The ripples from that Christianity Today/Leadership Journal article from two weeks ago are still washing up heartbreaking and vital stories.
Perhaps if the church dealt more honestly with sexual temptation, temptation would lead less frequently to acting out on it. Keeping talk of such temptations taboo leads naturally to imagining that one’s temptations are somehow unique, which leads, in turn, to imagining oneself as somehow unique and, therefore, entitled in one’s status as “special” to act on one’s temptations.
Last week, when I read the Leadership Journal article, “My Easy Trip From Youth Minister to Felon,” I had much the same reaction as when I first read Lolita. “This is a narrator who cannot be trusted. This is the voice of a sexual predator.” For many people, like me, it was all too familiar. We readily recognize the biased perspective of sexual predators because we’ve been on the other side, as victims.
I am reminded of this one incident, more than a dozen years ago, when I read of pastors committing sexual offenses against parishioners in their churches.
Yes, they should be prosecuted by law. Yes, they should be fired.
But for the health of our communities – they should also be excommunicated. There is healing in a hurting community standing together and saying “that is NOT right, and we will not have it here.” It is an extreme thing to do- but it occurs to me that in these extreme cases which cause extreme pain, it is appropriate. The hurting church is not without remedy to call out evil.
And more than that: I believe the Gospel demands it.
As I tweeted in response, I think Bronwyn hits on how to tell if excommunication is being applied appropriately with this implied question: is the action in response to a community as a whole being hurt by unrepentant sin, or is someone in charge attempting to remove a perceived threat that the body as a whole is unaware of?
She was told that she didn’t belong, that there was no f-ing way she was American. She was told she would be sent back to where she came from, where she belonged. She was told she would be dead and that her family would be dead, too. She didn’t belong because she didn’t sound like them or look like them. In the news she was labeled as a naturalized citizen from China, reminding everyone else, reminding me, of her “otherness”. People like me aren’t really people. We are illegal. We are naturalized. We are born here. We are labeled or we choose labels. We are “others” and others get what’s coming to them.
It strikes me as incongruous that the ‘crime’ of illegally immigrating has, in some ways, a more punitive dimension than some violent crimes. Under the current law there is no possibility of release. No way of making restitution.
Luigi was more cautious. He told me that he had no doubt that the US and their allies could easily overthrow Saddam (He did not seem to share the idea that the Republican Guard were a serious fighting force). But, he said, he was equally sure that if Saddam were overthrown, there would be a civil war in Iraq. I found this quite impossible to believe. We had several conversations on this topic, and he was adamant that this is what would happen. Moreover, he was sure that if Saddam fell, and civil war ensued, this would be utterly disastrous for the country’s Christian minority.
We spoke about these things before the US-led invasion in March 2003. Since that time some 12 years have passed, and everything Luigi has said has come to pass.
Whitefield’s slave-owning and his lobbying for the legalization of slavery in Georgia were, in fact, an integral part of his identity. They were an integral part of his theology — his piety, his revivalism, his hermeneutic, his doctrine.
And thus they have become an integral part of our theology, piety, revivalism, hermeneutic and doctrine. Whitefield’s theology shaped the American church. Whitefield’s theology was grossly and essentially misshapen by slavery.
American theology and the American church are grossly and essentially misshapen by slavery.
England gleaming in the afternoon sun. pic.twitter.com/DJ7B5LfU7n
— Reid Wiseman (@astro_reid) June 20, 2014
— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) June 22, 2014
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