SPECIAL CONSIDERATION FOR MAA’S
Keys Ministry has no materials that deal exclusively with the issues of minor-attracted adults (maa’s) or boylovers (bl’s), but if an maa reads the materials regarding same-sex attractions (ssa), and substitutes “minor-attracted” for “homosexual”, the information will likely be valuable to him as well. The roots of ssa and ma seem very similar, and what works for ssa people is often helpful for maa’s as well. People who work in ministry to ssa people are often eventually contacted by maa’s as well, and with good reason.
Society and the secular mental health profession say that maa’s cannot change, but the faith-based approaches have never received a fair hearing. The secular mental health profession offers almost nothing to help maa’s before they have crossed the legal limits. In sex offender treatment programs (SOTP), convicted offenders are taught to develop victim empathy, identify their triggers and offending cycles, and develop safety plans to be used on re-entry into society. The roots of the problem are often ignored, and the group leader may not understand what they are.
To be fair, change seems to be coming; some groups acknowledge and focus on the offenders’ own histories of having been abused, and some programs are very good. However, any program is only as good as the leader, and obviously some therapists are better qualified than others. Some are committed to helping, while others show an openly negative attitude toward the members of their groups.
Often the offender is assumed not to be sincerely motivated to change, although no option for help had been previously offered to him. Prevention of child sexual abuse focuses on teaching children to distinguish between good and bad touch, avoid unsafe situations, and report any abuse. Rarely is help made available to the maa who wants to overcome his temptations before he acts out, or stop himself after he has begun. Help is only made available to the maa after a child has been hurt, and he has had to undergo a humiliating and adversarial judicial process.
SOTP’s usually occur in prisons, which are government facilities, so spiritual issues cannot be discussed. Some maa’s have been openly ridiculed and insulted when they express their faith in Christ. However, as their changes became obvious, some have been able to earn respect and win over skeptical group leaders.
Because of the adversarial nature of the process that brought them to treatment, forming a trusting relationship with the program therapist is difficult. The therapist is a government employee and part of the prison system. Although the offenders were rarely given the opportunity to participate voluntarily before their offense, once incarcerated, participation in these groups becomes a requirement for parole. Additionally, SOTP groups outside of prison are reserved for offenders on probation or who have been paroled. For that reason, the therapists have a great deal of power over the men in their groups, and some use their power more fairly than others.
Meanwhile, children are no safer than before. Maa’s who have not yet offended live in fear that their self-control will one day slip. Because of social stigma and mandated reporting laws, they are afraid to reach out for help to prevent themselves from molesting a child. Those who are already acting out live in fear of being caught; some wish they could stop, but do not know how. With no idea of what causes their attractions or how to change them, maa’s live with their secrets and do not know where to turn. Often they are afraid to approach even their pastor for help. Without good information, the pastor might not be able to help even if he is motivated to do so.
Also, due to budgetary constraints, sex offender treatment groups are often reserved for inmates who are soon due to be released into society; inmates who have long sentences must wait for years to have the opportunity to receive help. Meanwhile, their attractions continue to be reinforced through masturbation and fantasy, while their self-esteem and self-respect continue to deteriorate.
However, some inmates have decided to wait no longer, are seeking help for themselves, and are reaching out for resources to start their own grass-roots self-help groups in their own facilities. They are determined to seek recovery independent of the “system”, and are forming their own groups for support, fellowship, prayer, and accountability.
My observation is that when they do so, and the opportunity to join the program is finally made available; they do very well in those classes and get recognition from the therapists. Because they are sincerely motivated to recover, they put genuine effort into succeeding in treatment and are honest about their issues. They began by being transparent before God, and are therefore more able to be transparent before other people; thereby favorably impressing the therapists who lead the treatment programs. As penitent sinners saved by the mercy of God in Christ, they have no further need to present themselves in an overly favorable light.
In some prisons, sex offenders are barred from participating in faith-based units; while in other prisons, change is taking place and sex offenders are now welcome in faith-based programs. As the success of faith-based treatment becomes more obvious, hopefully more maa’s will have the opportunity to participate.
Some of us are working to make the faith-based options more widely available. Sincerely concerned about the lack of prevention, mental health professionals, ministry leaders, and attorneys are forming networks in partnership with maa’s who are seeking help to prevent themselves from crossing the lines.
Here is my own mission statement:
1) I am working for the day when every same-sex attracted, minor-attracted, and transsexual (tx) person has the opportunity to join a support group to overcome their temptations, and joining such a group is as common and acceptable as chemically dependent people attending Alcoholics/Narcotics Anonymous.
2) I am working for the day when adults who realize that they are minor-attracted can easily find resources to overcome temptation before they cross the legal lines and a child gets hurt.
3) I am working for the day when every large church, every small town where churches combine forces, every prison unit, and every college campus has such a group readily available and easily accessed, without stigma.
4) I am working for the day when the Church realizes that the ground is level at the foot of the cross; that however great our sin, Jesus is a greater Savior; and that we are all sinners in need of continuous forgiveness. I want to see our churches recognize that Jesus is mighty to save and can deliver anyone from the power of sexual sin. I want to see our churches become places where ssa/ma/tx people can find love, support, fellowship, prayer, accountability, and friendship as they work to overcome their temptations.
What can you do to help? Begin by working on your own issues. Take responsibility for your own growth and maturity. Practice self-examination and confession of sin, confident in the mercy and forgiveness that covers you. Be in the Word and in prayer as you passionately pursue Jesus and His righteousness.
Then as you make progress, reach out and network with others who are ssa/ma/tx, share what you have learned, and spread the message of hope. Pray frequently for direction and guidance, learn to be Spirit-led, and walk in obedience. May we change our culture one heart and soul at a time, in the Name of Jesus.