Critique of the Focus on the Family article: "PEDOPHILIA in MARRIAGE"

10 Pros and 10 Cons about their Advice

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(Summary: Does Focus on the Family's article"Pedophilia in Marriage" give good advice? This 2015 article starts with some questions from a nameless woman whose husband has molested their niece. Although Focus gives some good advice, according to a forensic evaluator I interviewed, Focus offers some poor advice as well.)

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Focus on the Family’s online pedophilia article (link) began with a question from a Christian woman who had just discovered her husband had repeatedly molested their 6-year-old niece in “unthinkable” ways.

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The wife is terrified about the future. She wishes her life could just go on as it always has. Her husband doesn’t know she has discovered the crime. The woman wants to have a good marriage and is afraid this will make her and her husband outcasts among their friends and community. She wonders if she should report her husband to law enforcement.

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Her feelings are normal for anyone who’s gone through this.

 

I asked licensed therapist Michael Alvarez, MS, LMFT, to give me some feedback. His practice for the past 30 years has concentrated on the treatment and evaluation of sex offenders. He’s a forensic evaluator in court cases and also a Christian. He consults for medical boards and church denominations to help them to evaluate staff or members who have been accused. I also received comments from other licensed therapists, and asked dozens of ex-wives of pedophiles in my private Facebook group, The Life-Saving Divorce for Separated and Divorced Christians, how they responded to Focus on the Family’s advice. I’m grateful for all the comments. I’ve integrated their insights below. (And two Christian ex-wives of pedophiles shared their stories and advice, which I’ve included at the bottom.)

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The wife asking questions in the article has a long path ahead of her, but thankfully, she is not alone. She has the Lord helping her as she goes through this valley.

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PROS: 10 Good Words of Advice in this Focus on the Family Article on Pedophilia

It recommends the wife…

  • Get the niece (the victim) to safety
  • Contact law enforcement quickly, so that the wife isn’t “implicated in his guilt,” and avoids “legal culpability.” (See below for tips on dealing with child porn discovered on your spouse’s computer or mobile devices.)
  • Bring it to light. Don’t cover it up and ignore it.
  • Encourage the niece’s parents/guardian to treat the girl’s trauma immediately by seeing a qualified counselor. They say, “there’s a huge difference between immediate assistance and delayed assistance….”
  • Get the niece a medical checkup.
  • Be aware that “many experts hold out very little hope for the average abuser’s rehabilitation.”
  • Weigh options with a reputable attorney. (They don’t say what kind of attorney. It might be a criminal defense attorney for the husband.)
  • Look to the Lord in prayer. Hold onto your faith, hope, and courage.
  • Don’t sacrifice everything else in your life in order to save this relationship.
  • Be aware that pedophiles don’t always look like creepy people. “They’re usually seductive, manipulative, and highly controlling. They’re also nice, friendly, affable, helpful, and extremely adept at wheedling their way into other people’s good graces…”

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They also hint that law enforcement (and likely neighbors, friends at church, and even the woman’s own children and relatives) are watching to see what side she takes.

 

Will the wife side with decency (by protecting innocent children and taking action), or will she side with the perpetrator (by refusing to think about it, by accepting excuses from the pedophile, by being willfully blind, by being defensive, or by avoiding involvement that would disrupt her comfortable life)?

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So far, so good.

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The wife in the article deserves a lot of empathy and support and kindness. She is in denial. She hopes that having a sex offender husband will have no effect on her life and they can go on as before. (Like other wives of pedophiles, she probably hopes this was all a bad dream and that she will wake up to find the relief that it was all a nightmare.)

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This is just human nature. It is a stage of denial. No one wants to see horrific things. No one wants the stigma of being married to a pedophile: living every day on high alert, and worrying about seeing their name in the headline news, like Anna Duggar has. No one wants to see their current life upended.

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This is one of the worst shocks a wife can face: that the man she fell in love with and trusted finds exquisite pleasure in watching children and babies being raped—including the planning and secrecy that leads up to it.

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When a bombshell hits, it’s hard to accept facts and face reality. Whether you are married to a child molester—or you find that the lump in your breast is malignant—your normal life is turned upside down. The initial numbness, shock, and delusional thinking are part of it. (If this is you, you are not alone, many other Christian women have accidentally married pedophiles. Keep reading.)

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But after this initial good advice, much of Focus on the Family’s advice is not good. Some of it is exactly what a pedophile would want them to say.

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CONS: 10 Problems in this Focus on the Family Article on Pedophilia

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1. Focus on the Family says "God hates divorce," and omits Jesus’ teaching that condones divorce for sexual immorality (porneia)

 

Quote from the article:

God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and Focus on the Family would hesitate to recommend it as a first option even in terrible scenarios like the one you’ve described,…”

 

Focus on the Family brings up divorce, but in the same sentence states, “God hates divorce.”

They never say that divorce is acceptable for sexual immorality according to Jesus in Matthew 19:9, and in Deuteronomy 24:1-4.

 

By stating God hates divorce, Focus suggests that divorce is not an acceptable option for the wife of a pedophile, even though they do bring it up as an option. This double-speak leaves the wife confused, possibly concluding that God will hate her for divorcing, even if her husband is a child molester.

 

 

2. Focus on the Family omits known facts about pedophilia: It is lifelong, and it’s so serious that it negates the benefits of having a two-parent married home.

 

Focus on the Family says their top priority is “doing everything in our power to save and restore broken marriages,” yet they want the wife to be realistic. Sadly, they omit important facts the wife needs to factor into her decision.

 

  • A. For example, Focus on the Family dangles this hope: “Your marriage might be healed, but it might not.”

 

The reality is that pedophilia is lifelong. Pedophilia has been studied for years and there is nothing in the academic literature that indicates pedophilia goes away.

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As one ex-wife of an abuser said:

“I remember my previous pastor laughing at my concerns that my husband would do those things again, telling me I was paranoid. But he did.”

 

  • B. Focus talks about research, but they don't tell you about the landmark Jaffee study that found that while good fathers are wonderful for kids, bad fathers like this are terrible. Cunning, criminal, impulsive, reckless, irresponsible fathers (such as pedophiles), cancel out many benefits of being brought up in a two-parent married home. And 1-in-8 children residing with someone with three or more of the seven anti-social traits were found to have developed conduct disorders themselves, as opposed to only 1-in-33 kids when the father doesn’t have anti-social traits. www.lifesavingdivorce.com/jaffee

 

 

3. Focus on the Family omits the Bible’s condemnation of those who hurt children.

 

Focus on the Family says, “God hates divorce,” but they never say, “God hates child sexual abuse.” God certainly hates the rape of children who are exploited to make these porn videos.

 

As we see from the life of Jesus, his anger at the mistreatment of children was a godly and righteous fury. Jesus said that sins against children are so serious that it would be better if the perpetrator had been drowned with a millstone around his neck.

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What would Jesus do?
In a favorite Bible story about Jesus, people were bringing little children to him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to his disciples, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder.  He placed his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16 NIV

 

Jesus also said he was angry at those who hurt children. He said they deserved worse than being drowned in the sea with a millstone around their neck. These strong words remind us that hurting children is serious to the Lord.

 

Matthew 18:6 (CSB) "But whoever causes the downfall of one of these little ones who believe in Me—it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea!

 

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If Jesus Christ, who was both loving and sinless, can draw a line here, so can his followers. We are called to imitate him. It is not a sin to be angry, to condemn evil behavior, and to consider removing a child molester from your home. In fact, one could argue, it’s commanded.

 

1 Cor 5:11 NIV  But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.”

 

 

4. Focus on the Family describes child molesters as “seeking sexual satisfaction outside the marriage,” which suggests that it is akin to having an affair.

 

 

Quote from the article: "Among other things, your spouse has broken faith with you. He has violated the marriage..."

 

No, this is not like an affair. This is not a man claiming to seek sexual satisfaction outside the marriage because he's not finding satisfaction in the marriage. This is not consensual: It’s someone who gets their kicks out of the fear and terror of children being injured—or the trickery and deception of children who were told they were the perpetrator's "special little friend." This is a sex offender who is drawn to the forbidden. Normal sex does not satiate or substitute for his attraction to children.

The perpetrator may present himself/herself as safe and trustworthy in order to groom the child. The pedophile may convince the child that they wanted this and even caused the adult to do this.

 

It involves an attraction to child rape. It’s not due to a wife’s lack of sexual enthusiasm. It is predatory behavior and a serious sin against a 6-year-old child. This is criminal.

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Pedophiles do tremendous emotional damage. They convince the child that the child wanted this and caused it. The pedophile distorts the child's view of reality. This is why getting proper and immediate treatment is so important, as Focus on the Family rightly recommends.

 

One of the ex-wives of a pedophile in my Life-Saving Divorce online group for Christian divorcees said this:

 

Focus says, "Among other things, your spouse has broken faith with you. He has violated the marriage..." Broken faith? Nope. He broke the law! Call the police. Period. Don't talk to him, unless you have to conduct business. Even then, don't ever talk directly to him - use a lawyer, a good divorce lawyer. If he was able to live this private lifestyle and you just now found out, he's very good at manipulating you, and will do so again. He wasn't "seeking sexual satisfaction elsewhere." That would be having an affair with a co-worker, a neighbor, or someone at the local bar. This is completely different.

 

 

5. Focus on the Family makes pedophilia sound like a marriage problem. It’s not.

 

Quote from the Focus on the Family article:

Your goal in all of this will be to persuade your husband to meet with and be assessed by a competent licensed clinician…”

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Pedophilia is not a marriage problem. The wife is not a pedophile. The husband is. There's nothing she did to make him start preying on kids, and there's nothing she can do to stop him. He alone is responsible for his actions and for change. She can set up 100 counseling appointments, and confront him 100 times, but he won’t change unless he wants to change. And even then, the likelihood is low, especially if he was caught and forced to enter treatment.

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Her husband is a husband in name only. The verb to husband is an old farming word meaning to till and care for, in other words, putting time and energy into making the home safe, loving, and respectful.

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But this husband has likely deceived the wife in order to be alone to molest a child (or in the case of child porn, to view videos of babies and children being raped). This isn’t her problem; it’s his.

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Her real goal should be to get children to safety. And perhaps if she leaves (or asks him to leave), the pain of losing her as his wife, and his own reputation, will wake him up and motivate him to get help for himself, though the chance of him improving significantly is less than 1%, according to Alvarez.

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6. Focus on the Family suggests that a wife normally would choose to stay.

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Quote from the article:

“If your spouse ends up serving a lengthy prison sentence for his crimes, this is obviously going to have a serious impact on your marriage.

 

The marriage is already broken by his behavior. Now the criminal justice system has done its job by protecting society from him. The court system often fast-tracks divorces and legal separations in these situations. When a pedophile is removed from the home and no longer has access to children, tension reduces.

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If a woman with minor children stays, the years tick by. As his release date approaches, she will likely feel the terror of him trying to contact the children and manipulate them, or threatening her.

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7. Focus on the Family asks wives (and others) to put themselves in harm’s way.

 

Focus on the Family recommends the wife have a face-to-face confrontation with her child-molesting husband, suggesting that such a conversation is required for there to be honesty, love, and trust in this home.

The article says, “Love and trust depend on honesty, and in this situation honesty requires a direct confrontation. We suggest you talk to your husband and find out exactly what’s been going on. Ask your spouse some pointed questions about the frequency and duration of his involvement in pedophilia.”

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The only person who has love, honesty, and trust is the wife. The husband abandoned these values long ago. Perhaps a better way to handle it is to let the legal authorities take action and not interfere with the investigation. By the wife discussing it, she may give the perpetrator time and information to sow doubt and adjust his story.

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At this point, all the repair work in the marriage needs to be done by the sex offender. If he wants to come clean and get into therapy, that’s his responsibility.

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Focus says that the wife should be prepared in case her husband might “be in denial” or get “defensive.”

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Pedophiles aren’t in denial that their behavior is socially unacceptable. They may be in denial about their role in it, and may try to convince others that they are doing no harm, or that the victim wanted it or enjoyed it, or "asked for it." They often know they are breaking the law. Maintaining their public image is vital to them. Confronting them—and their carefully crafted public reputation—may lead to violence, lies, denials, and gaslighting. It is not recommended that a wife do this.

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Quote from the article:

If you think he may respond with anger or would in some way downplay the situation, bring some other interested parties into the discussion – your niece’s parents, perhaps, or a pastor, or a trusted Christian friend.”

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I asked several licensed Christian counselors if a confrontation was standard procedure with a sex offender and all said no, it would be unethical. They said their duty is to their client, and participating in a confrontation might put their client in danger or confusion, emotionally and physically.

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Pedophiles are experts at manipulating people, especially a wife whom they’ve deceived repeatedly for years.
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Some pedophiles might use anger to get the wife to drop the subject, to turn the tables, or cast themselves as the innocent victim of false allegations. Very likely they will use tactics that have been successful in the past with the wife. Having the oft-deceived wife involved is not helpful. She is likely no better today at identifying his entitled attitude and standing firm against his manipulation as she was the day before she discovered the truth.

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Another common tactic is to confess to something minor, or to admit to something in the distant past, hoping to pressure the wife to give the marriage another chance. The pedophile may describe this current incident with the niece as some misunderstanding or may deny it entirely.

 

An ex-wife of a pedophile was shocked that Focus on the Family would recommend that a wife try to deal with this. She says her ex-husband tricked several people:

 

Several people fell for his lies and believed him that it was just a one time thing that hit him out of the blue and he was distraught and wanted help... He could be pretty convincing. I believed the lies at first too. His defense attorney told me it was likely the tip of the iceberg. That turned out to be the case. Honestly I think many are just ignorant. They don’t understand the criminal mindset. (Many of these thought patterns are common in a lot of criminals, not just pedophiles.) Good people with good hearts want to believe everyone is redeemable.

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Normal people don’t think like sex offenders because they aren’t sex offenders.

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Normal people (even pastors and counselors) get deceived by sex offenders’ trickery because they want to believe the best of others. Decent people project their own honestly, reliability, reasonableness, sound judgment, and kindness on others, including on sex offenders.

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Pedophiles often view optimistic, fair-minded Christians as gullible, especially in church settings, according to expert Dr. Anna Salter. This is especially true if the sex offender is an attractive, well-liked person who attends, volunteers, and donates to the church.

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Focus on the Family suggests that bringing in a group of people, including the victim’s parents, will keep the child molester from “responding with anger” or from “downplaying the situation.”

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But sex offenders’ specialty is downplaying situations. They are very good at it, better than you are at identifying it and responding to it. Only the strongest therapists who are trained in working with this population can treat them.

 

Alvarez says that fewer than 1% of those who are caught and go to therapy involuntarily ever improve significantly.

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Having a confrontation with a sex offender may be worse than useless. Pedophiles are often described as bright and manipulative by those who run court-approved sex offender programs. Even licensed counselors can be fooled and fail to grasp the dynamic.

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A confrontation gives a sex offender an audience for their performance. They are good at confounding well-meaning pastors and church leaders (and even the parents of the victim). They might choose the tactic of appearing to be open and giving a candid confession, expressing contrition, shedding tears, and showing remorse, and begging for "another chance" and an "opportunity to change."

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In the Christianity Today article “Sex Offenders Groom Churches Too,” Dr. Salter explains how church leaders fall for this, and mishandle pedophiles in the church.

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"Churches can also grow in understanding what kind of culture sexual abusers count on and work to create. Psychologists call it “grooming.” A proposed definition of grooming states that abusers, “... strategically manipulate the victim, their family, and the community to hide their deviant intentions and avoid detection.” The predators that are statistically likely to be in the pews, volunteering, and even behind the pulpit aren’t just grooming their victims, they are grooming their community to view them as trustworthy and even as spiritual leaders.

A study on how offenders groom found “... the community itself can also be primed and controlled through the grooming process. Many offenders tend to adopt a pattern of socially responsible and caring behaviour in public. They endeavour to build a good reputation and to create a strong social perception of themselves as being an upstanding member of the local church or community, as a nice man.”

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Another tactic of pedophiles is to say the confrontation is an unfair personal attack, or that this is evidence of the wife’s lack of forgiveness or proof of judgmentalism on her part. The pedophile may remind his wife that she is not perfect, and he is hurt by her lack of faith in him to change. He may pose as the real victim. He might say the child is lying or confused, or seduced him, or is too young to remember clearly. He may tell the wife that she misunderstood the child’s story.

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It’s best for law enforcement to deal with a pedophile, not the wife or church staff, because pedophiles are incredibly good at instilling doubts designed to keep well-meaning people from taking action, from holding them responsible, and from reporting to law enforcement.

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From the same Christianity Today article, Dr. Anna Salter writes:

 

“…abusers will exploit Christian principles of forgiveness and grace for their own end and use any spiritual authority to override people feeling uncomfortable or resisting their grooming.”

 

8. Focus on the Family says that pedophiles tend to marry damaged women. But child molesters also target religious and traditional women.

 

Quote from Focus on the Family's article:

“[Pedophiles] tend to marry someone who has also been sexually broken.”

 

No doubt pedophiles are attracted to easy prey. Sometimes women who are childhood sexual abuse survivors don’t see it coming. Their early warning system is impaired from prior abuse.

 

But pedophiles also love to target traditional or religious women. (And the two women who tell their stories below both came from healthy Christian homes with parents who had lifelong loving marriages. They were not abused sexually or otherwise in childhood.)

Here are examples of the messages women get from church (or society) that set them up to be a target for a pedophile.

  1. If she is devoutly religious, she was told all her life that her good example would inspire her future husband to be a better man.
  2. She had been told that marriage was God’s best way of maturing a man.
  3. She wanted to show her boyfriend what a truly loving woman is like because he had a toxic mother.
  4. They met at church, and she was taught that God could make any marriage between two Christians turn out well.
  5. She was told that the love of Jesus in her life would fill the holes in his heart from childhood issues.
  6. When they were dating, her future husband had told her it was “all in the past.” He (and her pastor) accused her of having “trust issues” and not having enough faith if she hesitated.
  7. She had suspicions, but their premarital counselor at church hinted that married sex would fix his attraction to kids.
  8. She sensed that he wasn’t very sexually interested in her, but she thought it would change after they married.
  9. She was told that he had truly changed. And if she really loved him, she would “stand by her man” and give him the support he needed to change for the better.
  10. She had noticed some odd behavior around children, but he just excused it as his academic curiosity about children and sex, saying he had a medical, theological, or psychological interest in the topic.
  11. She was looking for someone who was good with kids. He came across as really liking children and connecting better with kids than with adults.
  12. Her counselor or the staff at the marriage intensive was poorly trained and nearly delusional. They didn’t realize pedophilia never goes away, or they knew it, but hoped this case would be different. They knew about his “problem,” but encouraged the relationship, suggesting that the couple focus on communication skills, rather than dealing with the elephant in the room.
  13. She had been taught to “forgive and forget,” so even if she saw issues, she was taught to smooth them over, not speak of them, and stay silent because reconciliation was the chief goal. Focus on the Family feeds into this because the president, Jim Daly publicly says, God "hates divorce in every case."

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These messages cause a normal woman to silence her “early warning system,” to be naïve and idealistic to a fault, and easy to manipulate.

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So, it’s not fair to suggest that pedophiles target only “broken” women. They target someone whose religious teachings demand they stay, even if they discover the truth.

 

It’s not the women’s fault. They were compliant, doing what their trusted leaders told them to do. This is the logical outcome of these simplistic teachings that don’t allow nuance when facing serious evil. Many of these teachings have been reinforced by Focus on the Family.

 

 

 

9. Focus on the Family suggests that the wife’s anger and disgust at her husband may be detrimental to the marriage.

 

The article says, Once you’ve taken these steps (contacting law enforcement), you’ll obviously want to turn your attention to the state of your marriage.”

 

What marriage? The marriage is destroyed. There is a deceiver hiding in the home, using his married status as a way of covering up his criminal behavior. This is not the loving, undefiled, and caring marriage God requires from husbands. This is not a godly marriage.

 

Focus writes, …what’s likely to happen to your relationship with your husband if you simply turn a blind eye to his behavior? As we see it, the bitterness, anger, and disgust you’re feeling toward him at this moment will continue to grow until you can no longer tolerate his presence.”

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It's good that Focus cautions the wife not to turn a blind eye. But the wording above seems to suggest that the wife’s feelings are sinful, because they might hurt the marriage. Focus on the Family is wrong. Morally, this wife has a responsibility to keep children safe in the home, both family members and visitors.

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Anger and disgust are important and righteous feelings, and completely appropriate. Being disgusted, angry, and righteously indignant about a pedophile’s behavior is God’s gift of parental protectiveness.

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These feelings may motivate the wife to act. If you see a woman staying with a pedophile, tolerating his presence, there is a problem. Perhaps leaving is too physically dangerous, or spiritually condemned, or financially fraught, or she’s been told she must stay, or she has no place to go. Any of these might apply to Anna Duggar, Josh Duggar's wife. She is in a tough spot.

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It’s okay to love the man you wish he was, but also be angry and disgusted that he’s selfishly and secretly betrayed the family.

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To suggest that the wife’s disgust, anger, and rejection of a child predator is detrimental to her marriage seems a bit ironic under the circumstances.

 

As one ex-wife of a child molester said, upon reading this quote:

"The state of your marriage"?!! There is no marriage. You've just found out that your husband has been molesting a small child (abusing, violating, destroying). 

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10. Focus on the Family uses minimizing language when describing pedophilia.

 

A. Focus calls it sexual dysfunction.

A sexual dysfunction is something like painful erections for men, or difficulty reaching climax for women. Pedophilia is not a sexual dysfunction. It is a deviance. It is criminal.

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B. Focus calls the discovery of a child molester in your home “a ‘crazy-making’ turn of events.”

That phrase suggests that child molesting is on par with other typical frustrations in a couple’s life. Burning the Thanksgiving turkey or watching your toddler use crayons on the wall are crazy-making turn of events. Pedophilia is not.

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11. Focus on the Family offers solutions that don’t work: Counseling doesn’t make pedophilia go away.

 

The article says, “The good news is that this might actually be the best way to get him the help he needs: if the case comes to trial, and if he is convicted, the judge will probably order him to undergo personal therapy.”

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Requiring therapy after arrest, sentencing, and during incarceration doesn’t make pedophilia go away. When it’s involuntarily like this, there’s virtually no likelihood it will fix him. As forensic evaluator Michael Alvarez says, “They spend the first 4 months being angry that they have to go to therapy at all.” Alvarez puts the likelihood of complete change at less than 1%, according to his 30 years of experience focused specifically on sex offenders. (He says, the likelihood of change for highly motivated individuals who voluntarily step forward before they are caught, is 6-8%.)

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Prison is focused on reducing recidivism (the likelihood of re-offending on a criminal level). But reducing that likelihood from a 9 to a 7 (on a 10-point scale) is no comfort to a mother of minor children.

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As one mother said,

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“I didn’t want him to be with the children alone unless he was down to a zero. Getting down to a 5 or even a 3, isn’t enough for me to feel my kids are safe. I don’t even want a little molesting going on.”

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Well-meaning but poorly informed counselors and pastors and friends who pressure a mother to take a pedophile back into her home are irresponsible and negligent. They have no skin in the game, and little knowledge. They are foolishly willing to risk a child’s safety for their ideology.

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Here’s a woman who was being pressured to take her husband back.

 

“I had filed for divorce. My husband had molested our babysitter. But my husband's Christian counselor wanted to meet with me with the intent of getting me to take him back. I had already forgiven and reconciled repeatedly in the past. So I asked if I could do an audio recording of our conversation. My questions to her were to be: What tests have you run? What makes you sure his attraction to children has gone away? Would you have him babysit your own children for a weekend? His counselor immediately cancelled the appointment.”

 

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It’s your choice: To stay, to separate, to divorce.

If ever there was a time for a Christian counselor or organization to offer divorce as a good option, this ought to be it.

Refusing to suggest divorce as a valid option for a Christian is unethical.


Some Advice for Anna Duggar from Christian Ex-Wives of Pedophiles

 

Christian Mother #1 (Her story on YouTube: Part 1  and  Part 2)

"The things I wish I could tell Anna Duggar:

— Step away from Josh and his supportive family and friends and get an outside perspective.

— Talk to the detectives and/or prosecutors.

o read the search warrant, arrest warrant and court transcripts

o pray that your eyes are opened to the truth in everything

o you cannot watch your spouse’s interactions with your children 24/7. If you feel you need to stay, consider how you can protect your children. You essentially have to be a single parent. You leave, the kids leave (if the spouse is home)

— Don’t be your spouse’s accountability partner. They need someone outside of the marital relationship to hold them accountable. Being a single parent is hard; being a single parent with an unsafe partner in the home is impossible.

 

(For the record, I am not judging her choice to stay—that’s a really hard choice to make. But it’s so much harder to see the truth when the spouse is there telling the story)"

 

 

Christian mother #2 (married to a Christian man who gave marriage seminars in church):

 

“You’re not the only Christian woman to marry a pedophile. I did too. I’m sorry for the anxiety and humiliation you’re experiencing. I know the tension of wondering what he’s doing in secret. It’s a scary place to be.

My husband had a history of attraction to children, but claimed he’d changed long before I met him. He was a trusted volunteer at church who wanted to get a master’s degree in family and marriage therapy from a Christian university. Surely, he had dealt with his issues!

He was charming and was enthusiastic about Bible studies and Sunday school classes. He was on the hospitality team. Everyone knew that if he was in charge, the hike, picnic, or party would be fun. After we married, he was invited by church leaders to give marriage communication seminars.

I never saw any criminal conduct, but I saw uncomfortable behavior and began to have concerns about the way he interacted with kids. He was finally caught when someone reported it to me. Other ex-wives pedophiles have said the same thing.

To other wives (or ex-wives) of pedophiles,

I know the tension you live in. I empathize with you. Perhaps you knew something was off with your husband. You may not have known any details, but you knew he had issues. You’d been on high alert for years: watchful, decreasing the time he had around children.

As a person of faith, you wanted to be a good wife. If you were like me, you wanted to have a good marriage. You hoped and persevered. You were loving and idealistic. You prayed that your godly example, and grace-filled forgiveness would fill the empty hole in your husband’s heart. You prayed that the love of Jesus in your life would bandage his wounds from childhood.

You don’t have to apologize for trying hard, praying more, and following all the Christian marriage advice to be the best wife you could be. Maybe you told your church leaders, and Focus on the Family phone counselors, and the leaders at a marriage retreat the big secret.

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Maybe they handled it wrong. Maybe they told you to forgive and try harder and suggested it would go away, or that this was God’s will. Maybe they didn’t tell you to get to safety, or put divorce or legal separation on the table as godly acceptable options. Perhaps they didn’t call law enforcement even when they were required to. They bear responsibility for this.

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You wanted to give your husband the best opportunity to get better. You supported him because you saw so much potential in him. You didn’t hate him. You loved and cared about him. But privately, you wondered if your good reputation would be destroyed if his child molesting or child porn ever got reported.

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I understand how you weigh the options. I chose to stay because I thought Sexaholics Anonymous and Christian counseling were helping him stay sober. But they weren’t. Unbeknownst to me, he was still driving and parking near schools.

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This is truly your choice and your judgment call. To stay or to legally separate or to divorce—or to leave the options open.

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I won’t sugarcoat it: divorce means change, but normally your close friends and other sensible people will stand by you and support your decision if they know the truth. (If they don’t, then something is wrong with their moral compass.)

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For me, the joy of living without the burden of a pedophile in my life was incredible.

    • I thought God could never use me again. But he has.
      • I thought I would never be in ministry again. But I am — even more than before.
      • I thought people at church would condemn me. But they didn’t. They surrounded me with love.
      • I thought I would never be financially solid again. But I am. In fact, I have 10 times the assets I did when I was married
    • I thought I was disqualified for God’s best. But I know now I am a daughter of the King, and I am blessed.
      • I thought my children would be damaged and hopelessly dysfunctional. They aren’t. They tell me that they feel just like their friends from two-parent married families.
    • I thought I would never have any honor. I’ve been asked to serve on many corporate and non-profit boards and held far more leadership positions in church than I did when I was married.
      • My children are proud of me for what I did.

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I hope this gives you hope.

Whatever you decide, the choice is truly yours. I am thrilled I was set free, even though those first few years were tough. My life is incredibly happy. There are much worse things in this world than divorce.

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Looking back, I view divorce as one of the best choices I ever made in my life. It allowed me and my kids to get free from the tension. It took a while to untangle from him, but being free from a pedophile brought relief, peace, and safety to me and my little children.

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In my case, I had evidence that he was a destructive person, and the court believed me and the other witnesses and therapists. I got sole custody and he got monitored visitation. Not everyone gets that. That’s why I do not recommend divorce to everyone; it’s truly your choice. There may be some other clever way of keeping children away from him.

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Today my children are adults and are grateful I got out. They have thanked me repeatedly for divorcing. They don’t hate their father. They view him as a broken person. They know he’s dishonest and would never leave their own kids with him.
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If you’re married to someone who is into child porn or child molesting, it’s not your fault. You did nothing to start this; and you can do nothing to stop it. Sadly, it doesn’t go away.

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Read this blog post about my story “Being Married to a Pedophile: A Wife Speaks Out and Offers Hope to Other Wives of Pedophiles” (LINK) and the 500 comments and think through your options.

In my case, I got out. And I was not alone. When I started talking about it online anonymously, I found hundreds of other wives and ex-wives. Many Christian women who are ex-wives of pedophiles are grateful they got out. Was it tough? Yes. Did it take planning and persistence to find a job and support the family? Yes, definitely. The first two years were full of challenges, but we survived and eventually thrived.

 

Christian mother #3 (her husband was a pastor):  Clara Hinton's story, "Married to a Pedophile" https://findingahealingplace.com/married-to-a-pedophile-dottie-sandusky-and-i-have-lots-to-talk-about/

 


Child Porn. If you run across child porn images (real or not), report it immediately to law enforcement. Contact the National Center for Missing or Endangered Children and follow their instructions: http:// www.missingkids.com/gethelpnow/cybertipline or by phone (1-800-843-5678). A good first step is to report child pornography online to the National Center for Missing and Endangered Children: https://report.cybertip.org/

 


Are you going through a life-saving divorce and need support and clarity? I’d like to invite you to my private Facebook group, "Life-Saving Divorce for Separated or Divorced Christians." Just click the link and ANSWER the 4 QUESTIONS. This is a group for women and men of faith who have walked this path, or are considering it. Supporters and people helpers are also welcome.  I’ve written a book on divorce for Christians and other people of faith, The Life-Saving Divorce: Paperback: https://amzn.to/3cF1j25  Or eBook: https://amzn.to/3CCBsnr

Also, sign up for my email list below or HERE www.lifesavingdivorce.com/courage

 

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