Sexual Abuse and Gymnastics: Why You Must Speak Up

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We live in a culture where evil and gross indecency threatens to destroy lives, families, and communities.

The latest and largest example came this week when Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar, the former doctor for the American gymnastics team, was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for multiple sex crimes. More than 150 brave women testified against him.

Rachael Denhollander was the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual abuse and the last to testify in court this week. In her extraordinary comments demanding the maximum sentence under the law, Rachel also extended the Gospel and forgiveness to the man who abused her 16 years ago. (Watch that part of her jaw-dropping testimony here.)

Following Nassar’s sentencing, people who may have known about his abuse, but didn’t report it, find themselves under scrutiny. Their lives serve as a warning about how an immoral culture can affect any person’s sense of right and wrong.

That’s why followers of Christ must set a different example.

2 Peter 3:17 says, “Be on your guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing.”

In a culture like ours, we can’t sit on the sidelines when injustice occurs. Like Rachel, we must look evil in the eye and demand justice.

Passivity is not a possibility.

God’s word says:

Proverbs 3:8-9: “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Psalm 82:3-4: “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

When I was in high school, a wise youth minister helped me see the importance of speaking up. One day, I expressed concern to him about one of my friends who told me that her dad had punched her. I was scared for her and didn’t know what to do. I asked my youth minister to pray for her. He did something better.

My youth minister reported the abuse to the authorities right away. Even though I feared my friend might endure worse treatment from her father, my youth minister assured me reporting the abuse to the authorities was the right thing to do.

Back then, my teenage mind simply trusted he was right. Now, as a mom of two pre-teen kids, I know he was. (In fact, this disturbing article from NPR reminds me why I wish there were more youth ministers in the world like the one who helped me.)

Proverbs 3:27 says: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”

In other words, do not be passive.

Perhaps you know of a child right now who needs help now.

Speak up.

Do not turn a blind eye.

We must never settle for indifference and irresponsibility amid evil; the Rachels of the world deserve better.

Laura Lacey Johnson is a cutting-edge faith and culture writer who focuses on everyday cropped-JohnsonLaura_Web_1483labheadlines. In addition to speaking, she is a regular contributor to and American Family Radio. To read Laura’s latest work on the headlines, visit, or to download your FREE copy of Why Jerusalem is Important to 3 World Religions, subscribe to her blog here.

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