Ministers Guilty of Sexual Sin: Lessons from Penn State Etc.

This is longer than usual but very important.

I’m an elder and I’m a lawyer. I counsel churches about all sorts of things, in both capacities. And sexual sin by a leader — a minister or even an elder — happens all too often.

The following conversation never happened. It’s heavily fictionalized. But some elements are nearly word-for-word from actual conversations but not necessarily conversations I was a part of. This is what could easily happen when a minister is suspected of a sexual sin and an elder calls a lawyer. Pay attention.

The elder calls

“I’m sorry to bother you, but I heard from a friend that you’d be willing to help with the, you know, the situation we have.”

I’m so sorry. Yes, he told me about it and asked if I’d help. Of course, I’ll help. My heart goes out to you. Tell me what happened.

“Well, we really don’t know exactly. But an accusation has been made against our youth minister. And he’s a great guy. He does great work. He’s a deeply, deeply committed Christian. At least I thought he was. The churches kids love him. My kids love him.” (The elder chokes up for moment.)

Take your time.

The background

(Takes a deep breath.) “He went to visit one of the kids at a local middle school, and they wouldn’t let him in the door. It seems that a kid who was visiting him reported to his teacher that the youth minister tried to touch him in, you know, in his privates during a sleepover at his house. The principal now won’t let him in the school door. Next week, his case will be discussed among all the principals in the school system. I think they’re going to ban him system wide!”

Wow. Do your church members know about this? Is it out among the kids at school?

“Not yet, but some of the kids know it. And the word is going to spread.”

Now, I need some more facts. Do you have a child abuse policy? Something formal, in writing?

“Yes, we do. And we have a policy that limits what our ministers can do so they don’t get falsely accused.”

Did he violate the policy?

“Yes, he did. And not for the first time. I wish I could say we enforced the policy more strictly, but ministers — especially youth ministers — just have trouble complying.”

How did he violate the policy?

“He had some kids over to his house for sleepover, but his wife wasn’t there. He was the only adult.”

What about their baby?

“The wife and baby were out of town, visiting her mother.”

Are they having marital problems? Any suspicion of this at all?

“Not that we know about.”

Well, you need to ask the other ministers and his friends. It’ll be important, because this looks really, really bad. In violation of church policy, he had kids over to his house, for a sleepover, the night his wife wasn’t there. Most ministers would insist their wives be there to help and to relate to the girls. Doing this while she’s away is very, very suspicious. He’s going to have a lot of trouble defending this one.

“Well, there weren’t any girls there. And that’s why we have the policy. So ministers don’t do stupid things like this. But I feel so bad that we didn’t enforce the policy more strictly …”

But he knew about the policy?

“Yes.”

And the reason for it?

“Yes.”

What was he told would be the consequence of violating the policy?

“That we’d discipline him, maybe even fire him.”

Good. If he’s not pedophile, he’s an idiot. And insubordinate. He violated policy, advised of the risks, in the worst possible circumstance — and jeopardized his family, his marriage, his job, his church, and his reputation. He’s really an idiot. He deserves to be fired just for that. I’m not saying you have to fire him — yet — but he’s made a colossal mess and I’m not sure you can do much to rescue him.

“I love him. I want to do anything I can for him.”

I understand, but the children he’s around and the church are more important. You can’t risk the survival of the church to protect an employee who’s foolishly made such a serious mistake. You can’t put other people’s children at risk. They come first. He’s the adult. The children can’t be put at risk at all.

(The elder says nothing, taken aback by the sad realization of the tough choices he and his fellow elders are going to have to make.)

Criminal and civil consequences

Has the school notified the district attorney?

“The DA! You’re kidding!! I hadn’t thought about that.”

The law requires that all cases of suspected child abuse be reported. If the school hasn’t reported it yet, they likely will. And you should hope they do.

“Why?”

Because if they don’t, you have to. In fact, now that I think about it, the only safe course is to make the report yourself. You can’t count on the schools to handle it for you.

“But we’ve not made any investigation. It would tear up the church! We just found out.”

You are aware of an allegation of sexual abuse by an employee taking place at a church event. Let me lay out the legal issues. You called a lawyer, and I have to talk some law.

First, if you don’t report the allegation to the proper authorities, the leadership will be guilty of a crime. The DA takes these things very seriously. He’s a good Christian, and he loves children. And if he thinks you aren’t taking this seriously, well, it won’t be pretty.

Second, if there’s even a perception of a cover up, you not only make criminal prosecution more likely, you make the risk of a lawsuit much more serious. Around here, most jurors go to church and won’t be too hard on a church — unless there’s a cover up. Then they’ll treat you like the juries treated the Catholic Church. You’d may as well sell your church properties and hand the money over now. A cover up guarantees a very public suit and severe damages. The jury will want you put permanently out of business.

And you cannot keep this a secret. The kid who thinks he’s been molested knows. He parents surely know. The school authorities know. I bet his friends know. It’s probably on Facebook! It’s going to get out and so there’s no use pretending otherwise.

Third, as an unpaid volunteer you have personal immunity so long as you act in good faith. But violating a criminal law written to protect children may well be deemed a lack of good faith. A cover up will likely remove any claim of good faith — which basically is a requirement to act honestly. In the eyes of the law — and the church — cover ups aren’t honest.

And so you can turn this from a mess to a colossal mess that destroys your church and gets you personally sued for millions by failing to report him to the authorities. It’s not a close call. You have to report him. It’s the law, and it doesn’t matter whether you think he’s innocent.

Damage control

(Plainly taken aback) “You’re kidding? We can’t do damage control of any sort?”

Yes, you can and should do damage control. But the law tells us that the first step is to protect the children, and you first control damage to them by reporting him to the authorities.

And you have to suspend him from serving as a youth minister. He may not be guilty. This may all be a horrible, horrible misunderstanding, but your first duty is to the children, not your minister, and until there’s an investigation and he’s absolved, he can’t be around kids.

Remember: I’m not saying accuse him of anything. I’m just saying you have to act as though it might be true. You don’t punish him. And the DA might not take any action if you handle this well. But your goal is, first, to protect the children and, second, to investigate.

“Do we pay him or suspend him without pay? His family can’t afford to go even a month without a paycheck. You know how it is with a wife and baby!”

You can probably put him on “administrative leave” until you decide whether to fire him, but if his guilt is clear, you risk being seen as soft on child abuse if you pay him.

“I’m not going to let his family starve just because of an allegation! We can suspend him, but he’s on the payroll until the truth is known!”

I have to say, I agree. I’d handle it the same way personally. But your fellow elders need to know that a plaintiff’s lawyer may use that fact against you to make you look like you aren’t really as angry about his conduct as you should be.

“We’ll take that chance!”

Speed

Then you can see how important it is that we act very, very fast. Letting this linger only makes the case worse. This is now the only thing on the agenda for the elders. Don’t delay dealing with this to worry with curriculum and broken air conditioners. Delegate all that to someone else. This is first on every agenda until done. And some of you may need to cancel vacation — anyone needed to make a hard decision. This is about the survival of your church.

“Got it.”

The media

Okay, let’s talk about dealing with the congregation. Once the word gets out — which could be today — everyone will know. We live in the age of Facebook and mass text messaging. Word will spread in hours, not days.

You need to meet with the youth minister and put him on suspension. And then you need to meet with the teen parents and let them know. You can’t hide it, and so it’s best to get in front of the situation. Don’t let the media and the authorities push you. Get out in front!

“The media!” (The elder lets a curse word slip.) “Sorry about that. How does the media get involved?”

The DA will probably not involve the media until he’s done an investigation — which may never happen. The school probably won’t call the media, because it doesn’t look good for them that your youth minister was hanging around for months before all this. It hurts them and doesn’t help them to call.

But the boy’s parents might call — especially if they think you don’t care. They’ll raise whatever Cain is necessary to get your attention. They’ll be angry, and they may redirect that anger into a crusade against your youth minister and church — if you don’t get out in front of it. They might do nothing. But we should plan for the worst and pray for the best.

You need to decide who at church will handle calls from the media. And whoever it is needs to be prepared to express deep concern for the child and his family — right off the bat, first thing — and no self-pity. No “woe is me.” No persecution syndrome. The church should care first about the alleged victim.

Then you don’t defend the youth minister. You say you’re conducting an investigation and will report to the family and media only after the investigation is complete. That’s fair and reasonable. You need to appear to be fair (because you really are) and that the public and parents can rely on you to do whatever is necessary to protect the children. The last perception you want to create is that you’re more worried about the minister or the church than the victim. And you must make no implication at all that the victim might be lying. Your place, as a church especially, is to show compassion for all involved, and to fairly and quickly investigate.

You can, of course, express your concern for the minister and his family. Don’t treat them as criminals, but make it clear that his guilt or innocence is an open question in your minds. And really be fair and open-minded.

Some people in church — some of the elders even — may resent the child for making the accusation. The elders and staff have to keep their mouths shut. They may one day be called as witnesses, and sending a text, an email, or a Facebook post speaking ill of the victim could destroy the church. They need to say nothing at all other than to their spouses — who also need to be quiet.

You can’t control the whole church, but the ministers and other elders have to toe the line. They cannot campaign for the minister. They just need to participate fully and whole-heartedly in the investigation with open minds.

You should say that the youth minister has been put on leave and will not be around children while this is pending. But say that you’re still investigating and your primary concern is to discover the truth quickly.

You want the family and their friends and all who are watching to be convinced that their children can be safe at your church because you have a passion for children and their safety.

Don’t disclose any new facts just yet. Don’t speculate. Tell the reporter that you’ll let him or her know as soon as the investigation is finished. And do that. Cooperate with the media. If they smell cover up, they’ll do their own investigation.

They may try to interview the preacher and other elders. Tell them to say nothing and to refer all calls to the church spokesman. Tell the reporter that you’re going to do this so the staff will feel free to be involved with the investigation without worrying about press interviews.

The congregation

You need to have an immediate “family meeting” with the congregation — at least the teen parents. Use your best judgment as to who else needs to be there. Frankly tell them what happened. Tell them the minister has been suspended pending the investigation to protect the children and to protect him from any accusation that he’s interfering with the investigation. Make sure they know he acted against policy — because you may wind up firing him for exactly that. That fact needs to be known to the church immediately.

Tell the parents not to let their children go to his house. It would not look good for him to be around the kids. Tell them to keep an open mind. Tell them to pray. Adults are welcome to visit and talk to him. But he can have no contact with minors at all. If he does, it’ll look bad for him. He’ll look insubordinate (because he will be) and like he’s trying to influence the investigation. It’ll be really hard for him to stay away from the children, but he has to.

This needs to happen before anything hits the media — even if you have to have the parents in on a weeknight. This is about survival.

Insurance

Put your insurance carrier on notice. Immediately. I mean, within five minutes after we finish this call. They may choose to hire a lawyer for you, and if they do, take his advice. If you don’t cooperate with the carrier, you can void your coverage.

The investigation

Appoint someone — maybe a very small committee — to impartially investigate. Some churches hire lawyers to do this, but you all are a big enough church that you can find some members of unimpeachable integrity and good sense to do this with some guidance. They should have no connection with the youth minister or the alleged victim. Some of the elders might participate if they can be truly objective and fair. But the elders might prefer not to — so they don’t have to take all the heat for an unpopular decision.

“Any decision we make will be unpopular!”

Exactly. There’s no safe course here. You just have to do the right thing.

Make sure the youth minister does not talk to any of the children. Meet with him and his wife. You see, his best hope is that some children from church will step up and say they saw the event and he did nothing wrong.

That’s why it’s so important that he not be in contact with the children. Seriously. If he talks to any of those kids, their testimony will be useless. Just the fact that he talks to them will look like he tried to prejudice their testimony. If that happens, he could go to jail.

And he needs to know that, because his instinct will be to try to salvage all this by getting the kids to speak on his behalf. He’d may as well hang a noose around his neck.

And that’s why you need to get this done very quickly — 72 hours if possible.

Talk to the victim and his family. Compassionately. Take notes. Express genuine concern. Pray for them. Get the whole story down. If they have a lawyer, he’ll be there. If he refuses to let them talk, he’ll hurt his case, and so they’ll talk.

You may even want to record the meeting. If you do, let them know.

“The law doesn’t require that, does it? I mean, you don’t have to tell people you’re recording them …”

Right, but we’re doing this the right way at every step. No deception. Nothing hidden.

If the family asks questions about the church’s intentions, tell them the truth. You’re investigating and seeking the truth. You’ll do whatever is necessary to protect children.

Then interview the youth minister — alone. Not with his wife. If he has a lawyer, fine, and if he refuses to be interviewed or appears to be less than completely open, fire him on the spot. Cooperating may not save his job, but if he doesn’t love the church enough to cooperate fully, you have no business keeping him on staff.

Keeping silent may be his best choice — because he may be prosecuted for a serious crime. But you should fire him if he doesn’t cooperate, because every member of the church and every member of the public will consider his refusal to cooperate as a sign of guilt — and you can’t defend him against that. The government can’t use his refusal to testify against him, but you can. If he hires a lawyer and refuses to talk, the church will assume he’s guilty, and then they’ll refuse to let him minister to their kids. They’ll leave.

Then interview the staff members, the wife, and any kids who might have been witnesses. Take good notes.

Then make a quick and fair decision that you can defend to your church and to the public.

Conclusion

“I feel like I’m in hell. I mean, this is horrible. I see no good outcome at all!”

You’re only going through hell because your youth minister did an incredibly stupid, self-destructive thing — even if he didn’t molest that child. This is not an unfortunate accident. Trust me. I’ve been through some horrible natural disasters. They aren’t nearly this bad, not in terms of how they injure a church.

Put the blame where it belongs. The youth minister has created this mess by putting himself in a position where he can’t defend himself.

(The elder is overcome with emotion and can’t talk for a moment.) “I can’t thank you enough for your advice. We’re going to do it. And I’m going to hate every second of it. The way I see it, we’re almost certainly going to have to fire this young man, and we’ll never, ever know 100% whether he’s really guilty. He may lose his wife and baby over this. And the members will take a long time to forgive us. God help us all!”

NOTICE: I’m not your lawyer. You’re not my client. This is not legal advice on which you can rely. The advice a lawyer gives will depend heavily on the state (laws vary a lot) and the facts.

This is just an example to make a point: Ministers who violate sexual abuse policies are idiots and self-important jerks. They guaranty hell for their families and elders, and they risk destruction of their families and careers.

This is the sort of stupidity that can lead to a divorce and to loss of rights to visit your own children except with supervision. Imagine having to suffer that!

Imagine being put on a sex offender list. There are towns you couldn’t even live in because many states ban convicted offenders from living within so many feet of a school, and in some towns, the houses are all too close to the schools.

Most employers will do background checks. Most states have public databases where someone can type in a zip code and discover the registered offenders in that area — by name and address.

And you might be completely innocent — just really, really stupid. Don’t spend the night with a child not your own — in the same room — under any circumstance at all. Don’t spend the night with children, even in separate rooms, without another adult present. Don’t share beds.

You’re the adult. Children have sleepovers, not adults. Ever. You are there to supervise and provide a mature influence. Not to sleep with children. Ever. Not for any reason.

Your innocence is almost irrelevant, because there will be no witnesses to testify to your innocence. But your stupidity will be plain to all. In a close case, you lose. So does your church.

You could destroy a church. You could go to jail.

Read and honor the policies. Make no exceptions. Don’t put your elders through this.

Remember Joe Paterno. He’ll live the rest of his life in shame even though he broke no law. He just didn’t care enough about the victims to do things right. He tried to hide the truth, and the result is at least 40 victims and a ruined life and reputation.

Don’t become the next Michael Jackson or Jerry Sandusky. Do not ever put yourself in the position where the only witness to your good behavior is an 12-year old child.

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26 Responses to Ministers Guilty of Sexual Sin: Lessons from Penn State Etc.

  1. Jerry says:

    Jay,
    You need to submit this to the Gospel Advocate and other brotherhood outlets. This needs wide circulation. ASAP.
    Jerry

  2. Todd Collier says:

    Want a real nightmare- youth ministers and staff are easy pickings. Make the suspect an elder. Wagons will circle, The Congregation will split. And the staff will still get fired -in my case for reminding the other elders of the advice they had received from the lawyers and continuing to tell folks with concerns to go and talk to the elders about their concerns. I was labelled as an agitator and divisive, praise God there were elders elsewhere who knew me and I was only “unemployed” for two weeks.

  3. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Todd,

    I’m aware of cases of elders guilty the same as staff. I know of a particular case of an elder pedophile. And, yes, it can destroy a church. In fact, it can be worse because a staff member can be fired whereas an elder must resign. And an elder accused of such a crime may well refuse for fear of having tacitly admitted to the horror.

  4. Todd Collier says:

    Yep, this guy just couldn’t see that his actions were wrong. And the elders that remained after the eldership imploded seemed to agree with him. (To be fair this incident involved a physical assault on a child, not a sexual one.) Sadly for them, but I guess good for the name of the Church in the area, the family of the child was so disfunctional they have yet to act on things. But with a child you are “out there” liability wise for quite a long time.

  5. Charles McLean says:

    Todd’s experience points out one of my concerns about this idea that a group of elders can shepherd each other, and need not “submit” to anyone. We hope that an eldership will develop as a close fellowship of mature leaders, but that same strong personal connection can make for a huge problem when sin erupts. I have seen this in a situation where the congregation had two elders and one sinned with the other’s wife. The only thing that saved that congregation was reaching out to the leadership of another established group in the community. These external connections are very important.

    Jay, as a child protective services worker, I appreciate the legal realities you surface in this article, and the solid wisdom I see here. The only issue I have is the “problem” itself. The problem presented is “How do we protect our organization?” Protecting the child is only presented within this context. If the elders are indeed shepherds, is their first responsibility to the sheepshed or to the sheep? In this dramatization, I hear in your elder’s concerned voice the desire to protect his charges in the following order: 1) the organization; 2) the youth minister and his family; 3) the people in the organization; and 4) the child.

    Personally, I think that order is exactly reversed.

  6. rich constant says:

    boy oh boy
    this should bring new meaning,to our system,of law!
    and justice.
    not protect and serve.
    but arrest and fine.
    adversarial justice.
    it seems there is no level playing field with a DA that has almost an unlimited amount of tools at his disposal to increase his conviction rate to further. his upwardly mobile career aspirations.
    although when push comes to shove.and equal amounts
    of funds available,for a stellar defense team.
    jee whiz
    Florida election returns…
    and
    O.J Simpson.

  7. aBasnar says:

    Well, how about the three steps of church discipline according to Mat 18:15-20? Is there any sin that is too heavy to “delicate” for this? Confront the sinner, let him repent!

    Christians should not need lawyers and worldly courts to settle this (according to 1Co 6:1-11) – This is radical, I know. But a loving community should help to reconsile the sinnera nd the victim(s) without calling for the “sword of the world”.

    Only three steps: Conbfrontation, withesses, the congregation – each one offering grace for repentance.

    Alexander

  8. Todd Collier says:

    Paul is telling us not to sue each other (and I believe not to sue others – take the hit instead). I don’t believe he is telling us not to defend ourselves in a suit with an outsider or to keep from doing all we can to lessen the damage. We are trying to reach people who don’t know Jesus and who live in a highly litigeous society where churches are high dollar targets for various kinds of suits. We also live in a society that places a high value on the “well being” of a child and in protecting that child from abuse by an adult. Most, if not all, of our states have some requirement that the witness to or receiver of a report of abuse of any kind must report that abuse to competent authority. Matt.18 is exactly how we should address the issue “in house” but we must also “render unto Caesar” especially since there is no arguing that this law is pursuing an ungodly aim which would justify resisting it. Your solution works for how we handle things within the Body, but ignores that in most of these cases – whether the abuse actually happened or not- the victim may not be a member and the parents may have totally worldly ideas of how to proceed.

  9. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Alexander,

    I disagree with the notion that Matt 18:15-20 was intended to deal with a case such as pedophilia. Imagine that a church were to strictly follow that command. What happens when the minister repents? Does he keep his job? Can he still spend evenings with children?

    What if the child is not a member but a visitor? (the example doesn’t specify either way). Must a visitor confront the minister with the only recourse being that the minister be disfellowshipped? What would keep an actual pedophile from joining a church in another city or becoming a volunteer at the Boys Club to continue preying on children? Is disfellowshipping an adequate solution for pedophilia?

    What about the law requiring that he be reported to the civil authorities? Does the church ignore it?

    The Catholic Church approached their problem with pedophilia as solely a sin issue, to be dealt with by repentance, only to discover that the priests who repented continued to prey on children. That’s not to say they didn’t regret their sins, only that their regret was not enough to get them to change — which is very, very typical of pedophilia. We all struggle to actually stop sinning even though we repent. We repent of our uncontrolled anger, and yet lose our tempers again. Repentance does not make the sin go away immediately. Indeed, most of us are still guilty of committing sins we repented of decades ago.

    This isn’t to say that the repentance is unreal, but that some sins are very hard to defeat. And pedophilia may be the hardest.

    As a result, the Catholic Church was sued for and paid billions in damages — and much more importantly, brought tremendous shame to the church and greatly harmed its abilty to be salt and light. We have missionaries in Europe who struggle to preach Jesus because the public is so outraged at the approach the “church” took to child abuse by the clergy. And yet they would say they followed Matt 18 to the letter.

    This is not at all to dismiss the importance and continuing truth found in Matthew 18, only to put Jesus’ instructions in their right place. Matt 18 is about dealing with a sin that would merit someone being disfellowshipped from the church, where the solution is repentance. But sometimes sin requires more than repentance. Sometimes sin ought to cost you your job, even if you repent. Sometimes you should go to jail, even if you repent. Sometimes you need therapy and treatment, even if you repent.

    An elder who is guilty of pedophilia, for example, certainly needs to repent — but he also needs to resign as an elder and be kept away from children. If he truly repents, then he should want to be as far from temptation as possible. He might even be forgiven by those he sins against and by his church, but he should still be kept as far from children as possible — because if he is truly penitent, he’ll recognize that it’s about more than forgiveness. His sin reveals a weakness of character that makes some things tempting to him that don’t tempt others.

    Just so, a minister’s sin may well be forgiven and relationships restored and yet his sin may reveal that he’s not qualified for the job. A minister who steals may repent and be forgiven and yet reveal a flawed character that requires him to be removed from a position of trust and responsibility. The church may still need to fire him — despite forgiving him.

    If my son were to wreck the car and then ask for my forgiveness, I’d readily forgive him. I wouldn’t let him drive with other children in the car until he proved that he could drive safely. Even though he’d be completely forgiven, I’d be nuts to think his repentance suddenly gave him the reflexes, experience, and discipline necessary to be a safe driver. Despite his genuine repentance, he’d still be a dangerous driver — not to be trusted with the care of children until proven otherwise.

    And I’d report the wreck to the authorities as required by law — even though he’d have repented and been forgiven.

  10. aBasnar says:

    Speaking of a youth minister made me think of an “in house”-issue. that’s the context of my sugestions.

    Alexander

  11. Alabama John says:

    Following the Biblical example for those men that were to be close to our women and children they were castrated and became Eunuchs.

    One was from Ethiopia that we all know well.

    In animals castration stops all sexual activity and even the desire to be sexual. It did the same with men in the Bible.

    Maybe the answer is like so many other problems that plague us, we simply need to get more biblical, scriptural, and back to the ancient order of things..

  12. Larry Cheek says:

    I am sometimes so amazed how one can read an article and get one message and another read the same article and come to an opposite conclusion. When I read Jay’s article I was of the understanding that the very most important issue was the protection of the children and by doing that all of the other issues could be protected.
    1. Children, removal or control of the possible threat.

    As I contemplate further isn’t that the same proceedure that would be necessary if it was a fight, a brawl, etc:? Then other possible damage can be delt with.

  13. aBasnar says:

    @ Alabama John

    I suspect you of being sarcastic – maybe I’m wrong.

    @ Jay

    Let’s change the crime: Suppose someone has stolen money from a brother in church. What shall be done? “Shall our focus be: Protect our money?” Or shall our focus be: Lead the thief to repentance and work towards reconciliation? (Which would save our money again)?

    If it’s just in “in house” affair the church does not need any “out door” executives to deal with suich an issue, because this is to be done in the way of grace and notthe sword. If he stole from people outside this is a little different. First he had to confess to his victim “It was me” and to returnm what he has stolen. If it’s more than he can pay, the church should help him in this. Yes, I mean it. Maybe this also can be loved without judge and jury – if the victim insists on calingthe ploice, so be it. Let the government do what the government needs to do.

    Now, can such a thief remain in his office as and e.g. elder? If it was just an “in house” affair, and he truly repented, he may keep his office – after all: Forgiveness is forgiveness. If it involved outsiders, it is destroyed the reputation among those outside the faith.

    As for child abuse: This is a topic, that is highly emotional and weightier than theft. It is about trust, and it is much more about the personality of the one committing the crime. This does not minimize grace and forgiveness as the way, but we cannot keep such a person in office as a youth minister until it became evident that he is healed from his sexual disorientation. He’d need more counselling. As will need the victims.

    And also have to distinguish whether it was an “in house” sin only or whether outsiders were involved.

    Nonetheless there is no other scriptural way to deal with (any) sin than Mat 18:15-20.

    Alexander

  14. Alabama John says:

    Alexander,

    Castration is the only, other than death and that is the only other good option I see for those that commit sexual crimes against children. Third is prison, but, that is paradise for many of them.

    There is no cure. Counselling does nothing but cause those that believe it helps to allow their children or those of others to be hurt again.

    THERE IS NO CURE!!!

  15. aBasnar says:

    “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away …”, there is no “cure” to sin. But why don’t we do this then? Because there is another way to put the desires of the flesh to death: By the Spirit of God. Your words seem to deny the power of God to free us from ALL sin, to break the law of sin in our lives.

    Alexander

    P.S. by this I don’t mean castration is no option – but I believe that God can transform us by His spirit rather than by a surgeon’s knife.

  16. laymond says:

    aBasnar, on November 27th, 2011 at 1:36 am Said:

    @ Alabama John

    I suspect you of being sarcastic – maybe I’m wrong.

    Alex, do you think Jesus was being sarcastic?

    Mat 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

    I know we are taught that the law given Moses no longer is in effect, but that is not what Jesus said, and if we pay attention to US law, we are still under the law of Moses. “an eye for an eye” you pay for your mis-deeds, and that is the way it should be. Reminds me of what Everet told Delmar, “Oh brother where art thou” God forgives you, The state of Mississippi don’t.

    Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
    Mat 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

  17. Doug says:

    Supose you were on the board of a religious organization (not a Church) and an lead employee of that organization was guilty of financial misconduct. Now this employee was a charismatic and well like individual and many of the supporters of this organization thought that the sun rose around this person. In fact, you had believed that he was a really good guy too. You confront the employee and present the evidence of his misconduct and he admits his guilt and he asks for forgiveness. The board decides to remove him from his position and relocate him to a position where it would be impossible for him to engage in the same kind of misconduct again. You think that you’ve done pretty well but then a month later you and the rest of the board are served with legal papers that inform you that a class action law suit has been filed on you. It seems the formerly repentant employee has gotten with his supporters and they have decided that the board was wrong to remove the employee from his lead postion and they want him to be re-instated. Now you are faced with having to defend yourself in a law suit… what do you do?

    I was placed into this situation a number of years ago. And yes, the matter was ultinately resolved in the civil court system and the religious organization was destroyed as a result. Once the lawsuit was brought, it was all over and in the end there were no winners other than Satan. But, churches and other religious organizations need to be aware of what something like this can do to them and prepare for it. Maybe with proper planning they can save some of their organization. But, they ought to not kid themselves, some people will never give up their belief in the person who started the whole mess in the begining and the organization is going to be damaged as a result. I don’t think that there is a way to escape some level of damage.

  18. Alabama John says:

    Alexandr,

    God does answer prayer and when a child molester is sent to prison, what you prayed for is usually answered.

    There is a cure to sin, all of us have sinned, but not child predators.

    You may get them to repent accept Christ and really want to do right, but in them is something we cannot understand, they are mentally sick and will never be put in a position of trust with children.

    They cannot be cured,.

    They are also good at playing a mental game with folks like you, so be careful, you are very vulnerable..

  19. Todd Collier says:

    Guys, We really can’t compare other crimes that might happen in a church or religious organization to pedophilia for the simple reason that in the US right now only an accusation of an assault on a child requires an automatic call to competent authority on pain of criminal consequences to the recipient of the report or the witness. Keeping silent on financial sin may be unethical and evan a sin in itself, but I don’t think you will be prosecuted for it unless you actually were an accessory to the crime. Even knowledge of a murder of an adult doesn’t make you responsible for failing to report it. Our current legal system really does make this a completely different animal with unique issues that follow in its train.

  20. Charles McLean says:

    I think Jay makes a wise diffentiation between forgiveness and trust. Ask anyone who has suffered from a spouse’s marital infidelity. While forgiveness is unconditional, trust is not. “Yes, I forgive you, but no, you may not travel on business with your secretary again. Not if you want to stay married, that is.”

    The evidence out there at this point indicates that a pedophile is the exception to the general rule; he does not, and apparently CANNOT “rehabilitate”. I do not know what is behind that reality: I would speculate that this may be an unclean spirit which does not depart simply because its host is punished or shamed. Such is a matter of spiritual discernment, so I am not offering a general diagnosis here. But if a spiritual leadership is able to cast out a demon of this sort, I might be open to a path to restoring trust in that person.

    Failing that, no natural method has been found to “cure” the pedophile, and while you love him, you do not let him near children any more than you leave a loaded handgun in a playroom of four-year-olds.

  21. aBasnar says:

    Now, what about grace? Doesn’t work in this situation? has no power to change and heal (“cannot be cured”?)? I am surprized …

    I simply can’t follow your rationale. I believe i a God who transforemd Saulus into Paulus. Paul BTW said something remarkable which is straight against some statements above:

    1Co 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
    1Co 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    My German Bible has for “abusers ofthemselves with mankind” somone abusing boys (a blend of a homsexual and a pedophile). The Greek is arsenokoite?s from koite? (to sleep with someone) and arse?n (male). Being a pedophile was somewhat respected in the Greek society, being homosexual as well. If there were no cure for this, how could Paul say:

    1Co 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

    Tell me: Do you believe that Christ can heal such persons? Or do you say He can’t?

    Alexander

  22. Doug says:

    The point of my little story was to illustrate that once civil or criminal law gets involved with a religious organization, there will be a price extracted. That price may be so high that it ends the organization or church. It is therfore very prudent to keep tight reins on your organization or church and to be vigilant in your administration of the same. Once the courts get involved there will be no winners. The rules and boundaries need to be well thought out and established and everyone needs to make sure that they are being followed. We tend to be too trusting in our brothers and sisters many times and this can be fatal.

  23. Charles McLean says:

    I think I pointed out one possibility regarding a divine “cure”, Alexander. I would not suggest that the pedophile is beyond the grace of God; but it is important to understand what is happening. As I have noted elsewhere, one cannot cast out a traumatic childhood, nor counsel away a serotonin uptake imbalance. And demons don’t respond to either kindness or lithium.

    I was not being flip about this. I was deadly serious about demons. But Jesus did not tell the Gadarene demoniac to repent of his bizarre actions, nor did Paul tell the fortune-telling slave girl to believe. It is God’s grace to deliver those who are thus oppressed, just as it is his grace to forgive our sins. Just what grace is needed sometimes calls for discernment.

  24. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Doug wrote,

    But, they ought to not kid themselves, some people will never give up their belief in the person who started the whole mess in the begining and the organization is going to be damaged as a result.

    Amen. Idolatry is still among us.

  25. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Todd,

    Thanks for making the point. Child abuse (sexual and otherwise) is a special breed of crime because of the duty to report a suspected violation imposed by most states. If a minister steals or commits adultery with an adult, horrible results follow, but they aren’t as bad as child abuse.

  26. Alabama John says:

    I realize the shock factor when I advocate castration.

    To be scriptural, rather than hurt a child, I like Paul would have them castrate themselves Gal 5:12.

    I’m not as far off as some think.

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