The following was written by one John S, in the comments of a post over at The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser, and is reproduced with permission. Where John is quoting David Thiessen of Theology Archaeology, the text shall be in purple, for clarity.
“The secular world does not have a solution for the problems these men face and instead of embarrassing and humiliating pastors, they should just remain silent trusting that church officials will be led by God to handle the problems correctly.“
Yes “Dr.” Tee, just like my own church did for decades. And you know what made the Catholic Church change its practice? Exposure. Ridicule. Civil Liability. Bankruptcy. Loss of massive numbers of members. All thanks to the intervention of “worldly” institutions like the media, government agencies, civil and criminal courts, etc.
Now we are finding out that the churches of the SBC, IFB as well as the uber-cool coffee-house hipster “yay-Jesus!” evangelical churches have sexual abuse scandals on par with the Catholic Church. Except now, their victims aren’t having any of it anymore. Now, the pervert pastors who for decades convinced their victims and their families that “I’m not the dummy you’re the dummy” 1984-thought police style are actually being arrested, put in jail, prosecuted and sentenced to prison, etc.
When Jesus said, “You are the salt of the world”, he also said what happens to “salt” that loses its value- it is trampled down. Not “restored” so that it can ruin more food. Not “prayed for” by the other bags of salt.
Confession and Absolution belong to the religious realm. But these sacraments do not eliminate the consequences of horrible behavior in this life.
I’m sure if one of your followers made a commitment to help your ministry, especially financially, and then repeatedly failed to honor their agreement, and further also began stealing your “donations”, you would demand justice, or at least your money that was owed. If this persons conduct prevented you from buying that new car you needed for your “ministry”, you would probably even want retribution.
So now imagine a woman who was molested by a person she trusted since childhood. Someone she told things to that she didn’t tell her parents. Someone who manipulated her into sex in his office and then more than 25 years later made a public spectacle by “confessing” to an “affair” so he could get the applause and hand waiving prayer from his followers. And the response of the church elders, the “gatekeepers” is “he confessed and was forgiven. Now you must confess your role in tempting him (when you were 16) and do penance”. And if she goes to the police? Or even complains? Then she is ostracized. The perpetrator goes on to become Bishop. And writes a best-selling book about how to grow a mega church.
In your ideal world this would have been the outcome at New Life Christian Church in Indiana. Instead, the Pastor’s victim found the courage to confront him midway through his performance on stage. Thanks to “evil” social media, and mean old “BG”, this story went viral. The Pastor is no longer a Pastor, and more abuse became known. The Pastor is being investigated by State Police. He will most likely never write that best-seller, and most importantly never Pastor another church that is concerned about its reputation. And the victim has found her confidence, and is inspiring other women to come forward.
This is how a culture of abuse is ended.
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