The Tom Chantry Case: It’s Not Simply About a Pastor

Fair Disclosure: Tom Chantry has not been found guilty in a court of law; he is entitled to Due Process, which includes (a) the right to counsel on his behalf, (b) the right to contest evidence against him, (c) the right to cross-examine witnesses who testify against him, (d) the right to introduce evidence on his behalf, (e) the right to compel witnesses to testify on his behalf, (f) the right not to testify against himself, and (g) to have that case examined and decided by a jury of his peers, with a unanimous verdict required for a conviction.

The case of Tom Chantry, a Reformed Baptist leader who has been indicted on multiple criminal charges, including child molestation and aggravated assault, is not simply about Tom Chantry.

If the evidence supports the charges against Chantry–which are damning–then Chantry is far from the only culpable party here.

That is because, if Chantry is guilty, then his abuses were enabled by a culture that, in spite of ostensible proclamation of Scripture regarding sexual matters, knowingly coddled leaders who were sexually licentious and who abused children.

And if that is true, then every one of those leaders would be better off taking a long swim with a millstone around his neck.

He Led Her Down The Path To…

Well, not really.

In all seriousness, the only innocent parties in this one are her daughter and their son, Miguel Barahona, who was murdered.

Personally, I think he was a victim of sorts at one time. I agree with the premise that she “groomed” him and aggressively initiated that relationship. She was a predator who preyed on his raging hormones.

But when he chose to flip the switch and commit murder–particularly his own son–he swept all of that off the table.

She was a sexual predator. He is now a murderer.

Unfortunately, her daughter and their son paid the price for the depravity of their parents.

Passing Thoughts on the Greg Kelley Child Rape Case

I haven’t been following the Greg Kelley child rape case, but a number of people whom I follow on Twitter–including Boz Tchividjian–have been opining about it.

In this instance, you have a popular high school football player, living in a house that functioned as an in-home day care, accused of sexually-assaulting two 4-year-old boys. One of the boys waffled, there was no forensic evidence, Kelley had a fair number of character witnesses–including a football coach–and few enemies, not to mention a clean record. So many people made it their Christian duty to proclaim the glories of his innocence.

Among the arguments:

  • The children weren’t being truthful; one of them even recanted.
  • He had such a clean record.
  • He was never seen doing anything improper with children.
  • All they had was one child’s word against his.
  • He had the guts to testify on his own behalf.
  • So many Christian people were ready to sear by his character.

In the interest of fair disclosure, I don’t know Kelley, so I can’t say if he’s innocent or guilty. I do know this much, however: a jury of his peers heard the case–including even his own testimony–and found him guilty of two counts of super aggravated sexual assault, which meant he faced 25 years to life in prison.

In a plea deal reached in the penalty phase, Kelley admitted guilt, waived his right to appeal, and in return received 25 years. He’ll be in his 40s when he leaves prison, and will have to register as a sex offender.

As for the arguments that others have made, they sound very familiar.

Do children lie about being molested? Yes–those of us who are old enough can recall the McMartin preschool case, and I know of some firsthand accounts of false accusations within the foster case system–but it’s not as common as one thinks.

A child sex offender often has a very clean record–older ones usually pass background checks–and the first indication of any problem is the arrest.

A child sex offender rarely fits the mold of the reclusive, creepy pervert. In fact, many are affable, popular, and good with kids.

A child sex offender will pick his spots well, and usually does a spectacular job avoiding being noticed abusing children. Some of them are so sly that they will abuse children in front of other adults without being noticed.

A child sex offender will often have a mother lode of character witnesses–often old ladies–who will swear that “he’s such a kind soul; he would never hurt a fly.” They become unwitting enablers.

Sometimes, victims will recant, and the reasons can be complex. Is it always because the story was made up? Uh…no. In fact, I know of cases were accusations were likely recanted because someone coerced the victim into recanting.

The only thing I see in Kelley’s defense here: he’s not old enough to be slick and manipulative. (Then again, that might be why the law caught him.)

I tend to be in the camp of letting the justice process work. Do people get wrongly convicted of heinous crimes? Absolutely. If Kelley is one of those so convicted, I hope he receives his vindication.

OTOH, I tend to be in the camp of letting the process work. We have jury trials for a reason, and Kelley used all of his options, including taking the stand. He lost.

I realize that many will swear to his innocence, but the jury saw otherwise.

I cast my lot with the jury.

Heartbreaking

Moira Greyland, writing to the The Guardian (emphasis added):

Greyland, writing to the Guardian via email, said that she had not spoken out before “because I thought that my mother’s fans would be angry with me for saying anything against someone who had championed women’s rights and made so many of them feel differently about themselves and their lives. I didn’t want to hurt anyone she had helped, so I just kept my mouth shut”.

Greyland, a harpist, singer and opera director, said it was now clear to her that “one reason I never said anything is that I regarded her life as being more important than mine: her fame more important, and assuredly the comfort of her fans as more important. Those who knew me, knew the truth about her, but beyond that, it did not matter what she had done to me, as long as her work and her reputation continued.”

I can absolutely see where Moira would have arrived at that conclusion, and in fact many in the SF/F community probably think exactly that: that MZB’s life is more important than Moira’s. I can see where that would have kept her from speaking out for so long. Not knowing anything else, I’d hazard an educated guess that Moira probably figured it was her duty to be the sacrificial lamb on account of how well everyone else seemed to regard her mother. Besides, it’s entirely possible that, for many years, she figured that “deserved” the abuses she received.

Sadly, MZB got away with a myriad of atrocities against many children, including her own, during her time on this earth. She married a man she knew was a pederast; she covered for his abuses; she engaged in abuses of her own against children. She was a despicable, sordid excuse for a human being. Ditto for her husband.

Against that backdrop, Damien Walter raises the following issue:

It’s a truism that the writer you read on the page is not the writer you meet in the flesh. It’s for exactly this reason that meeting our cultural heroes is so often a profound disappointment. The transcendent singer on the stage is a bawdy lech in the bar. The poet who expresses beauty in words is a drunken misanthrope in person. So we commonly separate the artist from the human being, the icon from the reality. But when the actions of our cultural heroes go beyond bad behaviour, into to moral outrage, illegality and immorality, that separation becomes far harder. And in some cases, impossible.

I agree with the entirety of that statement. Truth be told, most writers–even the best Christian ones–were hardly sterling pure.

C.S. Lewis drank a bit much, smoked, and had sexual appetites that were bizarre at best and twisted at worst. And yet, he was probably the best Christian writer and apologist in the last 500 years.

I accept that great thinkers and writers are often “out there”, and are sometimes wired a bit differently than the average bear. At times, their devotion to excellence often leads to imbalances in other areas of their lives, and, given that one’s sexuality is a huge part of one’s life, that is a facet that can easily become disjointed.

Still, there is a threshold beyond which one can no longer separate the artist from the art. Lewis, whatever his sexual issues, kept his activities among otherwise consenting adults. As far as we know, he was faithful to his wife, and–after she died–he grieved like few men grieve.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, on the other hand, exceeds that threshold. I cannot separate the artist from the art in her case.

One reader of this blog–Savvy–remarked that, in the Mists of Avalon series, MZB “wrote about incest with great ease in a manner that turned my stomach.” Now we know how she was able to write about it with said ease.

Because of the damage that she inflicted on her children–Moira and Mark Greyland–as well as others, and because she covered for her husbands abuses against other children, the proper place for her works is the incinerator or gun range. I generally oppose the practice, but–if I owned any of her books–they would be targets for my next trip to Knob Creek.

If you want to support art from that family, then buy Moira Greyland’s music, or Mark Greyland’s art.

“They Did Their Best”, And Other Stupid Responses

(HT to Deirdre Saoirse Moen and Vox Day)

Moira Greyland, the daughter of the late science fiction writer Marion Zimmer Bradley (MZB), has provided a necessary rebuke to those who “celebrate” her mother.

I must admit that I empathize with Moira. Her following poem is priceless, and offers a valuable lesson to folks–and the Christian world is absolutely stacked with them–who provide dismissive, pat, flippant answers to those who have been through terrible abuses at the hands of their parents.

They Did Their Best

By Moira Greyland

Something pat that sounds like understanding
So the ones of us left Who still cry when bereft
Risk guilt trips upon our heads landing

For the party line now Is to claim that somehow
Everybody somehow did their best
So the ones who did wrong Goes the new New Age song
Aren’t to blame, we should lay this to rest.

But it’s lies, there are villains who are still out there killing
Or else for our courts there’s no need
Our jails are not filled With innocents willed
By a system corrupted with greed.

My mother did her best, yes she really did her best
To drown me for not being her willing lover
My daddy did his best, oh he really did his best
And forced his preteen boyfriends to bend over.

Some people are sick, like to make people suffer
Some people just turn a blind eye
But pretending a monster is ribbons and lace
May condemn a small child to die.

My husband was a cop and much child abuse had stopped
Like the mom who put her baby on the stove
She threw him out of sight but the smell she couldn’t hide
And she didn’t come out smelling like a rose.

Did that mommy do her best? Would you tell that little one
“Forgive her dear, she must have been insane”
Would you tell that to those burns, To that lie will you return
And hurt those shining eyes so full of pain?

A victim does his best, a victim does her best
To love and live and give up grief and malice
But when we had no love, but what came down from Above
It’s surprising we have not become more callous.

And how to learn to cope And not give up all my hope
Is painful far enough without your lies
But if you had seen me then With blood pouring off my skin
Would you have turned a deaf ear to my cries??

And told me “Mommy did her best, yes, she really did her best
So stop crying and stop bleeding and forgive her
To cut you she’s the right, and to throw you out of sight
And not love you till you sexually deliver!!

What people tend to overlook is that there indeed are parents out there who reject all semblance of virtue. This is true of both mothers and fathers. In the case of MZB–and her husband Walter Breen–they subjected children, including their own, to physical and sexual abuses.

Like hell ‘they did their best.’ MZB both participated in and covered for the sexual abuse of children. Her husband was a predator, and she covered for him. They knew the truth; they knew what virtue was; they rejected it.

To drown your own daughter (son)–especially in the process of breaking her (him) sexually–is downright sadistic. And to think that the perpetrators were/are celebrated sci-fi authors speaks volumes about the highbrows dominating the SF/F world. I generally oppose book burning, but if anyone burned their books, I couldn’t blame them a bit. Personally, if I had them–and I don’t–I’d keep them as a reminder of the depths of evil and the people who perpetrate it.

Those types of abuses, however, also present a dilemma for the Christian. In the Scriptures, God is presented as the Heavenly Father, and yet there are children whose understanding of fathers is terribly shattered by what their earthly fathers and mothers did to them. Against that backdrop, pat answers–like you get from the Sovereign Grace camp–are extraordinarily corrosive.

I don’t know Moira personally, but I wish her all the best. While I don’t know where she stands theologically, she provides a sobering lesson nonetheless.

The First Response from The Gospel Coalition

Wendy Alsup provides the first (hopefully not the last) response from The Gospel Coalition in the wake of the Nate Morales conviction (and admissions of coverups by Sovereign Grace Ministries leaders).

While I agree with Alsup in that many Christians have operated out of ignorance in many sexual matters–she describes what appeared at the time to her to be a consensual sexual incident that, in retrospect, arguably qualified as rape*–I don’t accept that canard in the Covenant Life Church scandal.

When adults are having sex with children, and someone reports it (or confesses to it), this is a no-brainer: YOU CALL THE POLICE. If you’re smart enough to write bestselling books, then it is reasonable to expect that you know what is morally obligatory in a case like this.

Her last paragraph states

Ultimately, God offers great grace, love, and healing in the pursuit of justice that reflects his image. Admitting our sin is a crucial first step in that process.

While I agree with that statement, I think there needs to be a more direct call to repentance aimed at CLC pastors and staff who were involved in the coverup.

And don’t get me wrong: I’m not a hater of Josh Harris or C.J. Mahaney or even Sovereign Grace Ministries in general. SGM is to the Reformed crowd what the Vineyard churches were to the charismatics: lots of good potential, some solid music, and no small number of questionable practices.

Having said that, Harris and Mahaney are corrosive. I question their fitness to pastor.

———-
*From what she described, it is entirely possible that the person had engaged in consensual sex and, after the fact, was claiming to have said no. And yes, it happens. I am not ready to write that off as a case of rape, because the evidence described leaves room for doubt. At the end of the day, only two people really know the truth in that case.

Former Pastor Jack Schaap Gets 12 Years in Sex Case

Didn’t hear about this until a commenter at Boundless mentioned it.

According to letters released by federal prosecutors last week as part of the government’s sentencing memorandum, Schaap wrote to the teen that his sexual relationship with her was “exactly what Christ desires for us. He wants to marry us + become eternal lovers!”

My $0.02 on The Steubenville Rape Case

While it is true that “boys will be boys”, there are some things–whether you are Christian or not–that you just don’t freaking do. Ever.

There are some lines–particularly when it comes to sex, whether you are Christian or not–that you don’t freaking cross. Ever.

The two Steubenville football players crossed those lines. The community–seeking to mitigate the incident in deference to the two football players–nearly denied justice to the 16-year-old girl–I shall call her JD (for Jane Doe)–who was raped.

While JD was wrong for getting drunk, she did not deserve to be raped. That she compromised herself by being stupid did not give others the right to her body.

I fully support the prosecution in this case, and those two guys deserved what they got. While I would be hesitant to beat them down the way I would an adult offender, they need to feel some pain here. They need some valuable training in boundaries. They need to apologize to the victim–and offer some restitution–not just for violating her but also for employing digital media in the process.

With that out of the way, we have this screed by Marthe Weyandte.

Photos and videos were circulated among acquaintances, making light of the incident. There were witnesses, although nobody stepped in to stop the attack from happening.

This is nothing new. It is not uncommon, for example, for public assaults–not just those against women–to go uncontested. There is a predisposition among Americans not to mess with other people’s businesses. That is both a good and a bad thing. Complicating matters, the larger question is what kinds of people are going to be present at those kinds of parties? When I was in high school, I almost never went to parties. The few I did attend had no alcohol and were chaperoned by coaches who were of good repute. We had none of this type of mayhem.

OTOH, I knew of other parties–hosted by others of less repute–where the drugs (including cocaine and pot) and alcohol were plenteous. And yes, there were hookups, although that was mostly on the fringes. The types of folks who went to those parties were not the kinds of folks who would have intervened if there was an assault going on.

Now let’s look at Weyandte’s take on why this happened:

1.) We live in a misogynist society. It is improving, albeit slowly.

Bullhockey. We live in a FEMINIST society. We have a system that PEDESTALS women. Our education system is DESIGNED around girls and PUNISHES masculinity.

None of that, however, explains why these boys did what they did.

My take: they were party animals, veterans of the hookup culture, and were having fun. In doing so, they totally crossed boundaries that no one should ever cross. Sadly, JD will pay a terrible price. The boys will also have to face the reality that they did a very bad thing that cannot be undone.

2.) We trust our politicians and our scions of industry and our entertainment execs and our friends to teach our kids right from wrong. This is ludicrous.

Who teaches American kids values like empathy, respect, patience and compassion? Television execs? Violent video game distributors? Jersey Shore? Maybe politicians like Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin with his Dark ages stance on gender relations?

Parents and concerned citizens, do you think most of these people really care what happens to your kids beyond a healthy bottom line?

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

CNN can go to hell, in my opinion. The victim had a ‘promising’ future too. Nobody seemed to mention that. But we can only blame CNN so much. Major news networks almost always follow the status quo anyway.

If those boys lived the straight life as former Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) has, they would not have committed rape.

Having said that, it would be nice to know what kind of parental instruction these kids had regarding how to treat a woman. If a child grows up seeing his parents respect each other, he will learn to do this. If a child grows up in a home where parents are actively teaching them to respect other people’s bodies, they’ll learn to do that. Some will still do horrible things, but those occurrences will be less likely.

3.) Social networks are detaching us from reality.

We live in a culture that promotes disconnection from others through entertainment, media and social networking. People are pixels and bytes and status updates, not hardly human. We are more self-involved and more narcissistic.

One of the most striking features of the Steubenville rape was an almost-sociopathic sense of detachment from the victim coupled with over-developed sense of entitlement displayed toward the victim. This young woman became a toy, an object to her attackers who carried her, like prey, from location to location. This sort of depersonalization is characteristic of wartime atrocities. It has made its way onto violent video games.

I’m not biting on that. It’s easy to blame these acts on the vices of the day–today it’s social media and video games whereas 30 years ago it was various brands of rock music, combined with movies.

In fact, I could make the case that, but for social media, those boys would not have been prosecuted.

4.) Hook-up culture is rampant in our society, but that old double standard still holds true in many places.

There is a sort of cognitive dissonance. Guys who have sex are studs. Girls who have sex are sluts. The double standard isn’t right and it isn’t fair, but it is very, very prevalent in the American subconscious. Nobody wants to touch that one. Not with a thousand-foot pole. Parents remain mum on the topic. High school sex ed programs, who either hand out condoms like candies or promote abstinence.

Television networks feature hook-up heavy reality shows like Jersey Shore. Self-respect and emotional maturity are in short supply. Men demonstrate their prowess with endless sexual conquests. Women who do not fit conventional standards of beauty are referred to as ‘grenades.’

The double-standard exists in no small part because women are the gatekeepers for sex. It is quite easy for a woman–even one who is not attractive–to get sex. The same is not true for a man: even an Alpha is only successful about 30% of the time.

This is why women who have many partners are viewed negatively by men whereas men who have many partners are viewed positively by women.

Calling me names will not change that reality, because I didn’t create it.

Oh, and you can thank feminism and their ardent supporters–including Bill Clinton–for the hookup culture. As President, he insisted that oral sex doesn’t count. After that, the percentage of teens engaging in that skyrocketed…

5.)Where is the love?

We live in a throwaway society at times. We pitch everything from Starbucks cups to sexual partners without a second glance. We need to talk with our kids about the emotional complexity of relationships. Respect and concern for another’s needs is an integral part of any consensual relationship. Respect can not be a two-way street when one of the parties is pressured or forced or obliterated out of his or her mind. This isn’t rocket science, but then maybe rocket science is easier to learn!

Yes, where is the love? We live in a throwaway society, where women are allowed the throw away their babies if they don’t want them. We live in a throwaway society, where people can throw away their marriages with near-impunity, two-thirds of such dissolutions pursued by the women.

Please don’t lecture us about how horrible this society is, because you have the society you asked for.

You wanted the prerogative to be as promiscuous as the men, and you got it.

You wanted to be able to end a marriage at will, and you got it.

You wanted to be able to kill your babies in utero, and you got it.

You wanted a government that pedestals women and attacks masculinity, and you got it.

You wanted unwed motherhood destigmatized–even pedestaled–and you got that.

So don’t sit here and complain about the unintended consequences.

Having said that, it would be a stretch to blame the Steubenville rape on these factors.

We must hold individuals responsible for their actions, and–while society has issues–what those boys did was nothing new, and we are doing ourselves a disservice by pretending otherwise.