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God and #metoo

This #metoo revolution has been a wowza!

Anyone watching Hollywood disintegrate? I was so bummed when they cancelled the Christmas version of the baking show I love because one of the judges was accused. They didn’t even announce it, I just couldn’t find it on Hulu! I commented that pretty soon the only people left on TV will be women. To which my same sex married lesbian, upstairs neighbors said,

“Would that be so bad?”

To which I resoundingly said, “YES!!”

I like men. Kind, thoughtful, smart, funny, manly and honest men.  Men who enjoy the company of strong, feminine women. Men who value women’s unique capabilities and their contributions to the home and workplace. Apparently, these kind of men are hard to find, have always been hard to find. I’m not sure I agree, but my life experience is defined by church culture more than secular culture and in spite of what’s portrayed, the church has good men!

Segway to Willow Creek

If you’ve followed at all you’ve read stories of brave women who have come forward in the wake of #metoo, exposing sexual assault and abuse of power, by Bill Hybels and the elder response team at Willow Creek. Decades of this behavior are unraveling a mega church with a world wide reputation in leadership and excellence.

Pentecostals are no strangers to church/preacher scandals. At times we’ve led the charge(s). Remember Jimmy Swaggart? Prostitutes, shame, confession and a huge drop in supporters. The Assemblies of God removed him from their ranks pronto.

Or what about Jim and Tammy Fay Bakker? Those 2 were watched by many as they robbed people blind. Jim served a prison sentence, his wife divorced him and he came out of prison a repentant, and changed man. He has another following, minus his AOG denominational status.

They may be televangelists but I guarantee you there are numerous stick churches with similar problems. I sat in on an abused women’s support group once (it was enough) with pastor’s wives from Evangelical denominations. They shared some of the most deplorable sexual requests from their husbands. I wanted to cry…or shout from the rooftops. Not only did they have to endure their husband’s sexual sin, they had to hide it from their friends and families! My mouth would have gotten me in big trouble…I can’t hide anything.

What’s so shocking about the Willow scandal is the scope. If Bill was a CEO of a secular corporation his fate might mirror Harvey Weinstein’s. The financial losses would be staggering. Even his elders would be eligible for legal recourse, as board members of his corporation.

It may still happen…

Living here in Chicago, especially the suburbs, you can’t bump into someone at the grocery store and not find a Creeker. They are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Many of our homeschool friends are Creekers, we’ve loved them for 20 years. We refused their invitations to make it our home, though we’d go for special events or to hear strong teachers. We were prejudiced against it before we moved here. We attended churches in CA and AZ that tried the Seeker Sensitive model and failed. We’d heard the “Bus” sermon too many times…

If you don’t know the Bus sermon, it’s the one where the pastor casts his new and improved vision for the direction of the church, then ends his sermon with “You know, the bus is going this direction, if you don’t want to go where the bus is going maybe you need to get on a different bus”. It’s said with a gentle voice but it still means, “Put up or shut up”.

We always shut up…and left

Bruce has been on the inside of church leadership, he knows the enormous pressure pastors face to pony up numbers as tallies of success. The first thing filled out on Monday morning for any denomination’s district is an attendance record. And yes, a healthy church will grow in numbers, it’s a byproduct of health in the people. Healthy Christians reach out to non Christians. It’s part of Christianity’s unique message, all are welcome, all can change.

Willow rocked that in the 80’s, 90’s and early 00’s

And honestly, the local church needed some rocking! We’d become stuck in our Us 4 and no More, way of life. We liked not making friends outside of church. We’d been taught that, you become what you hang with, so we didn’t hang with non church folks. We didn’t see them as humans with hurts, but as enemies with agendas. We spoke in code. One of my all time worst favorites–

Fresh Anointing Brother!

We sounded like a cult and Willow’s impact changed a lot of that for the better. Even churches that didn’t adopt a seeker sensitive model began to teach in more seeker friendly ways. They explained the Bible in common language and detailed things to us that we already assumed everyone understood. It gave us a better way of explaining our faith to people outside of church.

Not a terrible thing

The largest criticism the staunch Evangelical world leveled against Willow, was their gentling of the Gospel message. Rumors abounded that they wouldn’t even use the word “blood” when describing Jesus’ sacrifice because it was too graphic. I have no idea if it’s true, but it sounded plausible to churches with twisted panties because Willow inhaled their congregations.

Fast forward to today and here we have a scandal of such immense proportions it’s incomprehensible. The thought that sexual assault by a man so revered in the Christian community, WORLD WIDE, was tolerated and actively protected is unthinkable.

Unless you believe that repentance is negotiable

I’ll give Jim and Jimmy credit, they fully repented publicly when caught. It cost them, but then so did their sin among the people they sinned against. What was lacking was a path to restoration in their own denomination.

At times the church really does shoot their own wounded

The women who have come forward about Bill have also paid a high price, some of  their fellow believers have lined up the automatic weapons. But what strikes me significantly about this is that it might not have happened without the secular #metoo revolution. It should have been the other way around…

Judgement begins in the House of the Lord

1 Peter 4:15-17;  “If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! For the time has come for judgement, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?” NLT

I think Pastor Leroy Cloud was the first, in my life, to preach those words, some 40+ years ago. It stuck. God will have a spotlessly clean house one day. But, until then he will do what’s necessary to keep his earthly one from getting away with sin that even Hollywood can’t escape…!

We must pray (no small thing), speak gracious words to the hurting and reach out with hands that heal to those who need it. A flock without a shepherd is itself a scary thing. And what hurts part of God’s Church hurts all of us. We are a body, with various functions, we all need each other. Uniting in a common mission to bring sinners to repentance and extend healing to the wounded IS the Biblical roadmap. Something we possess if we choose to follow it.

The Church, needs to lead the world, how to embrace #metoo God’s way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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