Priests and Sex abuse

Priests and sex abuse

Priests and Sex Abuse

Richard Hollerman

We all know that in the past few years, we find report after report of sex abuse perpetrated by clergy. Although we may think of Catholic priests indulging in this form of perverse and wicked behavior, but surely there are others.

Recently the local newspaper reported that Independent Baptist Churches have their own share of such despicable behavior. Are we to suppose that others do not indulge in sex abuse of children, both boys and girls?  This would include the various mainline Protestant denominations (such as the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal churches), the more Evangelical Protestant denominations (such as the Baptist, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Church of Christ and Christian Church, and various other ones). It would also include the Orthodox Churches. Beyond various “Christian” groups, evidently many other religious organizations produce their own sex abuse scandals.

Just two days ago, the local newspaper ran an article entitled, “Hundreds of priests named in aftermath of sex abuse report” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 4, 2019). The article deals with what it calls, “predator priests” and it goes back for decades. Maybe we could ask ourselves, “Why does it seem that Catholic priests are so prone to fall into this evil, unloving, and wicked sexual contact with children? Could it be the doctrine of enforced sexual abstinence and refusal to permit legitimate marriage? Although we may think that such a doctrine will keep the clergy clean, pure, and free from any sexual indulgence, surely it doesn’t work this way.

Do you suppose that a careless view of sex that has no consequences could contribute to this? No, how could this be so when traditionally fornication and homosexuality (and we must remember that much of this abuse is homosexual in nature) were considered “mortal” sins that would prevent one from entering heaven. Even though they could be forgiven, still the penalties were severe.

Part of the blame may fall at the feet of the Catholic hierarchy who have taken a “soft” approach to these sorts of sins. Recently we have read that, in America, when a priest was discovered to have committed sexual sins with children or young people, he would merely be transferred to another job in another part of the country. There he might continue his sexual perversion in a different setting. Yes, this might possibly be to blame. This latest report of scandals seems to say that there will be a new openness and increased punishment of these sexually perverted priests.

One of the greatest Catholic scandals of the past has been the extensive sexual indulgence among Irish priests in the country of Ireland, traditionally a bastion of Catholicism. This would include children in orphan homes as well as children in other places. Along with this, there was the hiding of abortion brought on by wicked priests and nuns. (At least, this is what has been widely reported.)

But we think that no one can point an accusing finger at Catholic religious orders, for (as we earlier mentioned) this form of abuse is widespread in other religious communities as well. We must also remember that in America, Europe, as well as Latin America, society in general has become very lax in the matter of sexual indulgence. Surveys indicate that a large percentage of people at large participate in pre-marital sexual activity. Thus perhaps it is not too surprising that this would be the case in the religious sphere as well. If half of all couples “live with” (i.e., live in fornication) their boyfriend or girlfriend before marriage, we can see how widespread sexual activity is in America. Presumably this is the case in other “developed” countries as well.

We do need to be careful about hypocrisy here. Paul the apostle writes, “You have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things” (Romans 2:1-2). When someone condemns the Catholic clergy or anyone else for sexual immorality, but participates in it himself/herself, that person is guilty of hypocrisy.

Paul goes on to ask this penetrating question: “Do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?” (Romans 2:3). The apostle doesn’t stop there. He charges, “Because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God!” (v. 5). The main thing is not just the exposure of wickedness and perverse sexuality, but the matter of keeping oneself pure himself or herself.

In another place, Paul earnestly pleads: “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret” (Ephesians 5:11-12). Let us condemn this form of sexual exploitation and evil indulgence, as well as lack of love, but at the same time remember that there are countless other sins that people freely indulge in. Let us urge people to repent of all of this and live clean, moral, and pure lives. (See Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 2 Timothy 3:1-5.)

Thus, while we may be grieved and even angered by the “hundreds of priests” who participate in unmarried sexual activity (such as fornication and homosexuality), let us remember that countless religious leaders and regular persons also are implicated in sexual molestation. All of those who compromise God’s requirement of absolute purity will face God in judgment (2 Corinthians 10:5). May all of those who fall into homosexuality, fornication, adultery, or other sexual sin repent while there is time—so that a loving and merciful God will receive them!

 

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