At Saddleback Church this Sunday, Pastor Rick Warren welcomed special guest speaker Beth Moore to the stage to talk to the mega-church congregation about sexual abuse. The discussion was aimed towards connecting those who've been abused with those who don't know its cost.
Beth Moore, the founder of Living Proof Ministries, was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. She first came out about her abuse in a book but quickly got backlash from her mother who sternly told her, "We protect the family," though Moore didn't reveal the identity of her abuser. Early in her ministry, Beth Moore was also advised to not speak up about being abused because it would put a damper on her ministry.
"It was put back on the victim for speaking out about this,” Moore comments.
Despite not having the support she needed, Moore began speaking out about sexual abuse, especially in the Church where it is particularly taboo.
In the hour-long discussion from the platform of Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, Beth Moore, Kay Warren, and Rick Warren spoke directly to the hearts of those who've been abused and then to all to encourage them to love like Jesus.
The crime left the now-prominent Church leader with a sense of shame and distorted viewpoint for years. During the message, Moore even mentioned a time closer to when she was abused that she would pray before bed, "God, if you love me, don't let me wake up in the morning."
But what changed, Moore continues, is that she learned that another person in her family had suffered the same abuse.
She was not alone.
"The power of #MeToo is we too," Moore said, gesturing to Kay Warren beside her, who was also a victim of sexual abuse as a child.
Moore pleaded for the Church to confront sin and abuse and simultaneously become a safe place for abuse victims to come out of hiding.
“We have this invasive and pervasive guilt about our own sexual sin. We have to get clarity. We have to be able to differentiate between sexual immorality and sexual criminality. One is sin; one is a crime. Both need proper action. One needs the police. Then we can move forward. We don’t talk about it enough," Moore stated.
Pastor Rick and his wife Kay began inviting abuse victims during the message to break the silence in their church, no matter how scary. The Warrens encouraged their congregation and assured them that this was a safe place for them. Pastor Rick said, “A good pastor protects the flock from wolves. It is my job to protect this flock from wolves. I want this to be a safe place for the victims, not for the wolves. If you prey on my flock I’m coming after you. I will hunt you down and I will turn you in.”
The effects of sexual abuse are complex and deep. Kay Warren mentioned the sense of hating one's own body after being sexually abused. The three discussed the distorted worldviews abuse victims may adopt, such as fear of intimacy, unhealthy views toward sex... the list goes on. Beth Moore and Kay Warren personally testified to many of these, Moore even stated, "I thought my whole life as a victim."
The three broke down one possible process of healing for abuse victims. First would be to tell the stories, which makes way for the profound feelings to be felt. Then victims, alongside counselors especially, can begin to identify lies they've believed because of being abused or harassed and realign their mindsets with God's truth.
The whole message is beneficial to the entire Church as we begin to tackle sexual abuse. It applies to abuse victims, abusers, and everyone else.
You can watch the full sermon here.