The Church’s response to sexual abuse has been lacking. It’s time to give voice to those who have been abused.
Sexual abuse has been a hot topic this year, but it’s so much more than just a church debate. There are real people with real trauma who want more than anything to be able to share their stories, to help others, to heal, and to be heard. The Christian community has been silent long enough. Its time to give victims of sexual abuse a voice and allow them to be heard.
This week, we are talking with Mary DeMuth, author of We Too. Mary is an abuse survivor turned advocate for those who have been sexually abused. She has the heart to see the church unite in an uprising to help those who have been victimized as well as to help educate us on this pressing issue.
This week we talk about:
- Sexual abuse
- Finding your victory through trauma
- SBC allegations
- Complementarianism vs Egalitarianism
- When to leave the church after abuse
- Community as a part of your healing
- Mental shifts that take place within an abuse survivor
- Why did God allow bad things to happen
- Healing better together
- pornography and sex culture’s attribution toward sexual abuse
- allowing room for forgiveness when the time is right
Cody Johnston 2:46
Mary, how are you doing today?
Mary DeMuth 2:49
I am good. I had three speaking engagements yesterday. So my voice is a little gravelly, but other than that I’m doing great.
Cody Johnston 2:54
Yeah, that’s very good. Well, we’re only going to make you talk for another 30 minutes or so.
Mary DeMuth 3:00
Awesome, that’ll be fine.
Cody Johnston 3:01
Well, Mary, let’s just get right into it. This is a topic we we have addressed row man back in like episode six. So it’s been like a year and a half, almost two years since we’ve talked about this. And it’s it’s due to come around again because there’s a bunch of conversation about this right now. So Mary, let’s just kind of get right into the weeds here. What got you into writing about this? And, and let’s just hear your story.
Mary DeMuth 3:25
Yeah. So I’ve been actually talking about this for a couple decades now and felt a little bit like a voice crying out in the wilderness and basically just running around making people uncomfortable for a couple years. Yeah.
Which is a really great ministry to have, but I agree.
I am a sexual abuse survivor. I was molested for a year has a kindergartener, and in my very unsafe neighborhood, my babysitter would push me out to be molested by these two teenage boys and There was no grooming that happened, they just did it. And I did try to actually as a little bit plucky and and, and did try to tell, I told her and she said that she would tell my mom and so I thought everything would be okay. But then it kept continuing and you know, only later years later to find that she didn’t tell my mom. And so in my little five year old heart, I thought there is not one human on this earth who will protect me. And so I learned how to sleep and that’s how I protected myself I would just pretend to sleep and that was what enabled me to stay away from them for the last month of my kindergarten year. And then thankfully, we moved away. And I felt like a lot of my life was spent running away from predatory people felt like that incident, over the period of a year had marked me and and so that’s kind of the heart behind why I’ve been talking about this issue a really long time. I’ve written a lot of books, but the story is mentioned and quite a bit of them and I really feel like the church at times has been really amazing and at times has been really horrid. So I really feel like, you know, God’s raised me up for lack of a better term to be a prophetic voice to the church that I love. I’m not out of the church, I’m still there. And I want to raise awareness. And I also want to help leaders to really understand the long term nature of trauma.
Cody Johnston 5:29
That’s good. So your experience, it took place outside of the church, right?
Mary DeMuth 5:36
In a way Yes, I found out later that these were Mormon boys so that they were within a church structure, and they’re also Boy Scouts. And so you can imagine my triggering whenever I see a Boy Scout I get a little bit upset or scared, but I guess it wasn’t like it was a youth pastor or anything like that.
Cody Johnston 5:57
That’s still mostly brought home Vegas. Oh, CA missionary Mormon boys with that. So I think that’s one outside of what I’ve heard even. So tell us a little about your book and what you address in week two and just kind of some of some of what that covers.
Mary DeMuth 6:13
Yeah, so I just made it a real easy way of looking at it. We looked at the past, the present and the future. In the past, I looked at the biblical narrative, I was recently speaking to a group of pastors, and they were asking, What can we do? And I said, Well, first of all, share stories like mine from the pulpit, because we feel like we’re really weird. Second of all, just preach the Bible. Because actually, if you go through the narratives of Scripture, you’ll see a lot of great narratives and we just don’t see them preached about very often. So I go and then I also look at the whole history of the church as much as I can in one chapter. I was really surprised at in the very beginning of church, this issue was raised, I think it was in the first second century, something like that. And there was someone that raised up and said, this is wrong. The Was clergy sexual abuse going on and then again, right before the reformation, it happened again. And then interestingly enough, one of the things that happened after the Reformation is the Catholic Church, they had been going in the right direction, but then they circled the wagons because they’d had this like, extreme extreme schism in their mind. And so they in order to not have that happen, again, became very private. And that kind of culture of hush Enos, for lack of a better term, stayed with him, but it also followed the Protestants as well. And we have just as many scandals in our realm as the Catholics do. And so yeah, I look at the past I look at the present I look at the current situation what happened pre me to post me to what’s happening right now. And then I look at the future is how can we do differently? How can we look at this issue with an eye toward redemption and speaking last night to a group of people and I was trying to convey and hopefully did convey that those who are broken Actually a gift to the body of Christ. And we see them as detriments. We see them as you know something to, you know, that’s going to drain our resources. But people who know their lack know that they need Jesus. And when you have that much need for Jesus, he tends to shine through you more. And so if you want to see more of Jesus find a broken person.
Cody Johnston 8:19
That’s good. That’s great. Yeah. What was the turning point for you? I going through something as a child, my mom was molested as well as a child and It followed her her entire life. Yep. And she never really got over that. It was never something she was able to get through. So for you, what was the turning point where you were able to actually go from? Oh, wow, this is, you know, something that has happened to me to something I’m comfortable speaking about confidently to help someone else.
Mary DeMuth 8:50
Yeah, I think one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that God uses our unique makeup as an avenue toward healing and my unique mission Is as a communicator. And so had I kept the story inside I would not be speaking to you today, obviously, my mode of healing and some people are not like this, but this is mine was to talk about it and I met Christ at 15. And I began to talk about it then I didn’t prior to that it was like something in me just began to stir and thankfully, although I was definitely an over sharer, especially in college, I don’t know why it’s beautiful grace, but I was connected with people in the church and within ministries and stuff like that college ministries who listened, and who wept and who prayed. And so I would say the turning point was then, you know, of course, I’ve had counseling I’ve gone through MDR done all those things. But the real bedrock of the transformation and change was just being able to tell my story, and someone to listen and say, that is terrible. Let me carry that with you. I have met a lot of people, you know, after I tell my story, the lion’s share people that come up to me afterwards and share their story for the first time are in their 60s and 70s. Oh, wow. And because they grew up in a major culture of silence, yeah. And they thought that too, that they just had to suck it up. And they had to figure it out on their own. But what I have found is it just festers inside and it poisons you so you have to get the poison out.
Elaine Johnston 10:30
I’m curious to know that if if you’ve ever had been met with like resistance, because you said, you know, you’ve written 39 different books, and you said, your story kind of follows a couple of those books, like, has anybody from the church, tried to hush you about it and say, Oh, no, that doesn’t actually happen or like, anybody upset that you’re sharing your story?
Mary DeMuth 10:53
Yes, of course, that’s happened. One of the things that’s a little bit of my superpowers when you have a regular story like mine, people are really hesitant to criticize you. So I do have that in my weird favor. But yes, of course, I’ve certainly gotten my share of criticism about, you know, people saying, This is not as big of an issue as you think. And I would retort It’s worse than you think. And I think there’s a lot of people out there who, you know, I think we talked about this earlier when we had another conversation, but I think people, they silo their faith, and they don’t look at it in an Eastern way. They look at it in a Western way, Eastern way as Jesus as center or Jesus as hub and then your whole life emits from that. So many of us in the West put Jesus in this little silo. And we have these different parts of our lives and silos. And they’re in our religious silo, we think to ourselves, that has to be my happy, safe place. So if there is a pastor that has abused a child or if there is sexual abuse happening or whatever it is, that Mars the church, we are very upset about it because it messes with our paradigm of needing a Happy World in that particular silo.
Cody Johnston 12:03
Yeah, that’s really good. So let’s kind of I want to get into the healing side of it for sure. And that’s really what I want to focus in. But before we get into that, let’s talk about the the big elephant in the room, I guess right now what’s going on in the SPC? And in our previous conversation, and I’ll cut this out if you don’t want to share it or not, but you’re a part of the SBC. And so a lot of people like, you know, they kind of bundle all this together. It’s like, oh, all of that is bad. How can someone speaking out in you know, being a voice for those who have been through sexual abuse? How can she be a part of this, let’s just kind of talk a little bit about what’s going on there and address some of this bundling of things together and kind of addressing these black and white everything bad or everything good kind of stuff.
Mary DeMuth 12:46
Yeah, the older I get, and the longer I walk with Jesus, I see that faith is so much more about nuanced and black and white. And in my mind, I see it as, as the largest denomination in the United States. And if, as it goes, others follow tends to be. And so if they are going to begin to talk about this issue, then I’m all for it. Now, are they doing it perfectly? No. Does anyone do it perfectly? No. I do go to a Southern Baptist Church, but it’s very loosely affiliated. So I’ve never even like if someone like stopped me on the street and said, Are you Southern Baptists? I would have never said, Oh, yes, I’m Southern Baptists. I don’t have a lot of allegiance to that I have a lot of allegiance to Jesus. And, and so whenever I have that opportunity to talk about how we can do better, that’s kind of how I view it. Yeah, does not have me run the risk of being lumped in or, you know, said Well, she’s part of the system or whatever. Yes, of course, and yes, that’s that this thing and it’s hard, but I’m willing to receive it because I understand what’s behind it and I understand the anger so it’s, it’s something I’m willing to do. It doesn’t mean it’s an endorsement. It just means that whenever I get a chance to tell my story, Talk about how we can be better I want to do it.
Elaine Johnston 14:02
Yeah, I was gonna say like, I think that’s a good thing for you to be able to share your story with so much flack about these different churches and stuff, but to be able to share your story and and maybe help guide people in the right direction with that.
Mary DeMuth 14:17
And then finding it’s more about wooing than hitting people over the head, little bit at a time people, if you look at the dynamics of change, people don’t change, people typically will not change their worldview. And the studies have been that if you do change the way you think it’s because of the community around you. And it’s incrementally and so if we want to change a community, whether it be the SBC, or the catholic church or whoever, it’s going to be incrementally and it will come from leaders and it will be the whole community moving forward. It’s hard to be a lone wolf crying out in the wilderness and so that’s frustrating. I wish I could snap my fingers right now and fix everything and all the hurt horrific things that have gone on in the name of Jesus. Absolutely. I wish I could fix that. But it’s going to be as it has been, what it hasn’t been like 2009 19 years that this is going on. So we’re gonna it’s gonna take some time to shift that ship to the other side for sure.
Cody Johnston 15:17
So what are some proper ways and then maybe some not so proper ways you have seen this, this specific topic addressed specifically inside the church, what are some good teachings and maybe some not so good teachings you’ve witnessed?
Mary DeMuth 15:32
Well, good teachings is is kind of boring and simple. And that is pastors allowing stories from the front. And I’ve been in church a really long time, and I can count on one hand, how many times I’ve seen my story or a domestic violence story from the front spoken about in a redemptive way. You see a lot of things like, Oh, I was addicted to drugs, and now I’m not or Oh, my marriage is falling. apart and now it’s not that we don’t see, oh, I was sexually assaulted by my husband and now, and the church helped me get free and you just don’t see a lot of those things from the front. And last night, as I was speaking, had people come up and just say, I just have never heard that before from front of a church. And, and, and that makes me sad. And so that’s just a really simple thing a pastor can do is just to welcome those stories. The negative things is, of course, when I think when churches become kind of political, or they become affiliated with one or another political party and make it into a political issues is to mess I don’t think that works at all. And then also not to address the actual biblical text. So yes, some of those stories are awful. Let’s talk a little bit about Tamar and some of the other Dinah and some of these other horrid things that happen and one of the things I found in researching that is, every time there was sexual violence like that in the Bible, The direct result was some sort of war. And so you just kind of see just the horrific Miss of it. And you even see it in David’s life. And and I know some scholars would argue with me, but I tend to think that she had no ability to consent Bathsheba, I would agree that that was rape and, and so and you look at again the same pattern after he has done this horrific thing. And he is called to be a shepherd of the nation of Israel. And what does Nathan the Prophet use as a story to get them to figure it out? It’s a sheep Shepherd narrative. And he basically says, You have been the worst kind of Shepherd ever. And, and so this and that’s kind of my call forward. And if you look at the New Testament, Jesus as good shepherd, you look at Psalm 23, and some of those other amazing Shepherd Psalms, and Ezekiel 34 that talks about how you know you haven’t been good shepherds, you’ve made yourself fat, you’ve taken care of only yourself. I think we need to return That narrative of what is a good shepherd, not a good CEO. But what does a good shepherd look like?
Cody Johnston 18:05
That’s good. I think that’s a big issue that we see kind of come up quite a bit is the idea of running things like a CEO versus running things like a community or running things like a shepherd, instead of being a leader. It’s more commander. So I think that if we can get that shift down so much life would be given, but to kind of, I guess, ask another kind of this whole conversation is hard. It’s all a heavy thing. So without getting into Yeah, without getting into egalitarianism versus complimentary aneurysm and all that. That’s not what this is about. Is there any kind of, I guess, burden or I’m trying to think of the right word, is there any kind of like pushback or is anyone’s voice being silenced? Or is that a general issue? Because the whole idea that women aren’t allowed to speak and I know that most people People don’t really hold to this view a whole lot anymore. But even today, like I got backlash from someone literally saying, like women aren’t allowed to speak like, What are you saying? Like, literally today? I was just in a conversation with someone on on Facebook said like I get on Facebook but like have Have you seen anything like that? Has that caused any hurt? Have you witnessed anything like that?
Mary DeMuth 19:22
Absolutely. And I think that’s why one of my chapters is about theology because I think our theology drives us. And if I was going to place myself on the spectrum of those two, I would be somewhere in the middle. Because I have actually seen people in complimentary in circles be awesome about this issue of abuse, and I’ve seen them be terrible. And I’ve also seen it on the other side. So it’s, it’s not I’ve seen some very, I mean, look at Bill Hybels some he was definitely egalitarian and Yet he was preying on women. And so I kind of view it more as a heart issue. If you whatever theological perspective you have, if your heart is not right, and you are preying on others, or encouraging others to do the same or covering up when others do so, then we’ve got a problem because if we just say it’s it’s complementarity, and versus egalitarianism, the egalitarians are winning and the complementarities are losing them. What about the egalitarians who have systems that are still oppressing others? And what about the complementary Arians who are doing a good job and you know, vice versa like I’m not saying one’s good ones bad because we’ve got this this is a church issue a church wide issue because it’s a humanity wide issue.
Cody Johnston 20:44
Yeah, that’s good. I really liked that because I’m just kind of going back to what you were saying about politics anytime you start camping in one side or the other. You know, God has always somewhere in between, in my in my in my limited experience, God is always somewhere in between both extreme points of view, right? So just kind of taking that whole that whole thing away and saying, like, let’s come to a common ground. It’s not about this or that it’s all about heart and it can happen anywhere. And I think that’s powerful.
Mary DeMuth 21:11
And it and to be fair to, I think in those highly controlled, patriarchal systems, it flourishes a little better, a lot better. So I’m not saying that I’m just saying that, when we’re having conversations about it, right, we have to allow for that nuance. And we also have to take off our social media hats and sit down across the table from someone and have a conversation because I’ve got friends on all perspectives, I’m sure that I have friends who think I should never speak. So I and I understand that because I’ve studied at all if I’ve been down that road and had to grapple with it myself. So but the person sitting across from me is a human being of nuance, and is not just in one camp or the other. We’re a lot more complicated than that.
Cody Johnston 21:59
Yeah. That’s really good. So Marion shifting gears here a little bit, you have someone you have people come up to you all the time sharing their stories. What is a catalyst for healing going forward for people who have been through sexual abuse, especially in church, but honestly anywhere?
Mary DeMuth 22:16
Yes. And I think, you know, what you just mentioned is really important. If it has happened in church, it’s a very unique struggle, because then you’ve got this, this tangled mess of faith and abuse and faith and God and abuse and, and so I have found that when I’ve talked to people who’ve had it happen in churches their way back, so to speak, usually means that they need to leave church for a period of time because of all the trauma and the triggering, and all of that and, and I totally get that I understand. But I will say that one thing I’ve learned in my life is that though we have been broken and negative community, the way back is always good community and it really seems unfair, like, okay, God, this person violated me in every possible way, how can I possibly trust anybody else? And part of that is just learning what safe community is. And that’s really how I healed. I mean, just giving you that story of college is that community was part of my healing. People who would listen people who would just be Romans 1215 with me, they would just cry with me. And we look at Job’s friends and they were amazing for a little bit. They, they saw him with his scabs and he was, you know, grabbing the pots and groups scraping his skin and they got in the dust with them and they cried and they shut their mouths and then the rest of the 40 chapters they started talking and bad things are happening after that. But But you know, there is that, that essence I think, abuse is isolating, and if that story is festering in your head, it can cause a lot of dysfunction and pain. And, and if you have this desire to get well the hardest thing to do and I know it’s hard is to find a safe person to begin to process it with because you cannot heal in isolation.
Cody Johnston 24:13
That’s good. What is a safe person? What are some signs of a safe person?
Mary DeMuth 24:18
Well, certainly not someone that, you know, tries to Trump you with their awful story gives you one of those really insincere things like what were you wearing? Or you know, well, maybe this is part of God’s plan. He those kind of stupid cliches that we hear all the time. Really, it is someone who will listen and you you can watch someone and see how they tenderly process things with others. They tend to be those folks who stay in the nuance. They’re not necessarily black or white on issues, but they’re, they’re willing to, to carry the weight and that’s really important because someone who’s been through trauma and sexual trauma in particular, they can either be like that can say, Oh my gosh, I’m never having sex again for the rest of my life, because they’re so freaked out or they can be excessively promiscuous. Because they feel like they’re worth nothing. And they’ve messed it all up anywhere, someone else’s mess it up for them actually, and they and so people in church can be very freaked out by that. And so we’ve got to have that cloak of love around us to be safe people that nothing surprises us. We keep a straight face we love despite whatever they’re going through. And we determined to dignify the image of God inside of someone who’s struggling.
Cody Johnston 25:34
That’s good. Mary, you just said something that reminded me of a question I was going to ask before I got distracted with other questions. You had said something along the lines of just how God didn’t allow or someone saying like, Oh, you know, God allowed this for something greater. Let’s kind of talk for that a second because I know that a lot of people have got answers like that. Because people don’t know how to process when bad things happen to good people. Right. We just had an Episode was Thomas or who has a book about it, right? Like these bad things happen. And one group doesn’t know what to do with it. The other group tries to justify it through God’s you know, you know, omnipresence, and always in control. And it’s like, well, is God in control is God not? What what? What advice do you have to someone who’s just like, God? Why did this happen? Why did you allow this to happen to me?
Mary DeMuth 26:22
First, I will say, I hope they’re asking that question because that’s a human question. And, and any human being would ask that question, especially as I became a mom, I would look at my kids and think if I knew they were being sexually assaulted, I would protect them and I would beat up the person who was doing it or send them to jail or something. You know, of course, I’m a loving parent. And so then the question became for me, if I’m a loving parent, I’m just a human, and I would intervene, then why didn’t God and I have had to hold that question intention. And every year it gets a little bit better. I don’t have an answer to it, yet. Just to be super honest, and I’ve actually viewed that as part of my relationship with God, because I think he wants to talk with us. He wants to commune with us. And he already knows we have these angry questions. Why not enter into a relationship with him about it, rather than stuff it and pretend like I can’t talk to God about this because I’m mad at him about it. So you know, of course, the longer I go, the more I I go to the idea of story. And there’s this magnificent story that I don’t understand. And as a novelist, myself, I understand that there has to be dark places and stories there has to be plot twists. And I also understand that there is evil in this world, and that eventually that will be vanquished. But right now we’re living in the tension and even Jesus said, My Peace I leave with you but the world’s you know, it’s going to be bad and I don’t know where we picked up this idea that once you meet Jesus, everything’s going to be awesome because sometimes it’s an awesome and we Forget we’re in a spiritual battle. So the moment you do meet Jesus, there’s going to be all sorts of spiritual battle going on because you’ve just kind of, you know, to use a Star Wars matter metaphor gone from the dark to the light. So it’s, it’s something I hold intention. I don’t tell people that I figured it out. I do understand the arguments theologically of sovereignty and free will I do, but there’s still a little part of me that just doesn’t quite get it.
Cody Johnston 28:26
Yeah, thank you for your honesty with that, because I think that that’s the beauty of just allowing that mental struggle instead of feeling like you have to come to an answer with with it, which is so so much of like this, what we’re learning on this whole journey and what all we’re doing here with this show is just not everything has an answer, and that’s okay. And that’s just kind of the beauty of it. So, yeah, sorry,
Elaine Johnston 28:47
I was I was gonna say how do you think that the church or even society should not move on but like how we should tackle this issue in the future, especially with the To movement in your book and you talked about the, you know, pre we to daringly to and post like what do you think has to happen or is going to happen as we move forward with sexual abuse in church and outside of church?
Mary DeMuth 29:15
Right. So the premise of the book is, is that we heal better together. And so having the safe communities is is really important. So whether you’re in the church or outside of the church to find a community of people who love you Well, in terms of going forward, I think we need to just get rid of the stupid narrative about, especially people afraid of these false reports. It is excessively rare, but it is the argument I hear all the time and I am over it. Because it’s it is rare, and if you report it to the authorities, it gets ironed out. Yes, it’s terrible if you’ve been falsely accused, but for the most parts, the great majority of people who make an outcry are telling the truth. And we also have to understand the nature of trauma that if they tell the truth, the story may shift here and there because we don’t remember everything accurately, especially when we’ve been in a traumatic event. And so I think there just needs to be a little more education going forward. What does what is trauma? What does it do to people? We’ve done plenty of studies in terms of Vietnam vets, in particular about what is trauma do to someone, we somehow have empathy for that but not for sexual abuse. And they say that sexual abuse can actually exceed the trauma of those who are in wartime combat. And so we need to understand this and be a lot more tender and a lot less judgmental. I definitely have heard people say you need to get over that that was you know, over this many years ago. really miss understanding the nature of how this is the gift that keeps on giving in a very frustrating way. Yeah. When I think it’s
Cody Johnston 30:59
I don’t I’m a guy I haven’t exposed. I mean, I know sexual abuse happens to men as well, but it’s much more rare, right? At least I could be misinformed on that. But I would think sexual abuse is more rare for men, but I’ve heard stories of the lane and just like sexual gestures and she’s never had like, full on sexual unit. Yeah, but like, even when she was a kid, she’s had like, lewd comments and all kinds of things just directed to her. Always. Yeah. And it’s prevalent in so many people, so many people that, that I talked to so many women that I talked to have had some kind of experience. It’s varying on like the, the degree of intensity or severity, but that’s not necessarily the point. The point is, it’s it’s prevalent, and just to kind of speak life into what you were saying about how we’ve got to quit dismissing stories about oh, well, what about these false narratives? I’ve had an experience with a false narrative. I had a girl in my whenever I was youth pastor. I had Had a, a young girl who actually had previously falsely accused a boy of raping her. And like that was kind of presented to me. He’s like, Hey, be very careful when you approach this girl. But she was diagnosed, it was the, you know, she was diagnosed with a mental illness. She had trauma from her father, and there’s all kinds of this other drama associated with it. And the boy was let go like that was there’s investigative techniques put in place to filter those stories out. And so one, one bad story like that, where, you know, she has an actual diagnosis like she still has there is his own thing. It’s a different thing. But it is a problem that she’s having to face it is something whether it be from trauma from her past, maybe she had sexual abuse, I don’t know the whole details in the past, but there’s a real thing there. And that doesn’t discount someone else’s story. And that that frustrates me as well. So thank you for speaking life into that.
Mary DeMuth 32:53
Well, and actually you’re right and on tour in terms of that. The usually people that have false reports have some sort of mental illness. There’s some, you know, problem going on inside. I also heard a stat recently that in terms of men and women, I think it was 18% of women’s first sexual experience was abuse rate. I mean, that’s pretty terrible. But then some of the other stats, we think we’re really bad here in the United States, but some the stats around the world are awful. So in terms of sexual harassment, like in Vietnam, 99% of women have experienced it. And so this is a global issue, and we need to understand that. That’s why I have a chapter on theology, we need to understand a theology of the image of God and each one of us, and that women just as much bear the image of God as as men do. And we also need to have a theology of light that there is darkness in this world. Obviously, not hard to you know, say that, but that there is light and Jesus Himself said, I am the light and what does light have to do with us to truth shedding light on things is to tell the truth about them. And so we do need to get into a place where we begin to tell the truth and welcome those kinds of stories.
Cody Johnston 34:08
I love that I know a common thing taught to me when I was in youth and I’ve heard it so many times like younger teen boys is, oh, you know, if you’re, if you’re struggling with pornography or anything like that, it’s like, well talk to someone about it because sin flourishes in the dark, but you know, when you bring it to light, well, that that goes the other way too. And that, that is a huge deal for this as well, like these stories need to be shared and there needs to be live brought to them, because where there is light darkness cannot exist, right. So Well, yeah.
Mary DeMuth 34:37
And I love what you had to say about porn. I have another chapter on that because I think it fuels everything. If we want to step back and look at what’s fueling all of this behavior. It’s that I mean, especially if you look at a lot of, you know, in some of those imagery, these are the images The victim is saying no, no, no, no, no, no. And the other person is overpowering, causing people to think that that is what the woman or the victim wants. If they say no, they don’t mean it. And then I just heard a statistic recently that if there is one image of child porn on a, on a computer that the FBI has found out that that represents 100 episodes of touch, inappropriate touch. And so it doesn’t mean that the person has 100 victims, but they have at least touched inappropriately 100 different times. And so we just don’t talk about this issue very much is there’s a lot of shame associated with it. But we also have to talk about the evil of it, because it is all about removing the image of God in someone and treating them as an object.
Elaine Johnston 35:49
Yeah, I remember whenever I was in college for one of my psychology classes, actually how to write an essay about had something to do that Like the classes subject had something to do around sex. And so my essay was around pornography, and how that actually can lead to sexual abuse. And I don’t remember the exact statistic about it. But I remember one of the research articles that I had to read was like college dorms and frat parties and all of this stuff. And they were interviewing these different guys trying to find the statistics on how pornography can lead to this, especially with rape victims at college parties and stuff. And just this statistic was a large of the PU of the men that they had admitted to viewing pornography or having, you know, different things involved with it. And they would ask them like, what do you think that sexual abuse is prevalent and everything and like, some of the guys like had no idea that this was even a thing or that it was that bad or they had made up a lot of excuses of why sometimes it doesn’t? Hey, or I’m just making excuses for it. And the number of the excuses matched the viewership of the pornography. And so I just like was kind of taken aback as I was doing my own research for this essay, and just how prevalent that is.
Mary DeMuth 37:16
Yeah, I agree. And we can justify all sorts of things. doesn’t make it right. But yeah, and if you’re feeding your mind a steady diet of something like that, you’re in and we, you know, let’s talk a very mildly or very quickly about marital rape, we’ve got that issue that people don’t think is a thing either. I think that if there’s a ring on your finger, that ring means consent. But a lot of men who are addicted to porn get married, and then they write their wives. And part of that is making them do things that they’ve seen on screens or on paper. And that is also a thing that’s happening as well.
Cody Johnston 37:51
Yeah. And that’s, that’s a very real thing. And I know what is it statistically I actually know this one statistically, not 99.8% of men have viewed pornography in the United States or I’ve been exposed to pornography in the United States and I want to say it’s over 80% are actively viewing pornography or have at some point in their life had an addiction to that. And it’s a very real thing. There’s a lot that goes into sex culture that feeds into this on both ends. I know the as someone who has struggled with pornography in that is something that I had to work through I can definitely attribute to the mental shifts that can cause I can attribute to the thoughts that can lead to I can attribute to the terrible searches and all this involved in that is not natural. It is not anything that is that is traditional in a marriage or a healthy relationship that is just not normal. And that’s a very real issue. And that’s a whole other episode. That’s a whole other thing to address. That’s a whole other beast to kind of look at and say okay, well what is the desire versus what you’re giving? You know, it’s kind of like, well, you’re hungry. I’m going to go eat a donut. Well, that’s not healthy for you, you know, that’s you’re taking in junk to fill And a need in your life. So that’s something else we can get into. But for sake of time, I just I really want to talk about specifically dealing with forgiveness and that, you know, in your situation I some people’s situations different where they can bring to light something and maybe that person is going to get convicted and they’re going to get theirs and justice is going to be served and they have that, not that it ever lessens the burden but at least they have something they can lean on knowing that they received it in the most mild way, a some kind of form of I guess push back further action, but I know in your situation most likely these kids went on and nothing ever came of it and who knows who how many other people hopefully, you know, we all have I’m sure everyone who is a decent human being hopes they got their life together. But sometimes it’s not easy to hope someone like that got their life together. It’s It’s natural. troll, you know, fleshy reaction to say, Man, I hope they get there’s one day. What is forgiveness look like? How has that affected you knowing that those people just walked away?
Mary DeMuth 40:10
Yeah, it’s been a long journey and one of the cautionary things that I say to people that especially those who are walking alongside sexual abuse victims is we don’t get to prescribe someone else’s forgiveness journey. We do not get to act like the Holy Spirit in their lives. We do not get to say, well Have you forgiven? Because that is a very personal journey. And while I would definitely argue that getting to that place of forgiveness is healthy for you. It’s going to take some time and to be gentle with yourself on that because this is a violation against another human being. And it’s, you know, it’s it says if someone harmed if you were a child, it says if someone harms your child and you look at the same thing, it would be the same kind of like a fence to just gloss over it and do kind of an easy forgive ism glosses over The very real justice that’s necessary and the sad part is is that like you said, most people will not see justice on this earth they will not see it recompense, they will not see the person behind bars. I certainly didn’t. And I had to get to a place where I wanted to have mental health. And so I had to learn how to forgive. And over and over and over again, it wasn’t just a one and done. But that did set me free to be able to move on with my life because if I didn’t have that if I if I continue to hold on to the bitterness, then that would be a tie to that incident for the rest of my life. I wanted to let that go now it does still affect me Of course, but But yeah, but I really want to say just be really tender with people who are on this journey because it’s it’s really it’s it’s really mean and judgmental to assume someone hasn’t forgiven when they’re in the middle of the journey and to force it is also abusive. Yeah,
Cody Johnston 41:58
yeah. And I just want to kind of build on That, that I think forgiveness is definitely a process. And some days I think, I think some days, you know, forgiveness is like, Yes, I forgive that person the next day. It’s like, man, I hope they rot. And you know, I’m sure it’s a process. And so thank you for bringing light to that. And just that reminder,
Elaine Johnston 42:15
I was gonna say, just because you have forgiven that other person, that doesn’t mean that you’re not still traumatized. That doesn’t mean that doctor isn’t still there, and that you’re not still dealing with these things. And so just because you have forgiven someone you know, it’s completely selfish of somebody else to assume that you haven’t just because that you are trying to express yourself on how you are trying to recover from what happened to you.
Mary DeMuth 42:42
Well, and I also have some interesting enemies on Twitter and last week or the week before I had pedophile enemies. And just to kind of give a little insight into this, they were all attacking me because they were saying that they should have they’d already served their time they are on the sex registry. One of the persons names was like The sex registry or something like that. And they were saying they should have full inclusion into a church and I was saying, No, you’ve lost that, right? Unless you’re in an elderly congregation where there is zero percent children, you cannot go and they were telling me that I lacked grace. But what I was saying was, no actually have a really high view of grace. It does. Grace does not negate consequences. Neither does forgiveness. And whether we see them meted out or not, it’s still there will be in the other side, you know, there will be consequences to what they do. But on this side, when I have control over who comes to my church, and who has access to the children in my church 100% of the time, if there’s a sex offender, they’re not going to be there. And that’s not graceless. I think that’s graceful for those who could be victimized.
Cody Johnston 43:49
Yeah, that’s good. So to kind of flip the tables here a little bit, what would be something if you were I’m sure you you may have had this opportunity, but say there’s someone who honestly He has kind of repented had come to this point of like I did this thing. They have these regrets, what would be I guess? What would you say to them? What would you say to someone who’s on that side of things?
Mary DeMuth 44:12
Well, first, I think the fruit of repentance should be very obvious. And it usually comes out in their actions. And one of them would be if they were a convicted pedophile, or they had pedophile tendencies. And they’ve repented of that, and they’ve gotten help and serious help, because the stats are that almost none reform, so have to be very careful about believing the things that they say. But if if it’s in the rare case that that has happened, then they would be just as horrified to attend a church with children in it, and would insist that they were never around them because just like an alcoholic would not frequent bars. Someone who has that tendency would not frequent places where their children and they would know their limitations and they would know their weaknesses and that they would self impose restrictions on them. Because they know that because that’s their tendency, they can never be around them again. So that doesn’t have to do with grace that it just shows their true repentance. They’re truly repentant. They’re not going to be the pedophiles attacking me asking me why I can’t won’t let them.
Cody Johnston 45:13
Yeah, completely agree. I love that. So if there’s someone listening to this right now, they’ve had this traumatic experience, whether they’ve been able to vocalize it with someone or not what is just something that you could say right now just to offer them, I guess, a glimmer of hope or to speak life into their circumstances.
Mary DeMuth 45:30
I would say that,
you know, that that journey sometimes can be very dark. And there were certainly times where I wanted to give up you know, the, the just just trying and trying and trying, Jesus asked the paralyzed man is very important question and he said, Do you want to get well? And interestingly enough, if you look at that interaction, the man never answered the question. He would say, cat Jesus, I want to get well he just said, Oh, well, you know Want us to come stirring in the water? Someone asked me in the pool. And he just gave an excuse even so even so he didn’t answer the question. Jesus still healed him. And so we also have these, you know, things in the in the New Testament where Jesus heals instantly. And then we’ve got some blind people who he has, they have to put more mud on their eyes. It’s not quite there. And I think most of us are like that latter one, we are in a long process of healing, and to be gentle to yourself. And to know I can say that over. You know how many years it’s been over 40 years since this has happened. It’s still does affect me today. It affects me less. And now I’m back in I’m into a phase now where God’s done so much healing that I’m able to have the joy of helping others and so there is light at the end of that very dark tunnel, but also I would encourage you to get some help. definitely find safe people definitely let your story out and also find some trauma and inform therapy That will help you you know, maybe with some em dr or some cognitive behavioral therapy or brain spotting. There’s all sorts of different things going on that are helping trauma victims, but do get some help. That’s good.
Cody Johnston 47:11
What are some key signs to watch out for? If you’re in your church or your workplace or whatever it is, to help people just be aware if something like this is going on this maybe not being noticed,
Mary DeMuth 47:24
on the on the side of the child, it would be a radical change in behavior at wedding, a kid that was compliant, suddenly becoming really, you know, not just doing things bad, or someone who’s typically very bad and out working their behavior that way who becomes silent and so on. And terms of people, we have to become very trauma informed. There’s a book out there called are predatory and form called predators by Anna Salter. It’s not something to read at night. It’s very unsettling, but sadly it’s usually the person Who is the nicest that is? That is someone you need to worry about. There’s a quote about Larry Nasser, the US AG gymnast Doctor Who said something like he was astonishingly nice. And so if you have someone that especially in terms of pedophilia, who is constantly wanting to be around kids swinging them around, all the kids love him or her, and they seem to insert themselves into all those different spaces. I hate to say, well then look at them negatively, but you kind of have to, they don’t pedophiles do not present as we think they do. And we also even as a sexual abuse victim, I thought I’d had really good radar I don’t, I had to learn about what predators to to be able to spot them a little bit easier, but it’s not easy. And I that’s why I think all of us need some training and especially true workers.
Cody Johnston 48:54
So just to kind of wrap all this together, if you could ask some One out there one question just to kind of maybe a rhetorical question or something like that to get them on the process of, of healing. And I say healing very carefully because that’s it is a process. But just to give them a voice or to help them understand they have a voice, what question would you ask?
Mary DeMuth 49:18
Well, that’s actually helped me the most, I guess the question would be, do you want to be all there for your relationships in your life. And what I have found is people tend to not want to pursue their healing because they think it’s selfish or self absorbed. And so then I will turn that around and say, actually, the best gift that you can give your loved ones is your healed heart. And so it’s not selfish to heal. It’s actually going to bless all your relationships. I met a woman after a talk and she was crying and she said, Well, my mom just like what you said. My mom has been struggling with this for years and years and years, and I said to her, she said she’s 70 years old, she finally told her story. I said wouldn’t have been a gift to you if she had pursued healing earlier and she just burst into tears again. Yes. And so that’s my encouragement to those who are surviving maybe you can’t do it for yourself. But it will enhance your relationships and bless your relationships if you at least take those baby steps down that road to healing.
Cody Johnston 50:25
That’s so good. Mary, thank you so much for this conversation. Thank you for the work you’re doing thank you for being a voice to a very real issue and speaking, speaking grace into speaking life into it in a way that’s that’s not just bashing I hear it so much that people just go in with a hammer and just start knocking stuff down. So thank you for for coming in gracefully and trying to build stuff back up.
Mary DeMuth 50:47
Thank you. I appreciate that.
Cody Johnston 50:48
Mary, where can people find all of your your books and your work? Where’s your hub at?
Mary DeMuth 50:54
My hub is married to me calm and then I also have we two.org and there’s a 30 page resource for Christian leaders there of all different places people can go for help. And that’s what we do.org slash pastors. And then there’s a 21 day series, an email series of healing, where I just kind of talk about some of my best practices and healing. And that’s we two.org slash 21 days. And that’s the number 21.
Cody Johnston 51:20
Awesome, I will link up to all of that in the show notes so people can get, get a hold of all of that. And Mary, I just, I greatly appreciate it. I look forward to all the work you do going forward. And I look forward to having more conversations with you in the future.
Mary DeMuth 51:34
Awesome. Thanks so much. And you guys are great interviewers. Thank you,
Elaine Johnston 51:39
everyone. I just want to thank married to music once again for being on the show. And this is such a needed conversation. We talked about a couple of different heavy subjects in the line of pornography and trauma and forgiveness and healing and all of those different things. And I just again, want to thank Mary for continuing this conversation.
Cody Johnston 52:00
Yeah, and all those resources she mentioned are in the show notes below. And I encourage you to hop down there. If that’s something you need in your life. Go down there, click that link, sign up and grab those free resources and pick up a copy of her book to all that’s linked up where you can, you can find Marian all that she is doing. And Mary, thank you so much for just such an amazing, amazing conversation. Guys, we invite you to nomads it is a safe community for Christians to ask unsafe questions and we love whenever you guys ask questions, we’d love to have you as part of the conversation so we haven’t done so so far. Click that link in the show notes and ask to be a part you are invited. Also, if you know someone that would benefit from hearing this, we asked you to share this episode on with a friend sharing episodes on is the best way to keep the conversation going. We love you guys and as always be brave, be bold and be reckless.
Unknown Speaker 52:53
We’ll talk soon
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