First Ted Haggard was accused of having sex with a male prostitue, then the whole Roman Catholic Church abuse issue. Now, not to be undone, Bishop Eddie Long of New Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia, USA has found himself in the middle of allegations of abuse from young males of having sex with them while they were under his leadership and care in his church.
It seems that every few months the Church is due another huge sex scandal and right on cue it has happened again. And I think that there are so many issues that will arise from the Eddie Long situation. From Everything that has happened to Ted Haggard and what is going on in the Catholic Church right now. How we deal (and how we have already dealt) with these scandals is important.
1/ Baby Steps
First off, all these allegations and cases of abuse begs the question, how do certain Church leaders get to this point? Well as Jon Acuff points out sin doesn’t just come knocking one day. Especially sexual sin. We don’t just start looking at porn. It is a culmination of lots of baby steps. If any of these allegations against Eddie Long turn out to be true, you can be sure it wasn’t like he just woke up one day and decided to sleep with these young men. He would probably have been struggling with sexual issues for a while. Maybe even started looking at porn leading all the way up to sleeping someone. Sin comes to visit and before we know it is sleeping on our couch and wearing our clothes. Which leads to the next question..
2/ Why can’t leaders feel they can talk about their sin?
If our Church leaders won’t or don’t feel they can talk about sexual temptation, what hope is there for the rest of us? Maybe the pressure of being seen as perfect and then admitting that we aren’t is too much to bear. Why is the Church environment not conducive to talking about our sin? Because keeping our mouth closed is easier than dealing with the fall out. We have groups for AA and drug addictions but we don’t want to talk about, whisper it, S.E.X. Maybe pride tells us that we can beat temptation, that we can stop it before it goes to far. More often than not, we can’t. We need help. The sooner as a Church we can start being free and open with our struggles to each other the better. The sooner leaders get this, the better.
3/ Homosexuality isn’t the isssue, hypocrisy is.
Sure there is an debate in the Church right now about how we view homosexuality, but is this the real issue? Or is the real issue that some of our Church leaders are condemning homosexuality on one hand, while on the other are engaging in the very acts they talk of being abonimable? How can the Church claim to lead the way in moral issues if we don’t really believe what we say? I think the simple answer is we can’t. Too often Christians are seen as high and mighty and as looking down at others. The reason? Because so often we act that way. We contradict ourselves and when we so publicly do, we are killing ourselves and each other.
4/ Hiding behind the sins of others.
Right now the easiest thing in the world for me to do right now would be to condemn people like Ted Haggard or Eddie Long. But the truth is if I did, I would simply be hiding my own sins behind theirs. We love to see huge, famous people fail. We love scandal because it makes our own sins seems pretty ok. They aren’t. The truth is I’m not much different than them. The moment I start saying I am, I lose sight of Grace. Sure they have forgotten the whole removing the plank from your own eye, before removing the splinter from someone elses, by their actions. Not just because of their sexual sin, but by condemning others for theirs. But as soon as I start condeming them, I am doing the exact same thing. It doesn’t matter if my sin isn’t exposed so publicly to the world. It matters because it effects my world; it effects my relationships with the people I love and who love me. (This doesn’t mean their sins should be looked over. They need help and love and grace and discipline as we all do. The whole point of removing our planks is so we can effectively help others with theirs, not that we can be perfect.)
These recent sex scandals should serve all of us to look at ourselves. How we put leaders on pedel stools. How we need to match up what we believe and what we do. (Let’s not just think this is about sex, it’s about what we do with our money, whether we gossip, whether we literally help the poor everyday, it’s about being truly transformed by God’s love so it permeates into everything we think and do).
Imagine the hurt that could have been saved if Ted Haggard had sought help before things got out of hand?
What do we do now?
We find places and people that we feel free to be honest with completely. We don’t hide behind a facade any more.
That’s not easy. Which is exactly why we need help.
Who will go first?