How Pastors Can Minister to Minor-Attracted Adults Who are Celibate
While denominations have sometimes provided advice on how pastors and other church leaders can minister to adults who have committed sexual offenses against minors, little information has been provided on ministering to minor-attracted men and women who have not acted on their sexual feelings. This document provides a starting point for ministering to such individuals.
The most difficult issue pastors will face is protecting the congregationís children, as well as ensuring the safety of a minor-attracted adult who may face hostility or violence. Such violence or hostility can cause a person to withdraw from his congregation, making it impossible for the church to provide the minor-attracted adult with a place in which to remain accountable for his actions. Churches can play a crucial role in helping the minor-attracted adult remain integrated within the community, so as to provide him with support in making wise decisions.
A church member who tells his pastor that he is attracted to minors is showing courage and profound trust in the pastor. When the individual demonstrates integrity in his actions and a commitment not to act on his sexual feelings, the pastor can have more confidence in the personís ability to behave responsibly within the church community. The decision to share with honesty this deeply personal information can therefore be an opportunity for the pastor to develop further respect for that person.
The safety of the congregationís children is of course the primary concern for the pastor. Minor-attracted adults differ widely in attitude, behavior, and ability to control their actions. Like other church members who have feelings and desires they are expected not to act on, some minor-attracted adults have no difficulty refraining from acting on their desires, while others have great difficulty in this area. It may be helpful for pastors to consider other situations where church members seek ways of dealing in an acceptable manner with their sexual or nonsexual feelings.
Pastors should familiarize themselves with any statements that their denominations may have issued on matters related to ministering to minor-attracted adults. Opinions among Christians differ on certain important issues. One question that pastors will face is how to carry out their pastoral responsibilities in light of mandatory reporting laws. Furthermore, some pastors will face the question of whether the minor-attracted adultís sexual feelings can change. The pastor may need to determine the type of mental health assistance that is available and appropriate for the minor-attracted adult.
Pastors may find it helpful to become familiar with religious, historical, and scientific issues related to adult attraction to minors. They may also wish to seek examples of successful ministry to minor-attracted adults, as well as examples of celibate minor-attracted adults whose lives reflect the tenets of their faith. These examples can also provide role models for the minor-attracted adult.
Several churches have recommended that support circles be created to assist the pastor in his ministry. These small groups of church members who help the minor-attracted adult on his journey provide the same support and accountability that other congregation members routinely receive from each other.
The pastor or church leader who deals with such issues may find that he needs support for his own work. Pastors may therefore wish to seek out forums in which they can talk with other church leaders about matters related to ministry toward minor-attracted adults.
This statement was compiled at the third annual gathering of the
Christian Consultation on Adult Attraction to Minors, which met near Washington,
D.C., on November 2-3, 2001. Some of the participants in the meeting were
attracted to minors, while others were not.
© 2002 Christian Consultation on Adult Attraction to Minors