1 June 2021  |

Dear Aunt Sevvy,

Recently the adult son of one of our congregation’s leading families was arrested for propositioning a minor for sex. The family bailed him out of jail pending a trial, but they all insist that he did nothing wrong. It was the girl’s fault, they say—this teenager “seduced” him. But in truth, rumors of sexual misconduct have followed this young man around for years. 

Now he’s back in church and his parents are suddenly pushing to make him an up-front leader—music, Sabbath School, prayers. It makes many of us very uncomfortable. The pastor and elders are struggling to know how to stand up to this strong family. 

Is this right, Aunty? Doesn’t seem like it to me.

Signed, A Little Creeped out


Dear Creeped,

Aunty believes strongly in forgiveness and inclusion in the church family, as she has written often. But she draws the line at those who are a danger to others. Sexual predation of minors falls squarely into this latter category. 

Aunty has seen sexual abuse in her circle of friends. It ruins people’s lives—and such men are not infrequently repeat offenders. Wherever danger to minors is a possibility, as it appears to be here, preventative measures should be taken, which must include not letting such a man be put forward as a spiritual role model. 

What to do? Call the conference. Even if they’re insensitive to the personal concerns, they have a strong financial incentive to take action: the denomination spends millions upon millions for insurance premiums and settlements for sexual misconduct in churches and institutions. So sensitive (and expensive) is this problem, that the conference officer in charge of insurance should be sweating when he hears of it, because if this young man abuses someone in the church, victims’ lawyers have public evidence that the church knew they had an alleged offender among them. Jackpot!

Don’t be shy. Speak up. If the conference does nothing, call your union conference and the General Conference insurance department. 

Aunt Sevvy


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