Unconditional Love

    February 1999

    "It is God Who Heals"
    By Bob Van Domelen 

    The letter below was sent in response to a request for interview materials; Mr. Van Domelen was asked what advice he would give to Christian pedophiles.

    General comment:

    If a man (or woman) is arrested for molesting, they are automatically labeled by the state as pedophile. This is not necessarily a correct diagnosis and in some cases will retard or destroy any hope of healing.

    As I wrote in Darkness Now Light (Regeneration Books), Canice Connors of St. Luke Institute in Suitland, MD, stated that statistically only 3 in 100 of his patients were clinically diagnosed as pedophiles. Pedophilia is an obsessive, compulsive drive to be sexually active with children (ages 0-18) and pedophiles think of little else than achieving this goal. 

    I am not minimizing the effects of abuse one iota but must contend that many abusers are situational abusers, struggle somewhat with fantasy toward children, yet also have desire to be fulfilled as adults having healthy relationships with other adults.

    The problem with the diagnosis of pedophilia is that once made you will find far too many people in the medical world who pronounce that nothing can be done. It makes little difference that work is being done and progress is being made . . . much easier to latch onto the standard "Can't be fixed" way of thinking. This is why I wrote what I did earlier in this message. For one such as myself, it is the belief that change can happen through God and the vessels He chooses that continually motivates.

    If a child struggling with spelling is told "You'll never be able to spell" the child won't spell. What parent would in conscience tell a son or daughter that. Even if spelling remains difficult throughout life, one does not cripple another by saying to avoid any effort to spell. Like all analogies, this limps but I think you get my point. 

    Having said all that, please allow me to rephrase your question by seeing the word pedophile and focusing on the simple fact that a person may struggle with sexual attraction to minors without being diagnosed a pedophile, while still agreeing with your premise that pedophiles do exist.

    1) What exists? I have personally only seen one program (one connected with Lutheran Social Services called "Parents Anonymous"). The focus is prevention of abuse in any form but when I asked specifically about sexual abuse, I was told that a person who struggled with the temptation would be welcomed in their group. I have no way of knowing if clients actually exist in those groups who have this problem, only that they would be welcomed.

    As a board member for the Children's Trust Fund in Wisconsin, I hope to someday see that organization providing informational support. The goal is, after all, the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

    A major issue is privacy for the individual and one is not likely to see support groups listed in the yellow pages. God willing, there will be a day when that might be the case and this issue can be approached with the same realistic hope as those who struggle with alcohol and/or chemical addictions/compulsions.

    2) What advice to Christian strugglers? Tell someone that you trust and if possible more than one person so that a "team" can be available. Be ready to understand that reaction to the announcement of your struggle will most likely be an overreaction. Have faith that it is God who heals.

    Link up with Christian men's groups (i.e. Promise Keepers, Church Men's Clubs, or a support group for men), not to thrust your problem into this arena but to witness male interaction. A major issue with those who struggle with pedophilic urges is an inability to relate on a peer level with men . . . these groups will at least provide an opportunity to find acceptance in a Christian setting.

    Private counseling with a Christian therapist can be highly beneficial but it is important for a struggler to use the first session to ask questions. For example: Do you believe it is possible for someone struggling with this kind of thing to find freedom from it? What might be your response to hearing that a person has fantasies involving children? How important is prayer and relationship with Jesus in your treatment? How much importance do you place on "demons"? (Many have been severely damaged by those who feel exorcism is the route to go in treatment and I would not readily recommend such a consideration.)

    Armed with those responses, make a decision as to whether or not the therapist is appropriate for you. Understand, however, that you might have to settle for someone whose opinions and practices agree with most but not all of your hopes. In that case, focus on what can be accomplished.

    There are amazing healing parallels for the same sex struggler found in books on homosexuality (despite the claim of some therapists who feel no connection) that will apply to those who deal with issues related to children. Leanne Payne, Joe Dallas, Gordon Dalby, Robert McGee, Harry Schaumburg, and maybe even Bob Van Domelen, could be considered worthwhile reading. The step must be made, however, by the struggler to get the books.

    Bob Van Domelen is executive director of the ex-gay organization Broken Yoke Ministries, which offers assistance to recovering offenders. 

    Related Links

    Darkness Now Light. By Bob Van Domelen. 

    Parents Anonymous

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