What would your church do?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Filmproducer, Mar 30, 2007.

  1. Filmproducer

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    I am deeply disturbed by what happened in this church. Something about it just does not sit well with me. As a mother of a 3 year old girl, I don't think I would be able to stay in the church myself. I know we have discussed pedophiles in churches before, but I always thought of it more as "what would your church do if a known sex offender wanted to be a part of your church". So, my question is how would your church handle this horrendous situation? I do agree that the man should be forgiven and that the church should help counsel him. I just don't see how he could be let back into the congregation even if he does have to be escorted, especially if his particularily heinous act is not common knowledge. I can't help but think that he is receiving some special treatment as a former elder and husband of the church's office manager. It is as if the criminal is more important than the victim. Why does the victim and her family have to play second fiddle to person who caused so much damage? What makes one member more important than the other? :tear:



    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,262322,00.html
     
  2. BruceB

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    The church is right to attempt to assist the sinner in realizing the wrong he has done, HOWEVER the greater good in this case is to embrace the young victim and her family (in a case like this where you must choose). When you consider that sex-offenders are never "cured" it is the responsibility of the church and its leadership to ensure the offender can never come into contact with his targeted victim age group ever again - if that means banning him from the church then that is what should be done. My guess is that after the trial he will be away from the church a long time - then a prison ministry can work with him on his soul's condition while he is safely locked away from society (and other possible victims). As a former corrections MP officer I believe one of the proper uses of incarceration is to remove offenders from society for societies good. Bruce
     
  3. Filmproducer

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    That is my feeling as well. It seems so terribly wrong that this family, who are clearly the victims, were drove away from their church home. Yes, the offender would have been driven away from his church home, if the tables were reversed, but because of his own actions. Nobody did anything to damage or harm him, but he certainly and undeniably damaged this family for life. They will never be the same. That poor little girl will never be the same. I guess that is what is bothering me so much. I know if I were to ever face a difficult situation I could always turn to my church family for love and support. I can't imagine losing that sense of security by having the leaders of the church embrace someone like that.
     
    #3 Filmproducer, Mar 30, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2007
  4. Pastor Larry

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    There is probably more to the story than is being told. I doubt these people were "driven away." They probably chose to leave rather than to respond in grace and forgiveness. The call of hte Christian life towards those who have hurt us is a tremendously high call, unintelligible to the world and most believers.

    The church has no choice but to embrace this guy, if he is repentant. To refuse to embrace him and disciple him is to disobey Christ. They might, in some cases, recommend another church. Or they might do what they have done here and have him heavily supervised.

    This family has a great chance to show the love and forgiveness of Christ, and I wonder if they are not missing it. I am not piling on at all. I understand the situation at hand, and grieve for this family. I hope they are able to forgive and reach out in this very difficult situation.

    I think the question we must ask is about the forgiveness and love of Christ, and how we model it in our lives.
     
  5. Filmproducer

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    I agree that he must be forgiven and that the church should assist him with good, godly counseling. However, I don't think he should have been able to come back to church without the rest of the congregation knowing his sin even if he was supervised. Yes, people do deserve privacy, but not at the expense of the rest of the congregation. He is clearly a danger to children.

    As for this faimly, I don't blame them for being upset and leaving. Honestly, if it were your three year old daughter who was molested would you be able to attend church with the man every Sunday and act like nothing happened? That is not to say you couldn't forgive him, only that it would be difficult to worship in this guys presence. I honestly do not think I could worship in the same building as the man who violated my daughter's innocence.
     
  6. Brother Bob

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    Well, my answer might not get much support but for the sake of the body of the church, the young girl and other children there and the mother. I would suggest to the man to find him another church. Why should the others have to suffer that much and destroy the peace of the whole church. It might even be part of his "trying to make things right" for him to go to another church. I don't think I would feel bad at all telling him to please find another church. But thats just me.
     
  7. Pastor Larry

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    I agree that telling teh congregation may be appropriate. If this is an ongoing legal situation, it is probably in the news. Having dealt with a similar situation, we discussed the need of public information, and in our particular situation decided against it. I would not necessarily decide against it in other cases.

    I hope so.

    I think if we understand that worship is about God rather than about those around us, that would go a long ways towards helping us overcome this.

    If the church is constantly being taught about forgiveness and love, I don't think this would destroy the peace of the church. But leaders have to model it to be sure.
     
  8. Timsings

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    This is one of several situations where it is usually better for the person to find another church (e. g., divorce, commission of a crime, etc. The question here is whether you require him to tell the pastor of the new church about his past. You certainly don't want to put him in a position where he might victimize a child in the new church. I think that he should be given an opportunity to talk to the new pastor. If he does not, then the old pastor should call the new one. This is a behavioral problem that challenges the idea of forgiveness.

    Tim Reynolds
     
  9. tinytim

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    I agree with you here Bob... as a matter of fact I had a similar situation arise one time...

    A brother and sister were taken away from their mother because of neglect and abuse, and their father was given custody. (mother and father divorced, father newly married) Under court order, the mother could not be around her children...

    Well, the father and his family along with these children were coming to the church I was pastor of. They started to grow in the Lord. The children that once had a rough reputation began to live a Christ honoring life...

    Well the mother got jealous of her exhusband and the relationship he now had with his children... and she started showing up at church and talking to her kids... They would end up crying and upset.

    I finally had to do something...
    The mother said that she wanted to get right with God and keep coming to our church so she could be with her kids.. I knew that right now this was not the best... so I told her that if she was serious, I would make arrangements for her to go to another church, and when the time was right, the courts would make that decision.. I was not going to go against a court order... I gave her the name of a pastor a few miles away...I even contacted the pastor on her behalf, and arranged a meeting for them.

    Guess what... she never showed up! Surprise, surprise....
    But she did not come back to our church either..

    If the sex offender is seriously sorry, and don't want to cause further harm, they WILL find another church. And the pastor should even go as far as helping him find another church... But don't harm the children.
    And the church he goes to must be aware of his history. Actually, Isn't it against the law for him to be in anyplace were children are?

    If they are truly repentant, they will cooperate.
     
  10. Pastor Larry

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    I agree that the new church pastor must be told, preferably by the person, but if not by the pastor. I was told ahead of time, and it was no big deal.

    But I don't think it challenges hte idea of forgiveness. We have to forgive or we are being disobedient.

    This is different in that it violates a court order.

    Not necessarily. It depends on many things. In a church of 50 people, it would be more likely to find a new church than in a church of 3000, simply because of proximity.

    Depends on the state and the situation.

    I agree.

    These situations have to be handled carefully, biblically, and lovingly for all parties involved. Too many are willing to throw the offender under the bus. That is not a biblical response. Their actions are sinful and they must be dealt with. But we can't just dispose of the people.
     
  11. bapmom

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    I don't think there should be any question in this regard. Not only would I require him to tell the new pastor, if I were the former pastor I would insist on myself being in the meeting with the new, prospective pastor. And if at any time the offender tried to downplay the truth, or put a positive spin on it, I would be there to correct it. The new pastor would have full disclosure of what the man had done, whether it was from the offender's mouth or from my own.
     
  12. TaterTot

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    In our church, the deacons would probably take him out back for some target practice, lol.

    We did have a guy (and family) come for a while in a similar circumstance. He was watched like a hawk.
     
  13. donnA

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    I agree, the girl was victimized twice, once by the church who took and babied her attacker. I would not be a part fo a church who took in and embraced a child molester. The man needs to be in jail.
     
  14. Pastor Larry

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    So, Donna, you believe the church should refuse to obey Christ by refusing to forgive this man and teach him, worship with him, pray with him? Where in the Bible (rather than in your own mind) do you get the idea that there are repentant sinners who should be excluded from the church and not allowed to worship? And where, in the Bible, do you get the idea that restoring a repentant sinner is babying him?
     
  15. Jon-Marc

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    OK, so the child molester finds another church--and another victim at that church. Why wasn't he arrested and imprisoned? I can understand forgiving him if he asked for it, but he should not be allowed to continue being around his victim. He also should not be allowed to be any place where there are children.

    More injustice was done to that family by embracing the pedophile. Their child was violated, and the church people ignored their pain while trying to help the pedophile.
     
  16. Pastor Larry

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    That may come. He should be tried, and imprisoned according to the law of the land. That is a different issue.

    Exactly.

    How so? Do you know the whole story? Embracing a repentant pedophile is not doing injustice to the family. If the church ignored the family, or did not minister to them, I agree. But I don't know that was the case. We have one side of the story here, and we should be careful drawing judgments based on that one side.

    How is justice done if the pedophile is completely rejected and never allowed in church again? How is that justice? How is that biblical?

    The pedophile is a sinner just like everyone else, in need of the gospel and the church. To refuse to minister to him and to forgive him is to refuse to obey Christ. I cannot think of one passage of Scripture that would justify forbidding this man from church. It may be wise for him to attend elsewhere, but how can we forbid it?

    The thing that is being overlooked here is the attitude of the family. I don't konw them, and have no idea about them. But based on what has been said, it appears that there is an unforgiving spirit and a lack of love. I can understand being hurt. I can understand not allowing your child (or any child) alone with this man. I can't understand leaving a church becuase the church forgives a sinner who repents. Again, perhaps there is more to this story than is being said here.

    I would simply be cautious.

    This brings up a bigger issue about what forgiveness is. Have you ever thought about the import of Ephesians 4:32? Let's talk about Scripture rather than people. What does it entail biblically to forgive (this man) as God in Christ forgave you?
     
  17. donnA

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    I don't see anywhere the bible tells us to fellowship with pedophiles and treat the victim like that. There is a 3 year old sex crimes victim to be considered, and that man needs to be in jail, he committed a crime, and needs to be punished. Unless you believe forgiveness means we forget the crime. That church can forgive, but they should not take him back into fellowship causing the child and her family feel they need to leave because her attacker is still there. A pedophile is a pedophile, and he isn't going to stop, and she probably isn't the first, she won't be the last. I would not dream of taking my young children to a church with a known pedophile, especially one who isn't expected to suffer the consequences of his attack on a 3 year old.
     
  18. Magnetic Poles

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    Well said, and AMEN!

    Forgiveness is a mandate. Fellowship is not.
     
  19. Amy.G

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    The first priority of the church should be to protect the victim, not the offender. In a case such as this, a choice has to be made. To expect a victim of molestation to sit in church or anywhere else with her attacker present is ridiculous. There was a reason sex crimes were punished with the death penalty in the OT. It seems some have more compassion for the offender than the victim.

    Pastor Larry, what if this man had been staying in your home and molested one of your children? Would you allow him to continue to live in your home and sit across the table from your child that he sexually violated?

    1 Corinthians

    5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even *named among the Gentiles--that a man has his father's wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord *Jesus.6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed *for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
    9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner--not even to eat with such a person.

    That seems pretty plain to me.
     
  20. Pastor Larry

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    First, where does the Bible allow us to disfellowship any repentant sinner? Second, what do you mean by "treat the victim like that"? What is "that"? How have they treated her? And how do you know this?

    I agree. As I said, there is likely a trial coming up in which this will all be addressed. The man needs to take responsibility for his sins and take the punishment.

    Based on what part of Scripture? Why did the family need to leave?

    How do you know this man isn't expecting to suffer the consequences of his attack? Have you seen him say that somewhere? I am curious as to where you get your information from.

    You say the church has treated this family and girl poorly. Yet you have not stated how, nor how you know this.

    You say this man is not wanting to accept the consequences, yet you haven't stated how you know this.

    So at this point, Donna, it seems that you don't actually know what the issues are or how they have been dealt with. Have you seen anything other than this news story?

    You say, A pedophile is a pedophile, and he isn't going to stop, and she probably isn't the first, she won't be the last. That seems to fly in the face of what the Bible teaches about salvation and sanctification (2 Cor 6:9-10 for instance). I think that many have unwittingly bought into the world's psychology rather than God's truth. A pedophile who repents is no longer a pedophile. He may struggle with the matter, but he is saved, washed, justified, sanctified. What he needs is godly men to influence him.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I have been very involved with a case of child molestation, so I am not coming at this from some theoretical place. I know well the lies that are told on both sides, and the shades of truth that take place. My caution to you is to be careful.

    However, I notice you did not discuss what you think forgiveness means. The Bible says to forgive others as God in Christ forgave us. How does that apply here? What does it look like?

    As I have said before, I think the claims of the Bible for Christians are radical to the degree that no one in their "right mind" would agree. And that is why I think situations like this really reveal what we know and understand about teh love and forgiveness of God.

    MP says, Forgiveness is mandated. Fellowship is not. Yet I don't see this distinction in Scripture and I notice that MP did not offer any support.

    It is hard to have a discussion about what God expects/requires/allows when we don't talk about what God says.

    Here's my position in a nutshell:
    1. The girl should be protected. The family should be helped through pastoral counseling to deal with this situation, both in terms of acceptance and forgiveness.
    2. The man should be reported to the police, a full criminal investigation and trial should be conducted, and he should willingly accept whatever punishment is handed down.
    3. This man should make a full and complete confession to all involved. If the situation is public knowledge, then the confession must be public as well. If he fails to repent and acknowledge his sin, he should be disciplined from the church.
    4. This man should be accompanied by a godly man at any times he is on church grounds or at church functions. He should not be allowed near the children's ministry.
     

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