We do not normally look at these controversial issues all the time. There are times when our voice would simply just be another one in a crowd. But this issue saddens us. When sin happens in the church we certainly are not delighted. But we know that it does thus we are not shocked when we read about these different failings. Our main concern is for believers, victims and offenders not lose their faith. We must remember that believers are not perfect, cannot control their lusts, have other struggles which makes living the Christian life very difficult.
What we call for here comes in several points. First, we cannot let emotion dictate our response. Using emotion to adjudicate offenses is not a biblical teaching. Nor is playing to the emotions. To get to the heart of this matter and solve this problem (for the present & future) we need to follow biblical steps. These steps do not favor one side or the other but strives for true justice.
Before we continue though, we will post the link and a quote to make sure everyone understands the full scope of what we are talking about.
Hundreds of women have been revealing stories of rape, sexual abuse and harassment that they suffered inside church or at the hands of Christian men in leadership, using the #churchtoo hashtag to shed light on countless disturbing experiences.
Second we will, if you allow us, to tell a story first.We forget the exact source of the story but that doesn’t matter. It did not originate with us, it did not take place in our church nor do we know the people involved. We are not going to tell every detail either. Not because we are protecting identities but that all the details are not necessary to make the point. The story takes place over several weeks or months.
There was a pastor who had a teenage daughter. One day a very spiritual lady in the congregation came to him and told him there was a problem with one of the elders. It was a sexual issue. The pastor decided to go directly to the elder and ask him if there was anything going on. Of course the elder denied it and since he had a sterling reputation the pastor took his word for it.
The woman came back a second time with more specific information. The sexual encounter was between the pastor’s daughter and the elder. Again the pastor went to the elder and he again denied it. Finally the daughter admitted to what was going on and the pastor was devastated of course. The rest of the details are not important except that the pastor blamed God and through away his faith.
There are some parallels between this story and the #churchtoo issue. First, to get to the truth and the heart of the issue, there must be an honest, impartial investigation. Zech. 8:16 says
These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates.
Any pursuit of justice must be guided by the truth.it cannot just take someone’s word for it. This goes for both sides of the offense. The victims, or supposed victims, must tell the truth. If they tell the truth, then the evidence will support their stories. Allegations and accusations, law suits etc., are not evidence nor are they necessary the truth. 40 allegations all telling the same story does not mean a crime actually took place. The number of allegations is not evidence of a crime. It is evidence supporting the idea that people still use Hitler’s observation- if you tell a lie often enough, people will begin to think it is the truth.
If that pastor had listened to God’s word and conducted a real investigation, he may have spared his daughter months of abuse. He may have also have kept his faith. God sent a warning to him through that church member but instead of obeying God the pastor did the investigation his way.
Second, position in the church does not mean one is free from sin. As the #churchtoo and that story tell us church leaders have decided to sin, fall to temptation, been under attack from evil and have acted in a sinful manner. Before we condemn, we must understand the source behind the acts. Christians are not perfect, they are not granted infallibility upon conversion and will do things that are not in line with biblical teaching. We should not be shocked when these sins take place.We should not be traumatized when church leaders fail. We need to build up our spiritual strength and faith so that we can handle these problems correctly when they do arise.
By the word correctly, we mean that no announcement should be made that the ‘çhurch and its leadership are following biblical teaching’. If the church and its leadership is doing that, then everyone will know it.We do not make a show of our church discipline. We do not act unjustly by adding to the punishment public humiliation. We do not make ‘an example’of the church leader caught in sin nor apply zero tolerance. Neither are of God nor do they solve any problems.
Third, we do not know if this took place in the story or not, victims do not publicly announce that they were victims of a crime. Not only does such action undermine any credibility of the victim but it taints the public so that an honest investigation and trial cannot be held, as well as bring a negative witness to the church. The excuse that is often used is ‘we want to show solidarity to…’or ‘we want to encourage others to step forward…’and on the excuses flow. Getting sympathy i snot a biblical goal.We do not need to use the media to proclaim that we have been a victim.
The word will get out when the proper authorities are told about the crime and real evidence is presented to them. If we want to empower or give confidence to other victims then act biblically and set the example.Let God work so people can see God cares about them and take heart from that example. Going public and jumping on the bandwagon is not a tool for evangelism. Such actions can be used by evil to build stumbling blocks to the unbeliever. The world may do piling on, jumping on the bandwagon and so on but the church cannot afford to participate in such actions. They still need to be the light unto the world even in these circumstances.
We understand that you may be a victim but the God who knows more than we tells us how to proceed. He has given us a Bible full of instructions and one key passage is ‘do unto others…’Think how you would like to be treated and act accordingly. Being biblical comes from the heart and not done as a show.
This brings us to the fourth point, which is in neither example. We need to forgive the offenders. This action does not mean that the offender gets a free pass or that their deeds are swept under the rug. It means that we have removed the beams from our eyes and now can see clearly o how to proceed with the investigation, the trial so that we can bring a just and fair sentence.it is not just nor fair to broadcast people’s sins around the world. It is not just and fair to jump on the bandwagon and say ‘me too’ or çhurchtoo’.
Everyone knows men and women sin. It does not have to be reinforced by fads or trends. Nor does it have to be made known through nefarious means. While women want payback they need to be taught that revenge is God’s not theirs- even in sexual sins. Women need to stifle the desire to ‘hurt the offender’ because that is not of God nor is it just or justice. We, men and women, are not allowed to sin in response to any type of crime including sexual ones. God does not honor sin at any time nor excuse it. Committing sin also deprives everyone of justice and a solution to the problem.
There have been enough offenses on both sides of the crime in the church. Both men and women are not innocent in these matters.Repentance for the crime, the lies, the failure to forgive or obey God is demanded before any justice can be done through #churchtoo. Ruining people is not the goal of the believer. While you may still be hurting from those offenses committed against you, you may not be aware of the fact that the offender may have truly repented and received forgiveness of from God. You may not know that they may have been punished by God already and subsequently changed their ways.
We cannot hold past sins of the people over their heads for the rest of their lives. We are not greater than God. If we truly repent then God forgets our sins after he forgives us. But we still are punished. Forgiveness never replaces or removes just punishment. Some time ago there was a fad called ‘what would Jesus do’. We know what Jesus would do for he told and showed us. He forgave, he did not falsely accuse, he did not seek revenge. he did’not try to ‘hurt someone and on it goes.If you want an example to follow look in the Bible. We have plenty. Jesus showed us the way for all sins even if he was not sexually abused. He still set the example of what to do when we are the victim of sexual sins.
The Bible covers all sins. Sexual sin is not new. We must follow Christ’s example and his instructions if we want justice and if we want forgiveness for our offenses. The Bible tells us if we want to have God forgive us, we must forgive also- do unto others…’
We are not in favor of this ‘metoo’ and #churchtoo, trend that is taking place right now. It is not that we are not sympathetic or we are defending sinners. We are all sinners. We are more concerned that the victims and their families, friends and even the offenders, do not lose their faith like that pastor did. He failed to see God warning him; he failed to take the right biblical action, he failed to see God protecting his family and so he decided to blame God for his own mistakes.
That is not right. Too often we miss where God has done what he has said and we blame him for something he has not done. A church leader, male or female, who decides to sin is not acting on instructions from God. We need to put the blame where it lies- on evil. Sin comes from evil not God. In these situations we should be taking refuge in God, not attacking him for crimes he did not commit. God can’t heal if we do not let him. He cannot bring justice if we exclude him from the process.
Look to God for your solutions not fads or bandwagons. Keep your eyes on Jesus even when church leaders let you down or sin. Jesus is the only one who can help.