When politics and religion are intermingled, a people is suffused with a sense of invulnerability, and gathering speed in their forward charge, they fail to see the cliff ahead of them. –Frank Herbert
On Wednesday, Lord willing and no further encounters with out of control motorized grocery carts, I plan to post a story about a pastor who groomed and molested a student and went to prison. He is once again serving as a pastor and I had a chance to speak with him. As you know, I am opposed to pastors who have affairs or molest others returning to the pastorate. I am telling this story because an incredibly brave woman who has experienced much pain through the years. I am also going to be pointing out two pastors who have been this woman’s greatest advocates!
I had a disturbing weekend on Twitter and I want to speak to a few issues. It all started with this tweet. However, the timing of this message was the day before Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed.
When I wrote this tweet, I was thinking about the last two years and how friends and families have been torn apart. It has happened with the Deebs as well as friends of ours.
Why we won’t discuss politics on this blog.
The tweet was then interpreted by some as a political expression of support for the White House and for Judge Kavanaugh. It wasn’t. I have my opinions on those subjects but I am not going to discuss them on the blog. Most of my critics had Twitter accounts that I had never seen on my Twitter timeline before.
I was called a hypocrite by one person because I won’t discuss Kavanaugh’s rape history. (Their terminology, not mine.) Others claimed that I must make a stand against Donald Trump and his sexual abuse. If I don’t do this, my entire 9 1/2 years work on the church and abuse is illegitimate.
Years ago, I attended a political meeting which was called to support candidates from a political party. I have been both a Democrat and a Republican so don’t assume on this one. At this meeting, some Christians were bad mouthing the non-Christians at the meeting because *those people* didn’t see things the way that Christians did. I announced that “this was not another Bible study and this gathering involves people from a broad spectrum of beliefs and practices who want to help.”
In the moment, I resolved to make my life about caring for the lost and let down and to step away from politics. I still care about the issues and I do vote my conscience. But one thing was for sure. I was not going to allow politics to come between others and me.
Politics has been a place of acrimony and ugliness in the last 2 years. I wish, really, really wish, that I could speak to issues in the political world that involve abuse. I can’t. Everything one says is judged by the political plumb line. If I say something that involves someone from one side, I become the punching bag by those on the other side. If the sexual abuse involves a politicized candidate, it has become near impossible to have a thoughtful discussion. Here is one tweet I received. I have removed her name because, at one time, I thought we were friendly. However, friendliness today is contingent on me taking a side.
Do we post every abuse story that we receive and are all sex abuse claims true?
Quite simply, no. This answer is not pointing to anything political. We have been doing this blog for 9 1/2 years and learning as we go. We evaluate the stories that we receive based on our experience. If we decide not to go with a story, we are not making a judgement on whether or not the story is true. We simply do not feel comfortable. We know that only 4-7% (more or less) of sex abuse claims are not true and that is why we believe most stories.
For example, in 2010, we received an email claiming that Paul Pressler had a history of abuse. The email was from anonymous sources who wanted us to write about it. They refused to come forward with their names or provide any documentation. I was unable to find any information online at that time so we didn’t write the story. That situation changed this year with the filing of lawsuits against Pressler.
In another situation, there seemed to be quite a bit of information but there was a problem with the individual who told us the story. We felt distinctly uncomfortable but we couldn’t put our finger on it. We decided not post and within 2 months, we received information that strongly indicated that the charges we’re fictitious.
The mixed motives in politics
In those 4-7% of sex abuse claims that are proven not to be true, there are usually hidden motives involved. That motive can be a mother wanting custody of her children at all costs. The reason can be for someone who wishes to harm a boss who fired them.
Sadly, politics also provide the forum for mixed motives. (If people claim that I am making a statement here about the Kavanaugh situation, they are wrong.) I grew up in a home which revered the Kennedys. My father had a small shrine to Jack and Bobby Kennedy in his office. Yet, when Teddy drove Mary Jo Kopechne off a bridge in Chappaquiddick, no one blinked an eye in the political circles in Massachusetts. Seriously?
Politics provides an avenue for mixed motives and that has concerned me for decades. That is the reason why we decided not to discuss situations related to politics on this blog. If someone feels like it should be the focus of a blog, she should start her own.
Therefore, we will delete any comments that attempt to prove, one way or another, why so and so should be believed.
Jesus was not a politician.
I was stunned that this was such a controversial statement. One person tweeted:
Jesus is my f****** political role model
Other comments said I hadn’t read my Bible and that the life of Jesus involved specific political activity.
Here’s the problem. Jesus does care about the lost, poor, and broken. However, He disappointed his disciples because they would soon discover that He did not come to give the Jews political victory over the oppressive Romans. Let’s consider some verses and thoughts.
- What was the main reason for His coming? John 3:16 tells us “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It does not say “For God so loved the world that He came to overthrow the despicable Roman government.” Why didn’t He do that? He certainly had the capability of doing so.
- Jesus chose to be born in a cave, not in an influential Roman home. Jesus could have been born anywhere He darn well chose. Why did He choose to be born into a poor Jewish home when he could have been an influencer in the *right* home?
- He seemed to support paying taxes to the Roman government. Jesus encouraged the paying of taxes to the Roman government (Render unto Caesar). This system was administered by tax collectors who abused the system and became rich by overcharging the people. Why didn’t He encourage the people to go to Rome and attempt to get the system changed?
- He knew that the Romans would one day destroy Jerusalem. He even predicted that the day would come within a generation in Matthew 24. In this passage He says the Temple would be destroyed and that it would happen soon. It did. In 70 AD the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. Why didn’t He tell the Jews to get moving on some initiatives to prevent this from happening? Why didn’t He tell them to overthrow the Pharisees and Sadducees who were cooperating with the Roman government to keep the peace? Why didn’t He tell them to get out of Jerusalem immediately?
- WhY DID Jesus crY before He entered Jerusalem on his donkey on Palm Sunday? Wasn’t this a glorious day? You know, the waving of the palm branched when Jesus came…Did you ask why they used palm branches? This is important because the palm branches were a symbol of political victory. Did you know that the palm branches signified the victory of the Jews over their ruler, Antiochus? Jesus was crying because he foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem. He also cried because the people didn’t understand that He was not coming as an earthly king.They wanted a king who would kick Roman butt and free them from Roman oppression. It wasn’t Him…at least not this time around. Something different needed to be accomplished.
- Jesus told his disciples ahead of time that His kingdom was not of this world.
The exact quote is “Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” Many of the disciples could not handle this and went into hiding when He was arrested, fearful for their own lives. Only John and His mother, Mary, along with a few other women, stayed with Him when He was on the Cross.
- Sex abuse of woman and children in Ancient Rome was common yet Jesus didn’t speak out against it. Here is just one link but I urge you to read the history of what was happening in Rome. I know that Jews would be imprisoned and killed if they spoke out against these practices. Yet why didn’t Jesus speak out against the despicable practices of the Roman state? Didn’t He care about sex abuse?
- Jesus concentrated on abuse within the Jewish faith.
Now we hit gold. He called the religious leaders snakes and white washed tombs. The story of the Good Samaritan was Jesus telling religious leaders that they were failures in understanding the Scriptures. One of my favorite stories is Jesus telling His disciples to let the children to come to Him. He issued dire warnings about the eternal fate of those who would cause harm to a little one. He was speaking primarily to the religious Jews.
- Jesus turned over the money changers’ table in the Temple, not in the local tax collector’s office.
We know that Jesus was aware of the illegal activities of the tax collectors of that day. He invited Zaccheus to join him in a dinner. Zaccheus changed during the encounter. Yet Jesus did not use this opportunity to stand up against abusive tax practices by government officials. Instead, He headed out to the Temple and caused a ruckus by accusing the religious leaders of their illicit practices to enrich themselves. (Sounds like something that might be good for some churches today?)
- Jesus proclaimed the good news to the poor but He didn’t provide enough food to prevent general starvation.
Jesus fed a few thousand on a couple of occasions. Yet He didn’t coordinate food distribution efforts or set up an ancient food stamp program. We know that He could have done this since God provided food for the entire tribe of Israels during their time in the Wilderness. Why was Jesus so fixated on preaching good news to the poor? Was He hinting at something far deeper and more imperative than physical hunger? Were we the ones responsible for people starving? Why do people starve today when there is the possibility of curing hunger world wide?
- Jesus told a lame man that his sins were forgiven before He healed him.
You can read the account in Mark 2. Why did he stress the forgiveness of sins first? Why didn’t He just heal the man and get on with business if healing wad the most important item on his agenda? Or was forgiveness the primary reason He was here?
Am I saying not to serve the poor, the let down, and the sick? What is Jesus driving at with all of us?
Of course not. Matthew 19:21-22 tells us we are to do so. In fact, Jesus says something quite astonishing, and if truth be told, discouraging for all of us.
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Think about it…How many of you are willing to give it all up? How many of you can? Why haven’t more of us given all our stuff away? I sure haven’t. Or is that really the point of this?
Jesus was pointing us to the Cross.
Jesus was challenging all of us to understand ourselves and others. None of us is perfect. I sure haven’t given it all up in seeking perfection in the eyes of Jesus. Even if I had, would I be perfect? Couldn’t I give all of my possession up and still be mean spirited and cruel towards others?
I contend that the 3 year ministry of Jesus was designed to help us to understand the depths of our problems and then to show us what our problems meant for Him. A former pastor said it this way.
He brings a message of hope that is centered in himself.
This same pastor often would post the following picture on the overhead.
Do you really want to understand Jesus? You need to understand why He came! Everything He did during those 3 short years was designed to point us to our need for the Cross. Now, take a look at the other side of the Cross from the perspective of the Pauline epistles. Paul pointed back at the Cross as the running thread throughout his writings. He sums it up in 1 Corinthians 15.
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
When I became a Christian, Jesus gave me His Spirit. The Spirit is what convicts me to care for the victims of human trafficking. That Spirit is what caused my husband and me to choose to spend two years on the Navajo Reservation as opposed to my husband taking a cushier job in order to pay back to the government for his schooling. It is what caused me to tutor low income children. It is what made my heart care for those abused in the church. However, none of these activities solved my problem. Only Jesus could do that.
I have decided to spend my time focusing on changing things inside the church. I am terribly grateful for those who believe that Jesus has called them focus on politics. However that is not what this blog is going to do.
To those people who claim I don’t know my Bible when I say Jesus was not a politician, this is my response. You may disagree with my conclusions but I hope you can see that I have deeply considered this issue.
Finally, to the person who said that “Jesus is her f****** political role model,” I would suggest doing a bit more reading…