My friend Marshall and I were about the same age and we were playing upstairs in my room at our house in Spencer, Iowa. It was not unusual for my friends and I from around the neighborhood to play in one of our houses; the block was full of kids around my age and we all spent lots of time together without our parents hovering over top of us like is common today. I don't remember what we were doing, probably playing with Hot Wheels or Ninja Turtles, but I do remember what happened next...
Marshall and I were standing near my closet door when he pulled down his pants.
"Suck on my penis," he said.
I told him no because that was weird.
"Okay, just kiss it then," he replied.
I didn't. I don't remember why, but even as a really young boy I knew that wasn't right. So, I went downstairs and told my parents.
Marshall and I never really hung out after that. We would occasionally throw a ball across the street that separated us, but my parents never let Marshall and I hang out again. They told me that some adult had done something to Marshall and that it wasn't Marshall's fault, but he now dealt with the desire for someone to touch him like that again. I didn't get it then, but soon later I understood.
I don't think about this story much, but when I do I'm struck by how close I was to having my life changed.
Why do I tell this story? Well, there are a couple of reasons.
1) Parents, Teach Your Kids About Sexual Things Early.
I don't think you need to have the complete birds and the bees talk at age five, but parents must teach their children something. Why didn't I do that to Marshall? Why didn't I stay and let Marshall do that to me? I don't know for sure, but I believe a lot of that had to do with my parents teaching me. They didn't give me "the talk" at that age but they taught me about what parts were private and what parts weren't. When I got older they taught me more and they tried to teach me before the locker room would.
Parents, you wouldn't believe how many kids have my story except without the relief at the ending. As a youth leader I've talked with too many kids that have had sexual scars before puberty. Kids who have been molested and even raped as little children. Don't wait to educate your child in the way you want them to be educated. There was no reason for me to know at that age that I was one decision away from a sexual scar, and your child won't either unless you teach them.
2) The capacity for great sin lives in us all.
Children that are molested often molest others. I was this close to being a statistic. Who am I to say that I wouldn't struggle with the desire Marshall had? What might I have become if God didn't spare me from this foray into sexuality? I can tell you that this incident makes me more forgiving to those who have been abused and repeat the awful cycle. I still get infuriated when I hear about it and then it's as if God whispers in my ear, "You aren't any better than them except that I spared you."
I got this same feeling when I visited the concentration camp in Flossenbürg, Germany. I expected to go in and think, "What monsters the Germans were." But then I stayed with great German families on the trip before I visited the concentration camp. When I left Flossenbürg I was leveled by the thought that I could have been a Nazi soldier. The capacity for that type of evil lives in me, my sin could run that black because the same root of sin lives in me and the German soldiers.
Regarding my story I've wondered why I was spared what Marshall wasn't. I wrote about that five years ago and I still don't know the answer.
I just want you to remember that we as Christians must be a forgiving people because the capacity to sin and sin big time lives in us and but for the grace of God we would be exactly like those we're tempted to hate or look down upon. Also, remember that God offers forgiveness to all those like Marshall and those like the person who hurt Marshall in the first place. And finally, parents "train up a child in the way he should go" and you will save them from much pain. Don't assume your sweet, little angel is too young to give instructions and warnings to. Parents of young kids, talk to your children and educate them about how to stay safe from sexual scars today.
(Me around the time of this story, although I may be a little older in this photo)