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Am I an Adulterer?

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I was sexually abused as a child. I'm wondering; Am I an adulterer?—Abused, 16, OH


Shayna Answers:

Dear Abused,

No, you are not an adulterer..

When the Bible talks about adultery, it's talking about sexual acts outside of marriage in which our participation is consensual (of our own free will). As a child and as a victim, it's doubtful that you really understood the magnitude of what was happening, or that you had the ability to stop your abuser.

Matthew 5:28 warns us that “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” That is to remind us that engaging in adultery is a conscious act. We all have the ability to control our thoughts and our bodies, as the verse points out.

When a person is placed in an abusive situation, he or she loses that control. Victims don't have the option to stop, even if they want to. This is the difference between victims of sexual abuse and adulterers: adulterers make the choice to sin; victims don't.

When it comes to how your abusive situation will be judged by God, all responsibility will fall on your abuser. In fact, Matthew 18:6 says: “If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Adults have more knowledge about God's laws and more life experience to apply them. This is why it is the duty of adults to teach children what is right and wrong (Proverbs 22:6). If adults exploit the trusting nature of children, God's judgment is directed squarely at the adult—not at the child. As a child, you were weaker and more vulnerable than your adult abuser. For both reasons, it is your abuser that will be judged as an adulterer (and more)—not you.

I can't imagine how difficult it has been to reconcile what happened. Psalm 103:12 reminds us: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Remember that what happened was not your fault. No matter how traumatic it was, the sin itself has nothing to do with you. God has washed that away, and you will not be punished for what happened.

You should talk through what happened, though, and get more professional advice than what I can provide here. Abusive events usually affect us more than we think. Hidden trauma has the unfortunate tendency of manifesting at the worst possible times.

If you haven't already, start by telling a pastor, teacher, or another trusted adult in your life exactly what happened. They will have the resources to help you find a Christian counselor. If you don't have a trusted adult in your life, http://capsli.org/hotlines.php provides a list of child abuse prevention numbers by state. It also explains exactly what qualifies as abuse, if you aren't sure.

God will see you through this difficult situation.

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