Science in Christian Perspective



Incest and Sexual Abuse: Approaching the Last Frontier
Oklahoma Christian Counseling Center
Oklahoma City
Oklahoma 73112

From: JASA 33 (December 1981): 207-214.

This article explores one of the fastest growing areas of concern-incest and sexual abuse. Past and current literature on incest and sexual abuse are reviewed. Scripture takes a strong stand against incest and some correlates are drawn from Scripture showing the long term effects of the incestuous act (i.e. the plight of the Moabite and Ammonite tribes, both conceived out of the incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters).

This article also shows how other Christian morals have been explained away academically and behaviorally and the question that remains is: Will incest, too, become an acceptable form of behavior in the future?

Society, in general, has learned to accept divorce, cohabitation, abortion, homosexuality, and possibly in the near future, incest. In a recent popular magazine, John Money and Gertrude Williams are quoted as saying, "One who commits incest is like a religious deviant in a one religion society." The connotation seems to be that opposition to incest is quite like religious intolerance. Likewise, Kinsey and Pomeroy (1953) state, "It is time to admit that incest need not be a perversion or a symptom of mental illness. Incest between . . . children and adults ... can some-

Sensitivity to the Problem of child abuse is a surprisingly recent phenomenon.

times be beneficial." This type of thinking is not rare. In fact, with increased awareness of incest and sexual abuse comes the idea of consensual incest. Critics of the incest taboo want to make a distinction between "consensual incest" and "child abuse." By employing such academic tactics and intellectual baggage, they are only trying to justify such behavior.

Approximately 10 years ago, the topic of homosexuality came to the foreground. Much debate was given to the topic, both secular and theological. It became such a strong issue that psychologists and psychiatrists no longer treated it as a problem. In fact, it is not listed as a disorder in the recently published DSM III, which heretofore had been listed. (Homosexuality is restated as "ego-dystonic homosexuality," with the differential diagnosis as "homosexuality without distress") (APA Task Force, 1978). Today, the gay movement is accepted in some "religious segments of society. Yet when we look at Scripture (Gen. 19; Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rm. 1:26-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 1 Tim 1: 10), there is divine guidance as to what is or is not accept: able.

Historical Roots of the Incest Taboo

In every culture, the incest taboo appears in some form (Murdock, 1949), yet incest seems to occur among virtually all peoples of the world. Perhaps the most widely cited example of ignoring the taboo is the case of the prominent ruling families in ancient Egypt. Brother-sister marriages occurred in the ruling family during the Pharaonic and Ptolemic periods (Middleton, 1962). Probably, the most well-known sibling spouse of this latter period was Cleopatra. Middleton surmised that the royal custom had filtered down to other social classes over the centuries and that brother-sister marriages were often seen as a means of maintaining family property intact and avoiding the future splitting up of an estate among bickering siblings. Anthropological theory suggests that the incest taboo developed gradually as cultures changed from family groupings of hunters to agrarian societies. Berry (1975) states "the taboo provided for the maintenance of the integrity of the family unit, without excessive intrafamilial rivalries, and gave rise to the need for interfamilial extension and reciprocal exchanges of goods and services, precluding isolationism."

The prohibition of intrafamily marriages in primitive Christian culture dates back to such prohibitions obtained in the Greco-Roman and Jewish cultures. During the first three centuries, Christian practice was modeled after current Jewish and Greco-Roman practice. From the fourth century on, changes began to appear. These changes were partly brought on by the Christian outlook itself and partly by "customs and conditions prevalent among the barb  people who flocked into the church" (Cooper, 1932).

Among a large number of non-Christian peoples, civilized as well as uncivilized, the prohibitions against near kin-marriages are appreciably or markedly more extensive than in our own Western culture. Among some cultures, such some of the Bantu tribes of South Africa, marriage is prohibited to all relatives between whom relationships can traced, no matter how remote the connection may be.  Athabascan Indians of the Northwest, appear to have prohibited marriage up to the fifth and sixth generation, Choctaws, of the Southeast, seemingly prohibit marriage of those related within four generations (Theal, 19 "The sanctions behind the prohibitions of near-kin marriage in non-Christian cultures are sometimes religious, more commonly social." (Cooper, 1932). The common penalty rendered by tribal authority and thoroughly approved by public opinion, was death. This form of punishment was often quite drastic and striking. The following two examples, taken from many, will make the point clear.
The Tuscarora Indians of North Carolina were forbidden to marry family members as near as first cousins. However, if found guilty of an incestuous relationship, they were put to death, their body burned, and the ashes were scattered into a local stream, thus rendering him/her unfit to remain on earth. Likewise, the Kayans, a tribe on the Island of Borneo, had strict laws regarding incest. Most offenses were punishable by fines with the exception of "the most serious crime-incest." If incest was proven both parties were staked to the river bank by bamboo stakes where the bamboo grew roots. There, the guilty parties died.

Incest and Scripture

Genesis 19 shows us vividly of the utter sinful nature prevailing in Sodom. In verse 5, we read, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them (to have intercourse) (NASB)." Lot refused their demands and "went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him (vs. 30; NASB)." In the following verses (31-38), the incestuous act is carried out by his daughters. The offspring of these incestuous relations lead to the development of two nations: (a) Moabites, offspring of the oldest daughter and (b) the Ammonites, the offspring of the youngest daughter.

Moabites: Apparently, God had given orders to Moses not to oppose the sons of Moab or provoke them to war because He had the lands given to the "sons of Lot as a possession" (Deut. 2:9, 19). From this point on, there appears to be unrest and sinful upheaval throughout the rest of the Moabite history. Balak hired Balaam to curse Israel because of the fear the Moabites had for the Israelites (Numb. 22:3). However, Balaarn was rebuked by the voice of his donkey for his sin. God permitted Balaam to proceed, but only on the condition that he would say what God wanted. As a result, Balaam prophetically gave four blessings to Israel and finally said to Balak and the Moabites, "though you cannot conquer Israel by force of arms, you can seduce them" and that's exactly what they did. The Moabite girls entered the Israelite camp (Numb. 31:16) and seduced the men (Numb. 25:1-9).

Some one hundred years later, we see the Moabites still in chaos and being subdued by Ehud (Jud. 3:30). Strife continues and we read in II Kings 3:4 that the Moabites continue their hatred toward God's people, the Israelites. After the death of Israel's King Ahab, King Mesha, king of Moab, was thoroughly defeated by Jehorarn with Jehoshaphat of Judah. As far as possible, the land of Moab was ruined.

From that time on, we are able to trace the continued decline of the land of Moab in accordance with the word of the Lord as revealed through his prophets. (Isa. 11: 14; 15; 16; 25: 10; Jer. 9:26, 25-21; 48; Eze. 25:8; Amos 2: 1). Finally, Jeremiah (48) describes past and future judgments on Moab, and Zephaniah 2:8-11 predicts utter destruction upon Moab for its wicked people.

Ammonites: "Ammon (ammon) was the name of the descendants of Ben-ammi, Lot's younger son by his daughter, born in a cave near Zoar (Gen. 19:38, New Bible Dictionary, 1962)."

The Ammonites were fierce in nature, rebellious against Israel and idolatrous in their religious practices. Jer. 40:14; 41:5-7 and Amos 1:14 depict their brutish murders. Even though related to Israel, they refused to help when asked (Deut. 23:4). They chose to join Moab to secure Balaam (Gen. 23:3-4). Later on, we see that they decided to side with Sanballat to oppose Nehemiah and his endeavors to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Neh. 2:10, 19). As shown in Scripture, the Ammonites were in constant upheaval and discontent. Apparently, they were so disruptive and prone to idolatrous behavior (Eze. 25:1-7) that in Deut. 23:3, it states, "no Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the Lord."

It seems then, that we can trace God's abhorrence of incestuous sin. The Lord is explicit in Lev. 20 as to what is not acceptable in terms of moral sin. There appears to be a high price to pay for incest as seen through the tribes of Moab and Ammon.

The New Testament speaks of a mother-son incestuous relationship (I Cor. 5:1-13). Again, Scripture does not sanction such behavior and goes further to say, "remove the wicked man from among yourselves." (5:13). Removal from the church was not for incest, but for continuing in the sin rather than repentance. Upon repentance, he is then to be restored officially by the church due to his repentance (II Cor. 2:6-11).

Incestuous Sexual Abuse of Children

Sensitivity to the problem of child abuse is a surprisingly recent phenomenon. Historical records indicate that in the past abuse of children was common and accepted without question. DeMause (1974) has noted that "there would be a point back in history where most children were what we would now consider abused." Numberous factors appear to have contributed to such circumstances. Legally, children were regarded as the property of their parents to be used or abused as they saw fit. Economically, they were seen as burdens when too young to work, then assets to be exploited as they became employable (often as young as four or five years of age). Religious teaching tended toward the "spare the rod, spoil the child" philosophy and the doctrine of the inherent sinfulness of man required stringent punishment of children, literally to "beat the devil out of them." Sociologically, families tended to be large and the fact that many of the children died of disease before adulthood favored callous rather than affectionate and compassionate treatment of children.

In view of these factors, it may not be surprising to note that, in the United States, the first case of a child to be afforded legal protection from the abuse of being starved and beaten by foster parents occurred in 1874 and had to be handled by the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, because no such agency existed for children (Williams, 1978). And, it was not until 1962 that Kempe clearly described the "battered child syndrome." In the years since, much has been learned about such children and their families. Federal and local support has been marshaled to provide care for such victims, as well as for some efforts toward prevention.

Larry McCauley received his M.A. from Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill., and his Ed.D. from Loyola University of Chicago. Upon completion of his studies there, Dr. McCauley worked as a Post-Doctorate Fellow at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences for two years. During that time he conducted research and psychotherapy in the area of incest and sexual abuse. Presently, Dr. McCauley is a Staff Psychologist with the Oklahoma Christian Counseling Center located in Oklahoma City.

Likewise, awareness of the problem of incest and sexual abuse is relatively new. Within the past two years, the mass media have given a great deal of attention to this area. For example, "Flesh and Blood," a made-for-T.V. film on incest was produced in 1979; Katherine Brady, author of "Father's Day" (1979) appeared on national television; and a nation-wide T.V. series entitled "The Baxters" discussed incest and sexual abuse (March, 1980). In 1979, a full-length motion picture was released with an incestuous theme entitled, "Bertolucci's Luna." Recent books by Brady (1979), Meiselman (1978), Armstrong (1978), Butler (1978), Finkelhor (1979) and Money and Williams (1980) all deal specifically with incest.

While much has been learned about physical abuse of children (Paulson and Blake, 1967; Williams, 1978), relatively little has been learned about sexual abuse (Summit and Kryso, 1978). The real magnitude of the problem is only beginning to be realized since reporting and investigation of suspected cases has become mandatory, in most states.

All researchers and clinicians familiar with the area agree that sexual abuse is a greatly underreported offense (Giarretto, 1976; Gligor, 1966; Kaufman, Peck and Tagiuri, 1954; and Weiner, 1962). There appear to be several reasons for this: (1) the child often fails to report the incident to authorities and/or parents out of fear of reprisal and blame for the incident by the offender; (2) guilt feelings they may have if they experience any pleasure or excitement during the sexual contact; (3) when a child reports such an event to an adult, the story is often confused and the child appears to change the story on various retellings (the possibility that the child misunderstood what occurred or invented the story cannot be entirely discounted); (4) persons discovering the offense are often unwilling to subject the child to interrogation and possibly traumatic legal proceedings; (5) in most cases no serious physical harm has been inflicted upon the child and proof of the offense may be difficult to establish; and (6) parents and family members are reluctant to report such incidents to the authorities because of the shame and social censure that accompanies such a disclosure.

In a retrospective study of 1,800 college students, almost one-third of the respondents of both sexes reported that they had been subjected to some form of sexual abuse as a child (Landis, 1956). And, in the Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin and Gebhard (1953) study of 4,441 females, they found that 24% (1,075) of the females had been approached while they were preadolescent by adult males who appeared to be making sexual advances. Eighty percent of the females who were approached seem to have had only one experience of this type in their preadolescent years.

In the other historical study by Kinsey, Pomeroy and Martin (1948) on "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male," very little seems to be stated regarding incest. However, they reported that "there are some psychoanalysts who contend that they have never had a patient who has not had incestuous relations," (p. 588). They also noted that incestuous relations have been reported representing c social level, including males in the lower levels and r who belong to the socially top levels.

More recently, David Finkelhor (1979) undertook a vey of 795 undergraduates in which 19.2% of the women reported a sexual victimization experience as a child a 8.6% of the men surveyed. Thus, the actual number of  incidents of sexual abuse of children are considerably greater than have generally been brought to the attention authorities and professionals. One result of this, as reported above, is that little is known about sexual abuse.

The National Center of Child Abuse and Neglect mates that the current annual incidence of sexual abused children is between 60,000 and 100,000 per year (NCC 1978). In 1955, Weinberg estimated the average yearly of incest to be 1.9 cases per million. More recently, DeFrancis (1969) estimated a yearly incidence of about 40 million (American Humane Association).

A precise definition of what constitutes sexual abus not emerged from literature to date. The circumstance effects of the abuse appear to vary along several imo dimensions, including: (1) age of the victim; (2) sex of the victim; (3) sex of the offender; (4) whether the adult offender was related to the victim or a stranger; (5) blood relative versus non-blood relative (i.e., step-parent); (6) whether violence was or was not involved; and (7) the duration of the victimization which may vary from one isolated instance to repeated abuse over a period of years (Kaufman, et al., 1969; Meiselman, 1978; and Weinberg, 1955).

In an extensive review of the literature, the number cases studied in most investigations was small, generally ranging from 2 to 15 cases (e.g., Cavallin, 1966; Harbert, Barlow, Hersen, and Austin, 1974; Weiner, 1962; Henderson, 1972; Molner, 1975; Lustig, Dresser, Spellman, and Murry, 1966; Berry, 1975; Cormier, et. al., 1962; Greenland, 1958; and Browning and Boatman, 1977). These can hardly be considered adequate samples. Most studies employed psychological tests, but seldom were complete data regarding the exact scores reported (e.g., Bender and Grugett, 1952; Eist and Mandel, 1968; Weinberg, 1955; Lukianowicz, 1972; Browning and Boatman, 1977; Kaufman, Peck and Tagiuri, 1954; Peters, 1976; Finch, 1973; Frances and Frances, 1976). The most popular psychometric instruments in these studies were the MMPI and the Rorschach, along with some instrument that assessed the intellectual level of the offender. Meiselman (1978) reports that the increased reporting of objective test results are especially desirable because they are less likely to be affected by the subjective biases of the researchers and because of the interesting possibilities that results from different samples by different researchers could be combined. The general overall conclusions from studies reported to date are discussed in the following paragraphs.

To date, there have been only three studies using an adequate experimental design, including control groups (Gebhard, Gagnon, and Pomeroy, 1965; Gligor, 1966; Martin, 1960). All three of these studies were conducted over a decade ago.

The Gebhard, et al. study (1965) used three groups: 477 white males from the general population (control group), 888 white males imprisoned for non-sex related offenses, and 1,356 white males convicted and imprisoned for one or more sexual offenses. Gebbard and his associates concluded that the "early life of the typical incest offender versus children was stigmatized by a poor adjustment between him and his parents, and even worse adjustment between his father and mother, and a rather large number of divorces and separations. To this, was added financial trouble, so that taken as a whole, his home must have been a rather wretched place. The typical offender appears to be a rather ineffectual, nonaggressive, dependent sort of man who drinks heavily, works sporadically, and is preoccupied with sexual matters. To this list can be added a high incidence of extra-marital coitus, a high incidence of masturbation while married, and strong sexual response to thinking of or seeing females" (p. 229). The primary purpose of this massive study was to determine if and how persons who had been convicted of various types of sex crimes differed from those who had not and, likewise, to determine how they differed from one another.

Gligor (1966) studied two forms of sexual behavior, incest and sexual delinquency. Her subjects were obtained from a large metropolitan juvenile court population. The sample was comprised of a group of 57 daughters adjudicated as sexual delinquents. In general, the data revealed the following: (1) marriages of the parents were reasonably stable, (2) socioeconomic status was usually average or above average in terms of income level, and (3) incidence of alchoholism was high among all groups of fathers.

Martin's (1958) research included an experimental group of thirty incest offenders and a control group of forty-one other prisoners in three California penitentiaries. The control group was subdivided into two additional sub-groups. One sub-group of twenty-one men was convicted of statutory rape against non-related minor females. A second subgroup of twenty men was imprisoned for the felony of breaking and entering. Martin's conclusion, in this psychoanalytically oriented research, supported three of his ten hypotheses. These were in the area of oral eroticism, castration anxiety, and Oedipal intensity.

Families of Incest

Knowledge surrounding incestuous families has little organization and is often contradictory. Greenberg (1979, and personal communication) points out that descriptions of these families consist of more opinion than observation and more subjective conclusions than demonstrations based on data. Numerous characteristics and patterns of behavior have been described as pertaining to incestuous families (Cormier, Kennedy and Sangowicz, 1962; Henderson, 1972; Sarles, 1975). However, as one reviews the literature, the lack of consistency in the findings becomes apparent and oftentimes frustrating for the professional. The only generally supported conclusion is that dysfunctions of various sorts, especially sexual, characterize these families (special report from NCCAN, 1978).

The Pro-Incest movement in America' and around the world, is at a ground swell. Mankind is attacking what appears to be the last taboo and is somewhat successful.

Fathers. As was the case with family functioning, the data on the fathers in cases of incest are confused. For example, the fathers involved in father-daughter incest are reported to have pedophilic tendencies (Cavallin, 1966; and Marcus, 1923), and to be lacking in such tendencies (e.g., Cormier, et al., 1962). The fathers tend toward substance abuse according to Gligor (1966), but are noted to be lacking a history of substance abuse (Cormier, 1962). Emotional outbursts and violence have been observed in the abusive father by Boatman and Browning (1977), while others stress their stability (Yorukoglu, 1966). Other significant areas in the abusive fathers' lives which have been noted are: (1) background of emotional deprivation (Weinberg, 1955); Riemer, 1940; Weiner, 1962); (2) poor employment history (Lukianowicz, 1972; Riemer, 1940); and (3) tyrannical dominance by the incestuous father within the family (Raphling, Carpenter, and David, 1967; Weinberg, 1955; Lustig, et al., 1966; Maisch, 1972; Szabo, 1962). Terms such as psychopath, sociopath and character disorder are employed by many incest researchers to characterize incestuous fathers (Lustig, et al., 1966; Lukianowicz, 1972; Weinberg, 1955). Interestingly, very few researchers have found instances of psychosis in the father prior to the incest offense (Weiner, 1962; Cavallin, 1966; Lustig, et. al, 1966). Kubo (1959) is the only researcher to have noted a pattern of psychosis in cases in his sample. However, some studies do indicate that the father often becomes psychotic after the offense has been exposed (Lukianowicz, 1972; Weiner, 1955; Cavallin, 1966). Another area that previous researchers have given consideration to is that of I.Q. Gathered data on the I.Q.'s of abusive fathers is fragmentary. However, all levels of intellectual ability appear to be involved, including below average ability, (e.g., Cavallin, 1977), average intellectual ability (e.g., Peters, 1976) and above average intellectual ability (e.g., Weiner, 1962). To date, there are no conclusive data relating sexual abuse to any specific level of intellectual functioning.

Mothers. While the data in other areas pertaining to incest are sparse, with respect to the mother, they are virtually non-existent. Nevertheless, Marcuse (1923), Kubo (1959) and others reported the mother to be absent or incapacitated. This is to say that the mother has been ill for a long period of time (Maisch, 1972; Kubo, 1959; Gligor, 1966) or has been employed or otherwise pre-occupied, thus leaving it up to the daughter to "take over" as the main female of the house. Other significant characteristics reported were: chronically depressed (Boatman and Browning, 1977); passive, submissive, and dependent (Cormier, et al., 1962; Lukianowicz, 1975; Kaufman, et al., 1954); promiscuous (Kaufman, et al., 1954; Szabo, 1962; Maisch, 1972); avoiding of sexuality (Riemer, 1940; Maisch, 1972; Lustig, et al., 1966; Cormier, et al., 1962; Weiner, 1962); and role reversal with daughter (Kaufman, et al., 1954; Heims and Kaufman, 1963; Rhinehart, 1961; Machotka, Pittman, and Flomenhaft, 1967). Thus, there appears to be less concrete information regarding the mother in families where fatherdaughter incest occurs and mother-child incest is sufficiently infrequently reported that there are virtually no data available (Giarretto, 1976; Easton and Vastbender, 1969; Eist and Mandel, 1968; Cormier, Kennedy and Sangowicz, 1962).

In a study of families where father-daughter incest has occurred, Lukianowicz (1972) reported that "none of our mothers were psychotic, and most of them appeared to be normal, hard working, and much suffering women, usually with large families, and either a habitually unemployed, inefficient, good-for-nothing husband, or an aggressive and demanding husband" (p. 305). From the study of Kaufman, et al. (1954), it appears that most of their mothers were dependent and infantile, very attached to their own mothers, and afraid of responsibilities, which they were quite happy to leave to their teenage daughters. Like their husbands, most of them left home and school early-either to go to work or to get married (Lukianowicz, 1971).

There is evidence in the literature that marital discord and the wife's unavailability as a sex partner contributed to incestuous activity. Some data suggest that the mother either consciously or unconsciously sanctions the overt incest (Gentry, 1978; Bender and Blau, 1937; Peters, 1978; Henderson, 1972).

A dilemma that is presented to the mother is the responsibility of decoding a binding double message. On the one hand, wives are told that their primary role is to support their husband, endorse his behavior and decision and to endure through thick and thin-"until death do us part." On the other hand, they are told that their responsibility as a mother should take precedence and that they are to protect their daughter(s) at all costs.

Daughters: Data on the personality of sexually abused girls are again sparse. Lukianowicz (1972) did a follow-up study on twenty-six girls involved in incest. He was able to classify them into four groups as adults. Eleven girls became promiscuous with disorganized anti-social behavior; five became frigid, showing symptoms of hysterical personality with attention-seeking behavior; and four developed neurotic reactions characterized by depression and suicide attempts. Six girls showed no apparent ill effects. The latter married and made adequate sexual and social adjustments, viewing the sexual experience with their father as a pleasant interlude, indicative of his affection for them.

In another study (Nakashima and Zakus, 1977), followup data 1-12 years after the reported incest revealed poor adjustment as manifested by depression and a variety of other emotional problems in 13 out of 23 cases. Only four girls seemed to have a reasonable adjustment (in school or in marriage) while no information was available in the other six cases.

Sexual abuse of children is viewed by many a long-term bitterness and distrust toward adults conflict resulting in shame, guilt and depression en son, 1972; Peters, 1976; Jones, et al., in press; GrTeenbe 1977). An out-growth of the sexual abusive act is a betr of trust, a kind of trust that the child will probably never have with regard to his/her parent(s). Many children feel loss of both parents. At a time when the child need parents the most, they were not available-as parents.

From a development perspective, younger children us ly are affected less by the sexual Aature of the incident t are older children (Peters, Meyer, and Carroll, 197 Weiner, 1964). They appear to be affected less because th have not incorporated society's concepts of right wrong in sexual matters and lack the awareness of possible repercussions (Special Report from NCC 1979).

Stages of Coping

While there are no data available to demonstrate stages, clinical observation suggests that just as there are stages coping with death (Kubler-Ross, 1969), there appear to be stages of coping following sexual abuse. Cl ial ob vation suggests that the victim of incest goes through following identifiable stages of coping.

(1) Upset: The child displays anxiety, tension and e
motional upset surrounding the incestuous relation. This may occur after the abuse has been going on for a period months or years and when the child finally reaches a I of development in which she knows that the relationship" not socially accepted, or it may occur at the time of the involvement. The girl often is confused and angry about sexual pressure and involvement forced on her. Frequently she displays psychosomatic symptoms (e.g., headaches, abdominal pain, fainting spells) and her school work deteriorates. At this point, the sexual involvement is discovered generally by the girl telling her mother, a school teacher, physician or some other person.

(2) Uncertainty: Following the reporting of the incestuous involvement and during the subsequent inves gation and legal proceedings, the girl generally g through a period of uncertainty. She begins to doubt recant from her earlier version of what really happen even though her original report may have been quite curate and verifiable. During this time, she begins wonder if she misunderstood her father's actions and intentions and questions whether she somehow caused the eve to happen. These feelings appear to occur primarily result of the reactions and suggestions made to the victim by mother and father, siblings, relatives, peers at school, etc.

(3) Withdrawal. A natural evolution from State 2 is t the girl arrives at a point where she feels guilty that she breaking up the home and hurting her mother and fat and she says that she wants everything to be like before. S feels that she has stirred up an involved and confusi "mess" and that she just wants to withdraw. At this time she generally asks that legal proceedings cease and that the family be reunited as it was before. Her feelings about how well this will work are often unrealistic and Pollyanna.

(4) Outcome. The final outcome of the situation appears to vary depending on whether or not the girl receives treatment. Psychotherapy in such cases helps the girl deal with her feelings and cope realistically with the situation. In the absence of treatment, she is often left with lingering confusion and bitterness.

In the present authors' experience, while victims of physical abuse appear to go through some stages, the stages appear to be less prominent, and more mixed, than with victims of sex abuse. The most prominent reaction of victims of physical abuse appears to be general relief and gratitude toward those currently providing for their needs, though they often miss their parents.

Current Trends in Incest

Current research findings on sexual abuse seems to indicate that a large number of children have had sexual experience with adults (Finkelhor, 1972). Dr. Finkelhor (1979) states that the argument against incest-"such sex is intrinsically wrong"-"seems really inadequate." He goes on to further state, "many assertions of intrinsic wrong made about other sexual taboos, such as homosexuality, have been called into question in recent times." The Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) report seems to depict the incest taboo as a mindless prejudice.

It has only been in the last five years that signs of impatience with the taboo have begun multiplying. For example, in 1979, at a child abuse conference, a professor from West Virginia University said that incest in some cases "may be either a positive, healthy experience or, at worst, neutral and dull."

Likewise, Sweden's minister of justice has appointed an official committee who has recommended that incest be deleted from the list of actionable crimes in the national penal code, and the question has gone to a higher court. Finally, Joan A. Nelson reveals that she had experienced an ongoing incestuous relationship which seemed. . ."the happiest period of my life." She goes further to say, "the ongoing incestuous relationship seemed to be caring and beneficial in nature. There was healthy self-actualization in it (Nelson, 1980)." From the humanistic camp comes the rationalization of, "I who was there, declare that love is the magnification of self-approval and the intensification of sensational life as experienced by a person isolated in inviolable space. I declare this by virtue of a power vested in me that abides no question: the power of truth that I am the sole authority upon myself (DeMott, 1980)."

The Pro-Incest movement in America, and around the world, is at a ground swell. Mankind is attacking what appears to be the last taboo and is somewhat successful.


The moral standards that help form the foundation of our Christian faith are crumbling before our very eyes. Incredible changes have occurred as our moral society has been attacked. Are we, in fact, quickly approaching the situation that Lot escaped in Genesis 19?

Let's take a short, quick look at American "progress." Divorce: divorce is quickly approaching the 50% level. Some sections of the country have already "arrived" while others are -still striving. Thirty years ago, divorce was only talked about in a whisper, now we see where advertisements ',make it easy and painless." (c.f., Gen. 2:24; Deut. 24:1-4; Matt. 5:31, 32; 19:3-8; 1 Cor. 7:10-24, 33-34, 39-40). Homosexuality: sociologists estimate that 13% of the males and 5% of the females in Boston are gay. Out of the closet gays (out-gays), are quite vocal about their rights, as we witness in our school systems, political and professional groups. (c. f., Lev. 18:22, 20-13; Rm. 1: 26-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; I Tim. 1:10). Co-habitation: co-habitation is becoming so tolerated and popular that the practice of unmarried couples living together may soon become the national norm. Dr. Graham Spanier, sociologist at Penn State University states that most social changes come slowly. Cohabitation increased by 19% in the year 1977 to 1-978. He further states that if it continues at this rate, it will be almost universal in another generation. (c.f., Gen. 2:18; Heb. 13:4). Incest and sexual abuse: accurate statistics are virtually impossible to get, but conservative estimates are alarming. One researcher, as stated earlier, found that in his population of 795 undergraduates, 19.2% of the females and 8.6% of the males were sexually abused. This translates to be about I out of 5 females and I out of 10 males have had a sexual victimizing experience at some point in their life (Finkelhor, 1978). Fradkin (1974) suggests that 80% of cases of incest are not reported. (c.f., Gen. 19:38; Lev. 18; Deut. 2:9, 18; 1 Cor. 5; 11 Cor. 2).

Are we attacking the last taboo? Will incest and child sexual abuse become a more acceptable behavioral pattern in the future? Are Los Angeles and Boston the functional equivalents to Sodom and Gommorah? Many would say a resounding, "Yes"! As Christians, we need to do as many school systems are doing-"get back to the basics."


Armstrong, Louise, Kiss Daddy Goodnight, Hawthorne Press, 1978.

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