Responding to the post, « Why Young Men should NEVER counsel/mentor women (or vice-versa), » one reader asked me what I thought about a man being alone in a car, in a house, or another location with a young woman where a possibility of accusations could surface.
My response would be to reply with my own long-standing policy on this matter: one can never be too safe. Especially when in the ministry, I would not even recommend being alone in a car alone with a woman. Being alone in a room, house or hotel is absolutely out of the question.
The most important reason is that sexual misconduct – as unlikely as it may be – would be so absolutely damaging to myself, my beloved wife, my children, their children, their grand-children, my ministry, the children of those I now minister to, the witness of the church in my home-town and the people who will hear about my story, and those who will be affected by the cluster of people touched by my life in future generations, that it is just unconscionable. It is relatively hard to make an atomic bomb. But considering such a bomb could obliterate a city, one does not make a habit of playing with uranium. And so I do not spend time alone with women other than my wife.
But aside from the immediate danger of temptation, one must consider the huge potential fallout from a damaged reputation. The damaged reputation could range anywhere from a dark cloud of suspicion all the way to hard jail-time. The attack could come from the woman, her family, some friends, or some completely anonymous stranger.
Considering the awesome glory of the God whom we serve, the murderous rage of our foe, and the dire urgency of our message, we must take extra care to consider how our reputation may be hindered by our actions.
Here are some points for you to consider on this point.
Other reasons for false accusations include:
1. Personal vendetta
As in the Jason McCue, who spent 18 months on bail after his daughters maliciously & falsely accused him of indecent exposure – no doubt ruining him socially. He said, « I have been through months of pure hell. » Elizabeth Jones admitted to falsely accusing a man of sexual attack simply because « I no longer liked him. »
2. A desire for drama/attention
As in this case, where a man’s life was destroyed when his step-sister accused him of rape. The author alleges she was seeking attention, although her motives are not entirely clear.
3. Masking hidden pain or hiding deep psychological problems (such as cutting) with elaborate stories of abuse
As was the case for Pamela, who instigated a state-wide man-hunt for the man who slashed her genitals with a box-cutter, before finally admitting the story was fabricated. How would the story have been different if she had identified a specific man and if she did not changer her story? Consider: if a « Pamela » accused you, would you have an alibi? Do you say that all of your friends are quite stable and have no such hidden demons. Really? Are you so sure? Pamela seemed quite normal and well-adjusted from the outside as well.
4. Finding an alternate explanation for an unplanned pregnancy or venereal disease
In a large study, Charles P. McDowell identifies this as one characteristic of false accusations.
5. Because the girl is bored, and « wants to make something happen »
As in the case of Gemma Gregory, 28, a UK woman who has falsely accused six men in eight years of sexually assaulting her.
In researching for this article, I found many who were angered at any who would point out the issue of false accusations. Certainly, one can see why. It must take tremendous courage to step forward and point out an offender for rape. Before it is over, such a person often says that the media, and the courts, have subjected her to an ordeal almost commiserate to the original offence. The last thing that such a person needs is to be surrounded by a cloud of suspicion, and allegations of a false accusation. However, it happens. And if there is an enemy here it is not those who point out the false accusations, but the people who perpetrate them. They both devastate the falsely accused and cast a shadow of doubt over the true victims. Truly, false accusations are a terrible crime!
Perhaps it should go without saying that extra caution should be taken when dealing with teenage women, for the following reasons:
Especially With Teenage Girls
6. The age difference may make a sexual allegation a criminal charge
7. Their age makes the story much more believable
8. Their youth and vulnerability makes the story much more repugnant to hearers
a) Making it more likely to spread quickly
b) Making it far more damaging to you
9. Their age/vulnerability increases the possibility of verbal or even physical reprisals by vigilantes
As in the case of Luke Harwood, who was falsely accused of rape, cleared of all charges, then later viciously beaten to death by a group of vigilantes who did not believe justice had been served. See also the case of Damon Hadley, who was attacked and beaten by his girlfriend’s father when she accused him of rape. In ALL of the other cases, the falsely accused speak of social devastation.
10. Many of the pressures and passions of life peak in the adolescent stage
11. Adolescents often act for short-term results, without considering the long-term consequences to themselves or others
12. Part of adolescence is « finding one’s self. » This includes, among other things:
a) Becoming comfortable with one’s sexuality
b) Learning that one has real power, and a degree of power over others
c) A struggle to find one’s identity, often resulting in a rage against authority, and more frequent conflicts with friends and family
For all of these reasons and more, one must take extreme caution with their integrity when conducting themselves around teenage girls. It goes without saying that one must keep their actions absolutely pure! However, one must also take measures to guard against even the possibility of being accused of sexual misconduct.
Consider also that it is not only your own reputation, but the reputation of the girl which is at stake. In older times, and in other cultures, a man and woman of any age are never to be left alone for just this reason. If someone – for whatever reason or motivation – begins a rumour against either yourself or the girl in question, there should be no blanks spots. No possibilities. No grey areas in the car where witnesses are not sure exactly when you left or arrived or where you went in between. No times alone in a building – least of all a house with bedrooms! No times alone but at the same hotel. In Biblical language, « do not give the Devil an opportunity » (Eph. 4:27).
13. Because people love to gossip about « juicy » stories (Proverbs 18:8) and in our culture, stories of sexual misconduct – especially among clergy and Christians – are among the favourite in media and gossip
14. Because the things done in secret will be proclaimed from roof-tops (Luke 8:17) The same is true of rumours, of what « may have happened » in secret, where there were no witnesses
15. Because being cleared in court may not clear your name
In fact, quite the opposite, people will probably assume you hired a slick lawyer or got off on a legal technicality or lack of evidence. People will then take it on themselves to punish you by ostracization, social stigma and the like.
16. Because a reputation is worth far more than money/great riches (Proverbs 22:1)
17. Because gaining a bad reputation (even unjustly) will mar the glory of the gospel & the church (Philippians 1:27)
18. Because the holy name of God will be blasphemed because of our bad reputation (even unjustly gained) (Romans 2:24)
19. Because having a bad reputation (even unjustly) will bar you from many ministry opportunities (1 Timothy 3:7)
20. Because the image of sexually unrestrained Christians/clergy is one of the major stumbling-blocks of our age. If you do not guard your image/reputation, you may contribute to this stumbling block, even if you keep your conscience clear.
21. Because having clean hands/a pure conscience is not enough. If your actions have destroyed your reputation and the reputation of one or more girls, you have sinned against yourself, your Lord and the other girls even if nothing untoward actually took place.
In conclusion I would offer this illustration. Being alone and unsupervised with a girl for a blank amount of time is a little like handing her a blank cheque. There is a time and a place for blank cheques. In the family, it can save time. With some very close friends, I would consider it under very unique situations. But my policy certainly is not to hand out blank cheques to just anyone!
Why do we treat blank cheques with such care? Is it because we do not trust people? No, we do not. We are not supposed to. Consider how you would feel if you were presented with a blank cheque by a near stranger. Doesn’t it feel odd? To be trusted with that much power? To have all that weight placed on you? The man has opened his bank account wide to you, and trusted you will take only the fair amount. Is it right to ask just anyone to wrestle with their conscience and whatever private demons they may have? I think not.
In the same way, we should consider very carefully the tremendous power we hand to a girl or woman when we do not follow reasonable protocols. Now, for the rest of her life – the next ten years especially – she has a power over you. Will she use it? Probably not. But should you give her that power and just hope for the best?
If you have other objections, you are welcome to post them. But please first take the time to follow some of my links to the horror-stories they hide. Remember you are only one false-confession away from being one more statistic.
And if you would take my advice, you should think very VERY long and hard before you pick up the keys and give that girl a ride home from youth group.