High and low-profile cases teem with accounts of women and men being sexually victimized by those in authority over them—by a relative, clergyman, politician, employer, teacher, or Christian ministry leader. Various ministries, organizations, and persons have been blamed for providing a shield for the abusers who commit these sexual crimes against innocent victims.1
Similarly, although less well-publicized, there are cases of false allegations, usually levied by women against men as payback for supposed wrongs, or as a way to gain sympathy and potential financial reward. In the majority of cases, the burden of producing two witnesses to corroborate or refute the allegations is difficult, given the nature of how sexual scenarios play out.
Such is the sorry state of affairs when Biblical law is not emphasized as the standard for all of life, including human sexual behavior. It is incumbent upon women and men to understand the demands of the law regarding human sexuality, in order to serve the Lord faithfully and bring truth to a crooked and perverse generation (Phil. 2:15).The application of God’s law is the only remedy when it comes to knowing what sexual behavior is acceptable to God and protecting oneself from victimization by abuse, or protecting oneself against false accusations.
The Battle Rages
Today a battle rages between a theonomic view that maintains that God’s law speaks to every area of life and thought, and that the social order must be governed by God’s law, and the antinomian view that maintains that the New Testament overrode the Mosaic law. As a result, the foundations of social order (God’s law) have been eroded, and we have seen behaviors that the Bible calls sin declassified into acceptable, natural and even honorable sexual practices.
The church has gone soft on faithful preaching and has reduced most of its teaching to simplistic doctrines that take the teeth out of the Word of God. Rushdoony points out:
An ancient and persistent danger is the fallacy of simplicity. There is a pronounced resentment on the part of very many men against knowledge that is beyond their capacity. As a result, wherever a democratic impulse governs theology, it seeks the lowest common denominator. The ignorant and foolish piously bleat for “the simple, old-time gospel,” when the reality is that their simple-minded gospel is a modern invention. While certain basic doctrines of the Bible are uncomplicated ones, the Bible as a whole is not a simple book, and it gives us no warrant for passing over its complexities to dwell on its simplicities, because both aspects are inseparably one … The demand for simplicity is usually a demand for perversion, and it is not surprising, therefore, that the gospel of a democratic era is also a perverted one.2
This is all too apparent in most churches today, as shown by the divorce rates among Christians, fornication and adultery among Christians, and the celebration of homosexuality by the majority of “Christian” churches. Rather than preach God’s law in matters of sexuality, and adamantly limiting it to the context of heterosexual marriage, the door has been opened to the acceptance of what God calls sexual perversion. Because “thus saith the Lord” has been replaced by “no matter what you do, God will forgive you,” a death-wish has befallen the Body of Christ in matters of sexual abuse. Rushdoony continues:
The demand for simplicity is not only a demand for perversion, but it is also a demand for suicide, and the people, church, or institution which pursue it have charted a course for assured death.
Thus a failure to understand and apply God’s law has left the church unable to effectively prevent the perversions of the world from invading the church. Sadly, many who present themselves as defenders of the faith are leading the charge against Biblical morality and sexuality.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. (Matt. 7:15 NKJV)
Plotting a Course
Proper stewardship of the lives of the children God has given us includes plotting a course of instruction that takes into consideration both our point of origin and our desired destination. Let’s examine them in reverse order.
Point of Destination
As Christians, our destination is the Kingdom of God. That is why Christ tells us (Matt. 6:33) to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. In this context, first does not mean the initial step in a series of steps. Rather, the meaning is in terms of primary focus—that which should be foremost in our minds and hearts. The only way to obey this command fully is by means of the internal workings of the Holy Spirit driving us to the law of God. The effect of this on our lives and the lives of those who look to us for guidance is to establish the only standard by which we can determine if we are on course.
From the earliest interactions with children, God’s standard should be referenced and reinforced, keeping in mind that as language develops in the child, so will his understanding. In much the same way that the only reliable assessment of when life begins is at conception, so too, the only reliable assessment of when children can comprehend Biblical truth is from the beginning. As I’ve stated in other places, children are eternal beings in small bodies, and must be viewed and addressed as such. They can understand much more than they can respond to in language.3
Teaching the Ten Commandments, the catechism, and Biblical accounts of our forebears in the faith, are all fundamental aspects of what it means “from the time they arise to when they go to bed” (Deut. 6:3–7). And one need not be shy about our family history. There are saints and sinners, to be sure, and our children can learn from their stories. Parents who understand the application of God’s law to every area of life and thought, and instruct their children early on, are those who will have “prepared the soil” in which to cultivate godly living.
Teaching Biblical law and its application, and the results for obedience and disobedience, are imperative if we expect children to understand that God’s law is a lamp unto their feet in an otherwise very dark environment. Failing to apply Biblical discipline to a child for infractions of God’s law is to fail to train up that child in the fear and admonition of the Lord. This is especially true when it comes to the matter of false witness. Our children must understand that if they make an accusation that is later discovered to be false, they will receive the punishment that would have been given to the one falsely accused.
This goes against a “formula approach” to raising one’s family—the mindset that says “If we do the right things nothing bad can happen to us. After all, we’re Christians.” Parents need to establish the law with their children so that when sin rears its ugly head, it can be dealt with effectively and redemptively. We cannot simply shelter children from “bad things” and expect this to be sufficient. This is a recipe for future problems at best, and disaster at worst. The “real world” needs to be established as the world of God’s unchanging law.
Read through the Gospels with your children, stopping to make sure that they understand the circumstances and context as you go. Do the same thing with the Book of Proverbs, not skipping over the references to things you’d rather not talk about. If you feel ill-equipped to handle this, become equipped. Learn as you go. Failure to make the Scriptures understandable and relevant will make them confusing and irrelevant in your children’s minds.
Make sure you ask pertinent questions when watching television or films, or as they read through histories or novels: What is the worldview of those who wrote this? What standard is being used to determine right and wrong? What call to action is explicitly or implicitly communicated? This keeps your family on topic when it comes to the Kingdom of God. The best protection for our families is to know and apply God’s law as the means by which we “seek first the Kingdom.”
Point of Origin
Once a Biblical foundation is laid, acquaint children with where they are. This is as important, if not more important, than teaching them their mailing address, phone number, and email address. Parents must teach children their “location” in a society that is actively at war with Christ and His law. Failure to do this abandons your children to a fantasy world where “bad” guys are easily recognized and “good” guys are those who are like them (homeschoolers, Christians, people who participate in the sports they do). This needs to be done in an age-appropriate way, not fostering fear but giving children the proper tools and defenses to maintain their safety.
I recall over thirty years ago when I helped organize a pro-life prayer vigil in the chapel of a local hospital which performed abortions. The vigil was to conclude with a gathering of families, featuring our homeschool children’s choir. One of the choir-mothers informed me that her children would not be participating at the gathering because she was sheltering them, waiting to tell them about “abortion and the bomb” (these were her actual words) until they were older. Her children were at least ten years old and most likely already knew about what she thought she had successfully concealed: all this in order to keep them “innocent.”
If we fail to make sure our children understand and are able to identify sin (in themselves and others), how will they ever know when someone is sinning against them or when they, themselves, are close to succumbing to temptation? We must teach the normal (e.g., God’s requirements for sexuality) before we explain the deviations that they will encounter in a sinful world. We need to do this in an age-appropriate way, and we need to tailor it to each gender in a way that will be meaningful. The important part is that they hear it from their parents first.4
Along with this instruction, there needs to be a thorough understanding of what it means to bear false witness and what the Bible says about perjuring oneself (Deut.19:16–21). A concomitant to not bearing false witness is bearing true witness. Without a godly fear of the Lord, children might conceal wrongs done against them or fabricate stories for their own perceived advantage.
For Our Children
In looking back over my own years of growing up, there were a number of times where certain men in authority (a music instructor and my history teacher, to cite two examples) took liberties with me (and I assume with others) because each was reasonably certain I would not say anything to my parents. They were correct; I was sure that my parents would not believe me, as these were not topics we talked about openly.
These advances were sexual in nature and could have led to a bad situation, but by God’s grace the encounters were unpleasant enough that I was able to remove myself from the situations before anything truly untoward took place. In the case of the music instructor, my mother would leave us in the living room during the lesson so that there wouldn’t be distractions from my brother and sisters. It was then that the teacher would inappropriately touch me. This made me very uncomfortable, but I remained silent. When the instructor offered to reduce the price of lessons if my mother brought me to his studio, I told my mother that I was no longer interested in learning the guitar. In the case of the history teacher in my all-girls Catholic school, when I would bring forms or papers to the teachers’ lounge and no one else was present, he, more than once, kissed me. As a result, I stopped volunteering to be the messenger to the teachers’ lounge. Looking back, my silence made it more likely that these men would continue their inappropriate behavior, with others as their victims.
Girls and boys must be taught to value their virginity and know the difference between an accidental touch and those intended to “test the waters.” They must be taught to mention immediately to one or both parents any incident, regardless of whether or not they are certain of the motives behind it, or how their reports will be received. They must relate any compromising situation regardless of threats or possible repercussions from their abusers. It should be an established household practice that matters such as these (even if there is some uncertainty) are to be revealed and discussed, and that they will not be dismissed. Then the parents can identify whether an actual offense occurred, giving the child a clear Biblical rationale for their decision.5 If the parents agree that abuse has occurred, they must develop a plan to protect the child and confront the abuser.
Additionally, children need to be taught God’s mandate to value themselves and their virginity in order to deal with rape or molestation. They should be told to scream out and report the matter, as the Scripture states (Deut. 22:25–28), and to realize that failing to do so calls into question whether or not they were consenting to the activity.6 The lines of communication must always be open, and they must have certainty that their parents will hold to no other standard than a Biblical one, regardless of the person being accused. In our day, too many are too ashamed to report being raped or sexually molested, especially if it is a person of prominence or authority. They are pressured not to “cry out” by their social environment, often even by their church leaders.
In today’s world, we must also instruct our children regarding impure overtures from women or men. We need to help them carry themselves with confidence, but with a healthy discernment in dealing with people. They need to understand the “climate” of the day and realize that they are at a deficit in a culture that magnifies feminism, promiscuity, abortion, and homosexuality. They need to understand also that this is not accidental. In fact, as Rushdoony states:
In country after country, there are moves to legalize homosexual unions; the laws against homosexuality have been extensively dropped, so that a tacit legality exists. Other perversions are similarly allowed to go unprosecuted. The legal safeguards of the family are increasingly removed, so that again society is threatened with the anarchy of an anti-familistic state and its legalized lawlessness. In the name of equal rights, women are being stripped of the protections of the family and given no place except the perverse competition of a sexual market in which increasingly shock, perversion, deviation, and aggressiveness command a premium. The women who gain by equal rights are those clearly who are hostile to Christian law.
The law, it must be remembered, is warfare against that which is defined as evil and a protection of that which is held to be good. In the developing law structure of humanism, warfare is implicitly waged against the parents and the family as evil, and protection is extended to perverts and lawbreakers on the assumption that their “rights” need protecting.7
The Treasonous Act of Incest
When modern man thinks of treason, the name Benedict Arnold often comes to mind. Here was a man of high military rank in the Continental army planning to betray those who depended on his leadership and trusted him. Although his plot did not work, his name has forever been linked to betrayal after trust.
In Scripture, certain violations against the family are so significant that they are classified as treason. Rushdoony states,
[T]he basic institution in Scripture is neither church nor state but rather the family. Because the family is God’s basic institution, it is most protected by God’s law. The offense of Biblical law in the eyes of many is its strict legislation to protect the family, because treason in Scripture, on the human scene, is to the family, not to the state. The modern concept of treason does not exist in the Bible. Because the family is the basic order of life, God’s law guards the life of the family. The family is man’s first and basic government, church, school, and vocation … The law is addressed to the covenant family, as in Deuteronomy, or in Proverbs. It requires the covenant people of God to establish God’s order, beginning in their families.8
That is why, when a parent violates, by sexual abuse, a child’s trust in the parent, the child is devastated. It is the ultimate betrayal of trust, because children begin life believing that parents are their protectors and defenders. A deep conflict results that often leaves children bewildered and irrational in their actions, feeling the impact of the sin perpetrated against them. This is especially true when this heinous act is done by a parent who professes belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.9
What recourse does a child have in this situation? As society has deviated from God’s law and, as the church has agreed lock-step that God’s sanctions no longer apply, the resulting culture is one of injustice rather than Biblical justice with punishment and restitution. If God’s penalties were carried out as prescribed in the law for offenses such as preying on children, not only would perpetrators no longer be around to offend again, but those witnessing the penalty would learn that there are quick consequences for crime. The reason given for public executions in the Bible is to “purge the evil from among you” (Deut. 17:7).
Jesus gave a harsh warning to those who would prey upon children:
[B]ut whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. (Matt.18:6–14 ESV)
With this in mind, teaching God’s commandments in the family and from the pulpit is a necessity. Families meeting regularly in congregations of the faithful become a safeguard and protection from deviant behaviors. Interestingly, right after the passage quoted above, Jesus establishes the well-known Matthew 18 protocol. Children should be taught early on that the Matthew 18 protocol is open to them, and they should have the assurance that those in the church will investigate and help them in their time of need.
The goal of keeping children “innocent” is a misplaced one. Our goal is to help our children to live righteously. If they are not adequately prepared for the practical applications of what that means in the age in which they live, we are setting them up for potential injury, physical, mental, and spiritual.
1. Martin Selbrede’s article “Liberty from Abuse” Faith for All of Life, Jan/Feb. 2014, focused on the Biblical teaching of shepherds abusing their flocks.
2. R. J. Rushdoony, The Foundations of Social Order (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books,  1998), 79.
3. Andrea Schwartz, “Eternity in their Hearts” in Woman of the House (Vallecito, CA: Chalcedon/Ross House Books, 2012), 69–78.
4. My father used to tell the story about his reaction when a classmate in school told him how children came about. He punched the boy stating, “My parents would never do anything like that!” Attempting to keep children “innocent” is not helpful to them in the long run.
5. Some may argue that this leaves the door open for children to accuse innocent people randomly. However, by teaching that even if people are deceived God will not be mocked, and enforcing Deuteronomy 19:16–21 and the consequence thereof, there is less likelihood of a mentality that says one can lie with impunity.
6. Even if a child consents to illicit sexual behavior it doesn’t excuse the perpetrator, nor invalidate God’s requirements.
7. R. J. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, Vol. 1 (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1973), 208.
8. R. J. Rushdoony, In His Service (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2009 ), 23
9. If the Biblical dowry system were in place, a family fractured by sexual sin would have the resources to move forward without having to rely on the offending spouse/parent.
- Andrea G. Schwartz
Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family, The Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your Household, Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service, Woman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, and Homeschooling Helps (weekly live Facebook event). She can be reached at [email protected].