The situation described in the following letters continues to be entirely fictitious, including persons, names, crimes, sins, relationships, circumstances and all particulars. The kind of situation that is described, however, is all too common and my hope is that biblical principles applied to this fictitious scenario may be of some help to individuals tangled up in a real one.
So if I might, just by way of review, summarize what we have covered? We will be there on our visit soon, and so we can address any remaining questions then.
I began with a theological concern because we always want to begin with God. If this is the case in trivial matters, it most certainly is the case in momentous challenges like this one. I said that the temptation to blame God—since He had the power and ability to keep these things from happening to you—would be a very real temptation. I also urged you to remember that doing this, that “blaming God,” is by definition incoherent. If God can be blamed, then at the end of the day any man can blame him. In the name of taking a most severe line against the crime that was committed against you, you wind up erasing the very idea of crime. If God is evil, or if there is no God, as we read in Karamazov, then everything is permitted. But the permission involved in this is universal—it includes not only your bitterness, but also your father’s lusts.
I then explained how counseling in cases of serious trauma like this one sometimes needs to deal with the really difficult issues right at the first. A doctor in the ER room has to “set the bone.” There is a way of dealing with the hard issues at the front end that is a true kindness. The more gentle aspects of nursing need to come later.
Next we got into the great challenge of living like a Christian—the absolute duty of forgiving those who have sinned against us. In your case, with the sin so grievous, the standard questions about forgiveness are thrown into high relief. Forgiveness is mandatory, but forgiveness is not unilateral. A disposition to forgive is unilateral (and can in a limited way be called forgiveness), but for the transaction of forgiveness to occur, the one who sinned against you must genuinely repent. And once forgiveness has been granted, it is not synonymous with trust. Lack of trust not mean lack of forgiveness. But bitterness and malice do indicate a lack of forgiveness, and every form of bitterness must go. It only destroys the one who holds to it.
I then urged you to turn over all your struggles with this situation over to God. You were made to be treasured. You are precious in God’s sight. He wants to carry these things for you, and so you should relinquish everything to Him. You don’t deal with all the gunk, and then come to God for a reward. You come to God in the first instance, and you do so because in the blood of His Son you have been made most precious.
Anger is not the same thing as bitterness or malice. Anger can be righteous, while bitterness and malice cannot be. But God’s Word gives us clear directions on how to keep our anger constructive. Even when it is a good thing, like manna, it goes rotten overnight. So anger is supposed to be directed at things that Scripture identifies as lawful recipients of it, and anger is supposed to be episodic, and not a standing attitude. As a standing attitude, it would only sour the person who is holding it.
Someone in your position frequently feels a deep need to make a personal statement, one that is permanent, and one that serves notice to the world that you are now free and independent. I urged you to let your baptism be that mark and not to try to “medicate” yourself with therapeutic tattoos, or anything of that kind.
In another letter, I addressed the “normality” battle. You have one experience of a very perverse “normal,” and another set of head definitions that set forth what Scripture, reason, and tradition define as normal. But since your abnormal experience was presented to the world in a hypocritical way, then how is it not possible that all the other things that appear normal really aren’t? Maybe the whole world is a lying farce. This question is important because at some point you are going to be contemplating marriage, and it is the point where normal sexuality will collide most violently with what you have had to deal with. This is why it is important for you not to “stuff” these issues, but rather to be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:1-2) now, long before you meet this fine young man.
Of course you would have to be a block of wood not to sometimes feel the pressure of self-recrimination, the lure of blaming yourself for everything. But it is a lure, it is a temptation, and it must be resisted. There is a way to become complicit in tragedies like this, but there is no indication to me that you gave way to that at all.
As Christians, we are servants of the truth. We are not to be servants of whatever side we happen to be on. And so I explained to you in another letter that we are as supportive of you as we are because your account is true. My correspondence with your father was simply an attempt to get through his self-pity and his rationalizations, and not an indication that I was starting to have doubts about your story.
And so next, I gave you my Dutch uncle spiel. The world is charged with sexuality, and as you are going off to college, you are going to have to navigate this erotic world. The river is big, the rapids are white, and your kayak is small. Boys are going to come around, and you have to know to shut them down without shutting them out. How’s that for a cryptic statement?
The world is unfair. The world is a fallen place. This means that we have to “take measures,” and when we take measures, we are not approving of the things we are guarding against. You should want to see the world accurately, and be prepared for that, which is quite different from preparing for an imaginative world (the kind with green meadows and fluffy clouds all the time) that you hope might be happening somewhere, somehow. This is, if you will pardon my French, a worldview made up of unicorn farts.
Related to all of this is the question of identity. You have certain creational identities, given to you by God, which are to be enjoyed—but not allowed to become idols. If you prevent them from becoming idols in your life, you will enjoy them, along with your foundational identity of being a creation of God’s, and redeemed by Him on top of that. There are competitive identities that are necessarily idolatrous and which must always be resisted.
And last, my exhortation to you was that you make sure to taken refuge from every threat in the fortress of your God. Hide in His pavilions. Let Him be your shield and buckler. He loves you, treasures you, and He will always take care of you.
God bless you richly. May the benedictions of a thousand Sundays rest upon you.
Cordially in Christ,