Ministering to the Woodsman

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : January 2, 2006

The other day, I followed at link to a NY Times article called The Making of a Molester.  The article is both fascinating and disturbing.  Here’s a snippet:

‘We want there to be the clear line; we want there to be the sloped
forehead,” David D’Amora has said, summarizing society’s thinking
about the men in groups like Liddle’s, men D’Amora has been watching
over for the state since 1986. Before that, he was a therapist for
adult and child victims of sexual assault. ”It just doesn’t exist. We
want them to be the few, the perverted, the far away. Most are not.”

What research has been done seems to back this up. Dr. Richard
Green, a psychiatrist at the Imperial College School of Medicine in
London and professor emeritus of psychiatry at U.C.L.A., wrote two
years ago in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior about a 1989
study: the psychologists John Briere and Marsha Runtz found that ”in a
sample of nearly 200 university males, 21 percent reported some sexual
attraction to small children.” Specifically, ”9 percent described
sexual fantasies involving children, 5 percent admitted to having
masturbated to sexual fantasies of children and 7 percent indicated
they might have sex with a child if not caught. Briere and Runtz
remarked that ‘given the probable social undesirability of such
admissions, we may hypothesize that the actual rates were even

Last night, I watched the Woodsman–a movie about a child molester just released from prison. It is perhaps Kevin Bacon’s best work.  I had no idea that a movie sympathetic to the struggles of a child molester would be one of the most moving movies I’ve ever seen. 

At the end of the movie, I wondered to myself, "how would I do at loving and ministering to a child molester?" and "How could a church minister to and love a child molester in a way that doesn’t simply wash over his/her sins and current struggles?"

How can the Church be the Church to child molesters?

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2 Responses to “Ministering to the Woodsman”

  1. Alan Hirsch on January 2nd, 2006 7:30 pm

    Hi Van S

    I keep coming across your name in the blogs and then I found a great article on next-wave on incarnational practices. I just wanted to thank you for your reflections. I wish you all the best in your ministry.

    Happy New Year comrade


  2. Van S on January 2nd, 2006 8:31 pm

    Thanks Alan. Great book by the way.

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