Several years ago, a fifteen year old boy was seduced by a nineteen year old girl, both of whom were members of my church. It did not look like true love to me.
Normally, if we see a young man pursuing a minor, we call that a crime. In this case, the girl was the predator and I think she committed a crime.
I did not handle it well at all. I took too long before trying to intervene and then I botched it badly. First, I didn’t speak at all, and then I spoke too loudly when I should have been soft. I ended up offending both families.
The girl became pregnant, just as she had planned. Her family made some not-so-veiled threats of bodily harm against me. The boy’s father campaigned for the next year to rid the church of me, and he succeeded. The boy and girl were wedded to each other in a short turbulent marriage. And I moved far away.
I’m thinking about this now because my son is the age of that boy. I think of that boy’s father and I understand his anger and I even understand why it was misplaced toward me, but I despise him for his lying, cowardly ways. As a father, I would never have allowed the boy to be taken from my family so easily
As the pastor, I see how I should have handled many things differently. But I was confused, trying to function in a terribly dysfunctional church, where many awful things happened. Evil was covered over, and anyone who spoke up was cursed for causing trouble.
There wasn’t anything I could have done to make that church substantially better. The most I could have accomplished is to have helped them be less sick, and it wouldn’t have been worth the effort.
That church should not have existed. I regret that I put any effort at all in keeping them together, and I’m sorrier still for bringing anyone into that sick family. If I had had the power, I should have disbanded that sorry little group of crazies.
It was years ago now, but it burdens me that I was a part of a group that used God and religion to make people worse rather than better.
In mainline denominations, congregations are closed down when they cannot continue to maintain themselves. But I think a lot of churches ought to be closed down simply because they are mean and hurt people, whether or not they can pay the bills.
Yeah. Shut them down and use the building for taverns or school dorms, or homeless shelters. Or clear the buildings and develop a park with grass and trees and flowers. Make it a place that promotes life, rather than death.