this happens to another kid, we need to know we did
everything we could to prevent it from happening.
It’s what I would want someone else to do for my children.