What Would You Do? (by CB Scott)

You work every day of your life with families as a minister. Ministry is your calling. Your entire livelihood or an important portion of your livelihood comes to you from a local church. You love God, your spouse, your children, and the flock to which God has assigned you as a shepherd. You take your ministry seriously. You have made a private and public commitment to be a minister in accord with the biblical exhortations of 1Peter 5:1-4. You hunger and thirst after righteousness and seek to lead the membership of the local church you serve to do the same. Thus far, God has blessed your faithfulness and your time in ministry to the local church you serve has been fruitful and the body has developed a strong trust in you as a biblical leader to the flock.

Then, one Wednesday night something happens. You are standing in the courtyard between the children’s activity building and the worship center talking to the Minister of Music and the Associate Pastor about plans for VBS that has been scheduled for July. It is a windy March evening and the subject of VBS is important because your children’s ministry division has grown far beyond what you had expected for such a small town. The church has grown to be the largest church in three counties and has developed a reputation as a strong Bible teaching and preaching church. Although you did not seek to be popular, you have become well known as a Christian leader. You have influence.

So, there you are talking to two of your fellow ministry leaders. The Children’s Minister and an AWANA worker come out the door of the children’s activity building with a ten (10) year old child between them. The AWANA worker is holding the child’s hand. She has been weeping and it is evident the child has shed many tears also and just recently. The Children’s Minister has a concerned look on his face. He looks you in the eye and tells you that this child, who is now standing before you, has shared with the AWANA worker of experiencing sexual misconduct from a leading member of the church, the major financial contributor in the body, a leading member of the community, and an employer of many of the people living in the town. What do you do now?

If a member of the local church you serve was accused by a 10 year old child of any form of sexual misconduct upon their person, would you immediately notify the legal, governmental authorities or would you first seek to handle it internally of your own accord? What would you do?

Editor’s Note: the topic is “what would you do?” It is not “what do you think about what others have done?”


  1. says

    I believe the laws in all states require reporting to law enforcement authorities. According to our Church Counselor, even the suspicion of abuse must be reported.

    I’d report it and let them investigate.

    When it comes to obeying and trusting God, in for a dime, in for a dollar.

    I’m going to hazard a guess that this occurred at a church you pastored, and the accusations proved to be unfounded.

  2. Scott Shaver says

    1. Private interview with whistleblowers and/or legal guardians of child.

    2. Private interview with accused (church member or staff).

    3. Suspend all church-related responsibilities and endorsements of accused.

    4. Contact authorities and families of alleged victims. Arrange reporting meeting between police and families of alleged victims.

  3. says


    Why make this so easy. You have no choice but to report it. This became a legal issue when, as a pastor, you were told about it from the person that received the confession, which according to your ministry case, is the Children’s Minister. There is no question as to what has to be done. The authorities have to be contacted immediately.

  4. Volfan007 says

    Call the cops immediately. If we don’t, then we will be in trouble with the law.


    • Scott Shaver says

      With all due respect, I’m going to apply at least some measure of evaluation to the merit of the allegation before contacting police …. fair to the police and fair to the accused.

      • says

        The law requires reporting of even suspicions of abuse. If you’re preaching obedience to the law, to a congregation of a class, then you’d best be calling immediately.

        • Scott Shaver says

          I’ll call Bob, within the 48 hour timeline. But I’m going to be sure and give police every detail and every reservation I have (if any) when the report is made.

          • says


            Why is there some sort of double-standard for children? If your secretary says she has just been rape by your deacon in the parking lot, would you wait 48 hours to call the police while you interview both parties and “get every detail?”

      • says


        The authorities do not want you to screen their calls for them. You are not the judge of what is fair to the police. The police do not want you to “fairly” comply or to “fairly” report crime. If you insert yourself between the accuser and the authorities, making you the first judge/jury who must be convinced further steps can be taken, then you are wrong and subject to causing disastrous results.

        Care to try to imagine who many molested and raped children have been evaluated and dismissed over the years? Have you been following the news in the past couple of years? This is exactly the mindset that needs to be changed. And thankfully, the government is starting to change minds by changing the laws to no longer tolerate any “in-house” screening of such accusations.

        • Scott Shaver says


          Your problem is you’re reading too much of what I haven’t said into what I have said:

          If I’m going to report a crime of this nature to the authorities and I have 48 hours to file the report, I’m going to make sure the report is accurate. I’m also going to give police every detail to the best of my
          ability to obtain. I’m presupposing that CB’s question was based on the response of a pastor or church administrator who is receiving the allegations from alleged victims.

          As for the hypothetical question about the rape of the secretary in the church parking lot …. you’re darn right I would ask the deacon if he did it while at the same time calling 911.

          I don’t have any interest in doing the work of police, I have an interest in reporting crimes and protecting the church.

          Interpret this a double standard if you wish, I have 48 hours to report the crime. Any information I glean on the matter after it has been brought to my attention as a representative of the church is strictly for those two purposes alone.

          What the police want and want don’t want with regard to my reporting is up to them to sort out at the point I make that call.

          What lawyers and jury’s may decide they may “expect” or “want” from the church and its leaders ex post facto is the reason for the detail in my report. It’s called CYA, Ken.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      Right Christiane. Your job is not to investigate. You are not an investigator. Your are a minister. Period. Don’t slap the victim in the face. Call the police, be on the side of the victim. Look at a 3 year old and tell her if anyone sexually abuses her you are going to wait 48 hours after the fact. You don’t believe her is what you are saying.

  5. says

    I would ask the workers if They have called the authorities and if not why not.

    Is there any doubt about what the child actually said? Was it a vague impression of wrong-doing or was it stated clearly that something illegal had happened? Unless you have a very vague statement so that you are not sure what the child is accusing someone of, you report it and let the DHS or trained police handle it.

    • William Thornton says

      I’ve followed a good many of the depressingly numerous examples of these things, and, here are some mistakes that I see being made:

      1. Pastor and/or church feels compelled to investigate and attempts to keep the matter in-house and private. A felony has been alleged. Would you keep a murder private?
      2. Pastor, accustomed to handling crises in the church, feels compelled to fill all roles here – rescuer, counselor, spokesperson. Pastors generally aren’t good spokespeople and tend to talk too much. Write the statement. Stick to it.
      3. Church identifies with the perp and not the victim. “Brother Bigwig is such a wonderful person. He would never do anything like this.” etc.

    • Scott Shaver says

      Why should the workers call? They’ve reported it to the staff member or pastor who in turn should make the call.

      • jon says

        Scott — some states have tightened the reporting requirement, so that it isn’t enough to report it up the chain any more. The individual worker could have a duty.

        Which is to say, the ethical answer here is that a report should be made. The law will have something to say about who has a legal duty to make the report. Every church should talk to a lawyer about the requirements in their own state.

        • Scott Shaver says


          “The individual worker could have a duty”. Does he or doesn’t she by legal definition? If so, how many child-care workers, VBS, day-care workers etc. have been held liable for reporting suspected situations of abuse to their vocational superiors who completed the chain of responsibility by reporting to authorities within legal time constraints?

          Do you have any stats on that?

  6. Chad A. Edgington says

    There is not option in this situation, at least not where I live. In Texas, according to our Family Code, a pastor and other professionals and child care workers have 48 hours to personally to make a report to the Department of Family and Protective Services if they have cause to believe a child is being abused or neglected. The report is anonymous and the actual reporting of the matter may not be delegated to a subordinate. In this case, several people may incur a duty to report. In many cases the reports are determined to be unfounded or the result of a misunderstanding, but the report has to be made. It is a mistake to try to handle it internally. I know it is a tough situation, but the truth is, you can’t trust anyone and you shouldn’t trust anyone, and the Family Code in Texas removes any dilemma. When you hear a child make an out-cry, you go report. End of story.
    I would encourage all pastors and children’s workers to receive some training on spotting the marks of a typical child abuser.
    There are a lot of organizations that are doing great work providing training on the subject.

  7. William Thornton says

    Sure, call the cops.

    After that,
    Deal with the family of the alleged victim. I’m not so sure I would notify the accused who will almost certainly put pressure on the child’s family to not report.

    A recent SBC Life article said this:
    “If abuse is ever suspected, Moreland urged churches to contact the proper government reporting agency immediately and to suspend the alleged offender (with pay for employees until the situation is resolved). They should also contact their attorney and insurance company.

    Representatives of the church, accompanied by a reporting agency official, should meet with the child’s parents and, in their presence with their permission, the child.

    “Reassure the child that he or she has done nothing wrong and that it was right to report the incident,” Moreland said. “Allow the child to speak freely. Do not coach responses from them and do not become defensive. You want the truth and you want to protect the child’s wellbeing.””

    Note the counsel to notify the church’s attorney and the church’s insurance carrier.

    The pastor should meet with church leadership immediately, inform them of developments, prepare a statement to be shared with church staff, members, and media, and appoint a single spokesperson to answer questions that come to the church as a result. The statement should include some wording that encourages individuals to come forward with any additional information, along with assurances of the church’s child protection policies in place, care for alleged victims and families, and the like.

    In the scenario CB outlined, I would advise the pastor to start praying about another church. I doubt he could survive this crisis in the long haul.

    • cb scott says

      “In the scenario CB outlined, I would advise the pastor to start praying about another church. I doubt he could survive this crisis in the long haul.”

      William Thornton, It is obvious you have been to a county fair or two and have experienced more than one rodeo in your ministry years.

    • dean says

      William, I agree this scenario would be difficult to survive. One thing that would change those odds would be if the church had a policy on reporting such abuse and the pastor followed it to the letter. In such a case the pastor could not be blamed at all for doing what the church has approved as appropriate action. Churches are not doing their pastor or staff and especially the victims right if they do not have such a reporting policy in place.

      • cb scott says


        Policies are good and they are certainly necessary, especially in our culture. However, never forget the human factor. The families and friends and employees of the perpetrators of sexual crimes seem to ignore policies when trying to defend or vindicate the actions of the accused and the guilty alike.

        • dean says

          CB, you are correct about the family and friends and employees of perpetrators. However, I am speaking as the pastor in the scenario you spelled out. I know that one of the most valuable classes I ever took in graduate school was church administration. We discussed so many issues such as these. We spoke of sexual harassment, code compliance in buildings, OSHA laws. We had to review policy and procedure manuals from churches around the nation and create an electronic portfolio of church administration resources. This portfolio had to have at least 10 resources for each section such as wedding policy, personnel policies, constitution and bylaws, etc… The best ones removed the human element on the church’s behalf. I have read far too many of us who think we got all the answers when we haven’t even heard all the questions. We should do the work in advance and have a plan in place where the pastor and church knows exactly what they are going to do. This is too important to let this just be a discussion of ethics in the hypothetical. Instead of reacting when you are gripped in fear and horror of what is about to happen to your church and certain members be proactive so if this tragedy occurs you know exactly what to do. Thank you for your question. I pray none of the friends we have on this website will never be faced with such a tragedy.

          • cb scott says


            One of two realities are present here between us. Either we do not know each other at all, or we know each other very well and, for whatever reason, you do not reveal your true identity. No matter which reality is true, we have obviously not gotten along very well in the Baptist Blog World.

            Nonetheless, I will state some things here in hope that you take it at face value and do not make this post and thread something it is not intended to be.

            Dean, I have taught church administration and covered the subjects you have referenced here in your post. There are people who read this blog who will testify to that as fact and they will testify that I am good at it. (That’s no brag, just fact.)

            In addition, there is nothing here that is of a hypothetical nature to me. (Read Bob Cleveland’s comment above.) For whatever reason in the purposes of God, He has placed me directly and indirectly in numerous situations as I described above in local churches, schools, and institutions. I have worked with and ministered to numerous abused children, teens, college students, and adults who were abused as children. I have also dealt with numerous perpetrators of sexual crimes. (That is why I know that Bruce H. is simply blowing smoke in his comments on this thread.)

            Also, I have never “reacted when gripped in fear and horror of what is about to happen” to my church, school, or institution when faced with these situations. I am a very deliberate person and I don’t really concern myself with the consequences of taking a rightful stand. My track record is evidence enough of that. (That is one reason I have very few close friends.) My primary focus has always been and always will be on the child who has been abused. My secondary focus has always been and always will be on the punishment of the perpetrator. (Somebody else can redeem him. My purpose is to stop him and bring him down one way or another. I really don’t care how. That may seem wrong to you and others who frequent this blog, but I don’t care about that either.)

            Lastly, it is just a little too late to “pray none of the friends (Frankly, I don’t think I have that many on this website and I lose very little sleep worrying over that.) we have on this website will ever be faced with such a tragedy.”

            Many of them already have faced it and if not, they will if they stay in any kind of ministry very long unless they live with their heads in the sand.

            Therefore, I shall state it once more. “Policies are good and they are certainly necessary, especially in our culture. However, never forget the human factor. The families and friends and employees of the perpetrators of sexual crimes seem to ignore policies when trying to defend or vindicate the actions of the accused and the guilty alike.”

            Dean, people who perpetrate sexual crimes against children are criminals. Never underestimate a criminal and what he or she might do to avoid prosecution and punishment. And never, not ever, underestimate what his or her family, friends, or associates will do to keep them from being prosecuted and punished. That is the mistake that far too many well meaning ministers who have taken church administration classes and have policy manuals for every possible situation that might arise have made. And that, my friend, is the stuff of which nightmares are made.

          • Bruce H. says


            My smoke isn’t what you think. There are many instances where there is innocence of the perpetrator. Turn them into the world system if you want. It is the church who should determine through Divine intervention, not the law. We live in the risk category like Daniel. Protect the name of Christ first, then the law. Too many here are calling the law first and you are agreeing with that form of government. I think it is wrong. We need to verify before destroying the name of Christ. Our way is better than the government.

          • Dean says

            CB, thank you for your post. Here is what is evident to me. You asked what we would do as a pastor. It was presented as a hypothetical. I have stated what I would do and that I would have a policy in place to help know the laws, my responsibilities, etc… I have no idea if you are a pastor. If you are you are a poor one. We have a responsibility to the child and for justice but also for the ministry of our churches. Our church policy has nothing to little to do with convicting the families or the alleged criminal. That is the job for the authorities. I will have to pick up the pieces of a devastated church and try to move forward w God’s grace and help. However after listening to your elaboration of your skill set you don’t need a manual. Unfortunately those of us who have pastored for over a quarter century have not had a chance to teach in college and learn all the answers like you. Maybe we should just put you on speed dial.

          • Bruce H. says


            You are right. Christ said, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:6. But there is repentance. That verse did not address forgiveness. The rest of the chapter addresses the resolution between believers and does not give age discrimination. We need to realize that. Quit thinking about today’s laws. If I sin against any believer and I confess and repent they have an obligation to forgive. I do not force it, God does. That is scriptural for all believers. If 6 year olds are exempt, show me.

            I am not talking about predators and rapist who are driven by sexual perversion. I am talking about Christians who sin.

          • says

            Dean: You are WAY off base in your opinion of, and your comment about, CB and his pastoral abilities. I have spent considerable time in a church he was pastoring, and have seen him go through enough trials therein to KNOW beyond a shadow of doubt, his abilities, his dedication, and his practices.

            You obviously do not.

    • Scott Shaver says

      I have to agree with William, right, wrong, or the in-betweeness of my reporting methodology notwithstanding.

      I would certainly update my resume were I the pastor or staff member who found himself/herself involved in such an unfortunate scenario.

      If the accused does “put pressure” on family of victim not to report, then it’s time for the family to fight back against such continued abuse by reporting.

  8. Dwight McKissic says


    Great Question.

    Prior to taking a local clergyman/policeman ten-week training course–designed to train ministers and law enforcement officers how to work together for the good of the city–I would have conducted an internal investigation. Based on the outcome of the investigation, and my beliefs about the credibility of everyone involved, I would have then made a decision how to best handle the allegation.

    However, I now know that it is Texas law, and perhaps Federal law that any allegation from a child regarding sexual abuse, has to be reported to the proper authorities in a reasonable time frame. Failure to obey such law, could mean that the pastor who fails to report the allegation to the authorities, is also guilty of violating the law, and could be tried and convicted for not having reported the allegation.

    Therefore, to finally answer the question, I would report the allegation to the local police and/or child protective services agency. I would do this as soon as I heard the child’s first hand account of what had taken place. My second call would be to the “highly esteemed” church member to inform him of the allegations and my having already notified authorities.

    When I learned of this law a couple of years ago, I announced to our church on at least two occasions, that if allegations were made by a child of a sexual nature, we had no choice, based on the law but to handle it in the manner that I have already described. I told them to consider themselves duly warned. Thankfully, we have not had any such allegations that have been brought to my attention. But, this is how I would handle it.

    CB, you are a very serious man when it comes to protecting and valuing a child. I commend you for this.

    • William Thornton says

      Dwight: “When I learned of this law a couple of years ago, I announced to our church on at least two occasions, that if allegations were made by a child of a sexual nature, we had no choice, based on the law but to handle it in the manner that I have already described. I told them to consider themselves duly warned.”

      This is very wise, informs your staff and members what will happen, and why it must happen and that you and the church are dead serious about child protection. You know. They know. Makes it easier to act.

      • says

        This goes to one of our major problems:

        I was told, back as an 18-year-old youth minister, that I was required to report accusations of that matter (or of anything, really) to the pastor, and then I was to drop it completely. The pastor told me that anything else was a violation of pastoral confidentiality and made me liable, personally, for any claim otherwise. If I was sued for causing someone trouble, I would have to pay it all, and claims could run into “millions.” So, had I been told anything of abuse, I would have done as instructed. I did not know better.

        Years later, I learned what the law actually required. Fortunately, I never had that come before me–but there are too many people out there sharing bad information regarding the legal situation.

        Here in Arkansas, the law requires the one who received the report to contact social services. There is some uncertainty as to whether the “mandatory” reporter here is the children’s minister or the pastor. Probably both should do it just in case.

        The real problem is that there is no good place to report it out here in the rural areas. DHS/DFCS is supposed to get the call, but the 24-hour line is notorious for not responding quickly.

        This is part of my political agenda in Arkansas. Get this cleaned up, because right now, I would report it, but the outcomes are so uncertain that it’s just not going to be good. I’d like to see us have a State Police task force that specializes in this kind of crime. They have jurisdiction across the state, and very often the jurisdiction issues are a problem. Social services has their departments allocated by county–but kids end up in churches with grandma in the next county over. So the perpetrator and the victim are in different legal zones, and since social services has to work through county sheriffs to get a subpoena or warrant, it slows down and provides lots of opportunity to cover. The only successful prosecutions I have seen have been in the metro areas, but most of Arkansas isn’t metro.

        Add in a case where the perpetrator has moved, and it becomes very, very difficult to even investigate. State police would have the ability to follow a case better than any other state agency. Plus, they have the immediate ability to arrest, rather than look at someone and say “Stay here while I get the police to arrest you” like DFCS has. And they’re armed, and almost everyone else is. Except state/county workers like DFCS folks–which is a disaster waiting to happen.

        In all, we need to get our houses in order internally, and we need to look at our legal situations and get those improved. And we need to realize this: what is an easy call in a metro area may be much more complicated in a rural area. Take it from me: I live in a town with no police at all. The county sheriff’s department has 14 deputies for the whole county which is about 1000 square miles–and there’s 1 state trooper who passes through. There’s no police to call. For this, we would have to call the central office for DFCS, and we’re one of the areas that it takes weeks for them to get around to dealing with.

  9. says

    As one who was an 8-year-old victim of molestation, what weighs on my heart are the ones who never come forward and never confide—and they outnumber the ones who do. It’s not those on the sexual offender registry that we need to worry about, but those who have not yet been caught. Molesters use the shock of the abuse to brainwash their victims with a gripping fear as well as shame and feeling of defilement, and these can last well into adulthood. Along with this, the molester destroys the victim’s trust of any human beings, and puts a wall of separation between the victim and everyone else—even those closest to him. So you see, coming forward is the last thing that a victim wants to do. He just wants to be left alone in his shame and his hidden rage.

    So make your resolutions, draw up your policies, and take care of those who come forward. But never forget that for every one who comes forward there are probably four or five others who are keeping it to themselves.

    BTW, I thank God for His healing grace in my life. I was 35 before I told my wife of the abuse and went public.

      • cb scott says

        Yep. I agree with you, Louis.

        Ken Hamrick, I know that such transparency is hard to accomplish for people who have been abused. I wish someone had been there for you. And I am glad for you that you have experienced God’s healing grace in your life. God is good. God is good all of the time.

    • Bruce H. says


      Have you forgiven? If so, leave it there and move on. I think you still have problems with forgiveness. I was a victim, too. Nothing to confess, I just forgave. You will preach with more freedom when you forgive like Christ forgave. Christ came to release victims, too. Just forgive.

      • says


        You stated:

        I think you still have problems with forgiveness.

        That sort of ad hominem judgment is an unwarranted personal attack. I did not share my experience here so that you could try to use it to your advantage. But since you asked…

        The man was a 17-year-old cousin (of sorts) at the time. I have not seen him in the years following the abuse. Yes, I have forgiven him as far as praying that God would release him from that guilt and not hold it against him for my sake—and I pray for his salvation. But I have no loving feelings toward the man, no desire to “restore relationship,” no trust for him whatsoever, and I do not intend to visit or invite him over. Maybe that doesn’t sit well with you, and you would like to see me have him watch my little ones for me (or whatever). But thank God that I answer to Him and not you.

        From my perspective, the kind of freedom that comes from the kind of forgiveness that you preach is freedom for the perpetrator from the penalty of civil justice—as well as a freedom to continue unhindered in his sexual pursuit of little children (as long as he puts on a good front for the preacher and shows remorse).

          • says


            I wish that I had turned him in right away, but I was not capable. An current friend of mine asked why I had not poisoned him or tried to kill him in some way (my friend said that he would have done so). I don’t know why, but it just never occurred to me (thank God). The fear of someone finding out was overwhelming and lasted into adulthood. While the statute of limitations allows time for repressed memories to surface, it does not allow for fear. Too many years have gone by.

          • says

            I’ve never been in the 1800’s so I honestly do not know. But if you mean to ask whether or not I would report him if current law allowed, then I would have to honestly say that I still do not know. I was not faced with that decision. I “reported him” in ’97 to my grandparents (now departed), my mother, my wife, my siblings, and even the guy’s father. I think I’m content to leave it at that.

          • Bruce H. says


            I do not mean to extend this pain, but did you address it to the person who molested you? I think it would be an opportunity to release, forgive and give with the gospel. That person may need the great commission from you. I am sure it is hard, but it is indicative of Christ toward us.

          • says


            As I said, I have not seen the individual in the years since. He moved to Texas and got married, I think. I don’t know if I’m ready to meet him again. When God decides I’m ready, he will cross my path.

          • Bruce H. says


            I understand. What is your responsibility per Scripture? I know that is heavy. I await my time to meet the one who violated me. I pray the best and grace to you. God speed.

      • says


        You stated:

        I was a victim, too. Nothing to confess, I just forgave.

        The fact that—throughout your comments here—you identify more with the accused than with the victims would seem to belie this claim. It would be very strange for one who was molested as a child (and remembers it) to ever do less than put the safety and credibility of the child first—giving any benefit of the doubt to the child and not to the accused. Quite to the contrary, you have cast doubt on the accusations of children, claiming that the CPS coaxes them to make up false accusations. These are not the arguments of a child abuse victim. Who are you kidding?

        • cb scott says

          “These are not the arguments of a child abuse victim. Who are you kidding?

          Actually (and I will probably be condemned as evil for stating the possibility), his arguments are similar to some I have heard from people who have been charged with abuse.

  10. Dave Miller says

    In Iowa, clergy are not mandatory reporters. In fact, counselors are expected to hold lines if confidentialiy. Laws differ by state.

    If I find out about stuff at the church, i report. But if someone confesses in counseling, It’s tougher.

    My thoughts:

    1) victim first. Protect the innocent, not the abuser, or even the church.

    2) Call an expert. A lawyer. Your insurance company. Make sure you knowexactly what your legal and moral duties are.

    3) you are not an investigator. Your job is to minister, not to ascertain factsn.

    4) prevention is best. Act now to reduce risk.

    5) if an accusation is made your life just got hard. Nothing you can do about it. But if you mess it up, you can blow up your life, ministry, and church. tour

  11. says

    To report this simply because it is the law and we’ll get in trouble if we don’t is the wrong answer, in my opinion. We should report it because it is the right thing to do. As William said above, we would not keep a murder private. This is criminal activity, a criminal matter. As it progresses the church can investigate, minister to those involved, form an opinion and plan of action, discipline and act in other spiritual matters as necessary, but we don’t investigate or punish criminal behavior from a legal standpoint, so we turn it over to those who do.

    If we train ourselves to do something because it is the law rather than just because it is the right thing to do, we are setting ourselves up for future failure. What we will do when a law calls on us to disobey God? (Clearly in CB’s scenario I believe we can easily obey God and the law.)

    • says

      Part of the “go ahead and call it in because it’s the law” is that most of us want to do the right thing–and we would argue that it’s not right to call the law in just because of a vague or vengeful false accusation.

      Most of us are training ourselves that in this case, it’s the law that we not even attempt to determine truth or falsehood. We call it in and let the law sort that out.

      • says

        “We call it in and let the law sort that out.” Doug, I agree. It may be that something I wrote caused you to think otherwise. The main point I am hoping to get across is to train ourselves in our thinking to do it because it is right, not just because it is what the law requires.

        • Doug Hibbard says

          I think this is a case where some have argued that “call the law” is not the right thing, even if it is the law to do so. Most of us are responding to that viewpoint: whether we think it’s the right thing to do or not, that’s the law so we do it.

          Having been out in the wilds where the lines of “law” and “family of perpetrator” often cross, there can be some questions. Where I am, law enforcement is only the county sheriff’s department. The county sheriff is an elected official who at times appears to think nepotism is a positive concept–so is it the right thing to just call law enforcement? You’d actually be well-advised to call someone other than local law enforcement (sheriff’s office) if the perpetrator is related in anyway to the sheriff or his key deputies.

          But you can’t prove any of it–so it just goes on. And we wonder why families move out of the rural area and head for urban places with more professional options.

          • says

            Thanks, Doug, for explaining. I think you are in some sense responding to a different viewpoint, even though it may overlap slightly with mine. First, when I say the “right thing”, I mean the “biblical thing”. Second, my beginning point is that the Christian’s life/calling has a overriding factor obedience of to God over man. So just because something is legal does not make it biblical (abortion, for a good example). Third, quickly and roughly how I can arrive at reporting illegal activity, such as child sexual abuse, regardless of what the law says is: 1. we are to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s (yes, the context is taxes), and 2. one of the things that God has made Caesar’s is the punishment of evildoers. That is the government’s job and not the church’s. If a man in our church murdered someone, we would exclude him, but we would not hang him between the pulpit and the altar.

            Finally, if we train ourselves to report such as this because it is the law, what about churches/ministers in countries where it is not the law? And what about Christians who reported Jews to the German authorities because it was the law? To me these things open a bigger can of worms than reporting because it is the biblical thing to do.

            Hope this clears up some things rather than making muddier.

      • says

        That’s just it .. we are not the best ones to determine the truth or falsehood of an accusation.

        Consider this scenario: The SBC just approved a resolution stating the local church should report all accusations of abuse to the authorities. If an accusation were to arise, and it not be reported, the church would be absolutely defenseless if the accused subsequently is proven to have abused.

        “Why isn’t it TRUE, pastor, that YOUR OWN DENOMINATION said all accusations of abuse should be reported to the authorities?”

        There is a case here in the county in which I live, in which a school teacher was accused of inappropriate touching of a young girl, in the classroom. The teacher reported it immediately, the administrator called the police, who requested a grand jury investigation.

        A grand jury was convened, investigated, and did not find enough evidence to prosecute. On counsel, the School Board were told they couldn’t do anything, so didn’t.

        He went on to abuse several other children, and then the truth finally came out. The School and the School Board had done what they could, and have good defense in any subsequent litigation.

        Put that scenario in a church and draw your own conclusions. And I might even add that there are Liability Insurance Policy Conditions which might even negate coverage if it’s not reported immediately.

        And, incidentally, the perpetrator and his family are friends of our church. His brother was a member and actively involved in our church, some years prior to all this mess.

  12. says

    Contact the appropriate authorities, speak with the child’s family member that the child wants it shared with, and then get the church’s lawyer.

    Because it’s about to get ugly if the abuser is the pillar of the community that you describe. The church is going to need the lawyer and it won’t hurt for that lawyer to be available to the family until they retain their own.

    • says

      And by about to get ugly, I don’t mean to minimize that for the child it’s already ugly.

      But if the abuser is all of that, then: you’re going to see vengeance or defense in every aspect that the person has a hand.

      So there is going to be a need to have help with that.

      You also are going to need to put a contact point for anyone else who might be a victim. It is very rare, from my understanding, that a non-family abuser has only one victim.

  13. Dean says

    1. Call the Law.
    2. Report to victim’s family.
    3. Call the accused to share what I have done or visit him.
    4. Report some information as to what is happening to my chairman of deacons.

    I recommend each church regardless of size do the work and have a policy in place that states clearly what is to happen and how, when. This policy will take in considerations states’ laws.

    • Christiane says

      might be ‘safer’ for all concerned to notify the police immediately and have them come over and go with you when you notify the family . . .
      you cannot predict the parent(s) reaction or what direction it will take towards the accused

      let the police handle this, and being the minister, if you feel that it is your duty to be present when the parents are informed, then by all means be present

  14. Louis says

    1. Call the law.
    2. Call the victim’s family, but DO NOT interview the child. Let the professionals do that. Let the police also deal with the family first. You can come in later to counsel. In the beginning, your only responsibility is to report. So do that. You do not want to be seen as getting in the way or influencing the future course of conduct.
    3. Do not call the alleged perpetrator until the police deal with this. Let the police be the first contact with that person. You could be tipping him off inadvertently and jeopardizing the investigation. What if he flees, never to be found before the law could get there? You don’t want to have any part in that.

    • cb scott says

      “but DO NOT interview the child”

      That is a big one. I know of a case or two wherein the guilty party went free due to failure to abide by this.

      Louis is also right as rain about letting the authorities be first to contact the perp.

    • dean says

      Louis, I am not an employee of an SBC entity. I am not the CEO of a corporation. I am the pastor of a local church. I would call the law. I would then tell the victim’s parents. I would tell both of them that my next visit will be with the accused. If the police say do not do that then that is a different story. However, if not prevented by the police, I will visit this man who has been an outstanding church member according to this scenario. I would tell him that it was reported to me that he abused a child and I called the police. I would not discuss the case with him but I would ask if I could pray with him for truth to revealed. If the police would not allow me to visit now, as soon as they would allow me to visit, I would reach out to him as his pastor and also let him know I called the law. For some reason that seems like it would be important to me.

      • Louis says


        That’s certainly a pastoral sentiment to call the accused. If you get the police’s permission to do that, that’s better than doing it on your own. But I would be surprised if the police would want you to call an accused before they have interviewed the accused.

  15. Greg Harvey says

    I found Dwight’s response particularly compelling because it included the concept of continuing education on the requirements of the law.

    I hope CB does follow ups on what you would do during the trial and what you would do after conviction. For that matter: what do you do when called for a reference of past employees of the church probably would be interesting.

    The answer to the last question in corporate America is to confirm dates of employment only for the most part due to liability concerns.

  16. Jeremy Parks says

    If I could add a twist to the scenario…

    Suppose the accused is a staff member. At least one SBC agency has a policy of not informing the accused of the allegations. The reasoning is that is the accused is, in fact, guilty he might resign before an investigation is complete. This would allow him the chance to move on to a new congregation free and clear. No criminal charges would stick, no firing for cause, nothing.

    That is a hard one for me. I like to keep things as open as possible, and yet I can see how the wrong kind of transparency would actually make matters worse. I do understand the thinking, though, and have no problem following through on that.

    • cb scott says

      Jeremy Parks,

      I would like to ask you to provide a little more information if you would not mind, OK?

      You stated, “At least one SBC agency has a policy of not informing the accused of the allegations. The reasoning is that is the accused is, in fact, guilty he might resign before an investigation is complete.”

      In the scenario to which you reference here; Who would be the investigating party?

      • Jeremy Parks says

        Legal authorities, as I understand it.

        The goal here is not to keep things in-house or under the radar in order to protect the agency; nothing of the sort. As I said, the goal is to prevent tipping off a potentially guilty party and accidentally sabotaging a proper legal investigation.

        • cb scott says

          Jeremy Parks,

          Thanks. That makes it clear. For once the authorities are informed (and they should be immediately) they control the investigation.

          I think that our role after that is to cooperate truthfully and without speculation as to the process or the outcome.

    • jon says

      I’m late to this discussion, but just to clarify in case someone refers back to this post, I suspect the policy distinguishes where there is a risk of putting children in harm’s way. The agency employee probably doesn’t have direct contact with kids.

      If someone in a church children’s ministry is accused, I don’t think you could allow them to continue to have access to children.

  17. Jim Shaver says

    A situation like this happened to me over 15 years ago.

    Here’s what transpired.

    The Youth Minister came to me with news that an older teen had confessed to a state family services counselor that he had sexually molested four younger children in our congregation.

    Immediately gray hair popped out all over my head.

    Seriously – the first phone call I made was to our insurance carrier. Within 20 minutes I was in touch with a local lawyer who was assigned to our church by the insurance carrier.

    We assembled a team of people from our church – a Registered Nurse, a Captain in the Air Force, and a Police Officer. The team followed the lawyer’s advice to inform the families of the allegedly abused children. Three out of the four had parents not connected to our church. We did this and then informed the church.

    As it turned out the older teen was lying and the incidents never occurred.

    What I learned from this whole experience was – CALL YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY FIRST BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE! In our case we did not have to call the authorities since they were already aware of the allegations. When the Insurance Company assigns you a Lawyer – Do what the lawyer says do to protect yourself and the church.

    • cb scott says

      Jim Shaver,

      I agree that we should make immediate contact with our insurance provider immediately. However, I still maintain that the first contact must be to the legal, governmental authorities.

      These situations become very “public” quickly. If we contact the insurance provider before we call the “law” the public perception may be that we covered ourselves before we took action to care for the victim of the abuse.

      • Louis says


        Good addition – call the carrier. But the authorities should be called first. After that, call the carrier.

        There is no guaranty that the church will not be sued, but one way to prevent that is to adopt some really good common sense policies that would keep staff and volunteers from being alone and in close contact with minors.

  18. Louis Cook says

    You contact the police first before you do anything else. Then you call the child’s parents. It does not matter if the alleged offender paid for the entire church campus. Your duty is to the child, his or her parents and the legal process. In the case of suspected child abuse as outlined in your article, you would call 911.

    The Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts have a good training guide on reporting and trying to prevent child abuse.

  19. Dale Pugh says

    So what should be done when the problem is sexual harassment within the church? In this case,the difficulty may turn to more of a civil than criminal issue since adults are the involved parties.
    For example, a staff member makes remarks or advances toward a secretary. Or maybe the campus minister inappropriately touched a college student. I’ve seen all kinds of problems over the past few years when churches don’t handle such situations properly.
    One large local church has been devastated by this kind of scenario. The staff member was the pastor’s son. The church attempted to handle it in house. The pastor appeared to be covering it up. Problem upon problem……

    • says


      There is no comparison between raping a child and making unwanted advances toward an adult. If the staff member rapes the secretary, then you’ll have a comparison to make.

      • Dale Pugh says

        Did I make a comparison? No. I recognize the difference. I just brought up another issue that needs addressing. That’s all. Hope I never have to deal with any it.
        Sorry to insert an irrelevant question. Just popped into my head and I asked it. Didn’t mean to muddy the comment waters.

  20. Bruce H. says

    I have mixed feelings on this. I am very close to someone the church turned over to CPS and then the church treated him like a vagabond. CPS is the worst organization to handle any matter. You need to talk to some who have gone through what CPS does. Talk to a defense attorney, too. One thing stood out to me was that CPS, run by mostly young single power hungry graduates, say they want to empower the victim. They counsel children to HATE so they expose all they can and make up things too. They teach the young immature victim about the worst of the worst predator and try to convince them that the man was like that. That doesn’t protect, that reinforces VICTIM for the rest of their lives. The victim grows up drinking poison hoping the perpetrator dies dies from it. The child becomes self-righteous, too. Jesus told us if we do not forgive, we are not forgiven. CPS is not there to restore or heal a relationship. If you think they are you have been fooled. Many of the CPS “Specialist” claim they are Christian to coax any information out of the victim and perpetrator. BTW, it doesn’t stop with the child. Everyone is affected and many times destroyed.

    Do your homework on CPS. They mean something totally different when they claim to “protect”. They simply separate and destroy! That is not what the church is about and you need to know what goes on in their organization and how it conflicts with what we teach. This may be a place that I would have to go against the law. Knowing what I know, it would be very difficult for me to simply turn someone over to CPS.

    • Bruce H. says

      One thing the church needs to do in all of this is have certified counselors to recommend or have on staff. You do not want to use CPS counselors. Their counselors are not counselors, they are professional information gatherers that the prosecution subpoenas to testify what they know. The church must get in on this to protect the ones they have thrown to the lions. What I mean by protect is, they need to begin the restoration process with this Christian if there is true repentance. If we are going to be accountable by law to turn in someone, we need to be part of the solution.

    • says


      Sexual abuse is a crime—call the police, not the CPS. If the police call the CPS, then that’s their business.

      How can you offer unsubstantiated allegations and generalizations that cast doubt on any child’s testimony against an abuse—and even suggest that there might be justification for going against the law and refusing to report a child’s claim of abuse?! And don’t bother pointing to the rare cases where the allegations are proven to be false unless you also give equal mention to every case where they turned out to be true—and the latter outnumber the former by such an large number as to make your comments outrageous.

      “The child becomes self-righteous”? Really?! Perhaps you would like to convince the victim that their rapist was not really all that bad? There is no Biblical mandate for every relationship to be restored. Forgiveness does not require a relationship to be restored, or trust to be reinstated. It is one thing to tell an abusive parent (for example), “I forgive you,” and quite another to move back into the house (or let the former abuser watch the victim’s own children alone). Some things in this life will have to wait for the next life for restoration. But you seem to have swallowed the camel of abuse while straining at the gnat of possible unforgiveness. If the accused is a parent or guardian, the church has no authority to protect the child from the parent, so the two will go home together unless you do report it to authorities. Furthermore, you do not know how many other children are currently being abused by the same person, or how many might be abused in the future. Call the authorities, or you are aiding and abetting!

      • Bruce H. says


        I understand where you are coming from. Your view is to follow the law strictly. If you can do it after seeing what the law does to the victim and the perpetrator, then do it in good conscience. Every situation is not the same but is treated the same by the law. The law is very narrow on this issue. The law removes it from the restoration of the church and uses methods that would make the KGB blush. It doesn’t matter what the believer in this scenario gives or does in the church. If he is a believer, we have a responsibility to him first as well as the victim. We obey the laws of the land, but our commitment is to each other. This is a big problem when it comes to the law and the church. We need to stand our ground and be what we are suppose to be to each other. Like I said in my second comment, ” If we are going to be accountable by law to turn in someone, we need to be part of the solution.”

        • says


          And if your secretary tells you she was raped, would you counsel her to not report it to the authorities—and tell her that she ought to forgive instead? Would you tell her that she is not really any better than the rapist, since we’re all sinners? Would you try to restore the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator?

          Don’t confuse the “solution” of the church with the solution of civil government. Both are divinely ordained institutions, and the Christ-like restoration, forgiveness and love ought not to be substituted for civil justice. If an adult victim decides to forgive immediately in lieu of pressing charges, then that is his or her decision; but a child is not capable of making such an informed decision—and you have no right to make it for them.

          • Bruce H. says


            I know I am controversial on this issue, however, a child can confess their sins and repent and be saved as young as 6 but they can’t forgive? We have become worldly or we don’t understand the heart of a child. Just throw them to CPS and wash your hands of the issue. My conscience will not let me in every case.

          • says

            Sure, Bruce, you might be able to get the child to forgive the rapist. And then, after you send him back home with the guy, maybe you could get him to forgive the man every time he does it again. But you would be shirking your duty before God to defend the defenseless and your duty to the civil government to report crime, as well as aiding the perpetrator to rape many more children in the future.

          • cb scott says

            Bruce H.,

            I want you to tell me how a 6 year old child has the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor capabilities to fathom the adult concept of forgiveness toward a man who has repeatedly sodomized him so badly he has to have surgery to repair the physical damage and he wakes up in the night screaming for his mother only because he is afraid of his father because the poor, brokenhearted guy’s physical features remind him of the man who violated him.

            I want you to work with a few kids like that and then tell me you have the slightest idea of what you are talking about with a straight face.

          • Bruce H. says


            If the church is doing the job of the church, we would know. The church needs to take the responsibility or this, not the law or the world, will make this right for the child. Get involved yourself. The government does not have the Biblical solution. YOU DO!

          • Bruce H. says


            When you tell me that Matthew 6:15: “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” isn’t meant for ALL believers, I will not agree with you. I believe it is for ALL believers. Jesus didn’t give an age limit for believers to forgive or be saved. The child needs to be able to work toward forgiveness, not retaliation through the law. At the young age, they will be able to forgive and adjust through Christ. The law condemns and destroys if one is unrepentant. Look at David or Noah. My point is to restore when possible. No matter what the sin, we must be trained to forgive. That is our objective as followers of Christ to be like Christ. Christ died for ALL sins.

          • says

            Government IS the Biblical solution—God’s minister for justice who does not bear the sword in vain. God never gave the Church the role of enforcer of civil government. God does indeed care about civil justice, and He hears the cries of the widow and the fatherless and the abused. And God has much to say in Scripture about those who subvert civil justice.

            My father was murdered when I was almost 6. You can read about it here: http://www.odmp.org/officer/6001-chief-of-police-robert-hamrick . (Save the sympathy—I only tell you this to make the following point). Should the perpetrators have been forgiven in lieu of civil justice? Should we have sought to “restore relationship?” Should society have benefited from the continued presence of these thugs in public? What role do you think that church should play that supercedes the civil government?

          • says


            You have overlooked something: a personal offense needs only my forgiveness (and God’s forgiveness); however, in a criminal offense, there is another offended party that will not be dismissed—society as represented by civil government. If you commit a crime against me, I may forgive you, but the government does not forgive quite so easily. It is quite proper for a believer to tell a criminal offender, “I forgive you,” and still testify of the facts at the trial against him.

          • Bruce H. says


            Do what you will. What did God do to you when you sinned against his Holiness? That is greater than any sin against us. It happened to us so that God can conform us to Christ. We cannot continue to be victims of what we think is God’s welfare for our victimous situation. We simply need to live through it as Christ lived through His everyday situations. His was worse than our sexual offenses. I was a proverbial victim until I realized it was meant for my good, like Joseph. Let’s move on.

          • says


            You keep letting love and forgiveness get in the way of your seeing the need to protect children and the need to report crimes against children. “Moving on” would be fine if it were just you and me—but your sweet-sounding idea of moving on entails denying protection and civil justice to children who might not fully comprehend what you are committing them to and who might become adults who regret that you manipulated them into “restoring relationship” instead of properly charging and incarcerating the perpetrator.

            Personally, I have no problem with God’s meticulous sovereignty, and the fact that He allowed me to be abused as part of His ordained and perfect plan. And I do not deny that as a sinner, nothing has ever happened to me of which I did not deserve far worse. I admit to being a slow learner in the lessons of life, and it was only 3 or 4 years ago that God freed me from a ton of bitterness over these things. God showed me that bitterness toward people is really bitterness toward the sovereign God. I thank God to be free of all that and the rage that goes with it. But I still can see no way whatsoever how preaching forgiveness means that perpetrators should be protected from civil authorities, child victims should not be protected from perpetrators, and all involved should just have a group hug and “move on.”

          • Bruce H. says


            I am saying that CPS does not provide protection. They are worldly, not Christian. The church needs to be involved. Where is the ministry? The church needs to get involved. The church does not need to throw out the offender. That is what we do. Show me where we get involved. We don’t! We need to help the believer through this sin. How do we do this? Show me!

          • says

            You want to help the believer through this sin? Then counsel him whenever you visit him in jail, and help him get restored back into society and into fellowship with your church when he’s released.

          • Bruce H. says


            That is the wrong approach. I want to do what Christ has said in Matthew 18:15 if it is doable. You want to throw everyone in the fiery furnace. I simply do not see it that way. We are suppose to pray for wisdom. Our elders must have discernment. You are saying that we must throw everyone in the furnace. I do not agree with your approach on this issue.

          • cb scott says

            Bruce H.,

            Are you advocating that if a person who has perpetrated a sexual crime against a child is a church member, we should not seek to see him/her go to prison for his crime, but rather, we should take care of the offense internally and seek reconciliation between the perpetrator and the child he has abused? Is that what you really believe should happen?

          • says

            Ceasar says that it’s illegal to molest children. If a believer has committed this crime against Ceasar, then his butt belongs to Ceasar, and we should “give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s.”

            Church comes early, folks. Goodnight.

        • Bruce H. says

          Ken / cb,

          I am not advocating to not turn anyone in. Everyone seems to say “turn him in” and wash their hands of this. My friend was destroyed by CPS and so was the child, spiritually speaking. The church did nothing in his case. They agreed with what CPS was doing. He told me many details of what went on. If you turn someone in and they have repented to you, you are obligated, as a Christian, to minister to them along the way. That is not what happens and I do not think anyone here has mentioned that. We do not wait till they are in jail to visit them either. We minister to them and stand by them along the way. Yes, he is toxic, but we do not throw them away. Jesus died for that particular sin. If you are going to turn them in, know what they are facing and minister to them along the way. But get ready, people will view you much like many here on this blog view me for defending the sinner and suggesting forgiveness.

          • Louis says

            The calling of Christians is to report evil doers to the government. God has established the government to punish evil doers.

            No commandment in scripture about pastoring, forgiveness etc. is a mandate contradicting the obligation to report evil doers to the government.

            If the church fails to do this, the are directly violating scripture. They are keeping evil doers from being punished.

            That is not our charge.

      • says

        On this:

        Sexual abuse is a crime—call the police, not the CPS. If the police call the CPS, then that’s their business. –

        In Arkansas, you have not satisfied the law by calling the police, the mandatory report is to DHS/DCFS and not the police. I think that’s because so much of the state is without much in terms of law enforcement–and what we do have does not have expertise or practice in dealing with sexual abuse.

        So, there are cases where the call is not to the police even though it is a crime. Where I live is one of those places. The law instructs that I do not call the police, I call the 800 number for DHS.

          • Louis says

            Usually the reporting statutes provide whom one is supposed to call.

            Call the person identified in the statute.

            Do not try to evaluate the respective abilities different agencies etc.

            Just follow the statute.

          • Doug Hibbard says

            Frank, there are no police in this town, and only a county sheriff’s department that will not investigate the matter but tell me to call DHS/DCFS because the sheriff’s department does not have the manpower to deal with it.

            That’s why not call both.

            That, and calling the sheriff’s department means that the information will be radio relayed and everybody in the county with a scanner will know about the report and, given the small population, there goes any hope for the victim to maintain any privacy at all during the initial stages.

            Believe me, given the heavy-handed way I have seen a few DHS investigations turn, I would rather be permitted to call trustworthy law enforcement. But not calling DHS would put me in violation of the law–so that’s who I would call.

          • Frank L. says


            I see your point. It is quite different depending on where you live.

            I got a call about a situation, called 911 and they said . . . get this, we don’t handle a case where the threat is in another county! I told them I can’t help it where he lives, but someone needs to go.

            They gave me the number to my county sheriff. I told them what was “taking place at this time.” There answer, it is in another county so we don’t handle it. They gave me another county number.

            It’s now thirty minutes and much anxiety later but a car was dispatched. I found out it was the second call at that address of the day. I seemed to be the only one that felt it was “urgent.”

            So, I understand that things work differently in different places.

          • Doug Hibbard says

            Here’s where we are:

            I know two rape victims who called 911, and they were announced over the radio “Deputy needed at hospital–XXXX individual is reporting she was raped.”

            That’s been a couple of years, and maybe they’ve fixed that problem–but you can imagine why I would not report any form of sensitive crime in this area unless there was an immediate pending situation. And if there was, it would be a 911 call where we reported what was happening, where it was happening, and how many of us were headed over to intervene, because I can get a handful of individuals to stop a crime in progress in way less time than the sheriff’s department can/will respond. Even when someone with integrity is on, there’s usually no more than 3 deputies on duty to cover the 1000 square miles. It’s just physically not possible for them to show up quickly.

          • cb scott says

            Doug Hibbard,

            Louis is right. “Follow the statute.”

            I realize that in your particular location and due to your natural predisposition to intervene due to your personality and pathos for people that seems like doing nothing or maybe a cowardly cop-out. It is not. It is the right thing to do.

            (Please know that I am speaking here in the context of sexual abuse being reported to you. I am not speaking of situations wherein someone is immediately in harm’s way. That kind of situation is a different subject entirely with its own prescribed course of action for men of integrity.)

            Again, Louis is right. Follow the statute. With that being stated, please allow me to address your situation with a couple of ideas you may be able to employ in the future.

            I have never worked in Arkansas. However, I have worked in places similar to that of which you have described. Here are some suggestions:

            1). As I stated, I have never worked in Arkansas in a ministry position. Therefore, I do not know the structure of the State Police there. However, if the State Police in Arkansas has a sexual abuse officer, get to know him/her. I found the State Police to be my best contact in some areas. So, as Louis stated, follow the statutes and if you have a good State Police contact, make that call also.

            2). If possible, get to know a sitting judge who has a strong conviction about the abuse of women and children. Ask that judge to come to your church and speak. Take the judge to lunch. Share your heart and concerns. I have found that a good judge can get things done pretty fast in places like you describe wherein you minister.

            3). Similar to knowing a good judge, if possible, get to know the prosecuting attorney for your county. Follow the same suggestions stated above relating to a sitting judge.

            4). Find the closest ministry to you that specializes in the care of abused women and children. Get to know the director. Such agencies and the folks who run them are often great allies in ministering to abused women and children.

            Doug, dealing with sexual abuse of women and children in areas like yours is hard and often brings great frustration. I know that from personal experience. However, I did learn the hard way that the things I have mentioned above to be helpful. Maybe they can be for you also. You are a good man, Doug Hibbard. Stay strong and keep standing.

  21. says

    The question in North Carolina is really, “What would you have to do?” The law is plain on this issue. Report it. While there are cases of misrepresentation which have resulted in terrible sufferings, we really don’t have another option unless we choose to disregard the state. One of our problems is that we lack training in the matter. What drove me to get a M.A. in Counseling and write a paper on the subject was the fact that I had five cases of incest come to me in one three month period back in 1985, one of which involved a member of the church but which had happened many years before. Problem was not many believed it. And I did not discover the truth until after my pastorate had ended. Back then I did not know the law. In fact, I am not even sure the law had been passed, but, in any case, it was before I finished my degree. Then I had the problem of dealing with it on a regular basis, being assigned the responsibility of handling the incest and pedophile cases as a member of a large counseling staff of a big Senior High School.

    The one thing that we can ill-afford is to let the predator continue. If one looks at the effect on the children, it is enough to make one angry that any adult should so act as to ruin a child for life. And, believe me or not, the effect in many cases is utterly devastating for future relationships, employment, stability in life, etc. Promiscuity is not the least of the effects of sexual abuse of children. There is also depression and suicide.

    Undoubtedly, some of the problem stems from pornography, where a person with certain pathologies hooks into and becomes addicted to the lewd pictures. Feeding on such a mental diet, it is no wonder that we have such cases where they will seduce the child and then even murder it to cover their tracks. Brethren, this is no pleasant, easy subject. The law of our state says they demand to be involved in the process in order to determine, if anything has occurred. And the state will fine you, if they discover that you knew of an alledged case and did not report it, especially, if the case turns out to be true.

  22. Frank L. says

    I’m sure, as this discussion indicates, that for most, if not all, those pastors here that this is more than just “theory.” We’ve all had the gut-wrenching question posed to us of “what should I do?”

    Sometimes, the next action is clear. Other times, not so much. As Dave said above, one thing it will always be is, “hard.”

    I just got a phone call from someone who knows someone who knows a former member of my church, who no longer live in the area. The man, whom I have only a very cursory knowledge of calls my cell, which is not private. It’s Saturday evening. First words, “are you coming over right now?” I eventually get his name. He muddles some troubling and incoherent statements and the line goes dead. Call back. No answer.

    There is definite distress in the voice. Long story short, the man is in obvious distress and in my opinion is a danger to himself or others. All I have is a phone number. Anxiety sets in (my five stents feel the pressure rising). I do all I can think to do: call 911.

    There answer: we need more than that to do anything. They send me to the county sheriff. They are very skeptical and are not near as concerned as I am. I insisted they look up the address. They do. Response: it’s not our county. Here’s the number to L.A. County.

    I call L.A. county. They are skeptical at first. They want proof that a crime is taking place. I’m a bit “insistent.” Finally, they look up the number and they had just been to the residence two hours before–I’m sure it was not for coffee and donuts.

    If nothing is happening, I’m sure I will not be on this man’s Christmas list. I also now have to wonder, what has happened. I certainly hope I do not want to read a troubling headline in the paper that something awful has happened.

    Perhaps, some may think I acted rashly based upon a hunch–and they may prove to be right. But, I can live with the humiliation. What I cannot live with is that a little man, woman, and child was in danger but I did nothing.

    This is a real time, real place example of the anxiety that comes with being in a position of authority. Dave was right, when you get that call count on one thing for sure, “you’re life is going to get hard.”

  23. Randall Cofield says

    My first response would be to report the perpetrator to C. B. Scott…no…wait…first the civil authorities, then C. B. Scott…

    Then I’d pray that God would have mercy on the perpetrator’s soul, because his…umm…”backside” belongs to C. B. Scott…

      • cb scott says


        Yet again, I did not get to meet you in person at the SBC. I did, however, get to speak to Judge Pressler and his family. I think you are well acquainted with them also. Sometimes, based upon comment you make about the SBC I am pretty sure we have met or at least attended the same meetings in the past. Maybe we will meet in Baltimore?

        With that being stated, and based on your comment above, did I do harm to you or an ancestor in a former life? For some reason, I feel that we are at odds of some nature.

  24. cb scott says

    Happy Fathers’ Day to all of you fathers out there in the Baptist Blog World. May God give you wisdom as you stand watch over your own children and all of the children to whom He has assigned you as their shepherd.

  25. Tarheel says

    Why can’t this be both/and (legal authorities and internal church discipline) instead of an either/or?

    That’s my thinking. Church procedures snd biblical discipline does not absolve us of legal responsibility nor does the calling of authorities release us from our biblical and spiritual responsibility of church discipline.

    Think embezzlement or misappropriation of funds. We’re gona do our internal church stuff for sure…..but we’re also gonna call the police.

    • cb scott says


      You stated, “Think embezzlement or misappropriation of funds. We’re gona do our internal church stuff for sure…..but we’re also gonna call the police.”

      The sad truth is that many churches do not call the police and the thief goes free and in many cases, goes free to steal from another church, business, or institution. This is also something that has happened to SBC entities, the IMB being one of them.

      Nonetheless, you are right. It should be both.

  26. William Thornton says

    Here are some cases that are not hypothetical:

    Underage high school girl told her school counselor of inappropriate behavior by a teacher. The counselor told the school principle who promptly called the system’s Human Resources director. After numerous missed calls between the two a report was made days later to authorities. The principal was arrested, charged, and forced to retire.

    A 13 year old was allegedly raped by a church employee in a church campus stairwell. Five church employees, including the pastor and two youth pastors for waiting two weeks to report the crime.

    Parents of an underage child told their pastor that their child was sexually abused. He confirmed the report by speaking with the child and urged the parents to report the crime. He told church elders and others in the church of the situation with the admonition that they keep quiet about it. He along with two church elders were arrested, charged, tried, and convicted of failing to report suspected child abuse.

    I’m feel sure that most SBC clergy are ill informed on this but a perp walk and mug shot is a great educational tool and is likely far more effective than any SBC resolution.

  27. says

    General Comment (not just to whomever this ends up underneath): There is no reason for the personal insults that have crept into a few of these comments. Let’s dial it back a bit, discuss the issue.

  28. Debbie Kaufman says

    William is right. I have been accused of personal vendettas by people I do not like. At the risk of revealing things I think are private, I will do it in hopes that you guys get this. Maybe you understand my passion for this, I do not have my children’s permission for this. 2 out of my 3 children were sexually abused. One by a family member at the tender age of 8. One by a friend who was a juvenile. I called the police immediately. Both perps confessed. I have been to trial. It was in the days before the laws were strict. It was in the days when it was just beginning to see children as human beings. Over 25 years ago for one. My children were telling the truth and my husband and I believed them right away.

    The trial was excruciating. As for the juvenile. There was nothing at that time we could do. He was a juvenile. So I went through the entire neighborhood warning parents about this kid. They ended up moving and I have never seen nor heard from them again. I know what I am talking about. The other who was a family friend and distant relative got a little jail time, but he would go to prison if he did it again. It was revealed through his brother that he had sex with animals and had done this to another child, whose family did not report it. Therefore, his sentence was a little jail time, and extensive counseling. We moved to Oklahoma to get away and give my child a new life, because we lived in a smaller town than we do now, and every time my child saw this man’s truck she would freak out. My children are now adults. One is still going through a hard time, the other is doing great. I know sexual child abuse. Now, I’ll not talk about this again. But call the police. Period.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      As for forgiveness? I have not forgiven either one yet and I know my children have not. I’m OK with that. The family friend/relative died a couple of years ago and as far as I am concerned, he is where he should be. I know that bothers some of you, but I am being honest here. He is separated from God and frankly I am OK with that. He is getting the punishment after life that he should have gotten when he hurt my child. You will find most parents/victims feel this way. Don’t’ try and fix that. You can’t.

      • Randall Cofield says

        Heb 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

        • William Thornton says

          Randall, respectfully, if you were Debbie’s pastor you would be right to make an effort to help in the areas you feel led. Presumably, you would have sense enough to do so privately. Since you are not, perhaps you would not be imprudent and lecture her here.

          • Randall Cofield says


            I simply quoted the inerrant, infallible, eternal Word of God.


          • Donald R. Holmes says

            Actually Randall, you wrote that in the middle of a conversation as a response to particular comment by Debbie. That is a far cry from simply quoting scripture. You had some “shoe fitting” in mind and it is bad form to deny it. You came across as coy rather than clever.

          • Randall Cofield says


            I was not seeking to be either coy or clever.

            What you observed was accumulated concern.

            I’ll thank you to not impugn my motive without knowledge.

            Grace to you, brother.

          • William Thornton says

            Exchanges by means of blog comments has some acute limits, not the least of which is words are seldom contextualized nor are they accompanied by gestures, tone, or expressions; hence, your simple quotation of eternal Scripture was more of a slap than anything helpful. I would not begin to presume that you would be so calloused with your wife or your daughter in the same situation.

            We all have a story. Debbie generously, if painfully, shared hers. It is an incomplete story. While we haven’t met, I judge from observation that she knows as much Bible and is as spiritual as either of us and is well aware of the personal issues that accrue to her as a result of her family’s trauma. She has my prayers.

          • Tarheel says

            Wow. Imagine that….a pastor attempting to help a sister in Christ who us obviously struggling with a biblical command of believers.

            I’m a little bothered that quoting scripture in context and in love has become acceptable to demean as coy and lecturing?

            2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

          • Tarheel says

            To point one to scripture is not to be flippant….it’s pointing one to the true source of correction, healing and comfort….the very word of God.

          • Tarheel says

            Pointing one to scripture is also not to devalue or underestimate the reality of pain and hurt….it’s to point people to the wonderful counselor Himself.

          • cb scott says


            I think what William Thornton has stated above has merit.

            Also, I think that Baptist blogs do put those of us who frequent them and seek some degree of fairness in what we say in a strange place at times.

            Again, as I stated earlier in this thread, it is highly probable that Debbie Kaufman has a lesser liking for me than any other person who has been involved in the Baptist Blog World since it started. It does seem that we approach faith and life from two different planets.

            However, it is a hard thing that she has confessed here on this thread. The experiences her family have been subjected to are that of which nightmares are made. The road to recovery for people who have been through what she has stated here is hard. Most never truly recover.

            It is my strong conviction, after being involved for a long time with abused people, especially sexually abused people, that it is only by the grace of Christ and Him alone that people can truly recover.

            Also, (and please do not take what I am about to state here to mean I doubt the power of God. I don’t.) even as an abused person does seek the healing of their personhood from Christ, it often takes a long time and there are numerous reasons for that.

            It is for that reason that I ask folks here give Debbie some room, grace, and much prayer on her behalf. I don’t think I would have the grit and steel to share what she and Ken Hamrick have shared here.

            However, because they have shared here, some who read and never comment who have been through something like Debbie and Ken have, maybe due to reading Debbie’s story and Ken’s story they will seek some help. Maybe they will cast their burden upon Jesus. Maybe they will get well. And we know that one out of four little girls and one out six little boys need to get well. They need the work of the Great Physician to heal their broken souls. . . . and they need, desperately need those of us who know Jesus to love and support them.

          • Donald R. Holmes says

            “I’ll thank you to not impugn my motive without knowledge.”

            I do impugn the idea that your motive was the simple quotation of scripture, when it is obvious that your motive was for Debbie to apply the quoted material to her situation. This is the problem with your flippant “I simply quoted…” comment; as if you had no intentionality. If you’re going to put it out there then stand behind it instead of this soft backpedal appeal when someone pushes back on the prudence of your choice to post the quoted material.

            Grace to you, too!

          • Randall Cofield says


            No, you attributed to me the motive of attempting to be “clever,” “coy,” and “shoe-fitting”–and that with no knowledge other than your perception.

            Your presumptive impugning of my motive lacks both the grace in which the passage was offered and the grace commended in the passage itself.

            Continue to cast dispersion on my motive if you will, but if you do so this exchange is over with.

            Grace to you, brother.

          • Randall Cofield says


            Exchanges by means of blog comments has some acute limits, not the least of which is words are seldom contextualized nor are they accompanied by gestures, tone, or expressions;

            And yet you chose to characterize my post of the Scripture as “imprudent lectur[ing]”–and that without context, gesture, tone, or expression.

            hence, your simple quotation of eternal Scripture was more of a slap than anything helpful. I would not begin to presume that you would be so calloused with your wife or your daughter in the same situation.

            Yet you did not hesitate to presume that I was taking a “slap” at a hurting sister.

            Continue to attribute motive without knowledge if you will, but if you do so this exchange is done.

            Grace to you, brother.

          • Donald says

            “you attributed to me the motive of attempting to be “clever,” “coy,” and “shoe-fitting”–and that with no knowledge other than your perception.”

            True enough. And It all still reads the same to me. Please understand my comments are entirely directed to the “I simply quoted…” response you gave when William pushed back, since you obviously were not just “simply quoting”.

            However, I am sure you know what you intended better than I do. So, toss a bit of that Grace my way that you reference in closing your posts and I’ll gladly move on.


          • Randall Cofield says


            Consider it done, brother.

            P.S. I still think you should do something about that funky hat and fur collar.

            Grace to you.

        • Debbie Kaufman says

          Randall: Do you know how I found out about the friend/relative? I was getting ready for work and this man and his wife watched my children while my husband and I worked. At 8 years old my child begged me with anguish not to go to work. I stopped, listened to this story that tore my heart in two. I called the police, my husband, who rushed home, and my boss, who was great.

          The Sheriff came and interviewed our child, and we listened to this sweet, tortured soul tell in a way 8 year olds do to what happened. My husband wanted to kill the perp. We sat through a week long trial, while his lawyer tried to say my child seduced this 30 something year old man. It didn’t fly with the judge or us. Next step, jury trial. It was heading toward a jury trial. The family of the perp tried to intimidate us into dropping the charges. We stood firm, the perp confessed and I have told the rest. Sorry if throwing verses around just doesn’t fly with me.

          Thank you William. It was a tough decision to put this online, but my husband said I did the right thing and should know to follow what I feel strongly about. You comments are dead on right.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            My child testified at the trial. His lawyer tried everything under the sun to get my child to recant or show my child was lying. That 8 year old sat in that chair and did not waver. My child put that lawyer to shame. And he was one of the high priced lawyers(this family had money) and tough dogs in the city we lived in at that time. It was the hardest thing my husband and I had to endure. My family did not come, one member of the church I belonged to at the time was there every day for support. Throwing verses at me does not change anything. I know that sounds harsh, and I love the Lord God with all my heart and soul and frankly he understands my and my children’s lack of forgiveness. That’s the beauty of my Savior.

      • Frank L. says

        “””Most, but not all”””

        I certainly understand where you are coming from. As someone said below, I’m not your pastor so my words should not be taken as such.

        I’m sure you know what the Scriptures say about forgiveness. It is a difficult thing to do at times. However, unforgiveness tethers us to the very sin that assaults us. There is never any complete healing until there is complete forgiveness.

        I had to learn this the hard way.

        Of course, we never know “who is separated” from God and who is not. It is not our place to judge such matters. We can either follow God’s clear directive, or we can go our own way. Blessing follows the former, a curse follows the latter.

        Honesty is a great virtue, but not the only virtue.

        Again, these words are not intended as counsel, lecture, or otherwise. They are a response to a non-biblical approach to a serious issue. It is appropriate to offer a different point of view when the truth of God’s Word is the subject matter.

        Emotion is part of the train of life but should never be the engine.

        • Bruce H. says


          Thanks so much for how you addressed this issue with Debbie. When I read the words, “I have not forgiven..” my heart went out to her. Not as much for what happened, though my heart broke from the story that she told, but the inability to seek forgiveness and thinking Jesus is ok with that. All I have to cling to is the “yet” she placed in the sentence. This has been on my heart all day and I was shocked even more that many here did not jump on it as you and Randall did. After reading Debbies comments I listened to the following message by John MacArthur. He covers the forgiveness subject thoroughly and gently. Personally, I think the first thing we should learn as a new believer is the importance of forgiveness.


          • Frank L. says


            I’ve dealt with unforgiveness throughout my ministry several times and it is heartbreaking. There’s no magic forgiveness button we can push simply because we know that is the right thing to do.

            Forgiveness is much more complicated than sermons and headlines might indicate. It makes the words of Jesus almost horrifying.

            So far, as much as I know, I don’t harbor any ill will toward anybody. I can say that I truly have open my heart up and forgiven everyone I know.

            So, at least on my end of the stick, the matter is settled. Unfortunately, some whom I have forgiven, at least in theoretical obedience, are no longer in my circle of influence and so the matter is still a bit unfinished.

            It’s like buying a gift for someone that they have never unwrapped. That troubles me some, but I simply cannot track everyone down and some certainly have no intent to track me down.

            But, I know I must forgive that person, or those persons, as much as it is within me to do so.

            Forgiveness is both an event and a process, a moment and a journey. Not an easy thing for me to nail down. I suspect Debbie is somewhere in this journey also and I do sincerely hope she can lay down the burden at Jesus feet.

          • cb scott says

            Bruce Harp,

            It is no secret that Debbie Kaufman would shed no tears if a Mack truck hit me tomorrow morning on my way to work and splattered me all over U.S. 280.

            Nonetheless, I am going to ask you and any other person who has been reading this thread to let her alone. Debbie, has shared openly life experiences here that are heartbreaking to say the least. The wounds she, her husband Merle, and their children have suffered are those of which are long in healing.

            Although I have been in many conflicts with her pastor, Wade Burleson, I know he is a good shepherd to the flock to which God has assigned him. I also know that he is close to Debbie’s family and I have no doubt he has and will continue to minister to her.

            So, I am going to ask all and especially you, Bruce Harp, not to badger her as you did Ken Hamrick who also shared a gut wrenching story from his personal journey on this thread yesterday. Please let it go, Bruce Harp. Let her alone.

          • Bruce H. says


            Since you know my email address, email me so we can discuss this off the post. Your comment is off base here.

          • cb scott says

            Bruce H.,

            My email address is cbscott1255@gmail.com. If you have a desire to converse privately with me, feel free to do so. However, please know that I do not believe myself to be “off base” with you. Frankly, I have been rather reserved.

  29. Debbie Kaufman says

    That should be I have been accused of having vendettas against people I do not like. That is not true. I keep private and painful things private.

    • Frank L. says

      Debbie, as one of those you “presumably do not like” I can respect greatly your experience. I’ve carried a terrible burden for much of my life and I can appreciate how heart-rendering your situation must be. I could never fully understand your anguish.

      I don’t have to agree with your point of view to appreciate the context in which it is shared.

      May God give you healing. You have courage, for sure.

      Again, it is no secret that you do not care much for my point of view on most things, but we share more on this issue than might make it into print.

  30. William Thornton says

    God bless you, Debbie.

    Those who have an interest in clergy or church based abuse of children know that the discussion on the matter is driven by women – Christa Brown of StopBaptistPredators, Dee and Deb the two blog queens of Wartburg Watch, and various commenters like Debbie. When men join the discussion one will eventually find arguments about things like when to report, reconciling the perp with his victim, how to protect the church and pastor rather than children and assorted other sterile ecclesiastical matters.

    It happens most every time.

    • Frank L. says


      I don’t think it is completely out of line to discuss matters that people actually have to deal with in regard to this issue-in fact, I had to make a call just last night.

      It tears my heart out for everybody involved.

      If you are suggesting we allow the victims of crimes to run the legal process single-handedly, then I’m not on board with that. If you are suggesting that there are deep, almost bottomless emotions, involved in these issues. I’ll step on board with that.

      My concern for justice and fairness for all may sound like “sterile ecclessiaticism,” but I’ve walked in the fire and perhaps that has sterilized me.

      • Frank L. says

        As you point out, men come at this from a different point of view. I think that point of view, along with the point of view of women can give a healthier point of view all around.

        I agree, if we take just one “point of view,” that of the male clergy we may not be fighting with as sharp a sword.

    • Joe Blackmon says

      When men join the discussion

      I believe that Christa and WW are driven by a seething hatred toward a certain theological persuasion rather than a sincere interest in the truth. Also, it is certainly not true that all men view this subject as sterile. I have no doubt that most men, when an accusation about abuse is brought to their attention, would report that to the proper local authorities. For example, see the last 100 or so comments in this thread.

  31. Max says

    “What would you do?”

    Ministers and church staff should already be aware of their legal obligations as mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. “Now, what are we going to do?!” should not cross our lips … ministers should know exactly what to do and act immediately. Church staff who are not educated on mandated reporting requirements in their State should become informed – get the training you need now!

    State laws impose penalties, in the form of either fines or jail time or both, on mandatory reporters who fail to report cases of suspected child abuse and neglect as required by the reporting laws. State laws may also impose penalties on any person who knowingly makes a false report of abuse or neglect. For individual State laws pertaining to “clergy” as mandatory reporters, see https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/clergymandated.cfm

    When legal authorities are contacted, pastors should then minister to the abused and the abuser within the constraints of the law for the situation at hand. Others on this blog have commented on their experiences in this regard. Seek counsel from other ministers if you are uncertain how to move forward with folks impacted in your congregation.

    What an awful day we live in that this subject continues to come up in the “refuges” under our care. Hell is heating up!

  32. William Thornton says

    My, what appalling grammar I exhibited above. I apologize to all the erudite folks here.

  33. Tarheel says

    As I’ve said before…this issue must be dealt with as a both/and not an either or. For example (not all inclusive)

    Contact police/practice internal church discipline

    Minister to victims/Minister to perpetrators

    Eliminate access of guilty perpetrator to children/teach and demonstrate grace and forgiveness.

    Etc. Again both/and….

    Making a complex issue too simplistic is not to properly address it.

  34. says

    Tarheel and I who apparently located in the same state agree on the both/and and not the either/or option. Contact police/practice internal church discipline (no easy matter, considering that many of our churches do not have procedures in place for such actions). Ministering to victims and perpetrators is also a difficult matter. Consider how the institutions of government seem to regard the pedophile as incurable. Making a complex issue too simplistic is simply not an option.

    One thing is sure, dealing with such a situation is not going to be easy.

    Consider dealing with an adult female who had been so abused, and who is likely promiscuous, alcoholic, etc. Consider taking that individual into your home for 11 months, when you knew so little about the effects such actions had on the person’s character. Consider how you need help to get her to move out after those 11 months. After all, providing a lifetime of support for one not a member of your family is not an option for consideration. Consider also how that individual’s work and industry were effected. Yes, there is a stage, apparently, in the life of a child where one learns to be industrious, able to work and continue working for extended periods. Abuse in that state interrupts the process with poor consequences for the indiviudal in adulthood.

  35. says

    When it comes to preventing abuse, some churches (such as one I attended once) have decided to give their teachers and leaders specific training regarding such things as what is appropriate contact with children, etc. I found the class to be offensive, but I didn’t quite know how to voice my objections. I told them that as a victim of abuse, I object to the implication that a pedophile was simply one who had not had the proper training. I know that this is not explicitly said, but that idea from worldly psychology seemed to come through pretty clearly—the idea that sin can be educated out of a person.

    It seems to me that prevention should focus on guarding children from potentially dangerous situations (such as sleep overs with only one adult present), as well as focusing on teaching our children about what kinds of adult behavior is wrong and that they are safe to report it. We should guard our children like a bank guards its money—the bank doesn’t have to teach its employees that stealing money is wrong, and embezzlers and robbers aren’t just people who missed the class on financial ethics.

    Sorry if this is a diversion…

    • Bob B. says


      In reading the heated dialogue between you and Bruce H. I wanted to throw in a passage of Scripture that I think you will find very relevant. For the record I think I would be in agreement with you (Ken) but it’s not my goal here to take a side. Also, if this passage has already been discussed please forgive the duplication.

      The passage that comes to mind when I hear anyone in favor of keeping someone in the membership of the church and bathing all their words in “love” and “forgiveness” (which I’m not opposed to in general) is this:

      1 Cor. 5:1-4 – “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.”

      So, the question would be, does the church not forgive the man? I think that from what you (Ken) have said, we would agree that there can be a sincere forgiveness toward this man while still executing punishment to call attention to his sin. In our day, with civil laws that help us administer this punishment (by God’s grace), we would be both foolish and in most cases un-biblical to ignore the protection of the victims provided by civil law.

  36. says

    My sympathies to Debbie Kaufman, and her child was a hero to hold up so well under the unrelenting attacks by a high-priced lawyer. The Christian thing to do is to stop the perpetrator, first. End the victimization. A child is easily destroyed. Why allow such sufferings to continue and why allow the perp to perpetuate his criminal activities with other children. These perpetrators suffer from pathologies and are dangerous. We had one on tv lately for murdering and raping an 8 year old. Now let’s add a dose of reality to all of this, for my sympathies go first with victim and only after that do I feel anything for the perpetrator, if he or she (sometimes they are females), evidence repentance for such crimes. The dose is this: What would you do, if you were tortured 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, for two months and 28 days, and your body was tossed out on a pile of corpses, where a burial person spots and involuntary gasp or something to that effect and gets you to a hospital in time to save your life (and that of the baby born that night in the hospital)? This happened in the Philippines during World War II. After the war, the lady, married to an American Marine, was running an international house which was a form of ministry for reaching the staffs of the embassies in Washington, DC, when a car pulls up in front of the house where she is working with a trowel on a flower bed. Her first desire was to run up and thrust the trowel into the man’s heart (by the way the trauma to her body resulted in 250+ allergies out some 300 plus allergy tests run at Duke Hospital). That evening at Supper, while setting across from the lady, he recognized her. That Japanese fellow turned white, admitted that he was a bad man. Her husband laid a hand on him and said, “Don’t worry. We are Christians here.” The man hung around there for a several days, even helping the lady with the dishes. And he found Christ or, rather, was found by the Lord and converted. Mamerta de los Reyes Block tells some of the hardships of her life in her work, The Price of Freedom. Her husband, Dr. Isaac Block, is a personal friend of mine. She died in 2005. The lady also won Margaret Mitchell to Christ a few weeks before the latter was killed in being hit by a car in Atlanta. I am still learning about Mrs. Block. Her hsuband told me recently that she witnessed her brother and her father being beheaded by the Japanese. Corrie Ten Boom once came and spent a night at Blocks’ International House. There is more.

    Let us put first things first. Save the child, the victim. Stop the perpetrator or there is no justice, and, consequently, no Gospel. It is easy to talk about forgiving others, that is, it is easy until it happens to you or your loved ones. Then you might find the issue a bit trying, to say the least.

  37. William Thornton says

    Randall, don’t fail to miss the “respectfully” in my gentle adminition to you. You failed to contextualize, merely hung a Bible verse out there. It was clearly a slap. If you did not intend and wished to ameliorate it, you have had plenty of opportunity to do so.

    I’ve seen this before. Someone literally bares their soul and discloses the most signigicant, traumatic, and pain-filled event of their entire life. In doing so there are numerous issues evident and some of the brethren, from a great distance with no relationship to the aggrieved, feel called to focus on a single part and offer a biblical rebuke.

    Most of us are pastors and have learned that we can be far more effective and helpful if we have first earned the right to address a very sensitive and painful issue in the life of one of our members.

    Debbie is likely, wisely, letting we men thrash this out at this point but one might ask her how she feels about what she has read here. None of us get to tell anyone else how they should feel.

    God bless you all. This horse is about beat to death.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      William: I read the comments. You, CB, Dr. Willingham, Donald, get it.

      None of us get to tell anyone else how they should feel. .

      Even though we have both gone through it I can’t even tell Ken how to feel. Being there and saying nothing, praying, for me is the only thing Christians can do. One of my favorite passage is the shortest. Jesus wept.

      I posted this on Facebook. I love this.


      • says

        If the folks who have commented on this blog about the situation without due reference first to the victim had had the opportunity (or if they have had the opportunity), it would seem likely that they would be more concerned about getting the evil stopped in its tracks. As one who has looked at the pain of children who were involved, I care first about ending their suffering, if it can be ended. After that I will turn my attention to the abuser. Unfortunately, in the pedophile area, the cure rate is so low as to be negligible, according to researchers. Knowing how the children suffer is something that moves me greatly. And the effects that continue into adulthood are miserable. Where is the sympathy for the victim in the concern for the one accused? There are false accusations as I am aware, but the methods of investigation for such things are really with the police and child welfare people who are charged by the state with handling such situations. Besides the perps have a great reputation for being persuasive and appealing.

        • Frank L. says

          Dr j. May I humbly object to your impugning the motives of those who are simply replying to a conversation.

          Your tone could seem patronizing as if you care more about victims than others. I don’t believe that is characteristic of your usual modus.

          Blogs in my opinion do not handle emotion very well. They tend to look much more shallow than face to face discussions

          Motives are hard to assess on a blog.

        • Debbie Kaufman says

          You are correct Dr. Willingham. Thank you. Perps are great at being actors. The children have no voice except us. What began my children healing wasn’t that I hid behind religion, throwing out verses, but that we believed them and took action. Protecting them from further harm. The Perps most time have too big a voice and proven to be liars or they wouldn’t have been able to abuse in the first place, many for years. Fortunately that is changing.

      • Frank L. says

        Debbie. I don’t recall anyone telling you how to feel. I recall several speaking God’s truth against error.

        That’s a big difference.

        A major teaching in Scripture is forgiveness–the major teaching. You brought up the subject in a way contrary to Scripture and some responded. Just as you have so many times.

        My position is that emotion does not trump Scripture. The path to healing is always Truth, not emotions. I can assure that you are not the only one touched by the evil of sexual abuse.

        The Word is very clear on the matter of forgiveness. The comments–not all perhaps–we’re offered as a pathway to healing. I think when one paints oneself into a victims corner great error can result with bondage not freedom being the end.

        • Debbie Kaufman says

          I’m going to be blunt here Frank. You are wrong, your approach is harmful, damaging and why CJ is in a lawsuit for that very mindset.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            I will not be discussing this further. Unfortunately children would feel the same way. They would no longer discuss it. They would die from the inside the rest of their life because those they trusted to help them, failed them. Forgiveness is not the thing to be forced here. It’s the last thing we or a victim needs to hear. Helping the perp is the last thing a victim will do. And they shouldn’t. Go visit them in prison. Fine. But don’t tell us to forgive.

          • Greg Harvey says


            Don’t carry the world on your shoulders. You did your part here. If they listen then they might be saved from their arrogance. If they don’t, well, they’ll accuse you of being arrogant. God sees and judges.

          • Frank L. says


            Then allow me to be Frank. I have no intention of sharing with you “my story” which would be equally as hurtful and disgusting and damaging as yours.

            I struggled with forgiveness for years and it was a burden I could not longer carry.

            Your way is “hurtful and damaging” not only to you but to others. I’m just be frank with you. Any pastor that would not tell you straight out that you need to forgive and find healing is NOT your friend and is not helping.

            I have intentionally not used any names or personalities, except in one post where I said clearly that I had a very grave issue with the “celebrity status” issue and those so quick to surround and defend celebrities. I agreed wholeheartedly with you in that regard as I mentioned several times.

            You chose to make this personal. You chose to share your story. I choose to keep mine buried in the grave of forgiveness.

            You assume you have a knowledge of sexual abuse that I do not have. There is no basis for that assumption. I have simply said that we must be careful in allowing emotions to control this issue.

            It’s quite possible that I have a perspective on the sexual abuse of children that is deeper and more personal than some of those with whom you agree.

            I will respect your desire and end this discussion. It is getting a little too close to home and I don’t want to dredge up feelings I dealt with years ago.

            I sincerely pray you will find complete and total healing from what I know personally is a horrible, unfathomable experience.

            As a deference to you and in the spirit of civility I will give you the last word. I will not respond.

        • Jess Alford says


          You are wrong in so many ways here I can’t count them. You have even put the cart before the horse. You are a very insensitive person. Have a little compassion for those who get hurt.

          • Frank L. says

            jess you are entitled to your opinion point out one place i am wrong

            you impune my motives from the cheap seats

            have you ever been sexually abused? if not then you have no right to speak to me in regard to sensitivity in regard to this issue

            are you currently working through an abuse case if not see above

            have you ever testified in a sexual abuse case involving a member of your church if not see above

          • Bruce H. says


            Read comment 120 & 121 above. That is where it started. Balance the content with what we are told in scripture and what events God has predetermined. Keep Job in mind. Frank is saying the right thing the best way it can be said in this blog situation.

  38. Louis says


    Hope you are joking. We are not at odds at all.

    I saw Bob Cleveland again. I missed you and Dave Miller, again.

    I do plan to go to Baltimore next year.

    I hope to attend every SBC Convention until the Lord takes me home, so long as my church is an SBC church. I do not ever again want to see the SBC boards and agencies get where so many in the SBC do not trust them, as happened years ago.

    Have a great day.

  39. Randall Cofield says

    A hurting Christian shares their pain and struggle with obedience–and some simply give them a gratuitous pat on the head (“‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed…”).

    Others empathetically share the life-altering truths of scripture with the hurting brother/sister–and are castigated for doing so.

    There is something very wrong with this picture.

  40. Tarheel says

    Well said, Randall.

    The word of God is not just inerrant and infalliable…..but it’s also sufficient as well.

    Without the foundation of scripture we as pastors, and dare I say bloggers, can offer nothing of eternal value to our listeners/readers.

    2 peter 1, 2 Timothy 3:16,17, Hebrews 4

  41. says

    Report the matter to authorities immediately according to the law, and especially according to the trust of the people who send their kids to you. Immediately afterward call the one being accused. If he’s innocent and a godly man worthy of the position that he has been accorded, he will understand, cooperate, and be vindicated in the end. If he is angry with you for doing the right thing, then he wasn’t worth having in the position he was in to begin with even if he was otherwise innocent. Can he cause a mess? Sure. But if you do the right thing and stand on biblical principles, no matter what happens at the end of the day you know your conscience is clear and you have glorified God.

  42. says

    I think what this whole thing brings to light is that churches need written policy for abuse in the children’s ministry in particular and possibly for handling any other illegal activity that is discovered at the church or associated with church activities.

    My church has windows installed in doors to all classrooms and offices explicitly for the purpose of being able to monitor activity in rooms where children are. Our preschool wing is a secured area and guarded by men of the church. Background checks are done on all security volunteers as well as all teachers. Access to the preschool wing is limited to parents of those children by virtue of photo identification badges. If they forget their badge, temporary ones can be obtained at the preschool desk next to the security station at the main entrance to the preschool wing. There are one-way alarmed exits for use in the event of a fire and electromagnetic security doors at all entrances. If something happens, it’s not because we didn’t do everything in our power to prevent it.

  43. Greg Harvey says

    I continue to be surprised at how little regard supposedly solid men of the word have for good advice…turn the person over to law enforcement authorities (CPS isn’t law enforcement though they have some law enforcement power delegated to them) and step to one side and let them do their jobs.

    Don’t interfere in any way with the investigation. Don’t tip the perp no matter how much you feel you can trust him or feel you owe him. He might be exactly who you think he is. Or he might be exactly who he is accused of being. You can’t tell what’s in his heart. Don’t pretend you can. Unless you’re God, that is. You aren’t, are you? Are you?