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The old example of two brothers illustrates the reality of free will perfectly. They both had the same mad, alcoholic father. They both grew up under his intolerable abuse. Both were neglected, assaulted, scorned, and battered. The one became a drunkard and abuser just like their father. The other became a dedicated pastor. When asked why they are so different, the drunkard answered aggressively, “What do you expect with a father like mine?” However, the pastor explained quietly, “Well, what do you expect with a father like mine?”
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF VICTIMS OF ABUSE FROM AN ACCOUNTABLE AGE
Nothing in this article or in the book, Dealing with Abuser and Abusers God’s Way, diminishes the crimes perpetrated against victims, or exonerate unrepentant abusers. However, contrary to the mostly hidden occult teachings of psychology, the way in which both abusers and their victims react to abuse is crucial to their salvation, redemption, healing, and their general well-being in this world. By this I mean, psychology teaches that man is but a primal animal; living on primitive urges and desires and therefore has no moral responsibility or accountability at all during any stage of his life. In stark contrast, God’s Word teaches that humanity was created in the image of God and has to live by His inward, Moral Law of Love. Therefore, if the abuser never repents according to God’s Scriptural commandments, he or she will continue the abuse, and the destruction on his or her own life and the lives of all concerned, which will only worsen over time. The abuser might decide to “reform,” but will still remain the same Godless person inside. As that person becomes older, all learned practices will be repeated because they remain second nature. Only Jesus can change hard, remorseless hearts and create “new” Godly ‘hearts’ in people. (Jn. 1:12-13; 3:3-5; Gal. 4:6-7.)
On the other hand, if victims of abuse never search for God’s Truth in every aspect of their lives and obey the precepts of His Moral Law, there can never be true redemption and healing for them. And yes, once an abuser has accepted Christ, ended the abuse by repenting from sin; confessed his or her sins to God, and in the case of abuse to the victim as well, and asked forgiveness, doing restitution by henceforward telling the truth, abstaining from sexual immorality, and replacing unfaithfulness with fidelity, etcetera, the matter is solved! (Jam. 5:16-17.)
If God does not forgive and renew abusers, then He does not forgive or renew any other sinner either. We all are saved, redeemed, and healed through faith in, acceptance of, and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ Alone.
As a result, all people from the age of accountability and according to their mental capacity are compelled to forgive one another all repented sin that was committed against one another, (Jam. 5:16-17.) Although, as seen in the book, ‘Dealing with Abuse and Abusers God’s Way,’ this does not happen instantly or automatically but through our obedience to follow Jesus’ Moral-Law commandments as far as humanly possible.
However, if the victim allows the deceptions of psychology to permeate his or her soul, self-pity, hatred and revenge will eventually destroy the victim’s life and everyone else involved. So, both the abuser and the victim have the personal responsibility to deal with their particular situation the way God intended, and in fact, commanded in His Word.
Another fact central to our salvation, redemption, and healing in Christ, (and also contrary to the lies of psychology,) is that we must realize and accept that personal responsibility and accountability are essential self-protecting, Scriptural commandments and creation principles of God! (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:15-25; Jn. 1:12-13.) For example, it would be useless for victims to blame, hate, and even take revenge on abusers without taking the responsibility to work through the abuse God’s way! Whether a person is an abuser or the victim of abuse, to minimize and avoid personal responsibility and accountability results in far reaching and growing sin, which endangers not just the deceived abuser and his or her victim, but everyone in contact with them.
God Holds Us All, (Young and Old; Pagan and Christian,) Responsible from an Accountable Age
God’s Word makes it clear that we have absolutely no excuse to continue living in a state of sin and cursedness without Christ, or to continue in unrepentant sin of any type, (Jn. 1:12-13; Rom. 3:23-24; Eph. 2:1-10; Rev. 21:7-8.)
For this reason, God holds us all responsible for every sinful decision and action from the very moment we can distinguish between right and wrong, and thus, can decide to do right or wrong, (Rev. 20:11-25; Rom. 2:11-16; 3:21-23; 7:7-25.)
This sounds as if young children and those who have never heard or understood the Gospel, and were never taught the Moral Law of God, might be exempt from personal accountability before God. Yet, even pagans, who never regard Jesus or even heard about Him, are answerable before God because they too, have His Moral Law written on their ‘hearts,’ or human spirits, (Rom. 2:5-6; 14-15; 1 Ths. 5:23.)
By ‘default,’ all people that possess the necessary mental capacity, (supported by God’s inward Moral Law and the conviction of the Holy Spirit,) know it is ‘wrong’ to steal, lie, defraud, rape, murder, etc. In addition to God’s inward Moral Law, the Holy Spirit, using all the precepts of the Moral Law written on humanity’s ‘heart,’ convicts everyone on earth (capable of personally understanding the difference between right and wrong,) of immorality or moral sin, righteousness in Christ through His completed atonement, (the Way out of sin,) and judgement for living without Christ and for unrepentantly perpetrating God’s inward, Moral Law of Love, (Jn. 16:8.) It is another certainty that the Holy Spirit supernaturally warns us of danger from a young age, so that many, even as children, flee from sexual predators and other danger because they simply feel terribly uneasy with the person and situation, and ‘know’ they must run or shout! This does not diminish the crime of paedophilia or any other type of immorality or the guilt of these demoniacs, but it does prove that even young children are, to the degree they can understand at any given age, capable of obeying the Voice of the Holy Spirit and act on the Moral Law written in their little hearts!
Hence, guided by God’s inward Moral Law and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, every person from the age of accountability knows ‘instinctively’ the difference between right and wrong. Still, young children at this age does not necessarily understand the Gospel, all the precepts of the Moral Law, and the many rules of society, because they are simply too young to comprehend, personalize, or remember it all. Everyone from an accountable age, and especially from the time they are old enough to understand the truth of God’s Word, actually undertake a journey or lifelong process of growth in Christ, which is never an instant thing. That is why even the elderly sometimes trust the wrong people and are defrauded of their life savings, etc. Afterwards, if they are honest, they would all be able to say, “I instinctively knew something was wrong, but…” Being deceived, not understanding the situation properly, or trying to be kind to the wrong people, do not minimize our personal responsibility to obey the Moral Law and the leading of the Spirit. However, none of us knows it all. My mother always used to say we learn until the moment we die, because we have never died before. Therefore, no one knows beforehand how to die!
Nevertheless, no human being has ever, or will ever be an ‘ape’ or any other kind of animal without morality. Most of humanity act worse than animals do, but they all have the responsibility before God to live according to His Moral Law in the leading of His Holy Spirit. Hence, God requires that every human being from the age of accountability will choose between right and wrong, and as the person grows in intellect and knowledge, to do progressively what is right. We will make mistakes along the way and that is why we can always confess our sins to God and experience His redemption and healing. However, we can never experience God’s redemption and healing by minimizing our personal responsibility and therefore shifting all the blame for all our sorrow and brokenness unto someone else — even if unrepentant criminals belong behind bars.
Accordingly, God warned in Jam. 4:17, “To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
At What Age does Accountability Dawn upon a Child?
Think back to the very first wrong thing you did.
How did you know it was wrong and why did it make you feel guilty? (I am not talking about not wearing your shoes when you were supposed to. I am referring to Moral sin like lying, stealing, being cruel to animals and other people — or even your passivity in the face of another’s cruelty to you or someone or something, while you could have fled or helped.)
That was when you became accountable for your sins; discerning between moral right and immorality or moral wrong.
Of course no one can expect a young child to act as responsible as a teenager or an adult. A child’s age and personal understanding lessen his or her responsibility, but even young children can make important moral decisions from the age of accountability. I mean, even a young child knows ‘instinctively’ it is terribly wrong to pulverize a little kitten with a brick and will normally scream hysterically to protest the cruelty. Thus, the principle of God is that moral sin remains sin in both young and old. God wants us to make the right choices as soon as we are capable of doing that.
So, as soon as we remember some moral sin from our childhood, that is the moment when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and righteousness, and gives us the opportunity to confess that sin to God, and if possible, to those we wronged, dealing with guilt and shame forever. God commanded in Heb. 3:15-17, “Today, if you hear My Voice, do not harden your hearts... (Jam. 5:16-17; Jn. 16:8; 1 Jn. 1:9.)
Most Bible scholars believe accountability usually dawns upon us between the ages of five and seven, depending on personal ability, of course. Paul explained this as follows in Rom. 7:7-12, “[All people are born into a state of sin and cursedness, Rom. 5:12; 3:23. However...] I would not have known sin except through the law… But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, [the precepts of the Moral Law, “you shall not steal, covet, lie, murder…” which are written on all human ‘hearts’ while no one is able to keep the Moral Law in totality, Gal. 2:21,] produced in me all manner of evil desire. [Once we begin to practice immorality, the devil gets a hold un us to tempt us to greater immorality.]
“For apart from [me knowing the precepts of] the [Moral] law, sin [or accountability] was dead [in me.] Thus, I was alive once [unto God] without the law…” [Paul means, I was completely innocent and belonged to heaven before the age of accountability; not knowing right from wrong, because all babies and little children belong to Jesus in their innocence]
“But when the law came, [when I began to know right from wrong, being guided by the Moral Law of God written on my heart in the conviction of the Holy Spirit,] sin revived, [meaning the sin-state into which I was born took hold of me,] and I died [spiritually,] because [knowing what is sin,] I stood guilty before God for breaking the entire law. (Breaking one precept of the law makes us guilty of transgressing the whole law.) And without personal acceptance of the complete atonement of Jesus in my place, I could do nothing to save myself from my guilt and condemnation...]” - (Jn. 1:12-13; Gal. 2:16-21; 3:21-25.)
Hence, it is necessary to evangelize even young children with the true Gospel of Christ, (Jn. 3:3-5.)
To allow them to be Biblically baptized as disciples of Jesus, however, must remain the child’s personal decision when he or she is old enough to fully comprehend the Scriptural responsibilities which accompany Scriptural discipleship in Christ.
THE ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD-GIVEN PARENTS IN THE LIVES OF CHILDREN
Everyone is born into a state of sin, yet remains innocent before God until the age of accountability. Still, the God-given role that parents, grandparents, teachers, and other educators must play in the Godly upbringing of children, remains essential in the formation of human character, which severely affects human choice, (Deut. 4:9; 11:19; Eph. 6:4!)
Someone fittingly explained, “[Apart from teaching our children the truth of God’s Word and His Moral commandments,] personal failure to use capabilities such as speech, etc., increases the scope for actual sin. [This also constitutes the sin of parents, who neglect to teach and discipline their children lovingly, and to teach them develop their capabilities such as conscience, speech, Godly behavior, and intellect.] Kids are responsible for whatever righteous responses are possible for a child to make at any given age. [We must remember that neglect has an incredible influence on children, which, in the long run, affects every aspect of their lives. But the crime of neglect is no excuse for a child or teenager to sin and continue in sin, as everyone from an age of accountability can begin to discern between right and wrong.] At any given age the child is responsible for his abilities at that age. As his abilities broaden, the growing child becomes increasingly fully responsible before God.]”
Shaming and Denial are some of the Reasons why Victims of Abuse keep quiet
That being said, we should also realize that circumstance, parental guidance or the lack thereof, and background play an important role in people’s sensitivity to danger and their view of sin, although this does not delete or lessen the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s inward Moral Law.
We should also take into account that learned perceptions such as acceptance of sin, the body’s natural response to sexual stimulation, (on which all child and other molesters prey,) as well as shaming and denial, can imprison victims of abuse in sin and silence, when they should speak out, flee from, and stand up to abusers. [See the example of a shaming granny under the heading, “Legitimate Blame Versus Unmerited Hatred for Passive Protectors.”]
Therefore, it is common that many victims of abuse, (those who, because of their oppressive circumstances, could not stand up to abusers; those who were restrained to submit to the abuse, those who could flee but didn’t; as well as those who did stand their ground and dealt with the abuse before it could take hold on their lives,) often smother the abuse rather than seeking the protection and intervention of parents and other protectors they can trust.
Shaming and Denial are common motivations for unreported crimes such as sexual molestation, rape and incest. As a result, children must be taught from an early age to be vigilant against the dangers of abuse and stand their ground against all forms of abuse without over-reacting to harmless situations, or being dishonest and manipulative.
Without ever justifying sin against children in the least, it remains a fact that children from an accountable age have a remarkable capacity to discern between right and wrong because God created humanity this way. However, some children, just as adults, can be incredibly spiteful, deceitful, unrepentant liars.
It is a sad fact that men and women have been falsely accused of sexual molestation and even rape, while such crimes never really occurred. Nevertheless, all reported crimes against children (and helpless animals) must be thoroughly investigated. The child must be taught to inform people in protective positions right away, and then children must expect that protector to take immediate action. The abused child, teenager and even adult must realize that he or she can never expect people to help if they do not know about the abuse.
Our children and teenagers, especially, are precious in the sight of Jesus.
All people are responsible before God to protect our children as well as one another as far as possible.
When the damage is done, physical wounds might heal well, but psychology will only do further damage.
Only obedience to Jesus and the Truth of His Word in the leading of His Spirit, can therefore truly protect, heal, and deliver.