Nail down definition, churches, of 'above reproach'
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Steve Jordahl (OneNewsNow.com)
First it was Hollywood, then followed the media and politics, and now there are signs the anti-sexual abuse #MeToo movement may be knocking on the doors of the church.
Some 20 years ago, youth pastor Andy Savage engaged in what he later described as a "sexual incident" with one of his then-high school students.
He admitted it, resigned, sought forgiveness from the student and the church, and years later was up front about it with the staff and board of Highpoint Church he helped found in Memphis, Tenn.
But if we have learned anything about the #MeToo movement, the pain left by sexual assault is little assuaged by the passing years. So spurred on by the #MeToo movement, the victim made details of the assault public. Savage went public, too.
"As a college student on staff at a church in Texas more than 20 years ago," he stated publicly to the church congregation, "I regretfully had a sexual incident with a female high school senior in the church."
Highpoint Church says Savage has done enough and they are, in their words, 100 percent committed to the church staff member.
It may be that the hopefully cleansing wildfire that has burned down so much of Hollywood, politics and the media is now advancing on the church.
Christian apologist Alex McFarland says he disagrees with Highpoint.
"My policy has always been," says McFarland, "that when it comes to sexual sin and ordained clergy, it is a 'one strike, you're out' policy."
That is because, he says, the New Testament pastoral letters to Timothy and to Titus instruct a pastor to be "above reproach" and "blameless."
Every church, says McFarland, should proactively tackle the issue.
"Churches must sooner rather than later know their convictions, set policies and faithfully adhere to those policies," he advises.
That, he says, keeps the passions of the moment from making difficult decisions even harder.
"Because the gospel, even under the best of circumstances," he observes, "has a hard enough time being taken seriously in an unbelieving world, we must have the highest standards within the church."
As to the inevitable question of why so many conservative Christians are willing to break that rule when it comes to Donald Trump?
"It's not a double standard, it's a higher standard," McFarland responds. "And if it sounds like we're holding pastors and clergy to a different standard, it's because we are."
Editor's note: Reference to Judge Roy Moore removed after story was originally posted.
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