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Violation of trust and innocence

Violation of trust and innocence

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20.MAR.08

BY BISHOP SONNY E. WILLIAMS – PRESIDING BISHOP, PENTECOSTAL ASSEMBLIES OF THE WEST INDIES
(St. Vincent and the Grenadines District)

BETRAYAL

Easter brings us to the story of Jesus’ passion. Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed his master and his friends, grabs our attention and disturbs our emotions. Deliberately handing Jesus and his friends over to those who were known enemies of the cause and who could only intend harm was at best to act with wanton disregard for their well being and at worst consciously to put them in danger.{{more}}

Betrayal in essence involves the pain of being delivered into danger or discomfort by one loved or trusted. It entails a pain that surpasses the physical kind, no matter how intense. Pain inflicted by enemies is one thing. Pain inflicted by a friend or loved one is something quite different.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the New Testament paints a dark picture of the one who is remembered above all for having betrayed Jesus to the authorities, thereby facilitating his arrest, trial and execution. Luke, the Gospel writer, is characteristically blunt in his assessment. Judas is “the one who became a traitor”. Even Jesus is recorded as having some strong things to say about the one who would betray him: “He is a devil, the son of perdition, the one whom it would have been better if he had never been born.” Judas’ story ends in the awfulness of disgrace and shame and the desperation of suicide. Unable to live with the consequences of his own action, hounded by guilt and despair, he resorted to a sordid and lonely death.

Whatever feelings we have about and for Judas: disgust, anger, bitterness or sorrow, we must not lose sight of the pain experienced by victims of the treachery of betrayal. Think of the betrayal children experience when they unfortunately must live with sexual abuse or with the memory of such abuse. Studies have shown that the vast majority of child sexual abuse occurs in the context of ongoing relationships. It does not require the use of physical force for the coercive abuse of an adult’s emotional power over a child to occur. Bribery, playing on fear, trickery and threats of and threats of consequences are more typically utilized by an abuser to ensure compliance and silence. Some children may be at an even greater risk as a result of being taught to “be nice”; to respect authority, to trust and obey adults, or to believe that children should be seen and not heard. Telling children something bad will happen to them if they tell about the touching game or trying to buy them off with gifts may get them to go along with the abuse and to keep quiet for a while, but these techniques can lead to emotional confusion. The violation of trust and innocence often causes more harm than the physical aspects of the abusive experience. This frequently leads to a difficulty in knowing whom to trust.

Boys appear to be at less rick of child sexual abuse than girls, but this may be because of the number of incidents that are reported by boys and their families. Boys may hesitate to tell others for several reasons. They are socialized to believe that boys are not supposed to be victims. They worry about being thought of as “gay”. And society’s double standard sees a preteen girl exposed to adult sexuality as a victim but sees a boy as “getting experience” at a young age (Kearney, 2001).

The treachery of sexual abuse of children is not rare. Judas does not stand alone; he is being joined by growing company of sexual abusive adults in our society.

Space will not afford me to write about the other despicable acts of betrayal. However, permit me just to mention that of the horror of young people who are seduced to surrender their decency and dignity on the altar of employment, the excruciating pain of a marital partner who must cope with the discovered infidelity of the other and the disgust of constituents who are made aware of the intent deception of political leaders.

Like Judas, we may reply to the Master’s disclosure that “One of you is going to betray me” with “Surely, Lord, it is not I”. We the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies, St. Vincent and the Grenadines District, pray that we will all confront our secret betrayals and that the enduring and redeeming grace of the One who vicariously suffered the shame and pain of crucifixion will transform betrayers and heal the betrayed.

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