Her heart was young and beauty bright,
But in her soul, the darkest night.

He was a man of holy cloth,
With soothing voice and answers soft.

She went to him by faith and whim,
When times were tough and hope was slim.

He held her hand, her heart to earn.
With evil passion his did burn.

Will wool be pulled upon her eyes?
A wolf awaits her in disguise.

The door behind them both he closed.
In his embrace she shared her woes.

Now days and hours turn to weeks.
Her troubled soul more comfort seeks.

She returns to him, the man of god;
Satan in a sheep’s facade.

He says she’s special and that he needs her.
With skillful lips more lies he feeds her.

His promises dispelled her fears.
The months and weeks turned into years.

He pulled the strings of her young heart.
She danced along and played the part.

Let’s build a world, a secret life.
I’ll keep it hidden from my wife.

So now they pray, and then they kiss,
And then they laugh and reminisce.

Even evil seems so right.
An affair feels fair under certain light.

And so they skate upon thin ice
He takes her life and rolls the dice.

But just as quick the deep tide changes
He grows tired of her and then estranges.

She’ll keep it secret all the same
For fear that she will be the blame.

Someone’s sister, daughter, mother
Silent victim of her brother.

He tricked her heart and wrecked her soul,
Then tossed her to the depths below.

His twisted lies, like lead, do sink.
Her demise, it pulled her, to the brink.

Illicit lust leaves innocence lost.
Adam’s Eve pays the cost.

Poem by Brandon Durham

I doubt most of us realized that this past weekend was Clergy Sexual Abuse Awareness & Prevention Day.  I wrote the above poem, years ago, during a season of life when my then-girlfriend and I were just beginning to process the painful reality of her personal journey through years of sexual abuse at the hands of a “Christian Minister.”

She had kept that part of her life hidden for years, and I was one of the first people she opened up to about it.  It was devastating for both of us.  For the longest, she remained hidden in shame, and felt it was all her fault.

Through many tears, with the help of Christian counseling and the support of friends, this precious sister was able to find healing.  Today she is married, using her gifts to make a difference in this world, and, by the grace of God, thriving in life.  She is a testimony to the redeeming power of God’s amazing love!  It took a lot of courage and faith for her to step out of the shadows and shame, and walk in the light.

For men in positions of power & authority (bosses, pastors, etc), may we each take to heart the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy, a man in pastoral leadership: “Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”  I Timothy 5:1-2

I believe it is a display of wise and loving leadership when we purpose to not meet alone with a woman behind closed doors.  If King David succumbed to the temptation of using his power and prestige to take advantage of a woman under his care (Bathsheba), what makes us think we’re above faltering in this way?

The prevalence of both clergy abuse and adultery is staggering.  We must wise up, and set a new example of leadership that seeks to protect those under our care.  It begins with watching our own lives.  We must live in vital community; remaining accountable and vulnerable as members of the church, confessing our own sin struggles, and practicing regular repentance, both for our own sake, and for the sake of those we lead.

We must consistently model and teach what it looks like to relate in good and appropriate ways, so that even the most cunning perpetrators will be recognized and exposed for their wolfish behavior.

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” Acts 20:28-29

These are precious souls, and we’re entrusted with their care.


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