A devotion to authority that borders on insanity, pt. 3

I didn’t intend this to become a series, but things keep popping up that fit with the theme. This article is worth a look, not so much for the familiar story of pastoral sexual abuse it tells, but because it appears in World Magazine. And what caught my eye was this. [emphasis added throughout]

Stories like this are becoming distressingly familiar. Over the past year WORLD has reported on both sexual and financial scandals, though not all of them rise to the level of the heinous crimes committed by Bobby Price, but all of which have two things in common:

What two things?

Persons in authority took advantage of those who revered them, and persons who knew what was going on failed to speak up. They remained silent out of a misplaced sense of loyalty, or self-interest, or a lack of courage, or because they were too busy or told themselves it was someone else’s job.

Whatever excuse they gave for their silence, the result was always the same: a greater tragedy and more victims than if they had spoken up, or spoken up earlier.

I think the writer is correct about the first, but wrong about the second. In fact, his claim makes no sense, since he can’t know that their speaking up would have resulted in a lesser tragedy or fewer victims.

There is mounting evidence that just the opposite is true. Speaking up in the context of the church makes little difference. Speaking up offers no protection or relief to the victims, only revenge (and only occasionally that). Even in the story the writer tells, people did in fact speak up.

I also told him I had heard from credible people about sexual impropriety at the church.

But the word of credible people made no difference. World Magazine “ultimately published more stories that helped lead to the resignation of Bradley Price and the departure of most of his family members from that church”–only to move on to other churches where they found fresh victims. Only the civil authorities provided relief.

As I wrote in the previous post in this series: To those who say that to be a Christian one must be under some sort of authority besides that of King Jesus, I hope that you are prepared to explain either (a) how the normal Christian in search of authority can discern that the authority exercised by these pastors was illegitimate and therefore can righteously be rejected or avoided, or (b) that such abuse is just par for the course, something to be expected and endured in the normal Christian life.

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