“If you have never felt a strong pull to sexual intercourse, you are abnormal, too
old too young or ‘too lie’ (i.e. untruthful)” Chisholm Plain Talk on Sex CD
Late last year Marverley Gospel Hall invited me to do a session on the topic of this article. Very early in the session I strengthened my CD opener and substituted sexual immorality for sexual intercourse. Below is an edited version of what I shared.
Understanding (making sense of…)
Registering a desire for sexual intercourse as a Christian is not evidence that you are either ‘old man’ or no longer ‘new man’ but that you are simply human.
The Church in far too many places has been too shy in dealing with sexual issues up front in worship gatherings. Yes, I mean in Sabbath and Sunday morning services not just in midweek or special meetings when, so few, are in attendance.
The pervasive reality of a feeling for sexual intercourse itself opens the possibility/reality of struggles with sexual immorality which means that the Church cannot avoid teaching on sex and sexuality because sexual desires affect everybody, Church members as well as those who need to be in the Church.
Let us quickly clarify the term sexuality. For me (I’m no Psychologist) there are three things involved in the concept of sexuality; sexual identity, gender identity and sexual orientation.
Sexual identity relates to one’s genetic makeup, the particular combination of X and Y chromosomes. The genes of our being and hormones (the relative presence or absence of them) determine how masculine or feminine we appear physically and influence the intensity of our sexual desire.
Gender identity relates to the inner sense or picture we have of ourselves as male or female and is largely determined by social and psychological forces. Gender identity is formed usually during infancy and childhood.
There is also the reality that some persons are described as ‘gender non-conforming’, these persons don’t accept the traditional binary (2-form) gender-typing based on physiology and so we have the LGBT community (i.e., the community of Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-gender persons and at times one may read or hear about the LGBTQ or LGBTI or even LGBTA grouping where the Q (=questioning) or I (=intersex) or the A (=Asexual) are species or subsets of Trans-gender).
So then to put this in the form of an equation, Sexuality = sexual identity + gender identity + sexual orientation. Put differently, and less precisely, your sexuality involves who you are sexually, who you feel like sexually and who/what you feel for sexually.
It should help as well to look at the most popular sexual orientations. [I then looked at the 5 basic ones, heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, bestiality and asexuality]
Let me say some more here because some Church folk are too conservative and ‘spiritual’ to face the issues squarely.
We must be clear in our minds that God made us as psycho-sexual creatures. So. in the perfection of Eden, Adam and Eve came from the hand of God with sex organs and with erogenous zones and with the capacity to desire and feel for sexual intercourse.
So sexual intercourse was not created after humankind sinned but was a God-given and delightful reality before ‘the fall’ (the first sin of our fore parents Adam and Eve). The Devil had nothing to do with the origin of sexual intercourse. Only God could have created something so sweet! Okay, track me down and wash out my mouth with industrial strength Jeyes!
If anyone here is in doubt about it, just take it by faith from me. Church members are struggling more with sexual issues than with the major doctrines of the faith. Church leaders need to scratch where members are itching!
There is only one kind of sex act that is countenanced in Scripture, that is a married man with his wife, all other sex acts are expressly forbidden in the Word.
But know as well that the laws of our country forbid certain sex acts. So, with reference to sexual intercourse we have the moral dimension and the legal dimension, and these are separate domains.
So, the peculiar Jamaican legal definition of sexual intercourse is penile/vaginal with all other romantic/erotic acts seen as sexual intimacy (involving mouth, anus, between breasts, etc.) but not qualifying as sexual intercourse.
Our law forbids sexual intercourse involving persons under 16 years of age. This means that whether you are a boy or a girl you cannot legally consent/agree to sexual intercourse. Regardless of how your body looks or how ‘horny’ you feel it is unlawful for anyone to have sexual intercourse with you whether your sex partner is someone of your age/gender or a ‘greyback’ big man or sexy big woman.
So, whoever you are, having sexual intercourse with someone below the age of consent (16) is at once immoral and criminal!
What though is ‘sexual abuse’? I would begin by saying it is ‘beyond the approved behavioural boundaries and is double-edged (illegal/immoral)’. Generally, going beyond the boundaries of the moral or the legal is abuse and a most basic component of this is doing without defensibleconsent or trying to offer what is not wanted by another, which is a species of harassment.
So then, clergy sexual abuse is sexual behaviour from a clergy person which is immoral and/or illegal or inappropriate. I just now added inappropriate to immoral and illegal because some species of sexual abuse may not strictly speaking qualify as outright immoral or illegal but still not fitting/expedient/appropriate coming from a Christian or a clergy person.
For example, sexually suggestive talk (including sexting, rude jokes), touching/fondling, sexual grooming). Grooming is a process by which someone befriends and gains the trust of a child (and sometimes the child’s friends and family) in order to take advantage of the child for sexual purposes. Discernment is necessary here parents.
There has to be some degree of pathology (illness) when a big man finds himself fascinated with thinking/dreaming about and seeking opportunities to have sexual intercourse with a minor ‘a likkle pickney’. Such a man would need, in addition to prayer/fasting, serious psycho-therapeutic help.
[Psychologist Joan Pinkney was in the congregation and I asked her to say a few words here]
A person’s sexual fantasy is something to take seriously re getting help. A sexual fantasy is an unfulfilled or a hoped for/hope-to–be-repeated sexual desire/wish. Fantasies are thus time-bombs waiting to explode, hopefully in the right context.
Fantasy has the ability to drive the male as a slave-master would a slave. The role of fantasy in the mature male is critical to understanding his fears, frustrations, and especially his sexual compulsions.
For good reason Jesus advised caution on lust – fantasy/mental sex. Lust is a major problem for most men. The man who claims to have never had a struggle with lust needs to be reminded that lying is a sin that can end you up in the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8) For a developed treatment of lust vs. admiration see my CD Plain Talk on Sex.
A baseline test of the distinction between lust and admiration for me is the ‘penis test’. It is possible though rare for a man to sustain an erection while simply admiring and it is just barely possible though highly unlikely that a man without Erectile Dysfunction, could be lusting without an erection.
In admiration, the woman’s form and features (curves and contours) are seen as attractive/beautiful ends in themselves and God or Nature is credited with skill. In lust those same curves and contours are desired as pleasurable means to a man’s sexual ends. God/Nature is not in the picture the luster simply wants to romp with the creation.
That’s my approach to understanding the problem. (dealing with the problem, next time)
Rev. Clinton Chisholm, Academic Dean, Caribbean Graduate School of Theology
1 thought on “Understanding and dealing with Clergy sexual abuse”
Our congregations need these teachings in a time where our Christians are struggling with their sexuality, and the Church is being hit from all sides with sexual charges. Nowadays, there is a culture of sexual repression and secrecy in our congregations. Too bad! My heart was broken the other day when I was reading in the news about this Pastor who got that young girl from his congregation pregnant countless times, and forced her to undergo abortion of the fetuses. How do we want our congregations to be unified and strong when our Christian brothers and sisters are being emotionally and sexually abused? These cases of sexual abuse truly undermine the moral credibility of the Church. There is a growing need to call Christians to be more active and mindful. If they see and know something, they have to say something.
Paul, A. M.T.S, M.S.I.O.