How Much Do I Love You?

By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved

Remember the little story about when Jesus asked, “How much do I love you?” And then He stretched out His arms and died on the cross.

It’s such a nice “warm fuzzy.” It makes a great sermon illustration. And we love to identify with it. How much do we love the lost? Oh, just like Jesus did! Look at all our programs! We “outreach” everywhere. Look at us! Look how we stretch out our arms!

Well, let’s just take a look at those arms.

Not long ago I met the neighbor of a friend. This neighbor is a Christian and a former Catholic. When she heard I have a blog addressing issues of domestic violence in Christian families and clergy sex abuse she said, “You must do a lot of stories on the Catholic church then.”

That is the automatic assumption of many people. People assume when they hear “clergy sex abuse” I’m talking about the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal. But I’m not. I’m talking about the Protestant clergy sex abuse scandal. What most people haven’t realized yet is that Protestant clergy sex abuse is at least as big an issue as it is in the Catholic church, and quite likely bigger.

Today someone sent me an article which contains excerpts from internal documents exposing the Catholic church’s long-term awareness of the existence of clergy sex abuse and their acknowledgment of the depravity of this sin. At the same time these documents demand secrecy about clergy abuse with the stated disciplinary action of excommunication for violation. In the Catholic church this is literally tantamount to being sent to Hell. Who would risk that?

As I read this information I was filled with very mixed feelings. Yes, this seems deplorable. At the same time, isn’t it worse to have a system which just blows around platitudes and does the “aw-shucks” shuffle, while playing the we-can’t-do-anything-about-it card? This is just as disingenuous and offensive as some feel about the Pope’s recent apologies to abuse victims. At least he’s apologizing! That’s more than is happening in Protestant circles.

The truth is that evil ignored is evil rewarded. There is always something we can do about evil. Instead of doing the least possible, why can’t we do the most possible within the boundaries of the law? Short of vigilante justice, the church can do much, much more in its efforts to stop abuse.

And denominational leaders – of every brand — hold the greatest responsibility. We cannot hide behind excuses. Unless and until we are doing every single thing we possibly could do, we have no excuse and we cannot possible say we care.

In fact, until that time, the truth remains that we care more for our comfy positions of power and the soothing familiarity of our traditions than we do for “these little ones” that Jesus stretched out His arms and died to save.

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