A grand jury report issued on August 14 revealed that Roman Catholic bishops in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests that took place over a period of 70 years. (A week before that numerous allegations of sexual harassment against, Bill Hybels, a prominent, Protestant megachurch pastor, were revealed.) Those news reports inspired these thoughts:
Congregations give way too much power to one-man. Holding power over others in church is dangerous. Perhaps by trusting priests and pastors with too much power church has opened the door for predatory behavior. Maybe we should try equality, honesty, humility and mutual accountability instead of religious hierarchy.
Assuming that priests and pastors won’t do wrong and need no accountability to church members, often fulfills Jesus’ words, “the blind leading the blind.” When a priest or preacher begins to think that he is the authority, he has taken the first step on the road to abuse.
Church member’s voices are as important as the priest’s or preacher’s voice. Their silence is complicit support of a minister’s words and actions. The Bible says, “Submit to one another.” The failure of priests and preachers to obey that command leads to much pain and abuse in church.
Church power corrupts. Jesus told His followers not to “lord it over” others. We need equality in Christ’s body, not hierarchy.
When preachers and priests think they aren’t accountable to church members, they crack open a door that can lead to terrible abuse. No one man in church should ever be exalted above practical, direct accountability and openness to the other members.
Priests and preachers can do evil things. Like any Christian they need real accountability to the body of Christ (not just to a religious hierarchy).
Sin is like gravity. If we don’t continually work against it, it will pull us down and hold us there. That even applies to priests and preachers!
So what can be done? Church needs to go back to the biblical concept of mutual submission and open ministry to one another, and quit relying an the idea of an exalted priesthood or ordained ministry. For a book about how to do that, check out: BEYOND CHURCH: AN INVITATION TO EXPERIENCE THE LOST WORD OF THE BIBLE–EKKLESIA.