According to Fox News  a 48-year-old former NFL cheerleader spent months getting to know a 15-year-old boy, took him to an isolated location, got him drunk, and raped him.

She got 2 years’ probation, and no jail or prison time.

Let me repeat that: 2 years’ probation and no jail or prison time.

This angers me because of the long-dead concept of equality before the law.  Shall we swap genders on this story really quick?

A former NFL linebacker spends half a year grooming a 15-year-old girl, gets her drunk, and has sex with her.

That male offender would be in prison for 1-5 years easy, with more time suspended after, and the probation period would be at LEAST for the full 15 year period of the suspended sentence.

This angers me because of the presumptive lack of harm on male victims of sexual abuse.  Now, I don’t recommend this site because its approach ultimately leads to despair and a whole lot of sin in homosexual activity and pornography departments, but a quick trip to the bulletin boards of MaleSurvivor will give you the laundry list of long-term destruction that male survivors of sexual abuse endure.  The very concept that males are less damaged by sexual assault than females is sexist, misinformed, and victim-blaming in an amazing extreme.

For one thing, regardless of the victim’s gender, the reason that we have age of consent laws is because young adolescents lack the neurological structures and psychological conditions required to consent to anything long-term.  It has nothing to do with whether or not a victim of sexual assault believes (at the time that they are isolated and being controlled by their abuser through whatever means) that they were willing.

I don’t care if the kid thought he wanted sex or not.  That’s no reflection at all on how he’s going to feel about the incident when he’s 18,  20, or his abuser’s age and looks at high schoolers and they seem like infants.  Once he is old enough to see objectively how young he was, I bet he’ll be pretty darn pissed.  In the sort term, there’s harm enough, as this University of Michigan article points out.

Me at 15, clearly and obviously still a child.
Me at 15, clearly and obviously still a child.

It has even less to do with the presence or absence of sexual response in the victim of sexual assault.  A counselor who works with victims of abuse told me once about a female perpetrator who told her her actions did no harm.  Because of confidentiality rules, she wasn’t able to tell the perpetrator that her victim was in the hospital that very day following his failed suicide attempt.

But we can see the male sexual response and we can’t see the female sexual response, though victims both genders encounter involuntary sexual reactions to sexual assault.  Nerves are blind and spinal reflexes are involuntary.  Both genders encounter this, and from what I’ve heard it is one of the most devastating aspects of the sexual abuse.  For all my life the accusation that a female victim of sexual assault “liked it” was met with instant and justified outrage, but because male genitals are external when they are victimized, because men are supposed to be strong and in control, they are still accused of “liking it”, an accusation that heaps endless shame on the victim.

The comments on this article make me tremble with rage, so much so that I came here to vent, the very purpose of this blog.  One man asks where this woman was when he was 15, because it sounded fun.  Increased drug use, promiscuity, devastated self-esteem, public shame, and a loss of innocence, to say nothing of sexual imprinting that has the potential to screw up every sexual relationship this boy ever has for the rest of his life… you missed out on that?!  DID YOU?!?!

Another quote from the comments section of the article:

I don’t think that boy is in an pain. For him, this is like winning the lottery.

It’s winning the lottery to be taught that sexual intimacy is an  exercise in power?  How is that going to help him be a loving husband in the future?  When you were 15 you actually wanted ANYTHING about your sex life broadcast in front of the entire world?  This woman was in his life for months.  In all probability everyone who knows him well knows now exactly what happened.  He’s been stripped of fundamental privacy.  How about the lesson she taught him that getting your partner drunk before having sex with them is a good plan?  How about the fact that he was just objectified and used as a sexual object by a sinful woman’s desire for gratification, power, and control (because people not interested in power and control don’t pick kids for sexual partners)?  That won’t possibly damage his behavior in the future.

Not.  In Bill Harbek’s book Shattered: One Man’s Journey from Sexual Abuse, he describes the devastating effect his sexual victimization had on his marriage.

I didn’t realize at the time that I had no idea what intimacy really was… I never allowed growth to happen.  There was no emotional connection.  There was no desire for closeness.  I was a machine…  My experience with intimacy was taught to me by an evil man with evil intentions.  There was never an emotional or spiritual component to the abuse.  I behaved the way I had been taught… While ignorance is inexcusable as well, the damage done by the abuse was deeper than I ever understood.  As we walked the early path of marriage, I was not building a bond that would bring joy, trust, and connection; I was just performing. -pp 73-74 excerpts.

The most devastating of all, the elephant in the room, is that abused kids tend to act out.  The kid has just been shown by his abuser that 15-year-olds are fair game sexually.  I’m hoping that his own pain and good religious and psychological guidance can deliver him from this, and God knows that not all abuse victims become abusers, but the harm still tends to ripple outward.

Justin & Linday Holcomb’s superlative work Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault contains one of the most eloquent summaries of the process I’ve ever read in the chapter “Brian’s Story”

So, I became very promiscuous in high school and through my young adult years.  I used women sexually to bolster my sexual identity.  I used them the way my coach used me.  I already felt so dirty and guilty that I told myself it didn’t matter if I piled on more guilt.

The use of drugs like alcohol, in addition to the age difference, along with penetration would make this a 1st-degree felony in the State of Minnesota.  This woman would be facing a 10-30 year prison sentence.

Instead, she got 2 years probation.

This grieves me on so many levels.  After several years doing prison ministries off and on, I’m grieved because the injustice of this verdict has names and faces to me.  I know men serving much, much harsher sentence for much lower crimes.  I grieve over the male survivors I got to know as I was coming to terms with my own sexual victimization, because the flood of comments and the light sentence with no reason given for the lenience is going to stab so many of them right in their mental and emotional wounds.

I grieve for our country, that has fallen so far from God’s ways that instead of weeping for the boy’s loss of innocence, weeping for the women’s fall from grace (for Christ came for sinners like her just as sinners like her victim and sinners like us), we’re torn between anger without grace or love for the sinner, and celebrating the loss of this boy’s virginity as if it was some sort of admirable or desirable thing?!

It may very well be true that some of the commentators fantasized about teachers or older women when they were that age, but those fantasies were theirs to control, and sexual victimization is the theft of dignity and control by the abuser.

I grieve that all of these comments wound the boy, wound other male victims, demonstrate a wound to our national character, and ultimately they will also wound the perpetrator, because every “it wasn’t so bad” or “I’m jealous” is going to be a brick in the wall between her sin and genuine repentance, a changed life, or the guilt and shame under the law that drives us (the Greek words invoke the image of a tutor beating a lazy student to get to school) to Christ.

I’m glad that the abuse has stopped.  That is the only bright light I see in this story.

No More Victims!  God have mercy upon us all.

But God has had mercy.

Let me tell you about it.

Those who have been the victims of sexual assault, I want to tell you that there is no wound so great or so grievous that the Great Physician cannot tend and heal you.

God loves and cares for you:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. -1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. -2 Corinthians 3-5 ESV

As commanded, let me tell you how God comforted me as a victim of sexual assault.  I lived for so many years with the poisoned feelings of guilt and shame for how my body reacted when people who had power over me took what they wanted.  I felt unclean, unlovable, like damaged goods.  Unlike the victim in the Fox News story I stayed silent for decades, until the struggle left me on the brink of suicide.  Then, when I felt outcast, broken, and unlovable, God showed me Jesus’ compassion on the broken and the outcast.

When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” -Matthew 8:1-4 ESV

Do you see the order?  The first thing Jesus did to the leper, the eternally and terminally dirty outcasts of the ancient near east, was to reach out and touch him.  If he could do this to a leper, he could do this to me, right where I was, however I was wounded, however I felt about myself.  Touch.  That compassion that God showed to a leper he shows to me as he reaches out through his Word, when he made me his brother and friend in my baptism, and when he gives me his very body and blood at communion.  I wasn’t, and you cannot ever be so broken or dirty that we are beyond his touch, beyond his compassion, and beyond his ability to heal, cleanse and establish us.  I quoted the letter 1 Peter before to show you that Jesus cares about you, and wants you to tell him what you care about.

I found out over long years of tearful rants, endless hours of helpless anger, I never pounded so hard on God’s shoulders that he dropped me, never wept so long that he turned away.  He has been there through all the bad times and into all the good.

The rest of the same passage in 1 Peter shows us the glorious end that waits, that God is already making to happen despite all of the sufferings in this life:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. -1 Peter 5:8-11

And for the criminals, those who have committed such terrible crimes, and deserve death, Christ as also come.

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.  But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.  To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. -1 Timothy 1:12-17

No one deserves what an sex offender has done.  The same is true of the victims of murderers, slanderers, drug dealers, and gossips (social murder).  But Jesus did not come and die for the good-evil people, he came and died for the evil-evil people, who are all of us as well.  The very verses before the 1 Timothy quotation cite that Jesus died for murderers, slave dealers, the sexually immoral, the unholy, the profane…. this is a list of the worst of the worst, that Paul gives before he lists himself as worst of all, and an example of God’s grace.

So, in the same way, Jesus has come and died for you.  That does not mean that there are no consequences for what you have done.  That does not mean that you didn’t do something horrible and wrong.  God’s Word is completely clear that you cannot continue in sinful ways!

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified,you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. -1 Corinthians 9-11

and again…

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 6:23

You need to be stopped.  If you do not repent then the law of God or the law of man may stop you.  In any case, no earthly circumstance, whether it is this woman’s probation or a life behind bars, no amount of earthly sin is too great to save you.  Frankly, if you won’t stop yourself, then someone needs to stop you, and to that end God has established earthly authorities that don’t bear the sword in vain.  You need to know that what you’ve done is never deserved, never wanted, never all right, and never justified.  But the knowledge that you are a sinner deserving death is just the intermediate step, because we all deserve death, and the answer is the same for us all.

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christfor the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”  And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”  So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. -Acts 2:37-41 ESV

Whether you are a victim of abuse or a perpetrator of abuse, whether you think your sins are hidden or your sins are known to the whole world, if you think you are righteous like the pharisee or know you’re filthy like the tax collector, we all have the same hope, the same God who heals the past, forgives our present, and prepares a great and glorious future for everyone greatly evil, greatly wounded, or greatly fragile, to live and abide with him forever and ever.

-One Monk Out.