How do I deal with my extended family's history of child sexual abuse? My father was a pastor when I was a kid. A few years ago I learned that he had sexually molested one of my sisters for several years during her childhood. Since then, pedophilia has surfaced as a generational problem in our family. Am I obligated to honor my dad now that he's in a rest home and nearing the end of his life? Is our family under some kind of a curse?
It's difficult to speak openly about sexual abuse in the family. That's why we're thankful whenever an individual like you finds the courage to step forward and confront this issue head-on.
Is your family "under a curse?" Only to the extent that we all are. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Fortunately, Scripture says that Christ can redeem us from condemnation, "having become a curse for us" (Romans 8:1; Galatians 3:13). Accordingly, there is no longer any curse for those who trust in Him (Revelation 22:3). The final chapter for broken families like yours is yet to be written, and a time is coming when "God shall wipe every tear from your eyes" (Revelation 7:17, 21:4). Meanwhile, there are things you can do to shape a healthy new heritage for your family.
Books like Dan B. Allender's The Wounded Heart can help facilitate the healing process. Professional counseling can also be beneficial. This is true not only for those who have been directly involved in the sin of pedophilia, but for every member of the family who has been touched by it in any way. You and anyone else in your family who is struggling under this burden should find a qualified individual with whom you can speak openly about your pain. Our licensed counselors are available to speak with you over the phone. They can also provide you with referrals to certified Christian counselors in your area.
Where your father is concerned, we think there's little to be gained by withholding your love from him at this late stage in his life. Before deciding to confront him about his past actions we'd recommend that you consult with a professional Christian counselor. A great deal depends upon his age and current mental state. Meanwhile, unconditional love is probably his last best hope. Love can do miracles when it's offered out of a heart that sincerely believes in the saving power of Christ. So turn your dad over to the Lord and make a conscious decision to forgive him. Your feelings probably won't change overnight, but once you take this step you'll have the comfort of knowing that you're on the right track.