So, I saw this article this morning and was sickened: http://www.foxla.com/news/local-news/mega-church-leader-joaquin-garcia-arrested-for-major-sex-trafficking-crimes
Here’s my Rant….
I’m a believer in the strength and power of the church which is followers of Christ gathered together to accomplish God’s work. It hurts me when friends speak ill of the church. The church should be a refuge from the evil of the world and, when the church is in a right relationship with God, there is no better group of people to be around.
Sadly, the Church is under attack today and even more sadly, it’s deserved. Rather than being a refuge from the horrendous sin of sexual aggression, degradation of women, and rape, those sins are not only present in the church today, they have been whitewashed to the point that some ministers are using “the will of God” to coerce people, usually women, into sexual activity. This is inexcusable.
When the scandals first broke in the Catholic Church, many attacked them while noting that this couldn’t happen in their church. In the last few months, the truth has come out about Southern Baptists (the denomination of the church I attend), independent pastors, and some organizations on the periphery of Christianity. (Some religious groups are close to Christian, but they have moved away from the gospel in their theology.) All of those groups where this happens affect every church, everywhere. The Church as a whole suffers by the actions of these people – and sadly, it’s not just a few.
This morning I woke to an article about a pastor and members of his staff, referenced below, who seduced women and told them that if they didn’t comply with his desires, they were going against the will of God. That is sickening. That is disgusting. God’s people cannot allow that to continue. Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was at hand – happening now. There is no place in the kingdom of God for such horrendous behavior. Paul rebuked the Corinthian Church for their acceptance of a sexual sin so egregious that people who weren’t Christians were shocked by it. Let’s be honest, Church, the world is appalled by the acceptance, and dare I say “baptism” of such grievous sin.
My pastor has made it clear that he will not sweep something like this under the rug. As members of our various churches, we need to get that assurance from our leaders and hold them accountable. One of the memes that I don’t like talks about what we do to teach women to protect themselves and asks, “Why don’t we teach men not to rape instead?” While I feel that it paints all men with a broad brush and implies that somehow, we teach men to assault women sexually; maybe there’s more wisdom in that teaching than I’ve been willing to admit. We still need to teach women to defend themselves, just like we all need to defend ourselves against other crimes against our person and our property, but we need to teach people how to relate with others as human beings of equal worth and value. We must regain a biblical view of personhood and sexuality in God’s Kingdom.
This is a message that resonates with the teaching of Jesus. It’s a message that the Church should be declaring with Paul who reminded us that we are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28) We have failed in the past. But, we can no longer fall back into the grip of society’s mores. The line must be drawn here, to quote Captain Picard in Star Trek: First Contact. For Christians, the solution begins with cleaning our own houses. We can’t turn a blind eye to the problem. We must recognize and repent of our sin that allowed this abuse to happen within the realm of the Kingdom of God. We must live and show the joy in living according to God’s plan for sexuality: chaste until marriage, fidelity in marriage. We must have respect towards others, and, this is key, we must avoid condemning others. People will not change because we condemn them. They’ll change when they see and hear about our joy in Christ as we live It every day. If you aren’t living in the realms of the Kingdom of God, you may object to some of the stated and implied positions. That’s your right and I’m not going to argue. All I ask is that you work with people who are like-minded to end this scourge among the people you can influence.