The back gate the Church has left open for predators

My german shepherd Lukas has different barks for different things. One of his barks is very aggressive and intimidating. His body lunges, his teeth shows, he barks from his chest. That’s the, “there’s a predator” bark.

At 5 am this morning, Lukas let out an incessant “there’s a predator” bark.

I shot up off the couch and ran toward the back door and there I saw the most horrific sight: A coyote with Mrs. Miyagi in his mouth. I opened the door, commanded Lukas to, “GET HIM!” and the chase was on. My 2-year-old shepherd took off on the heals of that coyote, but the coyote clamped down his mouth on Mrs. Miyagi and ran the quarter-mile length of our alley-way toward the desert, leaving Lukas in his dust.

Mrs. Miyagi was our Frizzle hen.  She was our smallest, most vulnerable chicken, always waddling behind the flock and sleeping in the dog house outside the chicken coop next to the goats. And today a coyote spotted her from our alley and found an opportunity because our back gate was opened. We had failed to secure the back gate. We mind as well have put a signal out in coyote language saying, “Come here! Free chickens for breakfast!”

The traumatic events of this morning made me think about the American church and the vulnerability of the weak among us, and how we leave the back gate open for predators to freely enter.

The Houston Chronicle’s series shone a bright light on the shadows where child predators have found easy prey in the churches associated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) this past week.  I’ve been grieving and reminded once again of the horrors I heard about in my childhood conservative church.  The part of me that wanted to put her head in the sand and pretend everything is O.K. didn’t want to read the Houston Chronicle articles.  But as a staff member and leader in kids ministry at my SBC church I had to expose myself to the horrors that have been hiding in dark places, sneaking in through open gates.

As I sought God’s answer and direction in prayer, I asked, “How should I pray Lord? What’s going on? What do I need to do? What do we, the church in America need to do?” James 3:16 was on my daily reading and it was a clear answer to my prayer.

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. – James 3:16

Pastors and leaders shaming, blaming, ignoring victims of sexual abuse, not reporting sexual abuse, allowing abusers to continue leading and having access to children in the church, grooming, and abusing children… everything I read in the Chronicle’s report is without a doubt “vile practice.” And according to James 3:16, the cause of such evil is jealousy and selfish ambition.

We need to see this. I need to see this. This chronic horror of sexual abuse thriving in churches has the lust we have for power at its root! The fault of so many exposed in the Chronicle’s report is an unwillingness to expose the evil in their midst and let the law-which God has ordained as the sword cutting off the wickedness among us- deal with the predators. And why were they unwilling? Why was the vile practice of sexual abuse covered and ignored? James 3:16 says it’s because of the lust we have for power and position.

It seems to me God is letting the horror of sexual abuse in the church be exposed to highlight the back gate we’ve left wide open: the lust of power and position.

Today I spent the day in prayer with a 73 old neighbor and sister in Christ grieving and praising God for shining light on this darkness and pleading with him to move in the hearts of leaders in the American church to repent- with actions- of their lust of power and position.

Jesus has harsh words for the leaders in his church who would let sin tear down one of his little ones.

May there be a mass of those willing to go to the bottom of the sea with millstones around their necks, and those willing to cut off arms and gauge out eyes and give up their positions of power and influence in exchange for face-to-the-ground repentance.

May the Holy Spirit clean his house and restore the joy of our salvation.

Jesus is the gate of the sheep. And no predator gets past his dead and resurrected body. He will have vengeance.

May we be willing to cut off the jealousy and selfish ambition that has left the back gate open for the vile practice of child predators in our midst.

Lord help us! For your name’s sake!

 

2 thoughts on “The back gate the Church has left open for predators

  1. Sheila,

    Thank you for your words of wisdom here. As a pastor, I am grateful for this post! I have been saddened to see how some church leaders would not want to admit these things like this have happened, sometimes with the reasoning that you would hear their witness for the gospel. The reality is not exposing this evil and failing to confess where we have been mistaken is a bad witness; a church that repents and seeks to care for those who have been hurt and abused is a church that has a powerful witness. I think it hit a spot when you said, “This chronic horror of sexual abuse thriving in churches has the lust we have for power at its root!” I absolutely agree! Once again, thank you for sharing!

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