Recent reports of sexual abuse occurring in the church have risen to the surface.

Children have been abused and targeted by priests, pastors and leaders. High-profile men in houses of worship have used their power to be sexually inappropriate with women. They are without excuse; their sin puts children and women in horrible situations.

Victims have carried pain and suffering for years because of this corruption. Churches and religious organizations must be held to a higher standard to prevent this wrongdoing.

Taking the letters of the word “Abuse,” the following should be followed to prevent future indiscretions.

A - Accountability: Pastors, priests and leaders are human. There must be a system of accountability in the church or organization that maintains a watchful eye by a board that is not “hand picked.”

B - Believing the victim: People are innocent until proven guilty, but the church must change its practice and listen to someone who reports. There are situations where the person has been asked to leave instead of confronting the perpetrator.

U - Unreported: Any suspicion of a minor being abused must be documented and reported to civil authorities, period. Many of these instances have been brushed under the rug to protect the church from any damage. Adults taken advantage of by leadership should be granted a grievance process of their claims.

S - Sexual purity: There is no excuse for a leader of a congregation or organization to take advantage sexually of a child or adult under any circumstance. Individuals should have background checks done before they work with children and never allow one-on-one contact.

E - Environment of safety: The church or religious organization should be a place of safety where the Spirit of God resides. If a group can’t provide security, then close your doors. You are a danger to people and a detriment to the Kingdom of God.

In this sexually charged society where porn is one click away and morality continues to slip on shifting sands, the church is being called out. Our Heavenly Father is calling us to holiness and appropriate sexual contact.

The church should be a haven where people struggling with the stuff of life may come and find mercy, healing and forgiveness in the name of Jesus. I hope as His followers our hearts break over the silence, coverup and abuse of power we hear about each day.

1 Peter 4:17 (NIV) says, “For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household.” Light is exposing darkness, sadly in cathedrals and chapels all around. The world is watching to see if we really live what we believe ... God help us.

Ken Locke is community ministries director of The Salvation Army in Warsaw and director of the Greater Warsaw Ministerial Association.

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