October 2, 2019

The Disgusting Wickedness We All Must Face and Fight

New York Times

Pictures of child sexual abuse have long been produced and shared to satisfy twisted adult obsessions. But it has never been like this: Technology companies reported a record 45 million online photos and videos of the abuse last year.

I’ve had to spend some time processing this article. Which, in all honesty, meant not only waiting for my nausea to subside but for my anger to dissipate to the point where I’m not ready to mount a violent offensive toward the people referenced in this article.

The link has gained a significant amount of traction, as well as over 132,000 mentions on Google in the day since it was published. Unfortunately, the chorus of links and hot-takes is indicative of what has been done about this crisis. People are content to show their outrage” by sharing a link to the article and feeling they’ve done their part. (Now, I recognize the irony of my writing this piece is not much better, but I digress)

This bit from the article shows just how little we’re doing as a society (and government) to address this horrifying reality:

The Justice Department has produced just two of six required reports that are meant to compile data about internet crimes against children and set goals to eliminate them, and there has been a constant churn of short-term appointees leading the department’s efforts. The first person to hold the position, Francey Hakes, said it was clear from the outset that no one felt like the position was as important as it was written by Congress to be.”

The federal government has also not lived up to the law’s funding goals, severely crippling efforts to stamp out the activity.

Congress has regularly allocated about half of the $60 million in yearly funding for state and local law enforcement efforts. Separately, the Department of Homeland Security this year diverted nearly $6 million from its cybercrimes units to immigration enforcement — depleting 40 percent of the units’ discretionary budget until the final month of the fiscal year.

I suppose it’s not surprising that in a society where we turn a blind eye to the murder of millions of innocent unborn children every year, we’d do little to protect those who actually do survive being born. But, when you see just how bad it is, right there in print, it’s difficult to stomach.

The fact that this wickedness continues to grow, year after year, in our society and we are not throwing every resource available to combat it says a lot about our society, our government, and those we elect to represent us. But, it says something about another group, which should be on the front lines in this fight.

The church.

As I sat in my anger, pondering the reality to which I had now been exposed, I realized something else. The church is just as culpable. This isn’t something that is discussed in churches regularly. Now, this could be the fact that people just don’t know the truth about how bad the situation is, but now that light has been shed on the evil, the church needs to step in and join the fight.

Of course, the church can’t fight the legal or police battle, but we can do other important things to help. Why aren’t churches showing themselves to be a safe place for children who have been impacted by this exploitation? Why aren’t churches helping to raise awareness that these children, made in God’s image, are being brutalized and it’s time for it to stop? Why aren’t we praying on a regular basis for those enslaved in this wickedness?

All this led me to another thought that was uncomfortable thought - what is being done for the people who are perpetuating this evil? Who is preaching the gospel to them? It may be hard to consider that the gospel of God’s grace is for them too, but no one is out of the reach of God’s grace.

We have seen how these sins continue to grow and fester - especially in our hyperconnected age. The only thing that will truly end this horror is the same thing that will end any other sins - hearts being changed and people being saved. If we ever want to see an end to the world of child sexual exploitation, we must couple the legal and police efforts with an effort to see these people saved. People who know the grip this sin can have on them, so that not only can they repent, but maybe they can reach out to others still battling against God in this way.

As the church, we have the cure to not only the people being enslaved, but those enslaving them. If people don’t come to know Christ and His forgiveness, what hope do they have of ever changing? It may not be comfortable. It may not feel safe. But, those of us whose eyes have been opened to God’s truth, must protect the innocent and preach truth to the guilty if we ever hope to see this trend reverse and lives saved.

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