How do I deal with the fact that my daughters were molested by a leading member of the church?
I have a complex issue that I am trying to sort through biblically and do right by my family, others, and the law.
Two of my daughters have been sexually interfered with by a "leader" of the local church here. The first time was with my oldest daughter on a couple of occasions. Family members of this man were made aware of it and one of the family members called my home to tell my daughter to not tell me about what happened so she didn't. This was ten years ago.
About two years ago my youngest daughter revealed to me that this same man had been feeling her up over the last three years and at this point, I was living in his home due to a hardship in my own life. I immediately spoke with my oldest daughter about this incident and that was when she revealed to me that this man had done this to her years ago but was told not to tell me.
The next day I called a meeting with our preacher and my girls and this man to get this out in the open. The preacher is this man's brother too. We called this brother to the meeting and he came and admitted he had done this to my youngest, but it took a bit to get him to admit to doing it to my oldest but eventually, he said sorry and that was that.
I later approach the family member who told my oldest daughter not to tell me, who is a sister to this man, asking why she thought that was the right thing to do and didn't get too far with that.
I later also realize that many, many, in fact likely most of this man's family is aware of his problem and has committed this offense to others, but they choose to hide it, and unfortunately when I called the meeting all who came already knew what he was done and capable of.
I went back to our preacher and said I don't think this was handled right and that it just doesn't sit well with me especially finding out other people in and outside of the Lord's church have been victimized by him. I was told that I am seeking vengeance and trying to cause trouble. I walked away, but I don't agree with this at all.
My youngest daughter has run away from the church, our home, and is now 15 and pregnant. Now the church wants to know what the problem is. Child and Family Services is involved because of her age and her refusal to come home because I won't allow her to stay at this boy's house and because I expect her to come to church. I want her to get the best help possible but have been reluctant to disclose the sexual abuse to the authorities because I think I am protecting the integrity of the church, but now I just think I am protecting Satan who is alive and well within the Lord's church.
Not uncommon but half of our membership is one family and they are all involved and aware of their brother or uncle's sin. I am a single mother with three daughters. All of my girls have been sexually harassed by church members and of course the two by this man. He is married with two teenage daughters. Because this to me is a public sin because of so many people involved I believe that this man needs to repent publicly and should seek some counseling or something. His family disagrees and thinks that it's been dealt with.
I guess my question to you is would this be considered a public sin and would my going back to him and asking him to repent openly be violating a law of God? Is going to the authorities to ensure others will not be further violated vengeful? I feel I am being bullied into silence and my daughters as well.
Any thoughts on this would help. I have tried to share with you the pertinent and relevant information.
Yes, you are being bullied into silence. I have no idea if this man repented of his sins. A reluctant admission that he molested your daughters and a "I'm sorry" is not the same as repentance. Repentance is a rejection of sin -- an abhorrence of it. It is a change in behavior so dramatic that no one would guess that he is the same person who once sinned. "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:10-11). It appears this did not happen.
There is nothing in the Scriptures that requires a public confession of sin, so demanding this won't solve the actual problem.
What I would insist on is that this man not be involved with children any longer. I assumed you moved out of the man's house as soon as you found out what was going on. Paul tells us, "I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!" (I Corinthians 6:5-8). The problem here is that proper judgment was not done because those judging had family connections to the man who sinned. Yet, going to secular authorities isn't likely to solve the problem either. People in the world don't believe people can truly change. A part of the overall problem is that this man needs to get out of his sin.
"Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector" (Matthew 18:15-17).
The problem is that this wasn't followed. Since the matter wasn't settled one-on-one (I'm counting the preacher being there as basically the same as the first step), then you ask two or three other people from the congregation to come and hear the matter out between you and the preacher, the sister, and his brother. If the matter is not settled, ask that the matter be brought before the entire congregation. If the church protects the child molester without dealing with the matter (seeing to it that the man changes) and protecting the children, then I would suggest leaving the church for a better place. It is at that point I would suggest turning all evidence that you have gathered over to the police since it would be clear at that point that the church is protecting a sinner in his sins.
Having said all of this, one of the problems you are going to run into is that people are going to look at what has happened with your daughter and try to turn it around and blame you for her sins. With such in mind, they will discount what you say (Matthew 7:1-5) -- it is basic human nature. I just want you to be aware of what will probably happen.