By Scott Tibbs, January 14, 2018
Sexual sin happens. Some men are sexual predators, and will exploit and abuse those under their care. Sadly, some of these men will be Christian pastors, elders, deacons and youth group leaders, because we are all corrupted by sin. This is why the true test of a Christian church is not whether these sins happen in a congregation, but how the church leadership responds to the sin. Does the church hold the perpetrator accountable? Does the church protect the victim? Or do they abandon the gospel of Jesus Christ by doing neither of those things?
Here is what we know. An assistant pastor at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church in Texas (now known as Stonebridge Church) had a 17 year old high school senior perform a sex act on him and then groped her breasts. Obviously, this is very bad - exploiting a position of trust an authority is reprehensible.The alleged reaction of the "church" leadership was even worse. The victim claims the "church" covered it up and sent the perpetrator away. This is exactly opposite of what a Christian church should do.
As I said, sexual sin will always happen. Sexual crimes will always happen. The church is to be a place where perpetrators are held accountable and victims are supported and protected. To fail to do this is one of the worst things a church can do. Any church that fails to do this is not a "church" at all. They embrace "cheap grace" that does not require repentance, and they do not bring crimes to the civil magistrate that God has placed in authority over us for our benefit. They embrace "forgiveness" too easily, leaving more innocents vulnerable. This is why sexual predators target churches, because Christians can be really stupid.
But the cover-up actually gets worse. Highpoint Church admitted they knew about the abusive sexual exploitation when they hired Andy Savage as a pastor. First, such a thing should automatically disqualify someone from serving as a pastor, so the "church" is obviously run by fools. Did the "church" notify the congregation publicly? Did the "church" have Savage publicly confess his crime and submit to the civil magistrate? Or did the "church" betray its congregation by leaving them in the dark about a "pastor" who admitted to church leadership to sexually exploiting an underage teen girl under his authority?
This whole episode has brought shame on the name of Jesus Christ. It has caused unbelievers to mock and blaspheme, and it has shaken the faith of many Christians. It will cause some to fall away from the faith. A young woman has been permanently damaged and souls have been permanently scarred. Our prayer should be that this is an example to real churches about how to deal with sexual sin and sexual crimes in the church, and how important it is to hold perpetrators accountable - including going to the civil magistrate if necessary.