It seems like the religious right will forgive anything these days, also long as you say the right magic words.
Christianity Today published an anonymous piece in their Leadership Journal, penned by a convicted child molester who abused a member of the youth program. The piece doesn’t even attempt to offer a mealymouthed apology for the molestation of a child, and never uses the words “rape,” “statutory,” “crime,” or “illegal.” It instead focuses on his “easy trip from youth minister to felon” and is a wallow of self-pity acting as a warning to other pastors.
The anonymous felon writes in the piece that:
“The realities of parenthood and marriage were sinking in, and I felt unappreciated at home. From my perspective, I was excelling at work and at home — and this perceived lack of appreciation led me to believe I deserved more. Meanwhile, there was someone else in my life that appreciated me very much.
“But I knew what appeared innocent was, in reality, wrong and very dangerous. Red flags kept popping up. Why was I not talking about this “friendship” with my wife? Why was I being secretive and sneaky about it? Why didn’t I, in the earliest stages, when I knew the “friendship” was rapidly escalating beyond what it should be, slam on the brakes?”
He continues by adding “Talking and texting turned flirtatious. Flirting led to a physical relationship. It was all very slow and gradual, but it was constantly escalating. We were both riddled with guilt and tried to end things, but the allure of sin was strong.”
Pro-tip: you don’t take responsiblity for a crime by blaming it on “sin,” especially when “sin” carries the implication it’s something that we’re all capable of doing (no, it’s not; very few people are capable of doing it and even fewer still ever will). It’s only in the postscript of the essay does it even acknowledge that the author is a sexual predator:
Author’s Note: In response to readers’ concerns, the author of this piece has offered the following clarification: “I recognize that what I initially considered a consensual relationship was actually preying on a minor. Youth pastors who do the same are not “in relationship” but are indeed sexual predators. I take 100 percent of the responsibility for what happened.”
He warns other pastors not to go down the same road he went down, saying “[w]hen my wife discovered incriminating text messages on my phone, I knew instantly that everything was about to come crashing down. After hours of screaming and crying, she packed some bags, loaded our 2 kids into the minivan and left the house at 3 AM. I have not seen my kids since. It has been over a year,” adding that “I lost my job, and was required to drop out of seminary. I pleaded guilty to 2 felonies, am serving time in prison and will be a registered sex offender for the rest of my life.”
Nowhere at all does he mention the girl or her family.
And if you thought the commentators on CT would be humane enough to universally condemn him, allow reality to disabuse you of that notion. While a number of commentators were highly critical of the piece and author, they were outnumbered by the people defending the author.
The critics of the piece were very critical (rightfully so), though: “Pastor Tim” wrote:
Besides being a self-centered, egotistical jerk and deserving to have your head knocked off for messing up this young woman’s life, you left out one very important “lesson” here — accountability! If you’d established some accountability, you wouldn’t have messed up this girl’s life, your own marriage, the damage to your wife & kids … etc.
“Rev. Elizabeth Dilly” really took the piece to task, however:
I’m shocked and horrified to read this author’s assertion that he had an “extramarital affair” with a teen. It is not an “affair” when he is in a position of power and authority over her – it is abuse. It is sexual abuse, and it is abuse of power and authority. I see nothing in this that is brave or courageous – he hides behind the shield of anonymity and avoids direct responsibility for taking advantage of a young woman. I’m also curious why this story is told. To help shield others from a similar temptation? I would think that hearing the impact this sort of abuse has on a young person, written from their perspective, would convict any souls who could find themselves slipping into this sort of sin. When will the church stop spilling ink on the abusers and give time and energy to hearing the stories of those they abused? We don’t need to forgive this man – but the church needs to apologize to its victims for creating systems where this abuse happens and repent of these sins.
h/t Opposing Views
“The realities of parenthood and marriage were sinking in, and I felt unappreciated at home. From my perspective, I was excelling at work and at home — and this perceived lack of appreciation led me to believe I deserved more,” he wrote. “Meanwhile, there was someone else in my life that appreciated me very much.
“But I knew what appeared innocent was, in reality, wrong and very dangerous,” he continued. “Red flags kept popping up. Why was I not talking about this “friendship” with my wife? Why was I being secretive and sneaky about it? Why didn’t I, in the earliest stages, when I knew the “friendship” was rapidly escalating beyond what it should be, slam on the brakes?”
– See more at: http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/convicted-ex-youth-pastor-makes-apologies-child-rape-anonymous-op-ed#sthash.dMdJfyGs.dpuf
More From AATTP On Religious Abuse
- Jimmy Carter: Religion Is The Cause Of Horrific Abuse Of Girls And Women
- ‘Kidnapping For Christ’ Highlights Abuses And Kidnappings At Christian Schools
- Religious Bigot Ordered To Pay 1.6 Million For Harassing Lesbian Employee