Loyal: giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution.
Recently, I read the news about churches, both catholic and protestant, who had difficulty with their loyalties. No, it’s not the first time this has happened. I’m sad to say it will not be the last.
Loyalty to pastor and institutional church took priority over desire for truth, light and ultimately Jesus!
One of the protestant churches was Willow Creek, a large church outside of Chicago where women, over the years, had brought complaints of inappropriate behavior on the part of their pastor to the leaders of their church. As the church admits now, their loyalty to their pastor and the institution of their local church, was greater than their loyalty to finding the truth. Now decades later, the truth has come to light that their pastor was indeed behaving in a sexually inappropriate way. He was more likely having extremely inappropriate sexual encounters with women in the church and taking advantage of his power and position. He was not worthy of the trust placed in him. Sadly, this has played out in all kinds of churches across our country as those in power have taken advantage of women and children (mostly) in their charge. It happens in other places too. It’s just that church is where you expect to be safe!As the church admits now, their loyalty to their pastor and the institution of their local church, was greater than their loyalty to finding the truth. Click To Tweet
I read the confession and was taken by the honesty of one of the leaders of the church. It was very sad. stop Frankly, it was more honest than many of these confessions often are. How painful for this church. They are losing most of their pastors and elders. I can’t even imagine how painful this would be for all concerned. Sadly, the pastor has admitted very little in his “confession.”
Over 1000 children abused in PA in the Catholic Church. It was all carefully documented.
The other news was that of the Catholic church in PA. Over a 70 year period, they had carefully recorded all the complaints against priests who had abused children and teens. They numbered over a 1000. Not once was this ever reported to the legal authorities. (Which is the law of the land.)
When I read how carefully each incident was recorded and what happened with each priest, many of whom had gone on to be awarded honors for their service, it made me sick …and very sad. Lives had been ruined in most cases and most of these men had gone unpunished. Even now, very few will be punished because of the statute of limitations…three at most. And this was only in one state!
It is difficult to understand how we can allow our loyalty to those in power or to the church as an institution, to keep us from protecting the weak and innocent. We fall into the trap of equating those who help us in our growth in Christ with Jesus Himself. We forget that many of them are also part of a power structure as well.
We also forget that they are sinners…just like us. That’s why our church leaders need to allow the legal authorities to do their part rather than to protect their own power structure first. Truth has a way of showing itself sooner or later. GOD is good that way. Our leaders need to ask themselves whether they would rather the truth came out now, no matter how ugly, when the sin just happened, or 20 years later when more people have been damaged and everyone will feel sullied by the desire of the leaders to protect their power structure? Think of the impact on the faith of a person who has been in that church for 20 years? The temptation would be to question everything they ever heard from that pastor…understandably so! What a painful time.
This is a sad reminder of how much we all need Jesus. We would like to think that we could never do the same thing. But we don’t know that. We do know we would need to begin the process of true forgiveness from the heart if we have been part of one of these horrible situations.
We remember that we are desperately in need of Jesus. That’s why He had to come to earth and die for us in the first place. It doesn’t excuse one thing that was done…at all! It does tell us a bit of what is in our hearts.
When I think of this kind of sin, the Scripture below comes to mind. Apart from being in Christ, that is what would happen to us!
Will GOD forgive? Yes, even though it is difficult for us to forgive this kind of sin, GOD does forgive even these heinous sins that ruin lives and faith foundations.When I think of this kind of sin, the Scripture below comes to mind. Will GOD forgive? Yes, even though it is difficult for us to forgive this kind of sin, GOD does forgive even these heinous sins that ruin lives and faith foundations. Click To Tweet
The bottom line of this post is not to say, “Tsk, tsk. Aren’t these people awful?” But rather, “There, but for GOD’s grace go I.”
Where does my loyalty lie? Not with the power structures.
As for loyalty, my main loyalty needs to be to Jesus, not human institutions or places of power. Jesus can take care of Himself and His reputation. I don’t need to protect Him by protecting places of power.
- He is the Light of the world. He brings darkness to light…eventually.
- He also described Himself as the Truth. He is the Author of Truth and is not threatened by it.
- He is Just, but often the way He metes out justice is in the next life. None of us like that. We want it now…especially for others! But it is part of living in a very broken world!
As for these other people and institutions, seeking for the truth about them is always wise, not in terms of witch hunts that divide, but simply in seeking for truth so we can deal with the issues that arise.
- Did this happen? Legal authorities can help there. Then our spiritual leaders need to help if the truth is ugly. They may need outside help to do it.
- How do we pick up the pieces? Often outside help is needed. Going to another church won’t help you deal with the pain.
- How do we repent?
- How do those who sinned against us need to repent well? It won’t come naturally to them as you have seen!
- How do we minister to those who have been sinned against? With care and compassion…and often outside help.
- How do we need to enter the process of forgiving from the heart? Prayer, understanding what GOD has to say on this topic and probably outside help too.
- How do we go through the whole process and not skip over the painful parts and simply try to “forgive” before knowing what needs to be forgiven and what needs serious confronting? Help, prayer, GOD’s Word and good teaching over time. It will not be an overnight process.
As Christians, we want to commit ourselves to live in the Light of the Gospel! When we live in the open before GOD, repenting as we go, our lives will be joyful and fresh. We won’t be burdened down with covering up dark secrets.
I need to search for truth or have those who have that job, do it. I can trust that truth will come to the surface as we pray and diligently seek for it.
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,
but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck
and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
I had to do a little editing on this FMF so the article would make sense. Sorry to break that rule this time. It would have been jibberish otherwise. martha