Monday, November 24, 2014

Pastors gone wild

Pastors are supposed to be people Christians can look up to, but what about when they get into a spot of bother?
Q: Our paper ran a story recently about the pastor of one of our local churches who's been forced to resign because he got caught in an extramarital affair. How could this happen? Aren't people like this supposed to be a good example to others? — Mrs. T.B.
Supposed to be? Sure, I guess. Though there are several aspects of pastors that I feel are far from deserving of adoration.  But why does it happen? I think the answer should be obvious, and maybe TB just doesn't like the answer...
A: Yes, anyone who's been entrusted by God with a position of spiritual leadership certainly should be above reproach in character and the way the person lives. Paul urged his young pastor friend Timothy to flee from sin "and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness" (1 Timothy 6:11).
Really? Because I've seen no record of that being the case. You can just look at the Bible... Lot was supposed to be the only good person in town when God wanted to rain down fire on Sodom and Gomorrah. Yet in that story, this supposedly great man offered his daughters up to be gang raped. Several of God's chosen ones also lead the genocidal killing of city after city. Many taught morally reprehensible as well as misogynistic rules. The church led the murderous Crusades and Inquisition. It even favored Hitler in WWII and aided war criminals. You have the likes of the Westboro Baptist Church, priests that rape children and a pope that worked to cover it all up, just to name a few.

So extramarital affairs or tax charges are but small annoyances to what some religious leaders actually have on their heads. So when one says that they should be 'above reproach in character' I can't help but wonder if that person has been paying any attention, or is simply trying to ignore what isn't compatible with his views.
I hope you'll see this event for what it truly is: a great tragedy — for the individual and his family, and for his church. On a broader scale, something like this also hurts the cause of Christ, because it only confirms what some unbelievers claim: The church is full of hypocrites. (It isn't true, of course. Most only use this as an excuse to avoid giving their lives to Christ.)
You see, but it is true... The church is very full of hypocrites. Many preach tenants of religion that they don't even adhere to themselves. They claim we are close-minded and denounce us for it, all the while being quite proud of their admitted close-mindedness. Many complain that others are trying to force another religion, or atheism on them while they are actually the ones trying to force their Christianity on others. There is the fact that the vast majority of Christians that say we should live by the Bible, violate Biblical teaching and law with breathtaking regularity. Every year we hear of people supposedly trying to steal the holiday season from them, when Christianity previously stole the season from the Pagans... I could go on, but when non-believers talk of hypocrites in the church, it's because there really are a ton of hypocrites within the church.
How could this have happened? Only God knows. Perhaps this individual had drifted away from Christ or had failed to guard against sin. But Satan also will do everything he can to bring down a spiritual leader — looking for weaknesses, drawing attention away from Christ, playing on pride and so forth.
Ugh! Blaming the Devil... Really? The real answer is much more simple. And that's that being a Christian (even a Christian leader) doesn't magically make you a better person. The reason pastors still make errors is because they are human. Religion doesn't make them any better than they where beforehand. With or without religion, you will have good people and bad people. Perhaps some pastors hide behind a false veil of morality, but they eventually show their true stripes. So the real problem here isn't the hypocrisy that runs rampant within religion, but the fact that the total transformative power of Christianity is nothing short of a lie.

-Brain Hulk

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