You may have noticed, if you click over here every day to see what sort of drivel I’m dishing out, that I’ve been keeping the tone as light as possible regarding the sexual indecencies of all the variously famous, but really infamous, men of Hollywood. And, moreover, that I have said little or nothing about the church. Someone rightly asked me about it yesterday. I mean, I asked for stuff to blog about, and this lovely friend pointed out to me my glaring omission.
I don’t really want to defend myself. I should blog about the blackness of the church more than Hollywood, of course, because I am in the church, and I am always telling you to go to church. And I’m not lying, you should go. But, you know, if you’ve been reading about Andy Savage, or someone told you that Roy Moore self identifies as a Christian, or you went down the rabbit trail reading about Tullian, you probably don’t want to. I mean, you can get that kind of garbage working for Today at NBC. At least over there it’s an ‘open secret.’ Surely on Sunday you should get to have a day off from the black hole of men’s depravity.
The simple and unjustifiable reason that I haven’t blogged about sexual abuse in the church is because it’s so soul crushingly awful. It’s one thing to read about Matt Lauer, or Hugh Hefner, or Harvey Weinstein. They’re horrible, and they need Jesus. But the pastor in a church? As in Andy Savage? He’s claiming to have Jesus already. Indeed, he is taking the precious name of Jesus and grinding it into the dirt. He is blaspheming God. And that fact makes it hard for me to 1. Even look at it at all and 2. Not throw up when I do. There’s nothing light and funny and hopeful that I can say.
In fact, it feels to me like we’re finally having our chance to reap the whirlwind. You know how it is. You plunk some seeds in the ground, walk away, pat yourself on the back, and then later drive by and discover that they’re not just dry little seeds any more, they are huge ugly stocks bearing big bright, putrid fruit.Deciding, corporately, however long ago, to take the eyes off of the plain, ordinary gospel of Jesus–that you are a sinner, that you are bound towards death until someone saves you, that Jesus accomplishes that salvation with his life, crucifixion, and resurrection, that you must repent of your sins, that you must submit to the authority of scripture and the church, that you are still a sinner even when you come in, that you must always be repenting, that you are not entitled to anything, but always and continually to be flinging yourself onto the mercy of Jesus–and shift the gaze to a boring utilitarian pragmatic self-focused culture mimicking expression of this message, stopping along the way to smell the foul rose of politics, and sitting down to drink deeply out of the fountain of sexual idolatry and the broken relations between men and women was, to put it mildly, a bad idea.
Still, the way forward for abusers in the church is exactly the same as it is for Matt Lauer. He had to leave his desk and his microphone and his honor and privilege. You, if you’re an abusing pastor, have to get out of your pulpit. Now. Confess your sins. Repent. Go to those you’ve hurt, without any expectation of being forgiven, confess your wrong doing. Throw yourself onto the mercy of God. And then, and this is the kicker, don’t ever walk back up into that pulpit. Don’t. Stay out. Sit in the back. Weep and mourn. Listen and don’t speak. Don’t get a book deal. Don’t start a blog. Don’t invent a speaking ministry. Devote yourself to sweeping the floor and such other small invisible acts of service that build up the whole church.
I personally am trying to face my own cowardice. I don’t want to read about this stuff. I don’t want to think about it. The ugliness is too much. The words of Jesus about the millstone and the sea are ringing in my ears. The loss of discipline, of selflessness, of humility in the church, by so many who lead the church, but also those who sit in the pews is catastrophic. Unless we repent and cling onto the cross that we ourselves are always pointing to there is no hope for us.