If you are somebody who feels like the rich and powerful get away with murder, look no further than the story of Jeffery Epstein. If you follow the link to this story (warning: this and other links go into some rough, child molestation and rape cases) you can see how this guy got away with a lot of evil. He preyed on young women and girls, some underage, and has faced little consequence for what he did. Look into the Epstein story long enough and you’ll see the names of powerful political people that aided and protected him. The lack of justice, the brazen special treatment that such a man received, is horrific.
This evil world, if only it could be purged of such injustice! As we see a story of this kind of reckless abuse, our hearts mourn and are repelled by the culture around us. It sounds good to blame the world, but what of ourselves? We need to be aware that there are sexual predators in our churches and organizations as well. And we need to respond in a way that makes a difference.
Before I give examples, I want to say to anybody who has been affected by these ministries that I’m not accusing you by association. It is easy to be unaware of or distracted from the failures of leaders.
Doug Phillips founded and led Vision Forum, a homeschooling para-church organization that emphasized family and Christian ethics. Yet he used his power, while not on the same scale as Jeffery Epstein, in the same way.
Bill Gothard, now elderly, has had accusations swirling around him for years. He is a nationally known teacher who also focused on family along with Christian living. He founded Institute for Basic Life Principles (IBLP) and the Advanced Training Institute (ATI). ATI is where thousands of homeschooled children were trained, and from dozens of accounts, he did some creepy things with the young women there. He has resigned from his position, but has not faced prosecution.
Among Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches, there was such a culture of silent abuse that over 130 ministers of various positions have been prosecuted for sexual crimes, but many many more have avoided it. You can see some of what the victims themselves have to say here.
Among conservative, Bible believing, Gospel professing Christian leaders, we see the same evil that we find so repulsive in Jeffery Epstein. But it is not just the leaders. Sovereign Grace Ministries would pressure victims into not going to court against fellow church members who had committed sexual crimes.
We, as Christians, need to not allow for the evil of the powerful in this world to also be the evil of our own powerful. We need to hold people accountable to their sin. Justice is needed, and while we wait for the Lord to return and carry out perfect justice, we need to trust God’s appointed servant who is “an agent of retribution to the wrongdoer” as Romans 13:4 tells us. We should go to the government. We should press charges. We should testify against those who also claim to be Christians. Until we do, we harbor the same evil that the world does. We are no better than the Catholic Church or rich, evil powerful men like Jeffery Epstein.
Victims of such crimes often need time and support to bring charges. Some never can and they deserve no shame for that. This post is directed to people who are not victims and know of evil, and have not acted on behalf of those whom have been sinned against so grievously.
Last thoughts, if you have sinned, sexually using another human being created in the image of God, I don’t hate you. All sin is evil and requires the blood of Jesus to be spared from the wrath of God. I would encourage you to be willing to face the earthly consequences of your crimes while you run to Jesus for cleansing and hope. You too, can be a part of purging this evil that is among us by taking your own actions seriously and not hiding what you have done.