I’ll keep this brief… I think.
As I have said, I hold us as Christians responsible for a lot of things that have come to pass as acceptable in the world today. Not only because we have failed to raise our collective voice, but mainly because we don’t live the way we are supposed to. And we do not hold our leaders responsible when they, who are supposed to be acting as shepherds of the flock, messengers and mouthpieces for God, do things like this:
The link above will take you to the disgusting story of Jack Schaap, the married pastor of a 15,000 member “megachurch” in Indiana. (More on why I have megachurch in quotation marks is to come). Since you can read, I’ll let you see the details in the many articles that have been written about this mess. But to make a long story short, one of Schaap’s 16-year-old parishioners came to him for counseling, and he counseled her, all right. Not only did he engage in sexual relations with this child, he went so far as to pervert the Word of God by proclaiming that their adulterous and inappropriate relationship was “God’s plan”. He went so far as to cross state lines with the girl, and is facing ten years in prison.
I hope he gets every one of them.
Admittedly, I do wrong things daily. But I would never be stupid enough to say that it was God’s plan for me to do it! But, let me lay out my anger with this story in as organized a fashion as possible.
1. A pastor has no business having sex with his parishioners.
2. A married pastor, or anyone else is married, is not supposed to be having sex outside of their marriage at all.
3. Although the legal age of consent in many states is 16, that does not make it right for a 55-year-old man to take advantage of a child. I know a lot of 16-year-olds may be built like adults these days. Engage them in a conversation–then you will find out their true age. At sixteen, most people still act and think like kids. Because they are!
I must say I wonder out of 15,000 people, 1) how many others has their been and 2) what was it about this girl in particular? Had Schaap had his eye on her, or did her coming to counseling present him with an opportunity to groom her? However, the answers to those questions will do no more than satisfy my curiosity. Nothing that can be said or done takes from his culpability. I do not care if that girl had come into his office naked, laid across his desk naked, and requested he ravish her. It would still have been his responsibility as 1) a reverend and 2) an adult to say no.
But he didn’t. And now he must pay. Not only in man’s law, but here is what gets me–Does he not know his Bible? My thing is, I am too afraid of God to do something so outrageous. God could wipe me out in a heartbeat. I mean, he can speak a world into existence, so imagine what he can do to little old me? I am just baffled as to how someone who claimed to have been a man of God could so blatantly disrespect God. God is angry if even one of his sheep are led astray.
I must admit–I am wary of “megachurches”. My little church has less than 100 members. We all know each other by name. We serve on small, intimate committees together. We all know and most of us have our pastor’s phone number. In a church with thousands of members, how is there effective, all-inclusive worship? What I mean by that is, I find it hard to believe that there is no division in such a large church–it seems as though people may be tempted to separate into smaller groups or cliques. And how much access do all of those thousands of members have to their pastor? How many talented people who could serve in the church have been overlooked? And how often does the money that comes along with having so many tithing members pervert the pastor? We all have been given spiritual gifts that are to be used to glorify God and build his church. How can a leader help develop 15,000 people’s different gifts? Why would anyone want to attend a church that big?
We have seen a lot of leaders of megachurches fall. Eddie Long immediately comes to mind. Schaap is another. I am not saying issues are not relegated solely to big churches, but I believe there is a specific set of problems that comes along with leading a megachurch–namely that a lot of men, particularly those who have not received the proper call, are not spiritually equipped to deal with that type of power or responsibility.
I also do not like that megachurches in some way are thought to be superior to smaller ones simply because they have been able to attract more members. I am supportive of any church that preaches the true, unadulterated Word of God. I don’t care if it is a two-member church in someone’s basement. If the Gospel is being preached, more power to them. But let me say this–I do believe that there are some large churches that are led by a true Gospel preacher who is devoted to his flock. And more power to them as well! I simply think that membership in a megachurch may lead to underutilized members, and that the power and prestige may get to be more than a man can handle. Power + Prestige = Pride. God will knock down those with too much pride.
On an ending note about megachurches so I can get back to Schaap–I remember watching a video of Eddie Long preaching a sermon at his church. During the sermon, members were getting up, walking up to his stage, and throwing wads of cash in front of him. I was appalled. Now, why would anyone do that? I know people at my church, in addition to paying their tithes, sometimes give our pastor gift cards and money as tokens of appreciation. He does have a tough job, and I do not see anything wrong with taking care of your pastor in such a manner. The only thing is, they do it in private. Why? Because we are not trying to win each others’ approval. To me, running up to the stage and theatrically slapping a knot of money down is just screaming for attention–from other people. Do you honestly think that person was thinking to himself, “I’m doing this to glorify God and take care of his shepherd”, or was his line of thinking more like, “Let’s see if anybody can top that!”
Okay, let me get off of megachurches.
I was concerned about how Schaap assumed leadership of the church. From what I understand, some preachers are called to do so–these are the true preachers of the Word, who have received direction from God to enter the ministry. Others do it for worldly reasons–the possible money, power, and prestige, or there may be some who do it for more innocent reasons–their father, grandfather, etc., was a preacher, and they just assume it is in the cards for them as well.
Schaap may not have been called to preach. He married the daughter of the former pastor of the church. Now, I may be wrong, but that implies to me that, sort of like in business deals where the son or son-in-law is given leadership in his fathers’ company in order for the money associated with the company to stay in the family, Schaap was just handed the job. He may not have been the angel of that house that God would have placed there.
Or maybe he was, and fell. I kind of doubt it though. I know pastors are not perfect, but this kind of a fall is simply outrageous.
As I perused various message boards about this particular event, I noticed that the atheists were out in full force, lambasting Christians and Christianity. There were Christians out there as well, defending our religion rather than Schaap. One remark in particular stood out. One poster imagined how ironic it would be if God were a black female Jew.
I understand what the poster was trying to say, but it made me think of how people view God, and why they may find it acceptable to disrespect him. Some people think of God as a person, a man. Some women do not like that God is referred to as “he”… not thinking of it being used as a pronoun (what should we call God, “it”?). Perhaps the confusion comes from the passage of Scripture in Genesis that discusses man’s creation. We are created in God’s image.
That does not mean God is a broad-chested man with a penis, nor is he a curvy woman with a vagina. Why in the world would God need reproductive parts? God has no body at all, he is a spirit. In the Bible God appears in many forms. Some may find that contradictory, because in other passages of Scripture we are told that no one has seen God. Well, is it possible that although people saw a form of God, they did not see God in his true form?
And does it matter?
That brings me to the back and forth discussions about Jesus and what race he may have been. My tooth is hurting and I am getting tired, so I’ll be brief here–I do not care if He is Black, White, Yellow, Red, Polka-Dotted, or Striped. I just want to see Him! All I know is He died for my sins and rose again. That is all I need to know. I feel the same way about God. Why is appearance important, as opposed to what has been done for you??