I saw him out of the corner of my eye and my hand involuntarily tightened around that of my three-year-olds. Part of me felt bad for my reaction. Christians are supposed to love everybody, and by all accounts this was a good, upstanding man. I had no “proof” that there was anything underhanded about him…only a few strange experiences and a weird vibe I get in my stomach every time I’m around him.
Next to me, my son prattled on, telling me one thing or another, completely oblivious and innocent. It was then that I knew that I’d do anything to protect that innocence. It was then that I knew that I’d rather be overly cautious then to stifle my misgivings at the cost of that innocence.
You see, I’ve seen too much of the world. The people I know that are the most caught in darkness were once masquerading as good, upstanding citizens, from the “Christian” homeschool father and police detective who turned out to be molesting his own daughters, to the cult-like leader who preached strict morals all the while not following them himself, to the uncle raising his niece and secretly molesting her until the little girls’ plea for help from her friend fell on the ears of people who took a stand. I could go on and on. I’ve known too many wolves in sheep’s clothing.
I’ll never forget the day in college that we watched a video highlighting a few exemplary teachers from across the country. I can guarantee that everyone in that room thought something was a little odd about the way the male English teacher rubbed the back of one of his male students. I can also guarantee that every person in the room quickly pushed those thoughts aside, thinking they were just being overly sensitive. It wasn’t until the end of the video that we learned that that same teacher had later been convicted of molesting a male student, and that 18+ more former students had come forward saying that he had molested them as well. He was the Georgia teacher of the year and was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship and yet all the while…
Wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Don’t for a second think that being a teacher, being involved in church, being “happily” married, or seeming like a nice person means anything. Predators are smart. They want you to believe that they are nice, upstanding citizens. They want to gain your trust, so that you will let your guard down. They know that trust gives opportunity.
The struggle is real, though. I want to love everybody. I don’t want to be judgmental or unfair. I’ve learned, however, that you can still love someone without trusting them. You can still love unquestioningly without trusting undeservedly.
I hope and pray that someday when I get to heaven that God will say, “You were wrong about those people.” Yet, I also know that I would rather be overly cautious and be wrong than to stifle down misgivings only to let one of my children or any other child be an opportunity.
Be on your guard, parents. Educate your children, set boundaries, and do everything you can to prevent these wolves in sheep’s clothing from having access to hurt your children. You can’t always keep them safe, but you can do everything in your power to protect the innocence of these precious children that God has entrusted you with.