The family is a gift from God. In a healthy family, parents strive to meet their children’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs through their own and others’ resources. Mom and Dad enjoy a high degree of equality and mutual respect in their relationship. Communication is open with all family members in a way appropriate to their ages. Problems are confronted and dealt with—even when it is painful to do so.

The church family is also a gift from God. The healthy church family provides members with love, acceptance, and accountability. The relationships among members are characterized by openness and mutual respect. The inevitable conflicts that arise in a healthy church are dealt with promptly but carefully, and rumors are diminished through direct communication.

Unfortunately, many families do not function in healthy ways. Rather than meeting their children’s needs, parents use their children to fulfill adult needs, too often resulting in emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of children. In most cases, the child is powerless to resist an abusive adult.

Likewise, some church families are unhealthy places for children of God. A small but significant number of Christian counselors, clergy, and lay leaders have abused the power of their positions to attempt to fulfill their own unmet needs—including sexual ones. As the great majority of these leaders are male, they are often looked to as surrogate father figures by parishioners. When such leaders abuse the vulnerability and trust of their parishioners, there are enormous consequences for the victims, the offender, and the organization itself.

Sex In The Church Family

The religious leader has power and influence precisely because he or she is in a trusted position. According ...

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