10 Things NOT to Say When a Pastor is Revealed as a Sexual Predator

(unless you want to further hurt victims and be a jerk, in which case, go right ahead)

When a pastor/preacher/ministry leader is revealed to be a sexual predator, there is one response.  ONE.  It is a response of heartbreak and grief for the victims.  It is a response of belief, of support, of appropriate systems for protection, for healing, put in place. It is the appropriate civil and legal and criminal measures taken. All of those things, together, form the one response.

But instead, we sit back and watch with weary resignation as a flood of other responses start up — sometimes alongside that response. Too often before it. And we prepare ourselves for the inevitable reopening of all the old wounds, the next round of sleepless nights, the reminder that no matter how far we’ve come, whatever damage we’ve sustained — sexual, psychological, spiritual, emotional, or as yet undetermined — is still there. And we start again.

I read recently that forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past. Making peace with something like this is just that. You may mean well, but there is nothing you can do to make it okay. There are some things, though, that make it so much worse. So, if you care to know, here are some things you can not say, and in the absence of their utterance, at least not make things worse.

  1. We all fail.

We . . . all . . . fail . . . math tests.  This is not that.

  1. No one is perfect.

There’s a big difference between being flawed and being a sexual predator?  Right?  I’m saying, there’s a spectrum of imperfection there, my dude.

  1. We shouldn’t talk about this because we need to protect the reputation of the church.

The church was supposed to protect people.  It failed.  Why does it now deserve to be protected?  If an institution can’t survive the truth, let it fall.

  1. We shouldn’t talk about this because we need to protect the reputation of the gospel.

Stop.  Just stop.  Do you think we can’t break the code for “we need to cover this up, and this is the best way to manipulate people into helping us”?  The gospel is sufficient to survive the truth.

  1. We shouldn’t talk about this because we need to protect the reputation of Jesus Christ.

You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.  (Also, if Jesus is who you say he is, he definitely, definitely doesn’t need your protection.)

  1. This just goes to show, you mustn’t put your faith in man.

No one is talking about putting faith in man.  We are saying man mustn’t put body parts in other people.

  1. No church is perfect.

We’re not asking for perfect.  Just safe.  Safe would be nice.  And, if our church should fail to be safe, it would be nice to think we could find refuge, find help, in another church, instead of being turned away with #1 – #7 thrown in our face.

  1. Well, we see in Scripture, David, Solomon . . . 

Pretty sure it didn’t turn out so great for them, though.  I think there was some accountability involved?  (And stop using the Bible as a weapon against the vulnerable and a defense for abusers.  Just stop.)

  1. We mustn’t let this undermine all the good things this person has done.  

We don’t have to — the glory should have always been God’s.  

  1. What should we rename the organization?

I can’t.  If that’s what you’re thinking of, already, then may God have mercy on you, because I’m all out.

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