John Ortberg Resigns. Why I Feel Compassion for This Family: Lord Have Mercy.

“Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself. ” CS Lewis: The Problem of Pain


My planned post for today has been canceled until Friday due to breaking news. For many of us, it is not a surprise. Religion News Service posted Embattled megachurch pastor John Ortberg resigns from Menlo Church

A review

Before getting into today’s news, let’s review what happened. Here is a good summary from Wikipedia.

On January 21, 2020, Menlo Church issued a statement indicating that Ortberg had been placed on leave following the revelation that he had allowed a church volunteer (later revealed to be his son, John Ortberg III) to work and travel with children, despite that volunteer’s confession of a lifelong sexual attraction to children.[19] Ortberg also made no effort to alert other church leadership to the situation.[20]

The issue came to light when the volunteer, Ortberg’s son, John Ortberg III, confessed their desires to Ortberg’s other son, Daniel Lavery.[21] Upon discovering that his father had taken no action to protect the congregation’s children, Lavery went to the church’s leadership. Lavery has stated that Ortberg dismissed his concerns in part because Lavery is transgender.[22]

On January 24, 2020, Ortberg returned from leave. He has stated that he “failed to do the right thing” and apologised for his “lack of transparency”.[23] After completing a restoration plan, Ortberg returned to the pulpit on Mar 7, 2020.[24] It has been alleged by Lavery that the investigation into his father’s misconduct was inadequate: the lawyer who conducted the investigation has no experience with matters of sexual misconduct, rather he is a specialist in protecting clients from litigation.[25]

According to Religion News Service:

But controversy at the church flared up again after Lavery revealed that the volunteer in question was his younger brother and the pastor’s youngest son, a fact that had been withheld from the congregation. Lavery, former friends of the Ortberg family and other critics of the decision have called in recent weeks for the pastor to step down.

Questions were also raised about the inquiry into possible misconduct, as the lawyer the church hired did not speak to parents or to any children or youth whom the volunteer had worked with.

A few thoughts:

  • Did Ortberg hesitate to do the right thing because the accuser was his transgendered son?
  • Does a person’s choice of gender not ascribed to them at birth automatically mean that he/she is not trustworthy? I think not but I am interested in your thoughts on the matter. It sure seems to me that Daniel was far more concerned about the safety of the children than his father.
  • The church was well aware that their initial investigation needed to be carefully conducted. Any possibility of favor shown to Pastor Ortberg would be damaging. Yet, this is exactly what happened. The church hired a lawyer who did not conduct the in-depth interview of families and children in the youth program. Many churches are savvy enough to hire an experienced third party investigator. Were the elders afraid of the outcome of a truthful process?

The elders finally get the serious nature of what has transpired.

I only wish this had happened sooner. They are calling for Ortberg to reconcile with his family. He has been estranged from Daniel for that last two years. In the meantime, the elders are finally going to do what they should have done from the start… a thorough investigation.

Rebuilding that trust would be difficult if Ortberg remained as pastor, the elders said in the statement Wednesday announcing his resignation.

They also said the church is organizing a new, more extensive investigation.

“Our decision stems from a collective desire for healing and discernment focused on three primary areas,” the elders said in a statement. “First, John’s poor judgment has resulted in pain and broken trust among many parents, youth, volunteers and staff. Second, the extended time period required to complete the new investigation and rebuild trust will significantly delay our ability to pursue Menlo’s mission with the unity of spirit and purpose we believe God calls us to.”

Church elders also said Ortberg will focus on reconciliation in his own family after leaving the church. “Lavery and other family members have been publicly estranged since November 2018. “

Update 7/29: According to Rith Hutchins, the family was not estranged until 2019.

Pastor Ortberg’s statement and “what’s next”

Christianity Today featured this story from RNS: John Ortberg Resigns from Menlo Church.

It included part of a statement from Pastor Ortberg.

On Ortberg’s final days as pastor, he will address the congregation during an online service this weekend. He has served as Menlo’s pastor for 17 years. Before that, he was a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago.

In his statement, Ortberg said he regretted “not having served our church with better judgment.”

“Extensive conversations I had with my youngest son gave no evidence of risk of harm, and feedback from others about his impact was consistently positive,” he said. “However, for my part, I did not balance my responsibilities as a father with my responsibilities as a leader.”

What’s next for Menlo church?

In consultation with denominational officials, church elders plan to bring on a transitional pastor. They also plan to add new elder at the upcoming congregational meeting.

According to the Menlo Church website, the church was founded in 1893. The church is part of the ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. They also have Policy and Procedures on Ethical Misconduct.

This Ethical statement is well worth the read. How many churches have something like this policy? Here is one example.

Retaliation Prohibited

MPPC prohibits retaliation and will not in any way retaliate against an individual who makes a charge of ethical misconduct (or those participating in the investigation of such a charge), nor permit any of its employees from engaging in such retaliation. Any such retaliation should be reported to the Committee immediately. Any person found to have retaliated against another individual for making a charge of ethical misconduct will, where appropriate, be subject to the same disciplinary action provided for those found to have violated this policy.

Lessons learned: The Ortbergs have faced immense, soul dragging pain in the last 2 years. Lord, have mercy.

I am really upset about this whole thing. I really like the Ortbergs and have followed them for a long time. Nancy is a great person and I really feel for her during this time. However, we all have to remember that anyone who is attracted sexually to children is a possible danger to the children. Such a *feeling* is deeply disordered and needs the intervention of psychiatrists and other skilled mental health practitioners. It is hard for us to accept this, especially when it involves one of our loved ones. Yet when we choose to overlook the serious problems of our loved ones, we are potentially pushing our pain onto other families with children.

We are called to be ruthlessly clear when we are dealing with potential victims. We are also to be ruthlessly clear when we face the pain of a loved one who is dealing with a psychiatric disorder. As a mother, I have had to deal with a different sort of psychiatric pain in my own family. It is much better now because my loved one got the help that was needed. As mothers, we may blame ourselves and it is easier to hope for the best. But we are called to face the pain and to do the right thing, even if it is terribly costly.

John Ortberg made a dangerous decision when he chose to ignore the reality of the pain his son was enduring. I’m sure he hoped it would all be alright. He made this decision in the midst of another painful situation in his family. He had been estranged from his transgendered son for 2 years. John and Nancy have lurched from pain to pain to pain. It started with the Willow Creek situation in which Nancy said (in 2018) she was allegedly assaulted by Hybels.

Then the family was estranged from Daniel in the next (updates 7/29/20)  year. Now, they are faced with the terrible pain of their other son, John Jr, who may have a profound psychiatric disorder.

Of course, there is no excuse for not protecting the children. John has paid the price for not doing so. We can hope that John III didn’t hurt any child. It’s OK if you disagree with me. But I want you to know that I am in the midst of processing this whole thing. I have been listening to this little known song by Michael Card, over and over again. It’s called A Breath of a Prayer and it is based on the Lord’s Prayer. Here are the lyrics. Please join me in praying for the Ortbergs.

It takes a single breath to pray: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy
A breath of a prayer to say: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God
Have mercy on me, a sinner Father hallowed be Your name Your kingdom come (Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy)
Give us each day our daily bread (Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy)
Forgive us, as we forgive all those who sin against us And lead us not into temptation
It takes a single breath to pray: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy
A breath of a prayer to say: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God Have mercy on me, a sinner
Father hallowed be Your name Your kingdom come (Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy)
Give unto us each day our daily bread (Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy)
Forgive us, as we forgive all those who sin against us And lead us not into temptation
It takes a single breath to pray: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy A breath of a prayer to say: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy (repeat)


Comments

John Ortberg Resigns. Why I Feel Compassion for This Family: Lord Have Mercy. — 169 Comments

  1. I have been following this story a bit, and agree that a full objective investigation was not carried out and am glad to hear it is about to be done, and am also quite torn and have some questions. I was a pastor for ten years and heard quite a few weird personal stories during those counseling/confession times. I was told I needed to alert the authorities if a murder was committed. These days, I suspect, if other crimes were committed I might also have to do the same. But what if someone just confessed an attraction without any corresponding action or crime? Seems to be a grey area although i confess its been a long time since I was a pastor and am not up on the rules these days. But how will this affect future confession sessions with counselors? Will people now be more guarded about what they confess knowing that it might become public knowledge despite any incident? Are MAP (minor attracted persons) assumed to be abusive pedophiles? I ask as a ministry professional who might not know the current laws in any particular country (state) because I travel a lot.

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  2. Jack: Religion has such a hang up about gender.

    In fact the churches (biggest ones first) bungled the sexual revolution (which was meant to be a good thing) by deflecting the world’s guilt onto the public instead of thoughtfully and by Holy Spirit inspiration being able to present something truly wholesome.

    From the 1920s on, the churches hadn’t done enough homework. Instead of gormlessly and reactively saying “it was more than our job was worth to trade profitably with these gifts” (in inspired intercession) God wants us to be ahead of the game so we can really help when the world’s people’s needs catch up with them.

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  3. I do feel compassion for the Ortbergs because of the things they’ve had to deal with over the past few years. But Pastor Ortberg’s decision to hire his son, with a sexual attraction to children, to serve in the church as a volunteer with the children is just too much for me —- compassion spigot is now turned off.

    If my adult child was a kleptomaniac and I was the manager of a jewelry store, I would definitely not hire my adult child as an assistant, or a janitor, or anything else! ……….. Ortberg did worse than that. Far worse.

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  4. And this is how churches and pastor’s continue to abuse those around them. They do something awful, put on their ‘contrite’ faces and beg for forgiveness, which the churches say you HAVE to give and it’s wash, rinse, repeat, on to the next victim. I left Christianity for this very reason, the ever present “Jesus get out of hell free card” that’s waved for every hypocrisy and every crime.

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  5. Nancy2(aka Kevlar): his son, with a sexual attraction to children, to serve in the church as a volunteer with the children is just too much for me —- compassion spigot is now turned off.

    For an adult sexually attracted to children, IMHO, compassion as a response is inadequate but I am no behavior scientist.
    The power differential is undeniable.
    Attraction implies desire.
    Healthy sexual expression is lateral, without singular empowerment to sate desire.

    What response to this adult is appropriate? IMHO, caution and censure with clear advisement or mandate: get professional help and uphold transparent ironclad boundaries – to protect children & to prevent the adult from sating their predatory crave (“attraction”).

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  6. I’m thankful he has resigned and hopeful that the elders will conduct a thorough investigation to bring healing to the church and to any who may have been affected. I’m also hopeful that there will be complete healing and restoration of relationships within the Ortberg family. I cannot imagine the grief and anger and guilt and who knows what other emotions that are flowing among them.

    This incredibly sad situation has me thinking about a comment Ken F. Tweed made about Augustine and Original Sin a few threads ago. I wonder if Augustine’s particular formulation needs to be re-thought because it just seems to me that it binds the church to a shame frame with difficult problems like pedophilia that cause a reflex of denial. Same with gender issues. Augustine was not an apostle, but he sure is treated like one. I am not denying that sin entered the human family in the Garden. Just questioning what that means.

    What if the church saw people with a variety of issues that need binding up and protection? We need each other! What if we saw pedophilia and other issues as something that happens to humans and not something that mothers or fathers caused their son to have or the son caused himself to have? Because that is what causes shame and hiding. I’m not saying that is what happened with the Ortbergs, because I don’t know. But I think it may be part of it. It seems to me that it would be better for all to have their son treated and for the other children protected. No one benefits from a shame culture.

    Thinking out loud…

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  7. Nancy2(aka Kevlar): I do feel compassion for the Ortbergs because of the things they’ve had to deal with over the past few years. But Pastor Ortberg’s decision to hire his son, with a sexual attraction to children, to serve in the church as a volunteer with the children is just too much for me —- compassion spigot is now turned off.

    I’ve noticed for some time now that in many of these evangelical outfits, they (the leadership) seem to think that real world common sense and prudence somehow doesn’t apply to them.

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  8. Muff Potter: leadership) seem to think that real world common sense and prudence somehow doesn’t apply to them.

    Jesus: “Religious leaders sit in Moses’ seat. Practice and observe what they tell you from the prophets & the law. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and place them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” Matthew 23.

    The do-as-I-preach-but-it-doesn’t-apply-to-me crowd.

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  9. I am just going from memory here, but the whole trans-gender argument would appear to be a fraud. A gender altering procedure, would be one of the few sexualy related activities allowed by the Law. Lesbianism would be another.

    Here is one of the few applicable verses. Notice the prohibition is “for the dead.” The Elders are supposed to know this, not run off after Conservative political positions.

    …”Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.”.. Lev. 19:28.

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  10. “…Policy and Procedures on Ethical Misconduct.

    This Ethical statement …Here is one example.

    Retaliation Prohibited

    MPPC prohibits retaliation and will not in any way retaliate against an individual who makes a charge of ethical misconduct (or those participating in the investigation of such a charge), nor permit any of its employees from engaging in such retaliation. Any such retaliation should be reported to the Committee immediately. Any person found to have retaliated against another individual for making a charge of ethical misconduct will, where appropriate, be subject to the same disciplinary action provided for those found to have violated this policy.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    it’s impressive.

    i think a case could be made that Daniel Lavery was retaliated against by at least some of the staff. And family members.

    and now I expect MPPC to be true to their Statement / Policy and administer disciplinary action.

    (at the same time, i expect them to rationalize it all away, and do nothing. maybe even give themselves raises or other perks.

    because that is what churches do. because the real and true mission of a church is to perpetuate itself. to sacrifice people and principles in order to protect itself.)

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  11. Ex pastor Ortberg might want to consider writing to Dear Prudence for advice on reconciliation. I’m being only a teensy bit facetious with that suggestion. Not only did Lavery’s actions very likely save several of the church kids from being sexually abused, and very possibly saved his brother from an eventual prison sentence.

    Humility is called for here on the part of John Sr, he really needs to acknowledge how his irresponsibility could have destroyed numerous lives, including his youngest sons’. Who is hopefully now getting the help and accountability support he needs.

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  12. Dear Father in Heaven,

    In Jesus’ name, please have mercy on us. Please show extra measures of mercy to John and Nancy Ortberg. Please help them experience your presence each hour, every day.

    Would You please grant them the gift of faith and hope so they can endure the hard trials and come through as gold purified by fire?

    May your Holy Spirit work in the lives of their adult children deeply and powerfully…..

    Thank you!

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  13. Should be interesting to see how this manifests on the book-selling side and so forth and if the word will get out even on his own site. Currently:

    http://www.johnortberg.com/profile/

    “ John Ortberg is the senior pastor at Menlo Church. John’s teaching centers around how faith in Christ can impact our everyday lives with God. He has written books on spiritual formation including, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, Who is This Man?, The Me I Want To Be, Soul Keeping, All The Places To Go, and most recently I’d Like You More If You Were More Like Me. John teaches around the world at conferences and churches.”

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  14. Andrew J Jones: Are MAP (minor attracted persons) assumed to be abusive pedophiles?

    MAPs, though I dislike that term because I think it tries to sterilise what is a terrifying compulsion towards children, presenting it as a form of sexuality, are considered to be high risk around children & one step away from ‘abusive’. The idea of the ‘virtuous paedophile’ is one that I think is used to downplay the serious nature of what is going on, though I am deeply sorry for those who feel such urges & try not to act on them. In child protection terms they are still not ‘safe’ & should be avoiding children, & certainly not encouraged to work with them.

    A lot is now known about paedophilia, & one of the clear characteristics is the level of manipulation & deceit associated with such individuals. I pray the church will step up & help those who feel such awful things.

    I’m sorry it took Daniel having to blow the lid off this for the right thing to be done, & overall I feel so sorry for this family, despite still being absolutely bewildered by John Ortberg’s actions in this – he surely knew better. I don’t even know how they all start to think of healing from this & moving on, especially John Jnr, whose proclivities are now in the public domain, because his father failed to do the right thing & remove him silently.

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  15. “Does a person’s choice of gender not ascribed to them at birth automatically mean that he/she is not trustworthy?”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    no. certainly not. absolutely not.

    as no, certainly not and absolutely not as the earth is not flat, as the sun does not revolve around the earth, and as the moon is not made of cheese.

    it’s disgusting to me that the reason the question even needs to be asked is because this stupid religion of mine is full of people who would gladly waste no time in saying, “Yes, and amen”, while unloading with words like “pervert” and “freak”.

    along with alluding that God hates them, he/she could not possibly be a christian, and they’ve consigned themselves to hell.

    if ever i needed a quick, concise explanation for withdrawing from christian church culture, if not evangelicalism as a whole, it’s because of too many brain-dead hateful morons.

    …i see no reason to hold back, at the moment.

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  16. It started before 2018. Those children grew up in Willow Creek (WC)-Trotter-Loritts-Greear-Thompson-Unzicker-TGC-Downline fetters. Look at the standards the other women staff at WC felt they had to descend to, and whoever must have caused that (a subliminal quality Hybels looked for in new employees?) What through no fault of his was John Senior subjected to when younger? I shudder when I look back. I can’t say I wasn’t impacted through no fault of mine – through authorities following their own rule book.

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  17. Dana Adams,

    In this circumstance, he has lost his job as well he should. He is left with a family in disarray. His wife was molested by Hybels. They have gone from being well-known leaders to a mess. Ortberg took a risk he shouldn’t have taken. Jesus clearly says that we are not to treat some people better than others. I bet he would never have allowed a *nobody* to continue working with children after expressing some dark thoughts regarding children.

    Now, let’s sit back and see what happens here. I am praying that John III gets the help he needs and that Daniel and his dad are reunited after working through their issues. And I am praying for Nancy who has been quiet through this whole situation.

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  18. Friend: wondering how they ended up here with these two sons.

    I suspect that the flavor of christian anthropology that informs their thinking has something of the character of a trap.

    Speculating somewhat freely, I wonder what the churches will do in the event that it is discovered that “alternative genders” have an identifiable basis in biology. In particular, the experience of “being in the wrong gender body” could be based in cross-gender chimerism (resulting from fusion of cross-gender fraternal twins at an early stage) in which the central nervous system derives from the cells contributed by one zygote and the gender-identified body parts from the cells contributed by the other.

    Fraternal twin chimerism is a real thing, for example

    https://www.livescience.com/61890-what-is-chimerism-fused-twin.html

    Here’s a nearly decade-old proposal that cross-gender chimerism could be widespread and a medical explanation for what many of the churches currently regard to be sinful “lifestyle choice”.

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/216874877_Dual-gender_macrochimeric_tissue_discordance_is_predicted_to_be_a_significant_cause_of_human_homosexuality_and_transgenderism

    and a brief recent item by the same author:

    https://medium.com/@brianhanley/many-transgender-and-gay-people-are-dual-sex-chimeras-e042c2a0e8dd

    I think we can look forward to this hypothesis being tested in the not-distant future.

    I’m afraid that it is possible to take one’s theology too seriously, and that can create trouble in confrontation with the world that actually is. The condition (I have little doubt that this does happen) of dual-gender macrochimerism poses a real problem for traditional thinking — two people whose development took this course and who are, say, anatomically male but neurologically female, would superficially exhibit what looks like same-sex attraction but would actually be opposite-gender attracted.

    And no, this would not have implications for a person’s trustworthiness. If anything, in the story summarized in the OP, it was Daniel Lavery who exhibited the best judgment; I would trust DL sooner than the other parties.

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  19. Ava Aaronson: For an adult sexually attracted to children, IMHO, compassion as a response is inadequate but I am no behavior scientist.

    Things get messy when a pastor chooses to have his children participate in a church ministry, especially as leaders. There are few people who will not cut their kids a break. That was Ortberg’s problem. His own child was given far more latitude than others would have been given.

    He will now be forced to face that fact. His adult child was allowed access to children because Pastor Ortberg could not face the reality. he was willing to sacrifice the safety of all children in his church in order to allow him to continue in *lala* land when it came to John Jr.

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  20. elastigirl,

    I ask that question because I have seen this in action. I have watched parents and grandparents reject their granchildren because they *can’t handle it.* Becoming old apparently gives one a pass on doing the right thing. To make matters worse, a few of these parents and grandaparents have lived objectionable lives: affairs, divorce, etc.

    I received a DM from a person who gave me some insight into the Ortberg situation. This person asked me if I would take that information from them since they are *transgendered.* It made me want to cry. As I said to this dear person “Truth is truth is truth.” I think many of these folks have been beaten up by the *good* people in the church.

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  21. dee:
    JDV,

    I think that is an interesting idea. Howdoes vthis affect book sales?

    I’m sure he can pay that one “service” $210 grand a book to juice it onto the Best-Seller Lists. If his congegation is big enough (Gigachurch instead of a mere Megachurch), he can even do-it-yourself like Elron Hubbard.

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  22. Samuel Conner: In particular, the experience of “being in the wrong gender body” could be based in cross-gender chimerism (resulting from fusion of cross-gender fraternal twins at an early stage) in which the central nervous system derives from the cells contributed by one zygote and the gender-identified body parts from the cells contributed by the other.

    I have also heard a hypothesis that the fetal brain develops as male or female from the bath of androgens or estrogens from the developing body. And a control gene could have flipped so the developing brain reads the andtogens as estrogens (and estrogens as androgens) and develops accordingly. This assumes there is a sex-selected structural difference in male and female brain development.

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  23. This is the incident that stomped on my last nerve and nade me decide the churches were NEVER going to ne for me. Danny Lavery was treated as a pariah by his family and by the Menlo Church leadership for pushing this issue. And at the heart of this is that Danny is transgender.

    Because of that, John Ortberg thought Danny was such a wretched, horrible, TWISTED sinner that he (Danny) could not offer any legitimate advice regarding how to deal with Johnny’s paraphilia. If memory serves, Ortberg actually stated Danny was in a worse state than Johnny and he (John Ortberg) was not going to listen to Danny’s advice.

    And the leadership of Menlo Church was hardly better. Beth Seabolt, the head elder, talked about Danny at a church town hall as if Danny was a rebellious teenager when Danny is 33. She later somewhat apologized, but it set the tone for how the church community was supposed to see Danny.

    I am not speaking for Danny and Grace Lavery. I don’t know them. But I do think there needs to be a serious reckoning in the churches about the way sexual minorities are treated. Gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender persons, queer, asexual-we’re not sinners just for who we are, despite what your dogma says. Really, you all need to get over yourselves if you think this way.

    It says volumes about how incredibly messed up this is in that the strong inclination of the pastor and the church leadership was to protect the guy with the pedophile tendencies while alternately ignoring and degrading the guy who brought it up because he’s transgender. How much different is this from the churches who root for the convicted sexual predator in court versus the victims? There’s not a whole lot of difference in my eyes. The church decides who is righteous and who should be condemned in both cases-and in both cases, it’s the people who run up against the (patriarchal) power structure who are on the outs in far too many cases.

    Finally, I want to call out an alleged ‘Christian’ ‘journalist’ who has been ‘reporting’ on this issue. Julie Roys has been using her platform as a cudgel to beat up on transgender people. In her first reporting on the issue, Ms. Roys deadnamed and misgendered Danny Lavery. More recently, Ms. Roys has purchased coverage from Religion News Service, as is her right, but she’s also edited the articles to remove any male pronouns referring to Lavery, instead replacing them with Lavery’s last name. And while she may be using reputable journalism now, this is not stopping her commenting community from dragging Lavery through the mud and seeing Lavery as the problem. (Yeah. I just checked.)

    We get it, Julie. We really do. You don’t accept Danny Lavery as a man. But it’s not your decision to make. If you’re going to call yourself a journalist, you can’t be this kind of blatantly and openly prejudiced. I know about this personally-I failed out of the last class in the journalism program at UT Austin way back in 1982 in part because my politics got into the way of journalism. If you can’t treat Danny Lavery as a full human being and use the correct pronouns-then stop calling yourself a journalist and stop saying what you do is journalism. Instead, you can call yourself an opinion writer and go to town. But don’t claim the mantle of journalist when you’ve decided that sexual minorities are not full human beings and can be freely denigrated. Just don’t.

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  24. Andrew J Jones: But what if someone just confessed an attraction without any corresponding action or crime? Seems to be a grey area although i confess its been a long time since I was a pastor and am not up on the rules these days. But how will this affect future confession sessions with counselors? Will people now be more guarded about what they confess knowing that it might become public knowledge despite any incident?

    The problem is that the person hearing the confession has no way to know if the penitent is telling the truth about not acting on impulses.

    This specific case was not handled properly at all. Whether or not the penitent is a relative, danger to children should have been the first concern. John III should have immediately been removed from all contact with children AND gone to receive appropriate counseling by a certified therapist/psychologist. An investigation (including all children he had contact with) should have been done to see if any children were harmed.

    A minister cannot only consider penitents, possibly leaving others to be abused. Most ministers are not trained therapists who can deal with these very disturbing issues. It seems some think they are (not referring to you). These are certainly difficult encounters for ministers, even more difficult when a relative is the penitent.

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  25. dee,

    thank you, dee, for shining some light on this issue.

    “This person asked me if I would take that information from them since they are *transgendered*” — that says it all. i can only imagine their devastatingly painful experience.

    it makes me want to cry as well.

    i marvel at how being a christian, living for Jesus, supposedly getting closer to God and being filled with the holy spirit dries up one’s empathy. it’s quite a sight to behold.

    thank you again, dee.

    signed,

    owner of a bleeding-heart

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  26. Friend,

    Friend, I have had one child with severe difficulties and perhaps another. One of the most healing things I heard, from a Psychologist in my PhD program at Liberty University, was that sometimes these things just happen. It’s not necessarily that anyone did anything wrong.

    Now that one is much improved, I am being to see that sometime in the future I will believe this is a gift. Sometimes in the present I see this suffering as a gift. I have gone to war for my children. That has given me a relationship with my 19 year old that most adults wouldn’t have with a 19 year old child.

    We’ve been through hell and back between helping our children and the ways I was mistreated at a Doctoral Internship site and by Liberty University. Look it up on thouarttheman , next to last post.

    But part of the reason I’ve had the strength to sue Liberty University is because of all the hell we’ve gone through. Yes, we are still recovering, but there is a certain strength from knowing the worst has happened and we are still okay. So if my situation with Liberty University becomes very public, and is in the NYT or the Washington Post or … it’s okay.

    I see parents abandon children for lesser issues than my children had and that makes me sad. I wish the Ortbergs well and that they see the gift in suffering sooner rather than later. And yes, it is suffering even when it is caused by one’s own actions.

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  27. Samuel Conner,

    “I suspect that the flavor of christian anthropology that informs their thinking has something of the character of a trap.”
    ++++++++++

    sounds like the vaunted “Christian World View” and “Biblical World View”.

    (i roll my eyes at that last one… might as well be the world according to garp. and flarp. and schtarp. all claiming their’s is the right one)

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  28. Samuel Conner,

    “I’m afraid that it is possible to take one’s theology too seriously, and that can create trouble in confrontation with the world that actually is.”
    +++++++++++++

    tcha…

    can i put that on a bumper sticker?

    (there’s no more room in my car, thanks to so many great thinkers here at TWW, so i’ll put it on my son’s car which is getting lots of exposure driving everywhere doing Door Dash)

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  29. Bridget: A minister cannot only consider penitents, possibly leaving others to be abused. Most ministers are not trained therapists who can deal with these very disturbing issues. It seems some think they are (not referring to you). These are certainly difficult encounters for ministers, even more difficult when a relative is the penitent.

    Ortberg has a PhD in clinical psychology. He should have known better. On paper, he would have been qualified to handle such a situation, but what clinical psychologist would recommend an admitted pedophile to keep working with kids without anyone else knowing? IMHO, Ortberg disqualified himself both from psychology and ministry.

    I applaud Danny Lavery for taking a public stand on this when his family refused to listen.

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  30. Sarah: yes, it is suffering

    High-demand churches promulgate a Theory of the Perfect Family: parents will use our methods, and the children will turn out perfectly. The church defines perfection.

    Every Sunday, the children show the degree to which the parents are succeeding or failing. Parents are permitted only a handful of specific actions in order to raise a child (smile, spank, shun…).

    I weep for you and with you. Keep raising your children and your voice.

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  31. Friend,

    Thank you so much for the well wishes. Most of all, I want each and every one of you to know there is HOPE and STRENGTH from Jesus in dealing with difficult situations with children. I have seen so many, particularly adoptees, given away when the going gets tough. BUT there are resources if you pound down doors as necessary, barely sleep at times, and sacrifice greatly. Even with great sacrifices, success is not guaranteed. We live in real life, not perfect church life, as someone discussed above. But we cannot turn our backs on our children.

    I thought you, and others, might be interested in reading more about my case at: https://thouarttheman.org/2020/06/10/phd-student-sarah-leitner-notifies-jerry-falwell-of-abuse-that-occurred-at-an-authorized-internship-site-after-the-school-of-counselor-education-of-liberty-university-denies-the-abuse-occurred-and-lat/

    and possibly even donating funds for my lawsuit at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/expelled-by-liberty-u-after-reporting-abuse?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1

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  32. Sarah: Friend, I have had one child with severe difficulties and perhaps another. One of the most healing things I heard, from a Psychologist in my PhD program at Liberty University, was that sometimes these things just happen. It’s not necessarily that anyone did anything wrong.

    From what it’s worth, a Rabbi from Nazareth said pretty much the same thing regarding a tower collapse in Siloam.

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  33. “Danny Lavery was treated as a pariah by his family and by the Menlo Church leadership for pushing this issue. And at the heart of this is that Danny is transgender.”

    This is the crux of the matter for me.

    Did Danny do this because of his deep concern for children that John III was possibly abusing…or out of payback to his family? Was this a way for him to draw fire away from himself, gain a bit of respect (publicly) and cast a bit of heat upon his brother and father (the untouchables)?

    Just a question that keeps rolling around in my mind. It smells like revenge to me. Then again, I don’t have skin in the game and the point may be moot – either way, a dangerous situation was mitigated.

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  34. Beakerj: A lot is now known about paedophilia, & one of the clear characteristics is the level of manipulation & deceit associated with such individuals. I pray the church will step up & help those who feel such awful things.

    Yes. Honesty would be a good place to start. Face facts.

    IMHO, not an expert, – “sexual attraction to minors” – sex is not the problem. Sexual attraction or desire is normal.

    However, the leap to adult “with a minor” is the problem. Projecting adult desires, with power & influence, on a minor who is without reference, without experience, without adult thoughts, without adult protections, without adult agency, without adult authority, without adult desires – that is the issue & potential for, evil.

    Add to it that in this case, the adult had the authoritative position of leadership, youth leadership, in a church – AND the adult was the son of the actual head pastor, a renowned Christian leader nationally, who was the adult’s boss or supervisor, and the adult’s parent.

    Lots of red flags here.

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  35. ishy: Ortberg has a PhD in clinical psychology. He should have known better. On paper, he would have been qualified to handle such a situation, but what clinical psychologist would recommend an admitted pedophile to keep working with kids without anyone else knowing?

    Good grief! That makes what he did worse by . . . a lot!

    Yes, he may not be able to get a job in that field and probably shouldn’t. It’s also possible that he may not have kept up with current standards regarding his studies, depending on how long ago he received his degree.

    He should never have ministered to, as his pastor, nor treated as his psychologist, his own child. He was never objective in any way.

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  36. Bridget,

    Agreed. Good point. A degree and/or title can overestimate/assume/promote competency & skill or expertise.

    Add to that degree: books published, conference speaking, boards served on, in the news, videos, podcasts, accolades from other “experts”, media, etc. Pile on the layers of “authority”.

    Then look at reality. What did Jesus say about fruit?

    This is in no way a judgment on parents raising children. Every parent is humbled by and hopefully learns & seeks help with, raising their kids. Compassion.

    It is a judgment on how someone used their leadership & platform in a public church setting, particularly with regard to other peoples’ minor children or just plain minors in that public setting. Compassion spigot turned off.

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  37. Friend,

    This is the thing.
    We keep following anyone who says they can guarantee that our parenting will produce just what “we” want or “they” want, and our worst fears will never touch us.
    Loving parenting is kind and usually productive (serious mental issues aren’t cured by it), but does it offer guarantees?
    No.

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  38. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rolltodisbelieve/2020/07/30/john-ortberg-the-scandal-that-just-keeps-getting-worse/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

    The above article is good, IMHO. If someone else has already posted this article, and I missed it, sorry to be redundant. I found it from a twitter link.

    “Power protects its own”, the article contends. “Power” in this case:
    1-could have been courageous and gotten help for the struggling adult – his own – and
    2-could have been protective of the vulnerable children – in his/power’s charge.

    Churches might do an examination of their nepotism, for common sense reasons, as a healthy-church thing to do.

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  39. Samuel Conner,

    Thank you for your very helpful comment and the examples you provided. I suspect there is a lot of biochemical, neurological, developmental, and hormonal dysfunction implicated in disorders that have yet to be recognized or fully elucidated. The church will be far behind that curve, but will need to be brought along to understand in order to help those who are affected and also to intervene to protect the innocent if disorders are a threat to others. I’m conservative but also not happy with rigid thought boxes.

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  40. Sarah: Not payback. Danny has suffered greatly. As someone currently in a similar situation using it as payback on a national scale is just not worth it

    Thanks, this is much nicer than I would have been. There is a lot more I could say, but you can read it above. But it’s worth repeating that the churches need to do a lot of soul searching over treating sexual minorities across the board like last weekend’s garbage in 117 degrees. I’m tired of it!

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  41. Dana Adams,

    “And this is how churches and pastor’s continue to abuse those around them. They do something awful, put on their ‘contrite’ faces and beg for forgiveness,”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    i read the elders’ statement and john ortberg’s statement.

    seems to me they twisted things around so that the issue was how all the (overly) sensitive people misunderstood them.

    and how godly they themselves have been in taking on the miserable job of having to go the extra mile to ‘walk with them’ ‘through this season’.

    they took responsibility for nothing. mark demoss, was this you?

    i felt nauseous and angry after reading the statements. but they were what i expected from church leaders.

    too much to lose to do the right and honest thing when it will cost them.

    i’m even done-er than before.

    i mean, who needs this? who needs to voluntarily bring people into their lives who are so slick they’re slimy?

    in the name of God, no less. it’s a revolting display of exploiting people and exploiting God. unbearable.

    karma’s not done, i can tell you that.

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  42. Dana Adams,

    I read the transcript for Julie Roys’ podcast “Lawyer for Bill Hybels’ Victims Shares Inside Story”.

    This part really struck me:
    —————

    Julie: “The other thing I wanted to talk to you about…

    I don’t think it’s just elders, I think it’s a lot of the senior pastor leadership and staff that their identity tends to become enmeshed with the success or failure of the organization they’re a part of.

    ATTY MITCH LITTLE 25:31

    “Nobody who is an elder at a church should have any aspect of their identity wrapped up in either the role of being an elder or in the success or failure of the organization.

    What I’ve told people is, “If you are not ready to blow yourself or the organization up in five seconds flat, you need to find a different hobby.”

    https://julieroys.com/podcast/lawyer-for-bill-hybels-victims-shares-inside-story/

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  43. JDV,

    “John teaches around the world at conferences and churches.”
    ++++++++++++++

    just what the world needs. more canned sermons.

    and just what church parishioners need who tithe to the church from their hard-earned wages sacrificially given.

    an employee whom they fund who then vacates his job and travels the globe with canned sermons for what I imagine hefty fees for himself.

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  44. Gram3,

    “The church will be far behind that curve, but will need to be brought along to understand in order to help those who are affected and also to intervene to protect the innocent if disorders are a threat to others. I’m conservative but also not happy with rigid thought boxes.”
    ++++++++++++++

    it seems to me that rigid thought boxes in church culture stem from making the bible into deity. or making the bible and God one and the same.

    it has to be true in all its prescriptive glory… or else… or else…

    if we can’t stand on the bible as trustworthy in its prescription, then God isn’t trustworthy. God ceases to be God.

    there is too much variety and complexity in life for any one source, including the bible, to be authoritative on all the answers for everything.

    the most evangelical church culture can say to anyone who isn’t in the majority garden variety (as a person or in circumstance) is “well, i guess it just sucks to be you.”

    either christianity applies to the least of these (with the same blessings and agency rights and solutions afforded to the most) or it applies to no one.

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  45. I’ve just been checking out D A Carson on your blog. He used to be informative when he didn’t get (too far) out of his depth and if you knew with what filters to see what he said: ironically it was his book on superapostles that brought him to my notice, From triumphalism to maturity

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  46. I feel compassion, and here is why: (please hear what I am saying, not what you assume I am saying!)

    I believe the fact one son is transgendered and the other has attraction to children is telling. I once had a very close friend who struggled as did her extended family with children who were transgender, true hermaphrodites, some sterile folks, some gay and lesbian, pedaphiles, ocd, and bipolar having been detected in some, and many alcoholics and drug addicts.

    She was a devout holiness Christian and as such was castigated, blamed, shunned, and suffered greatly from church folks who either judged all the “misfits” as sinners OR who were compassionate but assumed all the parents in her family were really lousy parents. You cannot imagine the blame going around on this family.

    Now, it is true lousy parenting or a parent who sexually abuses CAN trigger many of those disorders, and so the rush to judgement.

    Until, that is, fertility treatments for one person triggered study at the gene level, and the family learned of a genetic disorder that apparently was expressing itself in a variety of ways, depending on the “in law” genes.

    Then all those blamers and shamers dropped her like a hot potato. No way could they say, “Oh, we were wrong. Your kids and family have a problem and it is not your fault.”

    Nope, just pretended none of the gossip and back biting and shaming ever happened. And of course the various perps and misfits in the family were still hated for their behaviors.

    Man looks at the inside, but God looks on the purposes and intents of the heart.

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  47. elastigirl: it seems to me that rigid thought boxes in church culture stem from making the bible into deity. or making the bible and God one and the same.

    it has to be true in all its prescriptive glory… or else… or else…

    And they turn into a cartoon of X-Treme Islam, reciting “IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN!”

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  48. elastigirl: i read the elders’ statement and john ortberg’s statement.

    seems to me they twisted things around so that the issue was how all the (overly) sensitive people misunderstood them.

    and how godly they themselves have been in taking on the miserable job of having to go the extra mile to ‘walk with them’ ‘through this season’.

    i.e. They did nothing but preen in front of a mirror.
    “SEE HOW GODLY *I* AM? SEE? SEE? SEE?”

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  49. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: But it’s worth repeating that the churches need to do a lot of soul searching over treating sexual minorities across the board like last weekend’s garbage in 117 degrees.

    Including other than the usual sexual minorities.
    What about Asexuals?
    Straights who are not “Ace” but have just lost out in The Mating Game?
    (“Sleeping alone while everybody else sleeps in pairs”)
    Non-Celebrity Pastors who have problems with embarrassing paraphiliae and/or unrealistic expectations?
    Those who have been sold a bill of Sexual Goods that never delivered?

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  50. Michael in UK,

    “this is why we need the interpretations / meanings of Scripture (and the right ones at that) otherwise we are fundamentalists.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    everyone thinks they have the right ones.

    there is no way to prove one is more right than another.

    seems to me the logical thing is for all to embrace even ‘just a titch’ more humility and preface their interpretations with something like “this is my opinion, and i could be wrong”.

    …followed up with something that more resembles Peter in Acts 10. embracing with respect, kindness, and fairness human beings in all their variety, who don’t fit in rigid boxes. loving them as ‘yourself’.

    ““You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.”–Peter

    this is just a start…

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  51. John Senior was “A Teaching Pastor”.

    At every church I’ve ever known, including some with over 1,000 attending (and even some that went off the rails) there was seldom more than one full-timer among the ministers.

    Ministers had various neutral titles like:

    – minister
    – priest
    – deacon
    – elder

    If somebody of whatever title turned out to be the person who was good enough to do most of the preaching / teaching, it was very ad hoc and not dressed-up with excuses.

    A few persons involved in occasional brief instruction were “catechist” and a few people were “eucharistic minister” at ceremonies or on home visits.

    Willow Creek by contrast have to have not only momentous double-bottomed function titles (i.e you’ve got to “look up to” that man TWICE as much), but by implication a large number of such.

    But – Empires Strike Back. What they brought us Keeps On Giving. The Children’s Teeth continue to be Set On Edge.

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  52. elastigirl: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.”–Peter

    Yes, that’s because Peter saw the paradoxical meaning that God intended all along, especially outside the surroundings of prevalent earlier harmful superstitions. John Henry Newman’s degrees of inference combined with discernment show us how to form an opinion to offer, and from there it should go gently, as you describe. Those who weaponise a one-dimensional opinion are to be suspected.

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  53. As evaluation or judgement continues here, it seems easy to be tempted to be drawn into a competition of proving who is especially righteous and who is not in the Ortberg’s family.
    Perhaps it would be helpful for us to take time to be still, and seek a spirit of humility and prayer? There is deep sadness all around at the personal level. Only God in His infinite mercy and grace can cure our souls.

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  54. birdoftheair: competition of proving who is especially righteous and who is not in the Ortberg’s family.
    Perhaps it would be helpful for us to take time to be still, and seek a spirit of humility and prayer?

    So many of us here have survived abuse in the family and/or the church. The group is trying to develop and articulate an understanding. This topic is excruciating.

    What causes you to suggest we pause from commenting and seek humility?

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  55. Ava Aaronson: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rolltodisbelieve/2020/07/30/john-ortberg-the-scandal-that-just-keeps-getting-worse/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

    This sad article sheds considerable extra light. They have an elder sister and a nephew. Lee Strobel had an identical job title to John O. Senior. The Menlo board knew an ideal organisation to help them but deliberately turned to someone unqualified instead. They – the Menlo board – are above all responsible for ensuring John III continue to be placed out of his depth and wish to stay in his prestigious position out of false piety.

    I would suggest all Ortberg children now “officially” declare themselves atheist like all those consumeristic singers did (to get the cults off their backs). I hope John III is mad at the system – the system – that deprived him of a parent and set him up in the eyes of billions. The same blogger also has additional information about Strobel. No, this didn’t begin in 2018! I am so cut up because of similarities to and especially the many associations with people I’ve known.

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  56. Headless Unicorn Guy: Including other than the usual sexual minorities.
    What about Asexuals?
    Straights who are not “Ace” but have just lost out in The Mating Game?
    (“Sleeping alone while everybody else sleeps in pairs”)
    Non-Celebrity Pastors who have problems with embarrassing paraphiliae and/or unrealistic expectations?
    Those who have been sold a bill of Sexual Goods that never delivered?

    I think that Muslin was getting at people falling on the gender spectrum. There’s a lot of folks with other issues related to sexuality. A paraphilia is a condition not associated with gender, unrealistic expectations are something foisted on someone else, not a condition of the person per se, likewise people sold a bill of sexual goods and those who are single, by choice or not.
    I suppose everyone’s got a hangup of some sort but there is most definitely a gender spectrum and it’s time religious folks stop being hung up about it.

    And the kick with some paraphilia (like paedophilia) is power over someone vulnerable.

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  57. Headless Unicorn Guy: Including other than the usual sexual minorities.
    What about Asexuals?
    Straights who are not “Ace” but have just lost out in The Mating Game?
    (“Sleeping alone while everybody else sleeps in pairs”)
    Non-Celebrity Pastors who have problems with embarrassing paraphiliae and/or unrealistic expectations?
    Those who have been sold a bill of Sexual Goods that never delivered?

    That’s *exactly* what I’m talking about. I’m asexual. It took me decades to figure it out, and in large part it was due to the larger society pushing marriage, marriage, marriage as the one and only true way to be an adult. Yeah, I knew I was bucking lots of expectations, but for a long time put it off to “OMG look at what happens when your marriage falls apart!!!” (Family law will do that to you.)

    The thing is, you don’t have to scratch very hard to find quite a few Christians who think single people who aren’t deliberately out there trying to sell ourselves to find an appropriately heterosexual spouse, that we’re sinning. That only *some* people are “called” to be single and the rest of us just need to gut it up and get into a marriage because that’s really what God has told all of us to do. Let me give you an example. Albert Mohler said this last year:

    Americans are basically, by the millions, giving up on the fact that to be human is to be a parent, eventually to take on that responsibility to get married and have children, to take on the responsibility of passing on civilization itself.

    –Albert Mohler, the Briefing, August 27, 2019

    My response is tart:

    Sorry, as a single and childless woman by choice, Albert Mohler made very clear how much contempt he holds us in by saying I’m not human. Yes, I’m taking it as a personal affront. I’m tired of the bigotry towards the singles and childless in the churches.

    This is such messed up thinking. And if the president of the premier Southern Baptist seminary is rattling off this nonsense, can you imagine what’s being said down in the pews?

    Grrrr.

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  58. elastigirl: if we can’t stand on the bible as trustworthy in its prescription, then God isn’t trustworthy. God ceases to be God.

    The Bible is trustworthy because God is trustworthy. If the Bible is not trustworthy or God is not trustworthy, then why bother? Any particular interpretation is another matter entirely and is up for vigorous debate and testing, IMO. I choose to believe that God is a good and loving Father who is also a just and merciful Lawgiver who desires for his creation to flourish. I also think that Christians of various flavors have strong opinions about what the Bible prescribes, but they have rigid boxes of disagreement about what those prescriptions are. That’s why we should talk to one another and try to listen.

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  59. elastigirl: seems to me the logical thing is for all to embrace even ‘just a titch’ more humility and preface their interpretations with something like “this is my opinion, and i could be wrong”.

    …followed up with something that more resembles Peter in Acts 10. embracing with respect, kindness, and fairness human beings in all their variety, who don’t fit in rigid boxes. loving them as ‘yourself’.

    Yes. That is following our Lord’s example of meeting people where they are.

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  60. Gram3,

    “The Bible is trustworthy because God is trustworthy. If the Bible is not trustworthy or God is not trustworthy, then why bother?”
    +++++++++++++

    i agree that the bible is trustworthy… read without magic.

    instead, reading it for what it is –a collection of inspired writings of people chronicling their experiences with God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Deborah, the Marys, and Junia.

    ancient writings, some more inspired than others, that have been later redacted for various reasons. (redacting which may or may not have been inspired)

    various genres: poetry, opinion, news, family history,… aside from a few basic principles, not detailed instructions for how to live our lives in the 21st century.

    i’ll take Jesus of Nazareth at his word that the most important thing is to love your neighbor as yourself;

    and to love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind (not that any one of us really knows what that latter part means).

    beyond that, seems to the only reasonable thing is to hold it all loosely. including what ‘inspired’ means.

    the alternative literally and figuratively starts wars and the torture and killing of people.

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  61. Gram3,

    When we use the marginal crossreferences (sometimes printed at the bottom) we can compare the meanings to different Scriptures and acquire depth of perspective and penetration.

    Fundamentalists, by reifying and nominalising the words and what they refer, allude, connote, etc, dumb it down and introduce false moral penalties for re-expanding the issues into their true size.

    Meanings lie at intersections.

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  62. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: If memory serves, Ortberg actually stated Danny was in a worse state than Johnny and he (John Ortberg) was not going to listen to Danny’s advice.

    And the leadership of Menlo Church … Beth Seabolt, the head elder, talked about Danny at a church town hall as if Danny was a rebellious teenager

    Thank you Muslin. Thank you also for calling out J Roys.

    Agents provocateurs want this to happen because otherwise why would they go into schools upsetting children if this isn’t what they wanted? They are not serving Averys et al.

    Another thing, a church is not a town. Why would John O. senior have wanted to seek employment at a church that was so far down the drain? Why would Menlo pressure his children who were approximately of age, into becoming active in the Menlo machine? The whole board need chasing out of town and the entire organisation dissolved.

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  63. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Samuel C: In particular, the experience of “being in the wrong gender body” could be based in cross-gender chimerism (resulting from fusion of cross-gender fraternal twins at an early stage) in which the central nervous system derives from the cells contributed by one zygote and the gender-identified body parts from the cells contributed by the other.

    H.U.G.: I have also heard a hypothesis that the fetal brain develops as male or female from the bath of androgens or estrogens from the developing body. And a control gene could have flipped so the developing brain reads the androgens as estrogens (and estrogens as androgens) and develops accordingly. This assumes there is a sex-selected structural difference in male and female brain development.

    I think Nature intends almost all of the variation. I further think that for lack of better words who is describing these things uses terms “male” and “female” in the sense of typically thus. I think we need to go further and see brains as metaphorically “less female”, “more male”, “more female” etc. There aren’t fundamentally different brains, we mix and match our qualities some of which are and some aren’t somewhat gender and / or sex related per se.

    Now let’s not lose sight of what “nurture” really is: not just the pressures passed down through grandparents and uncles, but also it’s what the education authorities did to you.

    In my young day there really were a far wider range of models of mannerisms, lifestyles, bodily makeup, reproductive achievement etc. that was allowed to have the label mannish & womanish slapped on it. Yes some people gossipped maliciously – and I remember how as a 14 year old my class were told by the teacher we should be having sex – but NOWHERE near as bad as in the last 5 years.

    People claim to not know where I am coming from but the reality is, there is no-one plainer than I am!

    Not only are Nature AND Nurture both far bigger than we were told, there are also mobile Goal Posts. Then there is the tragic loss of awareness of levels in all issues. And the universal imposing of false dichotomies since 1521.

    A helpful new area (unfortunately being drowned out) is that when differences do warrant intervention, this be handled tactfully and not dressed up as a political football.

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  64. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: Americans are basically, by the millions, giving up on the fact that to be human is to be a parent, eventually to take on that responsibility to get married and have children, to take on the responsibility of passing on civilization itself.
    –Albert Mohler, the Briefing, August 27, 2019

    What this sounds like to me: It sounds like he views having children as “being fruitful” and populating the earth. IMO in order to “pass on civilization itself,” civility would have to be involved. And it’s not civil to attempt to subordinate half the human race. So, “passing on civilization” is being done by those who practice/model, nurture and sacrifice for civility, whether they are parents or married or not. Jesus didn’t have biological children as far as I know. But, even if he might have(and I don’t think he did), that wouldn’t change the fact that he lived his authority, spoke it and was consistent, as far as I can understand. That is trustworthy.

    To me, it would seem to be an advantage to be asexual, given the cultural context of patriarchy, over valuation of sexual activity and undervaluation of other things, and given the context of TGC type churches insisting on men first….and as teachers of what Jesus said and did, no less. I don’t know how any female works/lives or has her authentic being in that context. Is it unrealistic to choose the difficulties of single life, or single parent life, over the difficulties of married life where there is more weight, typically, on women(and children) to wrestle with their unrealistic expectations of mutual respect and empathetic consideration of everyone in the home and collaborative enjoyable living….that’s not about sexual activity or sports?

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  65. elastigirl,

    Yes. He and his wife, Grace, were hit VERY hard by both Daniel’s family and church members.

    You know, Daniel (whose books and humor writing for various websites are truly delightful) seems to spend more time thinking about passages from various parts of the Bible than many in that church, if his blog posts (at theshatnerchatner) are anything to go by. I mean, he seriously loves reading and writing about them, along with all the other fascinating things he’s always enjoyed and often sent into wild spins, like his smartphone text reimaginings of Hamlet and other classics of English lit. (If interested, his books are out under his old name, Mallory Ortberg.)

    *

    Also… if i might just make a plea for the used of “transgender” (as opposed to “transgendered”) for trans folk? It’s the preferred nomenclature and is used by every major newspaper and news site i can think of, except (maybe) F*x. (I would rather not name it here, lest it turn into a heated side d8scussion that would violate this site’s Pr8me Directive)

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  66. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes,

    Very much agreed on all counts.

    I wish people would STOP going on and on and on about both Danny’s and Grace’s gender identities, especially those whose minds are completely closed and who think all LGBTQ+ people are “wicked” and “sinful” by default.

    They only serve to illustrate how very far from they diverge from the words and actions of the Christ they claim is their God.

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  67. Charis,

    Oh man. If you saw how deeply concerned Danny is, i think you would hesitate to say this.

    It is not an accurate appraisal of danny, Grace, their motives, etc. Danny was very careful to not say *who* the pedophile was until his family made it public. I just cannot imagine the pain *he* ferls, seeing his own brother put into a position of trust which he will inevitably violare (along with kids!), nir the willful ignorance of hus father and the church, let alone the scorn and shame heaped on both he and Grace by family members and the church.

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  68. I’ve been following this story a bit, especially through Lavery’s Twitter. It’s very sad all around, especially since Lavery had (after trying other avenues with no success) to publicly expose his own family member for the safety of others. I cannot imagine the pain of having to make that decision, and he has my respect and sympathy.

    I wonder at the rational behind John Ortberg’s decision to keep the status quo. It could have been a cover up of wrong doing (only a true investigation will tell); it could have been a biased belief that his son would never do something wrong (which is why outside help and accountability should have been involved immediately).

    I have a feeling a large part of it may have to do with unhealthy views of mental health in evangelicalism. 1) Denying mental health disorders are not a big deal and insisting all that is needed is prayer (which is incredibly unfair and damaging to the individual who needs mental health care, as well as anyone who suffers abuse from them). 2) A deep sense of shame surrounding a diagnosis of one’s own or a family member’s mental illness, due to the real possibility of evangelicals treating illness as sin (“just pray and trust God more”)—essentially victim blaming.

    Whatever the rational, I have a feeling the motivation had to do with saving face rather than protecting innocents. Very sad.

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  69. ren: saving face rather than protecting innocents.

    Common church/institutional practice (until they get sued). And not what Jesus did. Which brings us back to Dee’s note in the post about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the faithful. Obviously, a leader not following the lead of the Holy Spirit in this case. Be careful in how we follow leaders, even though there but for the grace of God go I.

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  70. Michael in UK: Not only are Nature AND Nurture both far bigger than we were told, there are also mobile Goal Posts. Then there is the tragic loss of awareness of levels in all issues. And the universal imposing of false dichotomies since 1521.

    What is the significance of 1521 and can you give a couple type examples of some of these false dichotomies?

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  71. Michael in UK: Fundamentalists, by reifying and nominalising the words and what they refer, allude, connote, etc, dumb it down and introduce false moral penalties for re-expanding the issues into their true size.

    Like Screwtape’s epistle to Wormwood about Semantics and the redefinition of words into their “diabolical meanings”?

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  72. elastigirl: the alternative literally and figuratively starts wars and the torture and killing of people.

    Only if someone thinks that their duty to God entails enforcement of doctrinal compliance. Or if someone believes that they have a grant of entitlement from God or something like that. Certainly that as happened and happens whenever there is abuse.

    I agree with most of what you said except perhaps with the “hold loosely” and that depends on what you mean. If you mean that interpretations are not infallible, then certainly I agree. But regardless, I don’t desire to persuade anyone of my view of scripture which would be foolishness. We do not worship a text but a living God who has promised to send his Spirit to live within us and teach us if we abide in him, right? I believe that is true, so I study, and I listen to others who study, and some of them do not see the same things I see. So I ask why? Maybe I will learn something. I certainly have over these many years. That’s why we are in the Body of Christ. Or so I think.

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  73. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    1. the nominalist-reifier Charles V’s enforcing of the vastly premature excommunication of Luther

    2. One is the “studiedly casual” (TM) Dever’s “choice” between i. instant baptism of those who have had what Dr David Pawson calls abnormal christian birth and ii. tying his own substitute for baptism to lifelong subservience to rationing and distortion – following an abnormal christian birth of course

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  74. ren: insisting all that is needed is prayer

    To them that is “prayer (TM)”. The fruit of real prayer (non-TM) in the HS indwelling situation is multi-layered insight, compassion for everybody without exception, openness to unexpected avenues of action, awareness of real and not imaginary dangers.

    Marrying ones very self to the Menlo-Willow Creek machine (I say machine) negates and destroys HS indwelling just when you need to parent your family and parish. I say that straight out, from reading up about the whole scenario from scratch in recent days. These were not nigglingly eccentric, almost mainstream congregations.

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  75. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Another is when “they” (on “both” or “all” sides) claim “God” couldn’t have “created” THROUGH “evolution”. In my young day almost everyone did believe exactly that, as far as I can make out – all the way from believing Christians, to near-atheistic agnostics. J H Newman believed it, and my Dad, and my teachers seemed to.

    This is related to all-or-nothing thinking and package dealing. Some similar things are happening around Critical Theory – in which diligent research has led to an excellent bunch of knowledgeable insights and tools when not misused by – again – “all” sides.

    This is also Gram3’s point. Gen Ch 1 doesn’t describe EITHER “creation” OR “evolution”. It just relates the furthest back anyone could remember. I’ll come to the Table of Nations on the race questions page.

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  76. Gram3,

    elastigirl: “the alternative literally and figuratively starts wars and the torture and killing of people.”

    Gram3: “Only if someone thinks that their duty to God entails enforcement of doctrinal compliance. Or if someone believes that they have a grant of entitlement from God or something like that. Certainly that as happened and happens whenever there is abuse.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    the figurative torture and killing…

    *female subjugation

    *prejudice against females

    *pressuring men to be this strange superhuman action figure ideal and they’re not a real man if they don’t measure up

    *double standards on many levels

    *hatred and bigotry against sexual minorities

    *requiring sexual minorities to live a life of solitude

    *prejudice against single and childless people

    …this is an incomplete list of the cruel, hateful, destructive, and hypocritical doctrines and beliefs and programs alive and well in many if not the majority of evangelical churches every day of the year.

    all of it is derived from scripture. it is ubiquitous. all of these things are what it means to be a christian at this point in time, whether with full intention or unwittingly.

    christian powerbrokers have gone crazy with finding more and more specific prescription in the bible to impose on more and more aspects of living life.

    leaders have to toe the line for the sake of their careers, or else they jettison critical thinking altogether and embrace it all. nothing about church fosters critical thinking for anyone — it’s too much of a threat to revenue.

    i hold fast to a very short list of things in the bible, the rest i hold loosely. christian churches used the bible to destroy parts of my life already — it’s not happening again.

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  77. elastigirl: Gram3: “Only if someone thinks that their duty to God entails enforcement of doctrinal compliance. Or if someone believes that they have a grant of entitlement from God or something like that. Certainly that as happened and happens whenever there is abuse.”

    “Nothing’s worse than a monster who thinks he’s right with God.”
    — Captain Mal Reynolds, Free Trader Serenity

    Except for a monster who KNOWS he’s right with God.

    * pressuring men to be this strange superhuman action figure ideal and they’re not a real man if they don’t measure up.

    Of which a recent manifestation is Anti-Mask in the Age of COVID.
    (Maybe they figure their Sacred Testosterone will protect them?)

    * double standards on many levels.

    Including Clergy/Laity.
    Refresh me on this, but wasn’t such Clericalism one of the sparking points of the Protestant Reformation?

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  78. elastigirl,

    “i hold fast to a very short list of things in the bible, the rest i hold loosely. christian churches used the bible to destroy parts of my life already — it’s not happening again.”
    ++++++++++++++

    to put a finer point on it:

    i don’t think any human being is able to wield the bible without double standards and harming others unless they have a short theological list and hold the rest of it loosely.

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  79. elastigirl,

    First they steal your time. Then they steal your personality. (From some, they stole tens of thousands in money – and it is coming to light where it went – but I had an excuse.)

    Jesus says bear one another’s burdens in His strength because His burden is light. He DOESN’T say bear the higher-ups’ institutional baggage, who tie on heavy loads and make it impossible to enter the Kingdom.

    As for the immediate subject, who was NOT there for Daniel when grievously spooked and in need when young:

    https://ruthhutchins.com/post/menlo-church-john-ortberg-timeline/

    And numerous people were worried about Johnny’s depression for years. Why does Johnny’s life have to revolve around his father, who doesn’t allow honesty? The father who is jealous of his children’s mutual closeness (it was only trauma that led Daniel to pull back very late in proceedings).

    I think we are going to learn some truly ghastly things about John I st or John I st’s brother in law.

    There is a “pastor for campuses”, is that like foreman of the groundsmen? I watched 2 minutes of a Menlo video, “tripe” would be far too strong praise.

    I’m only now waking up to the people that were crowding round me and others, years ago, who hadn’t been led to sort themselves out.

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  80. elastigirl: i hold fast to a very short list of things in the bible, the rest i hold loosely. christian churches used the bible to destroy parts of my life already — it’s not happening again.

    OK, now I see what you mean by holding loosely. This is a limiting medium, so sometimes it is difficult for me to quite understand what someone means. I am very empathetic with the pain you have suffered and am sorry for it, to the extent that I can in this very limited circumstance. Please read what I wrote again, because I think I am principally agreeing with you. I believe that conservatives have misinterpreted certain portions of the text and have created man-made doctrines that have harmed the church and many people. Surely you have read what I’ve written here about that? My main complaints are not with “liberals” in the church but with “conservatives” like me who don’t follow our own rules of interpretation. The “liberals” can clean their own house.

    I wrote this: “Only if someone thinks that their duty to God entails enforcement of doctrinal compliance. Or if someone believes that they have a grant of entitlement from God or something like that. Certainly that as happened and happens whenever there is abuse.” That is what is happening in too many conservative churches, I am sad to say. Complementarianism basically teaches that men have a grant of entitlement, and all that goes with that. And the uber-controlling churches think they have to enforce every imagined jot and tittle of their law. It sounds like that is what happened to you, and I am so sorry it did.

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  81. Headless Unicorn Guy: Including Clergy/Laity.
    Refresh me on this, but wasn’t such Clericalism one of the sparking points of the Protestant Reformation?

    I don’t know, but clergy/laity does not seem consistent with the NT textual record. But, if you want to go the Tradition route, then… I think the Lord took a dim view of Scribes and Lawyers in the Temple vicinity, so I do, too. The High Priests were sketchy, too. The New Covenant seems to me to envision Brothers and Sisters with one Father in heaven. I like that model better, but I generally favor flatter and more efficient management structures. 🙂

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  82. Gram3,

    “And the uber-controlling churches think they have to enforce every imagined jot and tittle of their law.”
    +++++++++++++

    thank you for your reply, Gram3. You are always very reasonable, compassionate and full of empathy.

    i think christian culture runs on principle over people and cruelty (and stupidity) at this point in time (well, this is nothing new in the history of christianity).

    ———
    in trying to crystallize my thoughts, i think the closest is what i said just above, and apologies for repeating myself:

    “i don’t think any human being is able to wield the bible without double standards and harming others unless they have a short theological list and hold the rest of it loosely.

    and i am conscientious about not supporting or endorsing (actively or passively) any long theological list from any tribe.

    i don’t want to be party to destroying anyone else’s life.”
    ——-

    thank you, Gram3, for the kind and thoughtful dialogue.

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  83. Gram3: the uber-controlling churches think they have to enforce every imagined jot and tittle of their law

    The Laws of The Medes and The Persians, Handed Down on Graven Tablets (at the commercialised camps & conferences):

    1. We don’t have any rules here, so make sure you don’t break any.

    2. We’re free & easy here, so make sure you don’t step out of line.

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  84. elastigirl,

    Your comments are much appreciated as well and very insightful for me, especially since you come from a different perspective. The Bible should never be wielded as a weapon, but sadly it is. Double standards are something we must all guard against, I think, mostly because it is so easy to be blind to them as humans in general. Splinters and Logs encompasses tribes, I think. We are weak, it seems to me. He knows us, that we are but dust, yet He loves us as His own dear children and desires that we conform to his Son and not to some other image created by mere humans. He also sees what we shall be, and it is too bad that more time is not spent on that aspect of the Gospel.

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  85. The board issued these repulsive statements:

    quote (reported by J Mouser) The reasons why they say they finally accepted his resignation are 1) Ortberg has broken the trust of many in the church, 2) it will be difficult to pursue the mission of the church while he remains a senior leader, and 3) he needs to prioritize reconciling with his family.

    “We acknowledge we as elders are imperfect people,” they wrote, “and for those who believe our investigation, decisions, or communications have been insufficient, we are sorry and humbly ask for your forgiveness. We have done our best to collectively pray, seek and act on the will of Jesus Christ, and to uphold integrity and compassion in everything we do.” unquote

    They don’t admit THEY broke the trust of thousands and need to mend with their staff and families of staff they’ve seriously damaged. They were the ones that didn’t care for their depressed volunteer that gave half his life. JO II has at long last become a liability to their trip.

    They, like JO II, are flaunting imperfection and flinging it in everyone’s faces at the same time. They play ever so “umble” before those whose belief in THEM is insufficient. We are perfectly “imperfect” (TM) and those benighted enough to claim disillusionment need to be mocked by our fake humility and our request for “forgiveness” (TM) (carbon copy of the stunt pulled before my own eyes). Melodrama is such fun nudge wink.

    They kidded JO II he was building HIS empire on the Hybels model but it was theirs by proxy. Verminous parasites!

    No they blatantly HAVEN’T done remotely near their best at ANY of those things listed! And they have the gall to say “we” must rebuild. The burghers of Menlo need a “season” of agnosticism. Oh and reconciling between their ex-employee and his family isn’t their affair.

    I am hopping. Books by this shower and Johnson and Dever filled the “christian bookshop” (TM) in this neighbourhood which I only used for ordering obscure items. My fellow parishioners were part time on its staff.

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  86. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    As there may be practical background in some cases, I think you are not taking a realistic view of psychology and relationships in some kinds of “church”, and how some practical concretes haven’t received due attention. In some countries, the government TOLD the public to STOP keeping 6 ft apart, some people were prepared to try to implement well thought out “homework” based on sound direction we WERE given, some people find it difficult to get hold of masks that work, some governments have copied some bad churches in DEFINING the public as incapable of cooperating, some people have been actually crushed in practical terms by not being allowed any relating or privacy on no grounds. I believe these are grave epidemics with central nervous and immune consequences and I want to see a more constructive range of viewpoints on the measures needed, and I want to see earlier ones that worked well brought back, and better results.

    The church members you cited, haven’t been taught to reason, and most governments don’t care enough whether the public are taught to reason. In some countries advocacy of any kind, and input, are effectively outlawed, copying bad “churches”. I know what it was like to be inarticulate and even people as stupid as fundagelicals might have a realistic thought momentarily, which they then frame irrationally. What makes you think secular organisations don’t copy bad church? What you yourself were doing was “virtue signalling” which is a perilous way to weaken your cases. I’m sure you could have stated explicitly for example that certain people appearing in public or issuing a statement explicitly claimed their fundagelical ontology would ward off germs, which is a form of words that might spread by wildfire, whilst we have no idea whatsoever what the psychology (let alone organisational status – and concrete material circumstances) of these people is. They might not REALLY believe in the fundagelical creed at all, they’ve just been placed in the habit (during the badly amplified rock concerts) that they’ve got to come out with the “done thing” in form of words – “you can have what you say” is the “rationalisation” – now they have been persuaded by the Seabolts and Devers of this world that it doesn’t matter what the outcome is for them.

    It’s because of such churches’ “leadership” quotient stopping the teaching of real prayer and belief that the membership have gone gaga and are less able to be salt & light even to themselves. You have to distinguish between underlying psychology, apparent propaganda, subtext to propaganda, all “rationalisations” as between, the concrete circumstances of people, and organisational “binds” and “holds”, then duplicate that as between plain congregations, handpicked favoured members of such, and “leaderships” (which have their inner and outer trained cliques), you’ll find at least 24 different things so if you try and lump them it weakens your argument and in view of the sensitivity I think it is hazardous to try to be realistic and honest and constructive about this or to lead others to raise the subject if you haven’t done so in a way that makes sense first. The Seabolts and the Devers have “got to” give their subalterns “orders” (sometimes subliminally) that are not “unpalatable”; instead of saying be considerate and join in a genuine effort for common good. (I am vaguely aware a few specific church organisations are leaning towards the latter in this particular case, solely for publicity reasons: virtue signalling. I’m naming sample names as to the problem as it impacts all issues generally.)

    Please think compassionately about the victims of the depravedd (straight out) Dever and Seabolt types in “animating” their “shock troops”, it doesn’t matter to them what the issues ARE. Stealing of affections on “sacred” grounds is a heinous and horrific offense to man & God. Whether they can deprive advocacy of legitimate support, and whether they can pit the public against authority on no true grounds, that’s what they are REALLY about. Melodrama is SO fun, nudge wink. What are THEIR associations in smokeless rooms? So please think it out when you want to allude to sensitive matters, thank you. It’s not safe, on an internationally available blog, to explain any cooperative insight let alone hint how one may have gained those. I am probably in trouble for proposing in a civicly responsible way how you can get your argument on the rails. Nothing is what it seems – that is how weaponising works. Don’t buy into it against ordinary public. What about a level of “pretend ordinary” membership who have been groomed so as to be imitated by the “more” ordinary ones. There are people that claim to speak for us and don’t. Honestly, when did we ever speak for ourselves and hope to not be thought naughty? I’ve said far too much & you’ve said far too much if you can’t admit to seeing what is what. This tells FAR more about shockingly bad relationships in “churches” than about attitudes to an epidemic.

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  87. ren: I have a feeling the motivation had to do with saving face

    Who appointed Seabolt to the board? Who were on the board when they entrapped the Ortberg family when Johnny was young and impressionable? Does JO II have an inkling what has been done to him and his family by the board? Does he ask himself why he allowed the board to do this to his family? Did he kid himself he was escaping the strike of the Empire of Hybelia? Even as late as 2018 (a significant date all round) and even more so several times in 2019, he was given the chance by Daniel to save his whole family. Seabolt thanks Daniel to his face, then accuses him once she has an audience that adores their idol she has given them to adore. Seabolt has now gained the whole of August to further polish her image of “more perfectly imperfect” than the villanous coverage she has engineered for her throwaway culprits. She should never be allowed a people-person job in any field, ever.

    We think we might improve a church by our presence, but it is going to increasingly EAT US UP in big, bad ways. I’ve seen this play out, with variations, close up. I’m not surprised God has in desperation “engineered” the stoppage of the badly amplified (i.e “anointed” (TM)) rock concerts and the fake “communions” and I’m in sympathy with Him THERE.

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  88. drstevej,

    I feel furious at Danny, the transgender! You wd think that someone who has suffered w non-normal sexual identity wd be COMPASSIONATE but not her/him! No he has to publicize his families private business and ruin his brother’s life for ever. I feel rage towards Danny and his trans wife, Grace. What immature selfish people.

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  89. Dolly, how do you feel at the Seabolt tendency? Ghouls looking for a throwaway family (already thrown away by Hybelia) as idols to pull down for melodrama.

    How do you feel about the Hybels tendency which JO II and Nancy have internalised? It took Nancy and her friends all this time to expose Hybels.

    Someone grievously spooked Daniel when young and no-one could do anything about it although told. Was it Nancy’s great-uncle? Great-uncles apparently are typically prevalent in abusive situations.

    Seabolt must hold great allure for the Ortbergs, she’s got that “touch” that reminds them of their great uncles in Hybelia.

    And there was an outer circle of elders who weren’t allowed to be told what Johnny was up to NOR what state he had been reduced to since giving his life to this venomous outfit since his own boyhood.

    And Johnny and his dad are too ontologically “changed” to need procedures. Their minimal self awareness of their weirdness at least told them that much. No we won’t let anyone know how I’ve endangered my “only” John III.

    Johnny had made it look as if he was going to compare their two situations and the next thing Daniel knows is their dad has entrenched him. And the suicide threats tied specifically to continuing this stringing the boys along, in ways which made some parents uncomfortable and the boys won’t be very grateful to look back at.

    Both Johnny and his dad saying things about photos and counsellors which show they were unrealistic about police threshold AND about parental concerns re. intense mawkishness at the same time, plus bad procedures.

    The church whether it was their dad or Seabolt’s clique or anybody REPEATEDLY not commencing due procedures e.g get Johnny’s clearance reviewed internally which is what most churches are doing.

    Personally the word “immature” crossed my mind too, well at only 3 years older at least Daniel isn’t stringing anyone along. Daniel is one of the less immature around this scenario.

    Have you noticed how frightening it is when around a person with a vacuum where a personality should be? When those in charge are in a worse state? Daniel isn’t the one that started the talk of police, it was their dad and Johnny.

    When the image of authority is the Seabolt-Hybels one?

    What about 6,000 immature congregation members? Their dollars aren’t funding the gospel of Jesus Christ. The true Gospel healped with maturing, didn’t reverse it. The poisonous literature of this outfit is in “bookshops” all over the world.

    At least we now know what the monsters and machines in Daniel’s writings, actually are.

    Roll up for Eternal Subjection to Seabolt’s Never Ending Story (Hybels-Strobel spinoff).

    Lots of friends of all of them troubled to write, in recent days, and I’ve spent three solid days reading it, because it’s so similar to things I’ve seen and so many people I knew were involved with this shower. Have you spent several solid days on it Dolly?

    What about the many megachurches that only make it onto Dee’s blog once or twice? Or haven’t yet? And smaller ones? They look up to the more infamous ones. Have they got putrid boards as well? Have they got poisonous teachings as well? I’ve seen with my own eyes far more immaturity in church “leaderships”, if immaturity is what’s worrying you. That lying tendency who are all-powerful in today’s world (aren’t weakened by this at all) have hijacked all of what was vocabulary of belief.

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  90. If I was from an outer circle of “elders” not allowed to see what is being done by MY machine to the children of my employees, I would be ashamed and furious.

    But, have those particular ones been hand-picked for their “associations”?

    I’ve seen the vicar’s wife on a trip. Parishioners with a dead look in their eyes.

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  91. Joining more dots. Did Seabolt tell JO II not to act OR did JO II nag Seabolt into not nagging him? And then, did the alleged outer circle (the real inner circle) put Seabolt up as front person? Layers of dispensibility. The deadweights who say nothing, are going to piece this tragedy together all over again.

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  92. dolly Patterson,

    It does seem like the “punishment” to the father/family is not proportional to the “hurt feelings” in this case. I also feel that the younger brother’s identity should not have been revealed to the general public in such a fashion. He has not been proven guilty yet in terms of actions in the legal sense. And this is unfair to him.

    The issue could still have been dealt with in the Menlo church community. It seems that a “threat” was barely given to have the father fired, and before the church truly had a chance to consider and respond to that severe demand, the thing was already in the social media. In life, our own bitter reactions to things can actually cause greater bitterness in other people. No one wins in this process. That’s the human story.

    I sincerely pray that God’s Spirit and power will come in and redeem everyone in His time. Our life is validated in Christ, not by other things.

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  93. To all of you who believe that gender is “a choice,” i would kindly suggest that you learn more about gender identity as distinct from biological sex as (of if) assigned at birth.

    For one thing, medical conditions referred to as intersex are a very real thing, and they don’t align with our societal expectations of sex as binary, ditto gender.

    An awful lot of people have lived and died never knowing that they were what would now be referred to, from a medical/biological standpoint, as intersex. It is about heredity and chromosomes, not about so-called hermaphrodites or even ambiguous genitalia, but the latter isn’t uncommon. Some intersex conditions are fairly common, while others are exceedingly rare.

    If intersted in how these conditions were often dealt with in the very recent past, I’d suggest that you Google a bit re. Dr. John Money and his most infamous cases. Money was at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, which was then and still is one of the most highly-regarded med schools in the country. Sadly, Money destroyed the ,ives of some of his child patients. (The awful MD in Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel Middlesex is based on him, and the narrator’s intersex condition is the same as one of the children in Money’s most infamous case, although the fictive reason for it, as Eugenides explains it, is completely inaccurate.)

    I have a good friend who has a trans child. If you folks would please take the time to learn and understand more about non-binary and trans people – including the extremely high rate of suicide among trans kids and teenagers- i hope and pray that you might find your hearts becoming more open to them, ditto for all people who are somewhere in the LGBTQ+ community in this country and in the world.

    To expect that a handful of proof-texted verses cover all of the things humans are and experience is really a great deal like the people who condemned Galileo for proving that our solar system is heliocentric. It was *not* true that any planet was the center of our solar system, then or now. No matter how much proof-texting people did, or how much they believed it was accurate, could change the fact that they.were.wrong.

    It might sound farfetched, but it’s much closer, in both time and in the issues at its heart, to now than we’d like to believe.

    Honestly, our carping and condemnations of LGBTQ+ folks is so very much like Galileo’s situation that it’s painful to contemplate.

    Danny and Grace Lavery both decided they were done hiding who they actually are. While I’m unfamiliar with Grace’s family background, i think Danny has been *incredibly* brave, given the shame, guilt and self-hatred baked into his upbringing regarding gender, biological sex at birth, and much more.

    The church really could learn a great deal about love and compassion from those who have bern and still are treated as social outcasts, “defective” morally, and worse.

    As an aside, back in the 90s i supported a particular ex-gay ministry, believing that those who said they had experienced orientation change were telling the truth. They were doing the best they could in circumstances and in churches that wouldn’t accept them for who they are. This group and others like it have neen thoroughly discredited by the folks who said they had “changed.” In fact, most ex-gay groups and umbrella orgs have closed down. The only people who truly experienced something like “orientation change” were/are bi folks who didn’t necessarily realize that they were bi.

    I’m not trying to sound like an ideologue, and i am actually a very “old” denisen of this blog. I no longer coomment due to the fact that many other concerns have been pretty overwhelming since the 2016 campaign season. None of us can handle too much stress at a time, especially when the stressors are completely beyond our control.

    So that’s the main reason i only show up here 12x per year.

    Wishing all of you well in this admittedly difficult time.

    n.

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  94. birdoftheair,

    But Danny and Grace were not the individuals who announced that information. Danny’s family did it, also some members of the church.

    It’s troubling to see how many people actually believe it was some sort of weird vendetta by Danny and Grace.

    Danny was extremely circumspect, on his blog and outside writing gigs, and did not reveal who the individual was. It has been very painful for all concerned, and I would trust Danny and Grace’s word on this – unless something happened to cast doubt on his account of it all.

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  95. dolly Patterson,

    Perhaps you might refer to him as a transman, rather than turning “transgender” into a slur?

    You might not realize the implications, although it’s equally possible that you do.

    Either way, he is a *human being* just as you are.

    It muddies the water considerably when slurs and insults are used, and it certainly keeps reasonable and peaceful discussion from happening, or, in this case, continuing.

    Pax,
    numo

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  96. birdoftheair,

    The ‘punishment’ you refer to is what actually resulted in children being safeguarded in that church & community. It wasn’t so much a punishment as a consequence of someone stepping up to do the right thing, finally, when those who should have done this chose not to. John Ortberg could have stepped his son down out of children’s ministry without a ripple, sadly it is is his misguided behaviour that has ended up with this.

    Where is your concern for the children?

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  97. BeakerN,

    Everyone cares about the children, at least we should. Let all children be shielded from all harm.

    Yes, issues should have been clarified sooner. I only feel that the problem could have been solved in other ways, if communications and relationships had been better within the family. The volunteer could have stepped aside sooner, and help sought, etc. Apparently the family has been in a tough struggle in recent years with the adult children. In the tense emotional situation, some things get magnified, and other things missed. Somehow things break down.

    I am not looking for heroes in this sad situation. Let our Father God do His work of purification and transformation in lives.

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