Getting Raped At Church Is Kinda A BIG Deal

It’s not just a Catholic problem, but sex abuse by religious leaders is a deeply damaging thing.  First there is the damage done to the abused victim.  I don’t know anyone who isn’t first of all concerned with the damage done to innocent children, to more than a few women, and sometimes even men.  But there is also the damage done to God’s own holy name!  The devastation to God’s own reputation in his world when his own trusted shepherds take it upon themselves to victimize lowly ones and public trust is inexcusable.

Yet it seems the church just rocks along… just chugging along despite this dirty secret.  A lot of cover-up, to the extent it’s possible, and when not, efforts to sweep its importance under the rug with minimal apologies.  Sometimes tearful mea culpa, a parade of apology is deployed, but the church manages to continue almost in a business-as-usual way.  At some point even the public seems complicit!

But then Hollywood begins cleaning house with the expose of Harvey Weinstein.

I really hate that the church seems to follow the culture rather than lead it, but I am glad to see that church leaders are finally dealing with our own sins.  I hope we finally deal authentically with the problem.

Look.  People make mistakes.  I get it.  And sometimes those mistakes are very hurtful.  I am not saying we need to endlessly punish the sinners or shun them with no hope of redemption.  If that were God’s way, then King David would not be a hero of the faith.  But coming clean and dealing with our own shortcomings is so important that burying them instead threatens to take God’s name in vain.

The fact is: getting raped at church is a big deal.  If we don’t put a stop to it and seek the restoration of victims and perpetrators, all the good Bible study, all the tithes, all the glorious sound of worship is vain (Isa. 1:11-17).

For the longest time, the general public has gone along with this mess unaware a problem is even there.  Perhaps at some point along the way even the public is culpable for not looking closer.  That is possible, I think, but stopping short of exploring that notion, I suggest that meanwhile for years and years only the perpetrators, the victims, and a very few witnesses knew there was a problem going unattended.

What damage do you think these sins do to those people and to their witness to God’s goodness in the world?  And for years on end too!  A little like the Penn State football program, a cancer is eating away at the whole school and when it’s finally addressed, the patient is wracked with it!  The ripple effect is not done yet.

I want to end this post inviting you to apply all this same line of reasoning to our treatment of the homeless too.  If we publish headlines about how much we care but quietly kick them out to the cold, what damage is that doing to the perpetrators, the victims, and to the name of God?  And shouldn’t we address this cancer before it spreads deeply into the vital organs?

Getting rapped at church is kinda a big deal.  So is kicking the poor out at night.

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