The Priest, The Pastor, The Man of God are all of those who are ordained to carry out the mission of preaching and teaching the Gospel. We all expect those who stand in these positions to be held accountable. We have been trained to expect more. Is it fair to expect more from our clergy than we do from other men and women, say a Politician? Should men and women of God be held to a higher standard?
In the small community in which I grew up, we were taught to respect our elders, to give preference at the dinner table to the preacher and his family, and to go to church. Going to church is part of my culture. It is what we do. It was the way communities stayed informed and connected. It is the thing that got us through the rest of the week.
Most people identify with church in someway whether negatively or positively, there is still an association when we hear the word “church.” What do you think when you hear the word? For some you remember Sunday School and Momma. Others of you may remember never going at all, but was always told it is the thing you should do, with no real reason as to why. And, sadly for some it is the memory of being molested and fondled by the one others said was a man of God.
As our news rooms are filled with the daily drama unfolding of Sexual Harassment allegations and charges from high profile cases; it seems to have forgotten that these men are not the only ones who have used their power to seduce, manipulate and deceive even the most innocent and vulnerable ones in our society.
All too often, the church will sit back and mentally and verbally “burn at the stake” those who are not within our fold. Yet, there are those who have kept secrets that have brought great harm to far too many for far too long. Shhh…they say, he is the pastor.
Although, there is never any excuse for anyone who is involved in sexual misconduct; when the men and women we trust to lead spiritually are engaged in this evil concourse, I must scream! Given the church is and should be the first responders in crisis; where do people go when the perpetrator is a man of the cloth?
The sad thing about the church is that most “church” people do not think it is a problem. I have visited with members of certain churches where the pastor has openly engaged in sexual misconduct and the members continue to support him. How can that member sit in judgement over what is happening in the news when that member sits with the same type of spirit in their own church week-in and week-out?
Do we really think God looks at it differently? Is sexual misconduct okay for a Pastor but not for the Politician? Studies show most of the harassment cases are against women; however, there are numerous reports against children including boys.
Most women feel a sense of shame and guilt and never come forth. Those who do, are often shunned by other members of the church. Children are told to keep silent or else God will punish them. Others are promised lavish gifts and support and feel the need to carry on for fear of rejection.
If you or someone you know is being approached in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe and betrayed; contact the authorities. You owe it to yourself to protect not only yourself, but every woman, and child in that environment. Think of it this way, when your pastor approaches you, he is also approaching your child, your grandchild or someone else who cannot fight back. If you are not fighting for yourself, (which you should) make sure you fight for them.
With the public eye on so many of these sexual predators; we need not forget there are some who will stand in pulpits this week with smiles on their faces and offering handshakes at the door shouting Holy Scripture, Singing Hallelujah and a “Praise You Jesus,” while at the same time making plans to seduce someone who shouts Amen!