Jer. 23:14 ~~~ I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.
First of all, just in case anyone might think this verse doesn’t apply to the modern-day church, we have to remember that God has not changed. This is an issue of His nature as a righteous God, especially dealing with those who are His representatives. This passage was directed specifically to the prophets in Jerusalem, but God’s attitude toward those who proport to speak for Him has never changed and never will change.
The prophets described in this verse look painfully like many clergy today.
- They commit adultery. Sound familiar? Adultery includes (but is not limited to) a sexual liaison with another adult to whom one is not married. It also includes any sexual relationship or impropriety with a minor of either sex. It also includes use of pornography which is just as much of an epidemic problem among clergy as it is among those sitting in the pews.
- They walk in lies. Hmmm. Denial of known abuse is lying. Even more broadly, walking in lies would also mean walking in untruth or deception. Lying includes more than speaking a deliberate, bare-faced untruth. It also includes deception in all its forms. Failing to speak truth in such a way that conceals falsehood or perpetrates falsehood, even without actually speaking a direct lie, is still lying. So, when clergy know of abuse but fail to report it to authorities, to their church body, and to other churches they are walking in deception – lies.
- They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so evildoers do not return from their wickedness. Wow! Reinforcing evil behavior by refusing to enforce consequences, and in fact, shielding wrong-doers from consequences, is clearly strengthening the hands of evildoers. This behavior by church leaders communicates to abusers that their actions are not only beyond reproach but are protected. So evil grows and expands and more lives are destroyed.
So what is God’s perspective? …they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. That is a very strong analogy. God isn’t the slightest bit “grey” on the subject and there are no extenuating circumstances given for which He might waffle from His views.
This raises the question – how can we tolerate actions and attitudes in the church that are anything less than God’s own? How can we excuse what He is adamantly against? And how can we think there will not be serious consequences to the church for this violation of God’s righteous nature?
Filed under: Abusive Leaders | Tagged: abuse of power, abusive church leadership, authority, Biblical authority, church leadership, Clergy Abuse, modern Christianity, righteousness, spiritual authority, spiritual leaders, spiritual leadership |