Thursday, October 11, 2007

Church Discipline - What's So Fruity About This?

"There is a story in today's local paper of a youth minister that has 14 charges of sexual molestation against 3 teenage girls. The incidents allegedly occurred at a church he previously attended, he changed churches and the new church, knowing of the allegations, allowed him to serve in youth ministry for another 2 or 3 years" (Ken)

"Would forgivenness involve reinstating the criminal back into ministry? I certainly believe so...The primary concern of the church should be forgiving him." (Burning Bush)

"If we want to be true to the gospels - that youth leader that did those things needs to face the law for the things he did (since he did what was not allowed by it - and he owes to it). We can forgive the person - but that doesn't mean said youth pastor gets a free ticket from 'repentance' or 'responsibility'" (SocietyVs)

"Chruch discipline in accord with the NT would demand that he be put out of the church until he repents. I think a major part of repentance is accepting the just consequences of our actions" (Pam)

Ken reittirates an actual story from Canada - Then some of us responded to what he wrote - but what do you think should be done according to the faith you follow? Is there a problem with what happened there - and whose forgiveness is more impoertant in the case of a sexual offense - God's or the victims? Inquiring minds want to know.


Yael said...

In Judaism only the victim can forgive the perpetrator. I cannot forgive someone for something they did to someone else. If I wrong someone else, I must go to them and ask forgiveness. I cannot ask God to forgive me because the offense was not against God. God can only forgive offenses that are from me to God.

This is a tough way to live, but it works. We are required to honestly face up to what we have done and be responsible. We can not try sliding out the side or think we can say a prayer to God and all will be well. That's not how it works in Judaism.

For murder there is no forgiveness, btw. The only one who could forgive is dead.


Anonymous said...

Forgiveness can be given without justification but it can't be received by the one forgiven until they repent. The relationship can't be restored through forgiveness only because relationship requires two not one.

Also, trust is earned and is somewhat like a bank account that builds as it is added to. This 'pastor' depleted his account and also those who are in authority over him. The main concern here should be the safety of children. This young man should not be placed in a position where he has opportunity to harm children ever again. This is a lasting consequence of his sin. We find forgiveness for our sins but the consequences remain in this life. Even for those who choose to serve God as their livelyhood.


Steve said...

The main concern here should be the safety of children. This young man should not be placed in a position where he has opportunity to harm children ever again.

Exactly.... regardless of faith or forgiveness... this man should not be allowed to be responsible for children or young people EVER!

Burning Bush's comments (as you quote them here) are ludicrous in this situation. In relation to sexual molestation I wouldn't ever shame a victim for not forgiving the perpetrator... nor would I counsel a person that it was necessary. If a person moves in that direction over the course of time, that's their choice.

My view on forgiveness is that it is never complete. Thus the 70x7 concept. My understanding (especially in instances where lives are emotionally damaged, innocence lost, etc) is that forgiveness is never fully achieved... it is something that is dealt with the rest of ones life.

As for "the church" forgiving someone... not quite sure what that looks like. To me, it's another one of those cliches. How can an entity declare one person forgiven?

In regards to God's forgiveness...can we ever say definitively how that actually works?? From my viewpoint... only God knows... and I don't think he's telling anyone.

SocietyVs said...

Yael, I actually hold to the same view about forgiveness and responsiblity - but Steve you added that 70X7 idea - which I think was fantastic (never heard it put that way before - and I am going to use that interpretation from now on). Thanks both of you.

"For murder there is no forgiveness, btw. The only one who could forgive is dead." (Yael)

I have thought about this also for sometime - when asked about an 'unforgiveabel sin' (if there is one) - well murder fits the bill the closest (dead person cannot forgive anyone - he/she no longer speaks). I actually feel the same way as you on this one.

"We find forgiveness for our sins but the consequences remain in this life." (Pam)

But I also believe if we wanna dig deeper about repentance - there has to be something this person can do who offended to make 'things right'? I am not sure he should have to hold onto that much guilt forever - unless this is by choice (to not be responsible). I think if a person seeks to deal with consequences like this - that's a long road to overcome and walk down - but he put himself there - he might also be able to help himself off it?

"Thus the 70x7 concept" (Steve)

I really dig your interpretation here and is makes a whole lot of sense - namely when dealing with situations like these - or life in general (sometimes forgiveness takes a very long time). I am going to work with this definition in my explanation of forgiveness - a bulb went off in my head when you wrote that.

As for the church and God's forgiveness - yeah - how do we even truly know any of this is happening? I don't think we can - thus I always go back to personal responsibility on the issue.

My opinion in this case is quite clear - that youth pastor is subject to the law for the crimes he committed and needs to pay for it 'until every last cent of his sentence is fulfilled' (that's justice). He also needs to think of ways to make it right with those families if he can - since he created the pain in their lives and possibly ruined some lives? I am not sure how that would look - all I know is true responsibility requires he not shrug this one off.

Steve said...

Thanks SocietyVS... thanks for these good topics. I only write about forgiveness from the perspective of one who needs to experience both sides of it.

As for the youth pastors responsibility to those he has hurt... no words or actions can make it right. They are simply empty gestures in my opinion. The best way he could "make it right" would be to disappear and stay out of their lives.

Anonymous said...


What that youth pastor did will never be repaired in this lifetime. The children that were hurt are hurt for life. I do pray and hope that they will be able to forgive for in forgiving someone who has perpetrated such a horrible crime against you, there is freedom from allowing that perpetrator to hurt you again and again through the bitterness and fear that can consume a person hurt in this way. That does not mean that they should open themselves up to that person to be hurt again. Someone who was truly repentant would have the harm they have caused held as upmost in their concerns and not the seeking out of having the future they caste away through their harmful actionst restored to them. A repentant person accepts as his just due the consequences of his sin.

I too think that repentance is a process. God heals us through His forgiveness when we repent and apply that forgiveness. We should treat one another in the same way that God treats us by forgiving our brother or sister when they turn in repentance of their actions and ask for forgiveness. However, none of us have the power to erase consequences set in motion by their sinful action. Sin is deadly and once a sinful desire has been acted upon, there is no taking back its deadly force.


Anonymous said...

I agree with almost all of of what you say. See, I'm not all bad.


Anonymous said...


I never thought you were bad, Yael. Our communication just misses somehow. It takes time to really know what another person is saying. In real life, people know each other well before they discuss such heartfelt and deeply held beliefs as we discuss online with strangers! Misunderstanding comes easy. Understanding has to be worked on.:0)


BrotherKen said...

When I said the church forgave the two who had an adulterous affair, the forgiveness was for the disgrace? they brought upon the church. Their confession revealed that they were, 'doing it' in the church at times. Anyway, yes I agree that only the person or organization that was violated can forgive the perpetrator.

"Forgiveness can be given without justification but it can't be received by the one forgiven until they repent." (Pam)

Thank you Pam! I never really understood this! This paints an even better picture of forgiveness for me. I always knew there was something not quite right when I read an article about someone who was compelled to forgive the one who killed their daughter (or whatever) as if they just had to do it no matter what. Yes, this may be desired by both parties, and yes as has been stated above this is a process, but moreover it is only beneficial and proper *after* there is repentance. Thanks again Pam! Thank you all for your insight and comments!

Steve Scott said...

The words "charges" and "allegedly" are used, but assuming the charges are true, I believe this man shouldn't be allowed to minister. In 1 Timothy 3, one of the requirements of a minister is to be beyond reproach. It is clear that this minister is not. He is not qualified to be a minister, so he cannot be allowed to be one. It is also a biblical requirement for all of us (I don't have the verse handy) that a steward be found trustworthy. This minister has not only sinned, but he has proven that he is not trustworthy with his position in the ministry. It may be that he gained access to teenage girls because of his position.

Anonymous said...


God bless you for making me feel appreciated. You don't know how much I needed that this morning.:0)


BrotherKen said...

Pam, thank you. And praise God for His love that works through us :)