The Abuse Of Faith By Pastors, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú

July 31, 2019 by Web Editor0

It is morally reprehensible to dismiss the crimes of pastors and church leaders. It is an abuse of faith to attempt to silence critics and denounce people who challenge the church to be accountable as unfaithful, or lacking obedience to the word of God. To believe that church leaders are infallible is a disgusting handicap to have.

Have you ever heard a sermon in your church about sexual abuse, domestic violence, and child abuse? The answer is probably ‘No!’ Sexual abuse, domestic violence and child abuse are not just mentioned once or twice, there are references to these issues in abundance. Examples can be found in the abuse of the Levite’s concubine, Joseph, Abel, Tamar and Dinah. Your pastors or reverends shy away from these passages because they are scary and unglamorous. With what is going on in Nigeria and in Christendom, these passages are very relevant today, as they have always been.

Professing the name of Jesus is not a cure all. Being born again can wash away sins, according to the Bible, but it cannot wash away crimes. The pulpit should not be a safe haven for sex offenders, pedophiles, child molesters, wife beaters and rapists. Those who aspire to lead us in faith, ought to be people of integrity, known for their self-control and compassion. It is completely out of line, if churches and Christian umbrella bodies choose to ignore the scripture and the principles behind their own existence. Certainly, sex offenders, rapists and anyone engaging in those crimes do not meet the integrity, self-control and compassion criteria and they should be made to face the consequences.

From what we know about the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) saga playing out and the obscene and ostentatious lifestyles of many pastors, it is clear that the body of Christ in Nigeria desperately needs accountability and responsibility. Self-sanction is best, if they do not wish to lose the digital generation that is wiser, more introspective and practical. They must know that no one is above reproach in all things. Understandable but not excusable is the palpable fear gripping the body of Christ into defensiveness. Many in it fear the allegations of rape is going to make them all look bad. Unfortunately, reactions based on fear are no long-term strategy. It is actually a failing strategy because many of in the body of Christ are bad, and they should look bad. Issues like this have gone on for too long without being addressed. Defensive responses from “respected” pastors and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), and attempts by the COZA congregation to demonise victims, rank high among the worst things the sexually abused can endure.

…the nauseating indifference to criminal behaviour by pastors and the “touch not the anointed”-believing congregation is a gross abuse of faith. The lack of accountability and oversight in branches, and big churches without hierarchical structures, constitute an abuse of faith.

Increasingly in Nigeria, people are associating faith or authority with oppression, trauma and betrayal. Religious leaders are authority figures. They are frequently and affectionately called “Men of God”. When someone is referred to as a man of God, there are no holds barred. Those who look up to them have no guards and their defence systems are completely paralysed. There is a feeling that it is a special relationship, blessed and sanctioned by God. Along with star power, it is easy to see why the young women were so vulnerable with zero defences.

That is why the nauseating indifference to criminal behaviour by pastors and the “touch not the anointed”-believing congregation is a gross abuse of faith. The lack of accountability and oversight in branches, and big churches without hierarchical structures, constitute an abuse of faith. Recently, the social media has become the battle ground for the fight against errant pastors and those committed to defending them. It is the height of the apologism of rape to bandy about the worn cliché of “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called”. What about making sure the called become qualified? We must not allow anyone to offer loose interpretation of the biblical text with respect to rape and sexual assault. Rape is never the fault of the victim. We have lessons to learn from the book of Judges 19. The story is a lesson in intimate betrayal and the complicity of the community in the story, calls on us to consider our own roles when we aid and abet evil. In it is the most gruesome story in the Bible. The entire chapter is almost all about the rape, murder, and the dismemberment of a woman, facilitated by her husband. The Bible defined our roles as a people or as congregants in the final verse of the chapter: “Set yourselves (your hearts) on her, confer and speak!”

The common responses to abuse within our churches and communities mimics the ordeal of Tamar. Concerted attempts are made to silence victims and are designed to minimise their pain. What Tamar went through, shows how patriarchy and abuse are intertwined. David was silent but his silence made things worse.

We have heard about the promotion of Joseph as prime minister of Egypt but have we heard or read about the ordeal of Tamar and her rape in 2 Samuel 13:18-22? As they say, there is nothing new under the sun. The common responses to abuse within our churches and communities mimics the ordeal of Tamar. Concerted attempts are made to silence victims and are designed to minimise their pain. What Tamar went through, shows how patriarchy and abuse are intertwined. David was silent but his silence made things worse. The refusal of David and Absalom to turn over Amnon to the authorities complicated things, leading to dysfunction within their family and death.

It is morally reprehensible to dismiss the crimes of pastors and church leaders. It is an abuse of faith to attempt to silence critics and denounce people who challenge the church to be accountable as unfaithful, or lacking obedience to the word of God. To believe that church leaders are infallible is a disgusting handicap to have.

 

Web Editor


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