When #metoo becomes #churchtoo
Andy Savage is a pastor who took advantage of one of the girls under his pastoral care when she was just 17 years old. She details the experience here. Normally, I would warn you to stay away if you have sensitives about this issue, but honestly, I think everybody needs to read this girl's words. So you can fully understand why what comes next is enraging.
Did the lead pastor's of this church report this crime to the police when it was brought to their attention? No. Instead this man was allowed to quietly step down from ministry and move on with his life. He was allowed to stand on the stage at the church he currently serves in and with tears in his eyes talk about his crime as a "mistake" for which he has been "taken responsibility" and he was given a standing ovation.
I wish I had been there. I wish I could have stayed in my seat and when the applause died down yelled out "that's not responsibility!" Responsibility is not covering up your crime with safe "christianese" words like "sexual incident" You did not have a sexual incident Mr. Savage. You took a 17 year old girl in your car, pulled off on a dark road with her, forced her to perform oral sex on you, then in your guilt begged her to keep silent about what you had done. You assaulted her. You broke the law. The incident you speak of? Is a crime. Responsibility would have been turning yourself into the authorities to face the punishment that comes with committing a crime like the one you committed.
How dare you stand on the altar of a church and act like God would want any part of this farce. And how dare the leaders of his church put their stamp of approval on this bastardization of forgiveness and taking responsibility for ones actions. Girls that have consensual sex with their boyfriends are taught they have lost a part of themselves they can never get back, men like Mr. Savage are given the "everybody makes mistakes" line and we're all just supposed to move on?
I think not
The #metoo movement that began several months back is what has given rise to so many women telling their stories. And I watched people in the church shake their heads and sigh. "Of course Hollywood has this problem. It's a godless place." As if the church doesn't have it's own #metoo issues to work out. In case we needed reminding of that here it comes. And here's the point. As long as "the church" structurally stays a place where men have most of the control this is a problem that will not fade, it will just grow. When women are seen as second class citizens in their own pews; when sexual desire is something we are told men can't control and women need to protect them from themselves this is what happens.
We don't get to throw "godly justice" on situations and act like that solves them. Forgiveness devoid of real change and consequences is shallow. It sparkles like fools gold. Or like the tombs Jesus likened the Pharisees to; white washed on the outside but full of dead bones on the inside. There can be no justice when victims are not given the space to speak. There can be no justice when those who us their power to take advantage of others are not held accountable in significant and measurable ways.
Until we clean our own house out we have absolutely no business trying to clean anyone else's out. I've never met Mr. Savage. I'm not saying the man doesn't feel tremendous grief over what he's done. That's not the point. When we mess up there should be consequences. The safety of the most vulnerable in our midst should always be the first priority. The church is where those who have messed up and fallen so short of the glory of God are welcomed in. Just not with a standing ovation.
Where was Mr. Savage's victim's standing ovation? She was shoved to the side and told to keep quiet. Her agency doesn't matter in this story to Mr. Savage and the men who approved the speech he gave on that stage. She became a part of his redemptive story, whether she wanted to be or not.
Well I'm not here for that. And I'll call that what is...sin. Plain and simple. When Mr. Savage is ready to call what he did by its true name; assault maybe I'll find it in me to stand up and applaud. Until then I'll keep reminding everyone of that terrible truth. One in 5 women have been sexually assaulted. When will we give her as much love and attention as her abuser?
Jules Woodsen; I'm sorry someone who was supposed to protect you hurt you. But I'm so glad you are speaking out. You give the rest of us hope and courage. They can try to silence us, but the word of God is true. What was hidden will be brought to light and justice will roll down like a river.
Even if we have to be the ones who start the flood