A Christian Science perspective.
The arrest of a former college football coach accused of molesting boys has made headlines in the United States and abroad, but sexual predation of children isn’t new, and takes different forms in different cultures. In many cases, legislation, prosecution, and improved social mores haven’t proved to be sufficient deterrents. But prayer based on the law of God can forward healing.
My framework for such prayer rests on valuing the spiritual nature of children. In both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, children are described in terms of their purity, innocence, wonder, courage, and humility. For example, the prophet Isaiah envisioned a time when “the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).
Matthew’s Gospel tells of a conversation Jesus had with his disciples about who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Calling a little child over to them, Jesus told his followers that they would not be able to enter the kingdom of heaven, unless they “be converted, and become as little children.” He went on to say, “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (see 18:1-4).
This kingdom isn’t a theoretical concept or distant aspiration. It is our true homeland, whether or not we are aware of it. For the perpetrator and a child who has been molested, however, the peace of this kingdom may seem impossible to reach.
Both the Apostle Paul and Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, saw reconciling man to God through Christ as key to changing that view. Christ is the divine idea of God, His likeness. So reconciling man to God through Christ means restoring man – a generic term that also includes women and children – to his original stainless selfhood, which is eternally inseparable from his Maker. As Paul put it, “[A]ll things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (II Corinthians 5:18). In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mrs. Eddy brought out the inseparability of God and man when she wrote, “It was ... Christ’s purpose to reconcile man to God, not God to man” (p. 19). So, rather than God coming down to fix what appears to be a pervasive problem, we can instead uplift our thought to the reality of His kingdom and our right to this pure and uncontaminated identity as His children. This insistence on purity, love, and joy – along with other childlike qualities – restores our, and everyone’s, original selfhood as God’s child.
In practical terms, this means that any child who has been molested or abused can rediscover his or her forever stainless selfhood. To reconcile themselves to God through Christ means to accept the permanent perfection that God has already given them. By doing this, they’ll find that their true selfhood – constituted of spiritual qualities, not a physical body – has never been compromised. They have never fallen away from God’s tender grace or lost their innate purity.
Those who abuse and molest need reconciliation to Christ also, but for them it requires reformation. One must stop identifying with a false selfhood that includes impurity, manipulation, and other unseemly characteristics. Reformation reveals the distance between these actions and one’s true spiritual selfhood. Reconciliation comes as one chooses and sticks with the path of Spirit, which will wash away the desire to continue in a mistake. Throughout his ministry, Jesus gave as key to demonstrating one’s inseparability from God: “[G]o, and sin no more” (John 8:11).
For both the victim and the victimizer, the discovery of this true, perfect selfhood requires persistence, but is so worth the effort. It reveals the pure, unstained, satisfied, and unadulterated nature that each has through their citizenship in the kingdom of heaven.
This article, originally titled "Finding healing for victim and victimizer," appeared in the Christian Science Sentinel dated Jan. 16 & 23.
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