Sexual abuse has happened, and still happens, in a vast range of contexts, all around the world. It happens in families, neighbourhoods, schools, institutions, workplaces, clubs, sports, in armed forces, and in wars.
Sexual abuse reflects not just lustfulness, but also our dark human capacities for selfishness, delusion, exploitation, domination, violence, and deceit. It is a glaring manifestation of our human sinfulness.
Sexual abuse is never innocent or justifiable or right. And it almost always leaves an enduring legacy of great harm.
It is utterly tragic that considerable sexual abuse has clearly taken place in some Christian churches, church-going families, and church-run institutions such as boarding schools and orphanages. Sexual abuse is always 100% wrong. But for it to happen in church-related contexts is doubly appalling and shameful, because it goes against everything Christian faith stands for, including God’s calls to love, mercy, holiness of heart and mind, integrity, and renewal in Christ.
The scandalous and inexcusable failings of some continue to bring huge reputational harm upon the church at large.
What can we do about all this? Deplore what has happened. Empathise with and pray for those who have been victims. Be compassionate. Support justice. Be vigilant. Ensure our churches have very robust systems, to help protect everyone from harm. Disciple our people well. And be determined to follow Christ in love, integrity, and purity.