Tag Archives: count the cost

“What do you do when your friends are rapists?”



“What do you do when your friends are rapists?”  Is a question I ran across in a blog post written by Shane O’Leary on Theology Corner.  I have to admit to being both intrigued and horrified by what I read.

Shane does an excellent job of describing the inner-turmoil that everyone goes through when they’ve learned that someone they’ve known and trusted is accused of (or confesses to) something as heinous as rape.  The swirling fog of dissonance is real and it’s difficult to shake off and gain clarity.

I commend him for putting it out there, really – it’s an honest and accurate depiction of the wrestling match that goes on inside a person’s head.  “What should I do???”  But I was deeply saddened that he never answered his own question.

Shane offers three scenarios (I don’t know if they’re real recollections of actual events or if he made them up for the sake of the piece). Regardless of whether or not these particular stories are real, they are indicative of the kinds of real life scenarios that ordinary people might run into in the course of their own friendships.  Three women in three different settings are devastated by what “good guys” have done to them.  Three women’s lives are forever changed by the actions of “friends.”  Three moral dilemmas that Shane – and maybe you – faced where doing the “right” thing is eclipsed by doing the expedient thing, doing the loyal thing, or in fact, doing nothing at all.  In each of the three cases, Shane knows the rapist as a friend – not as a rapist.  The grappling with the truth of that horrible reality while at the same time trying to figure out what he should do in the face of it all (if, in fact, he should do anything at all) is the whole of the post.  I recommend reading the post yourself.  If nothing else, I hope it makes you think deeply about the times you’ve been faced with (or will be faced with) doing the right thing when it might cost you dearly.

I don’t know this author.  I’d like to think that his choice of leaving the questions unanswered was a stylistic decision purposefully used – to make his readers think, perhaps, or make them uncomfortable enough to ask the questions in their own circles of friendships or colleagues to try to find answers.  But it has become painfully clear that in the face of crisis, most of us don’t know what to do.  We might wrestle with the questions, but often we wrestle long enough that the opportunity to do anything at all passes and our de facto decision to do nothing has been made for us.  These are matters too serious to leave hanging in the thin wisps of theory – we need to start actually offering some concrete solutions to one another.  We need to be prepared for the day when we’re faced with this heavy responsibilities.  We need to know what we will do.

In response to Shane’s repeated question, “what do you do when your friends are rapists?”  I’m posting my response.  Hopefully this at least gets the conversation started:

Dear Shane:

I deeply appreciate the honesty that you share here – the wrestling and the fog are real and you describe them well. I hope these things represent the real inner-turmoil you have had if these are true stories. They are for me.

As a victim I will offer my suggestions – I’m not a therapist, I’m no expert, I have no formal training to say this is what one “ought” to do. But since you ask the open-ended question with such eloquence, and seem to be genuinely asking, I will offer a possible answer.

You do the right thing.

You put yourself in the shoes of the victim and do the right thing. The protective thing. The honorable thing. The God-glorifying thing. You imagine that these girls are your sister, your mother, your close friend if you have to, but you do what Jesus did – bend low, serve the needy, the vulnerable, the oppressed, the wounded. You lift up, you rescue, you resuscitate.

You go back and admit where you’ve failed – where you’ve retreated from standing firmly against sin and shrunk back as a coward hiding behind ignorance. If you’re not guilty of these crimes yourself (and everything you’ve described is a crime) you ask the victims if they want help in reporting the crimes. You ask them if they need help in finding help. You tell them you believe them. You tell them that what happened to them was not their fault. You offer to walk with them through the ugliness of the pain and the torturous path of healing and you keep that promise no matter what.

You do what the Good Samaritan did and set your life aside for a time to help the battered and bloodied victim of criminal activity survive and heal. Oh God! What will it take to wake us up? You do the right thing, Shane. You do the right thing.

Regarding your friends who are rapists? You let the consequences of their criminal activities have their full (hopefully redemptive) effect. You report them. You call them out. You risk the relationship for the sake of righteousness if that’s what it costs, but you do the right thing here, too. And then you walk with your friends, if they’ll let you, through the pain and the ugliness of harsh discipline by a loving Father who loves them too much to let them continue in the paths of wickedness without calling loudly, “Come home! Come home!” If they are really your friends, you will love them too much to let them continue down those roads, too.

It’s not that knowing what the right thing to do is that hard. It’s doing it.

Do the right thing, Shane. Please, do the right thing.



Who takes that kind of risk?


I was talking with someone I’ve known for a long time about plans we have – hopes and dreams – and he said, “Yeah, you’ll do those things because you guys are risk takers.”

I was quiet.

Really?  I never thought of myself as a risk-taker.  We’re not dare-devils, throw caution to the wind kind of people… are we?

Yesterday I was watching a documentary on a Jewish family whose younger generation has become so hardened against anything non-Jewish that they have almost completely cut themselves off from any outside influences.  Their grandparents had all been Holocaust survivors, and the middle generation, Menachem and his wife, Rivka, were deeply concerned that their sons were in danger of perpetrating a similar view of hatred and non-tolerance that the Nazi’s had unleashed.

So, they decided to take their sons to Poland – the land of their ancestors.  They travelled to the cities where these boys’ grandparents had grown up, and been taken away to concentration camps.  He showed them holy places that had become ruins but the boys mocked their father and laughed at his silly attempts to change their minds.

But then things changed.  Menachem’s wife’s father and two of his brothers had not gone to concentration camps – they survived due to the kindness of neighbors – Poles who couldn’t just hand them over to the Germans.

Menachem, through the aid of translators, was able to find the farm where his wife’s father and uncles were hidden for 28 months during the German occupation.  In fact, they were able to find the young couple, now old, who along with an extended family, had kept the boys hidden and secreted away all that time – literally risking their own lives.  Bent and twisted from age and a hard life, the old woman clearly recalled her memories as if they were last year, not a life-time ago.

It was a beautiful reunion – all those people were there (and many more beside) because of the kindness of these neighbors.  Pictures were exchanged, stories told, and the surprise visit went long into the evening.

But it was haunting as well.  The boys’ mocking tone stopped.  They, too, were moved by the simple kindness of these non-Jews.

Upon returning home, they were glad to report all they had seen to their grandfather – that these farmers had told stories of hiding the boys from searching German soldiers knowing that if the boys had been found, all of them, not just those three Jewish boys, would be killed.  And yet, even the children of their Polish benefactors were able to keep precious silence.

I couldn’t help but think of the wonderful story of the tenBoom family –the Dutch watchmaker’s family who built a secret room in their home so that they could hide Jews and help them escape to safety – who had all been sent to the concentration camp for doing the same thing.  Many of them lost their lives in order to save the lives of others.  The fear that this Polish family described was real and it was well-founded.

The boys, brimming with gratitude for what these poor farmers had endured for the sake of their grandfather and his brothers smiled and asked their grandfather, “So, if things were reversed – you were the Pole and the Jews came to you – would you have hidden them, too?”

With broad and happy grins they waited eagerly for their beloved grandfather’s response.  He started quickly and easily and their hope in him was contagious.

He said, “You know, it was awful in those days.  The killing…  Who takes that kind of risk?”

Stunned, the boys understood their grandfather’s words, but asked, “So…. you wouldn’t take them in?”


I’m still shocked by the answer he gave.  Even after all the years of life and joy he’s had because they risked their’s?  Even after he knew the sickening fear had given way to freedom because of what they did?  Even after the mutual hardships that this family bore for their sakes?  Who takes that kind of risk, indeed… who does?  Not many.

Lord, let me always, then, be a risk-taker.  Let me raise my children to do the same.  Let me have boldness like the Hebrew midwives who saved the baby boys.  Let me be like Rahab who hid the spies, like Joshua and Caleb who saw your promises and believed them, and were not afraid.  Let me be like David who knew a great God when he saw a puny giant, and like Paul who could not be made silent through scourgings and shipwrecks and stonings.

The old woman said she had a question for the boys to ask their grandfather:  “Why did he never send a postcard?  Why did he never let us know that he made it out alive?”

His response was chilling.  He said he figured they were indebted to those farmers – that they would want a great deal of money and they couldn’t pay.

I’m sure money would have helped that family over the years, but their indebtedness could hardly be measured in gold.  How does one measure life?  Children?  Grandchildren?  Freedom?

The grandfather was right – he owed a debt he could never repay.

And so did we, until Jesus paid it for us.  Is there anything I would not risk for His sake?

How about you?