I confess that I’ve never been a big fan of “watch blogs”. I think they’re often more gossip than fact. Many of them frequent in hearsay and conjecture rather than truth. They have a standard operating procedure whenever news of alleged sexual abuse makes its way to social media.
First, announce that you believe the victim! Second, the guilt of the pastor and complicity of church leadership is presupposed. Third, skip the trial and proceed immediately to sentencing in the court of public opinion.
However, while they can be rather slipshod in their approach, some watch bloggers have correctly identified a predictable pattern of behavior by church leadership when allegations of sexual abuse are made public. The initial social media response, especially from well-known evangelicals with a platform, is often, “Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law! Stop your malicious gossiping!” These responses sometimes appear “canned” and include deflection and ignoring known facts.
But, what puzzles me most is that these well-known Christian leaders, often authors, conference speakers and pastors with a substantial social media presence, defer to the judgment of manmade courts. In essence, they abdicate their biblical responsibility to the state.
In what other situation would the church do this? Would the church defer to the courts in the case of adultery? Abortion? Of course not. These are considered worthy of church discipline, though not illegal in our nation.
But, when a pastor sexually abuses a child, suddenly church leadership abdicates biblical judgment and authority to the state. “Let justice take it’s course!”
Is this truly indicative of what’s often referred to as the pastoral “good ol’ boys club”? One individual tweeted, “When it’s Matt Lauer, it’s despicable. When it’s a favorite pastor, it’s a mistake.”
It is quite an unpopular opinion to say that you think both sides are wrong. I believe that the watch bloggers are wrong, the leadership who cover up sexual abuse are wrong, and leadership with influence and a platform who provide cover and deflection are wrong. At the end of the day, they all resort to extremes. They overcorrect and land in opposite ditches, missing the truth which is often found somewhere in the middle of the road.