Ministerial Sexual Abuse: High Treason in the Kingdom of God

This week, another story broke about a pastor who sexually abused a church member. That sentence seems accurate almost every week. Ministerial sexual abuse in an unfortunate constant in 2019’s headlines.

As each story that breaks, the same responses multiply. Some, understandably, see such abuse as permanently disqualifying. A man who has used the office of pastor to manipulate one under his care for sexual pleasure may never fill the office again. Others question why these reports matter—especially when the abuse took place “so long ago.” Should what a man did as a 22-year-old pastor impact his eligibility to hold the office one, two, or three decades later?

At the heart of this question are two matters: the nature of sex and the nature of the church. Continue reading “Ministerial Sexual Abuse: High Treason in the Kingdom of God”

The Gospel-Centered Abuser

My dear Foolsgold,

I read your last report with great interest and not a little pride. Your great-uncle Screwtape will be delighted to hear of your success. (He will, no doubt, claim responsibility for your accomplishments—though these, we know, should be credited to my account.)

A decade ago, when your patient entered “the ministry,” I feared the worst for your assignment. His charisma (as they call it), rapid growth in spirituality, and skill in both teaching the Book almost guaranteed him a large following and much success in that wretched outpost of the Enemy—the church.

You did well to encourage it and to “assist” him in these endeavors. Once a human has started down this route, it is almost impossible to reverse. There is no going back. Instead, we adjust the trajectory ever so slightly and increase the momentum. This way, by the time he has gone off course, it is impossible to slow down or stop. The damage is certain. The destruction is extreme. Continue reading “The Gospel-Centered Abuser”

I Repent ≠ I Won’t Help You

This post is the third (and final) post in a series examining how we respond when we’ve wronged our neighbor. The first post (I’m Sorry ≠ I Sinned) focused on the difference between expressing remorse and confessing guilt. The second post (I Sinned ≠ I Repent) examined our obligation beyond grieving and confession, our desire to restore what we destroyed. I ended the last post by noting that confessing our sin against our neighbor does not release us from the obligation to restore our neighbor. Continue reading “I Repent ≠ I Won’t Help You”

“They Are All Gone!” — A Song on Forgiveness Inspired by Charles Spurgeon

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me this paragraph from Charles Spurgeon’s sermon “Forgiveness Made Easy:”

All our transgressions are swept away at once, carried off as by a flood, and so completely removed from us that no guilty trace of them remains They are all gone!

O ye believers, think of this, for the all is no little thing: sins against a holy God, sins against his loving Son, sins against gospel as well as against law, sins against man as well as against God, sins of the body as well as sins of the mind, sins as numerous as the sands on the sea shore, and as great as the sea itself: all, all are removed from us as far as the east is from the west. All this evil was rolled into one great mass, and laid upon Jesus, and having borne it all he has made an end of it for ever.

When the Lord forgave us he forgave us the whole debt. He did not take the bill and say, “I strike out this item and that,” but the pen went through it all;—PAID. It was a receipt in full of all demands, Jesus took the handwriting which was against us and nailed it to his cross, to show before the entire universe that its power to condemn us had ceased for ever. We have in him a full forgiveness.

She suggested that there might be a corporate reading for our worship service in there. As I read it, song lyrics naturally emerged. Within a few minutes, I had the first draft of a song, which I sent off to David Ward. Continue reading ““They Are All Gone!” — A Song on Forgiveness Inspired by Charles Spurgeon”