Christians Behaving Badly...
It's all over the news these days. Google "Catholic" and "abuse" and you'll find more than enough reading material to sadden, anger, and sicken you for days. What you won't find is much of an analysis regarding the why of this tragedy. Protestants will glibly declare that the problem is the doctrine of celibacy, conveniently turning a blind eye towards the grave failures in our own camp.
Let's forget about celibacy for a minute and look at this through a different lens. At the risk of oversimplifying things, and realizing that there are complexities in each human heart and situation, I suggest that there's are several deep truths we must consider:
1. form without power is worse than nothing at all. Paul addresses the church in Corinth, warning them that they're headed down a path that will eventually be very ugly if not checked. His warning in I Corinthians 4 is that "God words" are deeply destructive when they're not coupled with God's genuine power of transformation. This is because, as history shows us, the forms of the faith can be perpetuated long after God has left the building (see Ez 10:18). When this happens, you'll have institutional structures used to feed the only appetite left in some individuals, namely our flesh.
2. our culture has a terrible double standard with respect to sexuality. We appropriately decry sexual abuse, and the use of power to dominate others sexually. We also rage against the objectification of women. At the same time, we mock abstinence as some unattainable ideal, treat sexual expression as just another form of recreation, like playing tennis, and use sex and objectified women to sell everything from soda pop to cars. These realities aren't offered as license for religious professionals to be abusive. The call for self-control runs throughout the Bible, and the danger of allowing ourselves to live by our appetites is clear. But perhaps we as a culture shouldn't be surprised that, having declared two messages at the same time, a large percentage of the populace, including people with power, have chosen the low road of allowing our appetites to govern our behavior. It affects everything from shopping, to eating, to sexuality.
There are no doubt other contributing factors. Feel free to share your thoughts. But whatever the reason, the church is in the news once again for all the wrong reasons. Once again, we're not "as bad" as the surrounding culture. We're worse. That's nothing new. We who serve as leaders would do well to call our own lives, and our communities to a sense of dependence on God's power for our transformation, and sense of commitment to God's ethics in every area... including our sexuality.