The Sins of Some Men are Publicly Known, Leading Directly to Judgment, but Those of Other Men Become Evident Later
What about the victim of childhood sexual abuse within the Witness setting who remains faithful but it was anything but easy because her abuser basked in the respect of all until the day he died? Think it’s easy to answer that person? Think it’s easy to be that person?
If there is one thing that might be described as our gross planetary product, borrowing terminology from the economists, it is childhood sexual abuse. Thirty years of all-out war against it has made barely a dent. You can still throw a stone in any direction and hit half a dozen pedophiles. Within the month, three local cases of teachers busted for the vice (including a principal) has made the news.
Though the greater world battles the evil, it does what it always does. It focuses on symptoms and not root cause. It focuses on punishment—though it is not just Elon Musk who wonders why, two years after Epstein died in prison over CSA (‘If you were surprised to hear Jeff Epstein committed suicide in prison,’ one cynic said, ‘just think how surprised he must have been), and shortly afterwards his mistress was jailed, no one else has ever been implicated—didn’t he run a pedophile paradise island and there entertain some of the best-connected persons in the world?
(photo: OpenStreetMap, Wikipedia)
It’s rather like what Frederick Douglass said about slavery. Characterizing the proposition that the North (at first) was fighting to preserve the union irrespective of ending slavery, he said, “We strike at the effect and leave the cause unharmed.” It is the same with the world’s approach to childhood sexual abuse. Strike at the cause and maybe then we can be more impressed.
How can continually focusing on Bible teachings with regard to sexual morality not be counted among efforts to stamp out the cause, not merely the effects? Nonetheless, while I might onetime have liked to say there was no CSA within the Jehovah’s Witness setting, such has not been the case. Be abused in that setting, and you are likely to think that setting is the focus of the problem, though those not so emotionally attached will know this is not the case.
So it’s back to square one. The perpetrator has died. The victim has remained faithful to God and the infrastructure she perceives He has set forth. What on earth do you say to such a person?
Maybe the verse that should carry the day is 1 Timothy 5:24
“The sins of some men are publicly known, leading directly to judgment, but those of other men become evident later.”
What that judgment will be I will not venture to say, but it’s the notion that there has been no judgment that devastates. It will, should it fall under the purview of this verse, happen “later.” Will “later” be in the new system of things—or is the person’s goose already cooked and he won’t be there? Either way, no more will someone parade around in a false veneer of respectability while a victim is only too aware of his wicked underbelly. The emperor’s clothes will be shed, for all to see. How will he deal with that little problem?
I have a certain flare for dramatic reading, which compensates for lack of talent elsewhere, and I used to draw out this verse with a long pause before “later.” The effect of a long pause is that when the next word at last comes it hits like a hammer. (Pastor Ingqvist of Lake Wobegon tried to master this technique by emulating the TV preacher, but he began pausing in such odd . . . . . . . . . . . . places . . . that nobody knew what he was talking about.) The sins of some men with become evident—“not now,” I would insert the phrase, but . . . “later.”
The scripture was included in the public talk outline ‘Jehovah’s Eyes Are Upon Us.’ That talk, at least the way I used to deliver it, laid majority emphasis on, ‘Don’t think you’re going to get away with any wicked schemes—God sees it all even if humans don’t and he will see that you are clobbered for your bad deeds.’
Some of the nasty schemes that scoundrels were so sure they were going to get away with (until they didn’t) was the rotten sons of Eli laying down “with the women who served at the entrance of the tent of meeting.” (1 Samuel 2:22) What if you knew about it? How could you not, the tent of meeting being at the time the center of worship? What a downer that would be.
Wussy Eli would scold them, halfheartedly—and I would read the following as though it were “the people” causing the trouble: “Why do you keep doing things like these? For the things I am hearing about you from all the people are bad.” “But they refused to listen to their father, for Jehovah had determined to put them to death”—huge stress on the italicized, slowly enunciated words, with my own: “All this time they thought they were getting away with something, but . . . “ Who did they think they were kidding?
Other lowlifes who earned their justified ends, even though they thought what they did had been in secret, were those rotters of old-time Israel carrying on outrageously, untroubled because “they are saying, ‘Jehovah is not seeing us. Jehovah has left the land.’” (Ezekiel 8:12) Turned out he was and he hadn’t. Gehazi, who went on to serve as another bad example, also met his comeuppance due to God’s vigilance.
All of these accounts were drawn out in an overly dramatic fashion that sort of embarrasses me today. Moreover, could I even do it today, and would I want to? The talk has been completely rewritten, a current speaker assured me, to emphasize the positive over the negative. You can go either way, as can be seen from this verse:
“The eyes of Jehovah are on the righteous, And his ears listen to their cry for help. But the face of Jehovah is against those doing what is bad, To erase all memory of them from the earth.” (Psalm 34:15-16)
The former used to be there and I would dutifully read it—no, not grudgingly—I gave it its due—but the rewards of the righteous was overshadowed by the punishment for the wicked. Today it is the reverse. Doubtless it is a good thing. Emphasize the good over the bad. It’s in complete accord with today’s emphasis that, as a default position, you think well of the other person, not regard them with suspicion. It is absolutely a shift of emphasis for the better. But it also doesn’t hurt to know that the scoundrels will be exposed—even if in some cases it happens . . . . later.
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