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Why does God allow sexual abuse to happen? This issue is one which falls within the wider and often considered debate about the problem of suffering. If God is good, just, loving and so forth, then why does He allow people to suffer, Christian and non-Christian?

The world is not the way God originally created it. When the first human beings were made, they were without sin. God gave his human creation free will. Through that, Adam and Eve disobeyed God's direction and sin entered the world. Yes, God could have made people who could not sin-but that would mean that He would have made robots-not humans.

Human history has since testified to the expression of this sin throughout each generation-murder, theft, anger, malice, abuse, wars-and yes rape. The expression of sin is seen in the refusal to even accept the reality of original sin. 

Sexual abuse is the result of sin. But still the question remains-why does He allow individual people to suffer from this expression of sin? Why not step in and stop it?

Written by John Piper, the article linked below will help you to understand how abuse of women is a consequence of the fall of humankind-in other words, a consequence of  sin entering the world.

Conflict after the Fall

Christian Suffering 

Perhaps you are reading this website as a Christian who has been sexually assaulted. It can be very difficult to even begin to see some purpose in your suffering and yet, if you are a Christian, even the vilest of acts committed against you does have purpose. There is always purpose in the suffering of Christians. Christians often go to the book of Job when searching for answers and yet in many ways the message of that book is rather that we are to trust God’s purposes even when He doesn’t provide a reason for our suffering. However, it is possible to understand some of the purposes that God has for His children when he allows them to suffer. Here I suggest four.

Developing Dependency upon God 

Sexual abuse is always an isolating experience. The silence which so frequently surrounds it within the Christian community is perhaps because it relates to an area of our nature which is considered deeply personal, private and sacred. Yet God sees and knows everything and is always open to communication with His children. All suffering often brings the child of God to Him in prayer since suffering is a vehicle whereby our self-dependency and sufficiency become seriously challenged. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he told of his and others’ suffering to the extent that he ‘...despaired even of life…’ and yet he could proclaim that ‘…this happened so that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead’ (2 Corinthians 1: 8-9).


Can you go to God yet with what happened to you? Can you go to Him with everything that you are struggling with: the anger, hatred, shame, embarrassment, loneliness, disgust? I remember a time when I would experience a sense of revulsion when I heard pastors speak in terms such as ‘Has Christ won you over yet?’ and the frequent use of the word ‘submission’.  That language made me shudder-it made me remember and I hated hearing it. God as a male figure in control made me feel sick sometimes. Of course I have come to now understand these as psychological responses which are no doubt aggravated by the devil. I know however that God understood my response and He helped me through it. Dependency upon God is revealed in needing Him to deal with such responses-even those which involve anger towards Him.

A Process of Purification 

'I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that does not bear fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes’ (John 15:1-2).
Suffering can be a means through which God purifies you further and further so that ‘…your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes, even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed’ (1Peter 1:7). It is a strange thing if we think only in worldly terms, but consider this: your experience of sexual abuse, an act which seems as far away from any notion of ‘purity’ as the earth is from the sun, might well be the means through which the Lord will bring you into greater holiness. Your abuser intended it for evil-but God will have intended it for your good. It may be that this seems absurd right now-perhaps even offensive-and yet the Bible declares that suffering can indeed be used in this way-even the horrid suffering of sexual abuse.

Testifying to the power of God

People watch Christians carefully-and no more so when they endure suffering. Satan was silenced when God gave Job the power to carry the cross of the trials sent to him. Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him (Job 13:15). Yes, he had his struggles along the way and yet God brought him through to the other side, and in doing so revealed His power. People ridicule the teachings of Christ. They see the religion but deny its power. The Christian, who, through God, perseveres under trial, is the Christian that God uses to proclaim His power. Other Christians are also encouraged as they witness this. I have read of persecuted Christian women suffering horrendous assaults. And I have read how the Lord has wonderfully kept them, healed them and brought them peace. The Lord’s strength is sufficient for any trial-through it He will affirm His faithfulness to you and His power to a watching world.

Preparation for Helping Others who Suffer 

Through suffering the Christian becomes equipped to serve others who suffer; they can ‘weep with those who weep’. If you have been assaulted you will know in a way that others cannot the pain and trauma which it causes. You will understand more than others can even begin to. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul made it clear that through the trials that he had endured, and his experience of God’s help throughout, he was now able to comfort others who suffered. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God’ (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Dealing with suffering It is one thing knowing the theological angle on suffering-another to live it out. That is simply because we can’t honestly see rape, for example, as a means of purification. The thought of the Lord’s glory and the encouragement of other believers might be the last things on our mind and might even make us angry-but the Lord can work in us so that what seems impossible becomes possible. How honest were the psalmists to God in their anger and grief and even questioning! He does understand-more than any person in this world could ever understand. He has promised to be with you in your suffering-and He is faithful to that promise. Rest in that.     

Psalm 56:3-4 Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word). In God I have put my trust. I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?

Psalm 97:10 You who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the soul of His saints. He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.


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