The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. Tod Bolsinger – Canoeing the Mountains.
Examine our Western World and your heart gets heavy – tax laws may change and make the world harder for the poor, old and inflammatory posts are retweeted adding to paranoia to “protect” our land, and every day another male in power and/or prestige is accused of sexual misconduct. It’s painful. And how we react is crucial.
Let’s just take the misconduct for this moment.
A friend of mine posted an important word reminding us all of Martin Luther’s wisdom explaining the commandment You shall not commit adultery: We are to fear and love God, so that we lead pure and descent lives in word and deed. ‘Nough said? Not really. This opens the door for us to model and teach the respect all of God’s people are called to give to all of God’s people. This is our opportunity to advocate for clear equal rights and respect for all sexual orientations and all committed relationships. This gives us the challenge to call people in power to task for abusing their power and privilege. It is a time for people, primarily men, to stop taking advantage – a time to give respect.
But there is another word from Luther’s explanation of the commandments. This time it’s You shall not bear false witness about your neighbor. Luther writes, We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light.
No, I am not advocating for letting people off. No, I do not want people to abuse with no fitting consequences. No, I am certainly not saying we should grant sainthood to a pedophilic person of power. I want the abuse to stop. And it won’t stop without being named and without consequences being applied.
What is hurting my heart these days is reading the words of Christians, primarily pastors, on social media: If there’s a man in power, you can expect sexual misconduct. – I’m not surprised he’s charged, he’s always been sleazy. – I saw that one coming etc, etc, etc.
How self righteous can we be? The Lutherans among us live with a theology of simul iustus et peccator – at the same time justified and sinful. We are careful about blackening a whole person’s reputation and legacy over one dark aspect of their lives because we know our own darkness. And we are called to proclaim the Forgiving One’s love for even the most sinful of people. Our posts are public. Do we not want to proclaim this?
How judgmental can we be? Larger and larger portions of those around us are disgusted with Christians’ high and mighty judgments. So we give them the image of our non-surprise because we had already judged – because we are always judging others? Our posts are public. Do we want to portray ourselves as this?
How non-discriminating can we be? I really want people of power to stop taking advantage of others. I really, really, really want pedophiles to stop abusing. But I cannot say they all have the same amount of punishment due. I don’t want to take away the wrongness of any of it. And I don’t want to imply that the horrific behavior of pedophiles automatically has the same degree of wrongness/consequences as other abuses. Yet, so many Christians/pastors are calling for the same noose for all. Our posts are public. Is this what we want to convey?
Many people of faith are calling for a much improved level of civil discourse in this country. We cannot expect civil discussions in our gatherings over issues when we do not practice civil discourse in our public posts. Our posts are public. They are a part of our public civil discourse.
For the sake of our children, we must put an end to abusing children. For the sake of our children, we must put an end to all sexual abuse. For the sake of our children we must find and model a way to communicate as Jesus-followers.
I was thankful to find this post today:
“We humans contribute to the world’s gloom, like dark shadows on a dark landscape.…But now this man from Nazareth comes to us and invites us to mirror God’s image, and shows us how. He says: you too can become light, as God is light. What is all around you is not hell, but rather a world waiting to be filled with hope and faith. This world is your home as surely as the God who created and wrought it is love. You may not believe it, but you can love this world. It is a place of God. It has a purpose. Its beauty is not a delusion. You can lead a meaningful life in it.” Jorg Zink -Doors to the Feast
Our world is dark, no question about it. Our world needs light. We can and must become light in the world and on our Facebook pages.