Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Gender Issues and Sexual Abuse

Episode Resources

Watch this entire panel discussion.

Read Bob Lepine's: "An Open Letter to #Whyididntreport

Leslie Basham: As a pastor and a dad, Bob Lepine’s heart breaks for women who have suffered abuse.

Bob Lepine: I believe Jesus is deeply sorry for your pain as well. It’s true He could have stopped it and He didn’t, and I can’t tell you why He didn’t—no one can—but I can tell you He gave His life to fix it.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for Wednesday, January 23, 2019.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Over the past year or so, the “Me Too” movement has brought to light how many women have dealt with the pain of sexual abuse. As we prepared for the True Woman '18 Conference, we felt it was really important to address this huge need. The theme of that event was “The Truth That Sets Us Free,” and we wanted to help women know how to be set free from the pain of their past. And we also wanted women to know how to be free from sexual sin that they might have been involved in. So we brought together a panel of speakers at True Woman '18 and asked them to talk about this subject. You are about to hear parts of their conversation. 

Mary Kassian: You see, and You know everything about us. You’ve seen our hurts, our heartaches, our sin, our loneliness, our desires.

You see the way we’ve tried to satisfy the ache and the longing, the ways that we’ve tried to satisfy that in ways that You say are not legitimate. You’ve seen that. You’ve also seen the ways that we’ve been sinned against—in quiet corners, in the darkness—ugliness that we can barely look at.

You see and You know, and You are in this place, Holy Spirit, to speak life to all the women who are quivering on the ground feeling broken, feeling vulnerable, feeling shame, feeling guilt. Lift them up, heal them, and say, “I don’t condemn you, Girl. I don’t condemn you.” There’s no condemnation for those who love Jesus.

So, Father, I just pray that whatever this has stirred in women’s hearts, I pray that You would, right now, be present to bring comfort, to bring healing, to bring hope, and to show them the next step that they need to take in order to walk into freedom—because the truth sets us free! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Dannah Gresh: Jackie, I wrote down some things that you said that I thought maybe we could unpack. One of them is: Gender is God’s idea. That has more weight and authority, knowing your testimony of having struggled with that. How bad was it for you?

Jackie Hill Perry: When I was four, five, I just felt like I would have preferred to be a boy. And so I tried in many ways to project masculinity. When I would use the bathroom I would stand up—or try to stand up—instead of sitting down. When I would take a bath, I would wrap the towel over my waist instead of around my chest, because that’s what I saw men do.

And so, I just think I was confused in many ways. This was early 90s, so that wasn’t in the media. I didn’t have a name for it, to be able to take a hold of it and say, “Oh, this is what I should do for that.” You know? So, yes.

Dannah: What was the turning point for you?

Jackie: I think my conversion was the beginning of the turning. I don’t think my conversion changed how I saw myself, but I think discipleship changed how I saw myself. I think as I began to walk with older women who were able to affirm who I was as a woman and take me through the Scriptures . . .

When I started to recognize that my woman-ness was on purpose and that it was intentional and that it was glorifying and that God did it because He was wiser than me, that set me free from a whole lot. I recognized that, “No, this body isn't my own, but this body is His, and it’s meant for Him.”

I think, now having daughters, I’m grateful that God would give me a body that is not only my own, but able to house somebody else, and be able to raise up other women who would be able to believe that they are who God says that they are.

Dannah: Mary, you have really been a leader in helping women understand the theology of gender. As you hear what Jackie said and just shared, what’s your core thought for women out there who are either struggling, or they’re helping someone who’s struggling?

Mary: I just love how Jackie unpacked it for us this morning in saying we need to go back to the Word, we need to go back to the idea that gender and sexuality, ultimately, is not about us but about bringing glory to God. He created it, it was His idea, and He knows best how it functions. Then for us to trust Him in that.

Dannah: And, Jackie, another topic you brought up (you did some fly-bys that could have been entire messages!). You said there are women addicted to porn in this room and on this livestream, because they don’t know how to have intimacy.

A question for both of you: How bad do you think the porn problem is with women in the church right now?

Mary: It’s gotten a lot worse over the last ten/fifteen years. It used to be a male problem—pornography—but now there a lot a women. I find that when I speak to a room of women, I assume that at least a third to half of them are struggling with pornography or have been drawn into that in some form.

Jackie: Yes. And I think when you have movies like Fifty Shades of Grey, and you have literature that.

Mary: You’ve got Game of Thrones.

Jackie: It can make us feel like, “Oh, this isn’t pornography because I’m not watching anything. I’m reading it.” But it still is, and I think it’s more of a different mutation of that.

Mary: The erotica that stirs the imagination. I mean, that’s just proliferated.

Dannah: There is a Barna survey that said that there was not a statistical difference in the percentage of churched versus unchurched women who read Fifty Shades of Grey.

Jackie: Wow.

Dannah: Sad.

Jackie: Yeah, that says a lot.

Dannah: Jackie, you talked about it, that it’s a lack of intimacy that drives us to that.

Jackie: Yes.

Dannah: Can you unpack that intimacy thought?

Jackie: I watched porn, too. I did everything. I think there’s something about watching people be intimate that makes us feel as if we have access to this intimacy or that we are living out what we are seeing in some type of way. Because there’s a satisfaction we get from it; that’s why we’re doing it.

But I think God did not create us for that. He gave us real living, breathing bodies. We are to act out sexual intimacy with our husbands, with our spouses. That is actually the real thing. Pornography is not real, but it feels real to us.

Dannah: There’s actually some research that’s telling us that women who are looking at porn and men who are looking at porn, though they think they’re awakening their sexual desire and feeding their sexual desire, they’re actually stifling it. They’re less interested in sex.

Mary: That’s right. They’re less interested in sex, and they’re less able to enjoy it. They’re less able to enjoy a real person, a real living body, and it’s sad. It’s sad! And especially what’s going to be happening now with the virtual 3-D reality. Pornography is going to even feel like it’s more real, but become even less real.

Jackie: Yes. Can I speak to how pornography has tainted my marriage?

Dannah: Yes.

Jackie: Before I got married, before I became a Christian, I watched pornography from the age of five to nineteen. So that is years of pornography! So when I got married, I’m thinking, I could do it freely. I’m good!

But one of the ways in which I know that it has affected me is that I went into having sex with my husband assuming that he believed that I was like these women, that he wanted to objectify me like these women were objectified on the screen.

So, for so long I’ve had to detach myself from projecting onto my husband what I saw these men do to these women. I think it’s so, so harmful to our sense of self and just seeing sex rightly.

Dannah: And it’s becoming more transgressive, more violent. This brings up a topic, I think, that you bravely addressed today, Jackie. We could talk about a lot of things, but probably one of the most here-and-now topics is the issue of sexual abuse and the cultural conversation. Mary, how’s your heart feeling about that topic right now?

Mary: You know, there are many women in this room that have experienced sexual abuse.

Dannah: Can we define it? Can we just break it down and define it: What is sexual abuse? Because it’s not just children who are sexually abused; it’s not always an adult woman who’s been raped. It’s broader than that. What does it include?

Mary: Sexual abuse can be verbal, it can be physical, it can be psychological.

Dannah: Jackie, how deep are the ramifications of abuse? You are a survivor of sexual abuse; you have broken the silence for other women. Does that still affect you today?

Jackie: Yeah, I think so. In many ways, I think there will be remnants of it maybe forever, but I do see continual healing. I’m not affected by it in the same ways that I used to be, and so for that I’m grateful.

It’s something that happens to the psyche of a person when a person in a position of power that you believe is supposed to keep you safe harms you in that way. It shapes how you see everything. It colors how you see everything, and so I think the ramifications are huge!

That’s why I’m thankful for therapy. That’s what I mentioned it earlier, because I think for too long we have just said, “Just go to church; just go to church.” It’s like, yeah, we need church, and we need counselors, and we need people to help us walk through these things in healthy ways.

Mary: God has gifted different people in the Body to serve us in those ways. I think that some of the biggest issues with survivors of sexual abuse or victims of sexual abuse is keeping it in the dark, not wanting to talk about it.

When it’s kept hidden and kept in the dark, it has such power over you. When you bring it out into the light, God wants to heal you of the shame of it—because some women feel so shameful. Some women feel, “It was my fault,” or “I did something that provoked this.”

Dannah: Those are lies.

Mary: Those are lies, and Satan wants to keep you in bondage through those lies, through guilt, through shame. He’s telling you to keep it in the darkness. So if that is you, what you need to do—the first step—is to bring it out into the light and tell someone.

Dannah: As I was watching my Twitter feed last night, many women right now are triggered by events happening in our country and by the women that are breaking the silence. And one of the things I saw was women saying last night, “Why aren’t men tweeting about this? Why aren’t men talking about this?”

And this week, Mary, we got an email from a man who cares deeply about this issue. I wanted to bring him into the conversation. So, Bob Lepine, would you join us?

Bob sent us an email. His heart was broken by what he was seeing. From a pastor’s heart, from a godly man’s heart, you wrote something, Bob, and I want to know why,

Bob Lepine: Well, first of all, this conversation is such an important one, and I know that all week long—and even, Jackie, as you mentioned it this morning—just the words “abuse” and “abuser,” there are some women who get a knot in their stomach when they hear the word.

Because this is a scar that is so profound on the soul of any human being, to be sexually abused. This is like no other kind of abuse. And to your point, it does stay with a woman for a long time. Last week, I woke up on Saturday, and I was going through my Twitter feed.

There was a Tweet from Beth Moore, and all it said was: “Because he lived in my house . . .” and then the hashtag, “#Whyididntreport.” It took me a minute to catch on to what she was saying, but I followed that hashtag and saw thousands of women who were explaining why they had never spoken about it.

In fact, I wrote down some of these, because this was so, so . . .

Dannah: Heartbreaking!

Bob: Yes. It was a slap in the face.

Dannah: I have a dear friend who is in this room today that wrote one of those tweets: #Whyididntreport.

Bob: So here’s somebody who said, “I thought it was my fault. I was embarrassed and ashamed of being stupid enough to trust him!” Somebody else said, “I was molested at age eight by a school janitor, frightened into silence; raped at eighteen by two boys at a party. I blamed myself, felt shame. My parents never knew. I told my daughters five years ago when I was sixty.”

Now, you think about the years of carrying that burden inside, that scar on your soul, with no one to cry out to! And then you think, Well, you can cry out to the Lord, but in the back of your mind there’s this thought, Wait, He was supposed to be there when that happened. How can I cry out to Him?

And so, women doubting God’s goodness and wondering, How could this happen? If God is my Rock and my Deliverer and my Fortress, how could this happen? How could He allow something like this to happen?

And that’s what prompted me just to sit down, and I wrote an open letter to #Whyididntreport.

Dannah: Well, it touched me. I sat in my office and cried, because the words were so tender. So would you read at least some of it, share some of it? I think it could help some of these women be set free.

Bob: Yes, and we put this on the website at FamilyLife.com for anybody who wants to read the whole thing, but I said . . . [The following excerpts that Bob shares are copied and pasted from his open letter posted on FamilyLife.com.]

I’m sure anyone who’s experienced abuse has been wondering about the reality of God’s providential care for His children. It’s natural to have questions or doubts about God’s goodness when you face this age-old question of: How can a good and loving God allow evil to happen?

And it’s one thing to deal with that on a theological level. It’s something else to deal with it personally, when you’re saying, “How could He let this happen to me?” You can give bumper-sticker answers, but those don’t solve anything.

I thought of Job, who went through profound grief, profound sadness, and he took that to God, at the end of Job, and started asking all the questions: “Why? Why? Why?” And God let him pour it out, and then God took a deep breath. I can’t imagine the tone of God’s voice, but I think it was a tender, gentle, stern: “Who is this that darkens [my] counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2 ESV).

At the core of this issue, you have to come to grips with whether the profound abuse you experienced is more powerful, so powerful that it overrules anything you’ve ever read or experienced or believed is true about God. Is it stronger than God is? Is your pain so great that it invalidates the rest of anything you’ve ever known or believed?

And I don’t think it’s by accident that, in the placement in our Bibles, Job is here and then Psalms is next. God never answered Job and said, “Here’s why . . .” He just said, “I’m God!” And then the psalms give us language to take our despair and our grief and to verbalize it as praise to God.

Now that seems counterintuitive. But you read Psalm 13: “Oh, Lord, how long will You forget me? How long will You withhold favor from me?” That’s inspired by the Spirit of God, and God invites: “Now bring that to me . . .” and that’s where healing can be found.

As you bring your grief to God, the afflictions you have experienced will produce in you an eternal weight of glory that is beyond comparison. That’s what the Bible says.

Dannah: I want to affirm that. Last night, as I was praying for women in this room, knowing that we would be having this conversation . . . Jackie, you write in your book that it could be triggering.

Jackie: It is triggering.

Dannah: Are you feeling “triggered” today?

Jackie: No, I think because I’ve learned how to prep myself and prepare myself for this conversation. But I think anytime—especially when you don’t discuss it often—that to hear abuse or to be reminded of it does something in your heart where you want to run, you want to flee, you want to cry, you want to get mad.

Dannah: You want to go back to your hotel room.

Mary: Or get angry!

Jackie: Exactly!

Dannah: Yeah. You bring up the Psalms. The Lord gave me this verse to pray over those women that are feeling triggered right now. Psalms 118:5: “Out of my great anguish [and you’re feeling that anguish, the depth of that, that shame, that distress] I called on the Lord . . . and he set me free.”

He wants to set you free. We are not having this conversation to trigger you; we are having this conversation, directed by prayer and the Lord, so that we can be a part of participating in your freedom today.

Bob:
And I just want to say, on behalf of Christian men, I am so sorry for how any man did to you the evil that was done to you. That was wrong, and my heart breaks that God’s daughters had that kind of evil perpetrated on them and that your soul has that scar on it!

I’ll read how I finished my response:

I believe Jesus is deeply sorry for your pain as well. It’s true He could have stopped it, and He didn’t, and I can’t tell you why He didn’t. No one can. But I can tell you He gave His life to fix it. He died so that the wrongs of this life will be made right, so your tears will one day be dried and your darkness will be over forever!

Dannah: Thank you, Bob. That is what I felt when I read what you wrote. I hope that some of these women felt it in the core of their being. There are good men, there are godly men, there are safe places, and you can run to them and find your freedom. espond to God? Don’t just sit there fearful and afraid and white-knuckling and, “I’ll deal with this later.” Now is the time. This is the time! Run after your freedom; take your anguish to Him, so that He can set you free!

Nancy: This whole conversation between Dannah Gresh, Bob Lepine, Mary Kassian, and Jackie Hill Perry was deeply moving at True Woman '18. Following this conversation there were many, many women who responded to an invitation to pray with someone else about a burden along these lines that they've been carrying in their hearts. It was an incredibly tender and sensitive time, but also such a sweet time to seek God using the Truth to set women free—even in some cases when terrible things had been done to them.

As you have been listening to this conversation, perhaps the Lord has been stirring in your own heart. Don't move past this moment. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, if you can, take the opportunity to stop and express to the Lord what He's been saying to you; and to perhaps call and ask a friend to pray with you about your journey in this area of sexual abuse and healing.

This conversation was recorded at the True Woman '18 conference. You can hear many more messages from that conferences, or watch the videos. They are all available at ReviveOurHearts.com. You can also find a link to the letter Bob Lepine read from today. It’s on today’s transcript at ReviveOurHearts.com.

The reason Revive Our Hearts is able to host these kind of events and to provide online resources and to bring you this program day by day is thanks to listeners like you who support Revive Our Hearts through prayer and their financial gifts. If you are thankful for the practical application of God’s Word you hear on this program, would you support this ministry?

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If you’ve ever experienced been sinned against sexually or if you know someone who has, you don’t want to miss tomorrow's program. We’ll hear about a girl who was molested repeatedly by her stepfather. Even though her mother was aware of the situation, she still did nothing to protect her daughter. Find out how Paulina found healing in Jesus Christ. That's tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is reminding you that you are seen and loved by God. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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