(I want to make clear from the start that these poor people aren’t wearing the dunce caps by choice, but because the church is attempting to shame them.)
I have many people private message me to ask why I’m so concerned about the Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church fiasco. They say things like, “Who cares?”
I care! Here’s why:
It’s a litmus test on how the church handles abuse.
I keep getting driven to the same conclusion: The church doesn’t understand abuse, abusers, or victims.
When I read Forgiving My Pastor, Mark Driscoll in Christianity Today, a magazine devoted to Christianity and the church, this only confirmed my conclusion.
Of course this doesn’t apply to all churches. But it does to the church generally.
The church’s abuse of its members is not only hurting people, but hurting itself.
We might question the theology of atonement. But we can agree on its core meaning that where there is sin, someone dies. In other words, we can’t get away with injustice even for a seemingly noble cause. We are to be held accountable for our transgressions. This is how justice works. Even if forgiveness is the end result, the brutal path towards it is an honest admission of guilt, true contrition and repentance, and then hopefully reparation and restoration.
We’re not saying someone should die. But we must acknowledge that where there is transgression, someone does indeed suffer.
Right now it looks like the victim pays. Not the perpetrator.
The abuse must die!
The church mistakenly delights in sinning then leaping straight to restoration, bypassing the painful humiliation of accountability and rehabilitation.
If the church would deal with the abuse honestly, not only would it help its victims, but it would help its own credibility and send a message that it promises, intends, and strives to create safe spaces for people to gather.
But at this point, it seems the church is more interested in:
- its continued adoration of strong leaders;
- its perpetuation of its disdain for weakness;
- its confusing the gospel as message rather than practice.