Lately there’s been some recent scandals that have surfaced in the evangelical world. I won’t link to them, but it’s the stuff you hear about on a fairly regular basis: affairs, assumed affairs, embezzlement, frivolous spending, abuse. My Twitter feed has been bloated with links and articles on how men and women have fallen from their pulpits into sin and devastation.
This morning I read a blog post a friend of mine linked to and cringed – not because of the scandal-du-jour, but because of the assumptions and accusations made by a person who is far outside of the situation.
Recently, a public figure in the Christian world confessed to an emotional-type affair, saying (or implying) the woman he was inappropriately involved with and he did not engage in sexual acts. People have torn into his confession and resignation letter, projecting the assumptions that somehow they were sexually involved, that the man’s wife has no other choice but to endure and is probably ostracized from their community because it is one that is highly patriarchal. That this man will take some time off, but because of his authority and apparent brain-washing, will be back in power again soon. Assumptions are made about the other woman forever wearing a scarlet letter (some assumptions were made she was a virgin and unmarried, neither of which were mentioned in the statement).
I take two issues with this:
1) So many assumptions are being made in this situation and others like it. Outside of what is stated in this man’s resignation letter, we know nothing. As Christians, we are called to believe the best and to hope for the best in our brothers and sisters. I understand the temptation to dig, to find the “truth,” to stare at the car wreck, but we cannot do this. It only destroys the beauty of our own hearts as well as tarnishes another at the time when they’re most vulnerable.
2) Although one, some, any of these “scandals” may be true to its worst assumption, we cannot let ourselves ruin a gift we don’t even have the right to have: grace. Grace is the biggest scandal in church history. It is something none of us deserve; something we’re given when we’re hiding in our sin and we meet our Saviour at the well. He offers us life, love, and hope: not condemnation. What will help someone who’s fallen “Go and sin no more?” Our gossip? Our assumptions? Our self-righteousness? Or our love, our encouragement, and our prayers?
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Paul