For many years, I worked in the Food and Beverage industry. It has a way of creeping into your pores and into your vocabulary.
I’ve seen restaurants shut their doors because of foodborne illness. Little pathogens and toxins sometimes attach themselves to food and cause illness or even death. Very few restaurants can survive an outbreak.
I don’t know of any restauranteurs that will confess a love of germs. If asked, they will proclaim strongly how much effort and energy they put into the destruction of germs and how clean their establishments are. But the proof is seen in the washing of the hands, the monitoring of food temperatures, the cleanliness of the corners and the walk-in refrigerators, the labelling – in the routines.
Whether a restaurant is truly safe is not dependent upon whether they SAY they are opposed to foodborne illness; but in the environment they keep. Some environments give themselves wholly to the growth of germs and toxins. In order to be safe, good restauranteurs learn how to create an environment that is hostile to germs. It is that simple.
For 20 years, I taught restaurant employees how to create a hostile work environment. Not hostile towards health and goodness and nutrition and peace; but hostile to pathogens and illness and toxins.
Some got it. A few never did. It takes effort and intentionality, and not everyone is willing. They will eventually cause an outbreak.
I’ve been thinking about this lately. I don’t know of any pastors who will just say that they enjoy having pedophiles, revilers, and abusers destroy their ministry. Every one that I know will say, with varying degrees of skill, that they are opposed in the strongest way possible to those who would hurt a child, or revile their spouses.
But that really isn’t the question. The question is this – are they creating an environment where abuse thrives? A quick glance at the news will show us that there is something in the teaching of modern evangelicalism that causes abuse and revilers to thrive.
But in order for sheep to be safe in church, the environment must be “hostile” towards the wolves.
This is why I write what I do. It is for the same reason that I taught young restauranteurs how to protect against food-borne illness. We who have the power to do so must do whatever we can to protect life, to protect health. We must be people of life carrying the savor of life.
And that, very often, means the savor of death – to pathogens and to children of Belial.
In restaurants, the savor of life often smells like sanitizer.
In churches, the savor of life smells like the gospel – that in Christ, God is with us.
And if God is with us, children are safe. The weak are safe. The outcast are safe. And those who hurt and destroy are cast away, for none shall hurt or destroy “in all my holy mountain.”
When we are loyal to our brand first, and our people second, we allow wolves to thrive.
When we refuse to learn about the tactics of abusers, we allow them to thrive.
When we arrogantly assume that we know the Bible, so we know all there is to know about abuse, we allow abuse to thrive.
When we refuse to believe the victims unless they meet a burden of proof so enormous that no evidence actually qualifies….
When we force non-disclosure agreements…
When we teach that women’s bodies are created to serve men…
When we teach that all women are to submit to all men…
When we teach “sanctified testosterone” instead of meekness…
When we teach that “all boys experiment with young girls. It’s no big deal…”
When we normalize pornography…
When we call lust “every man’s battle…”
When we refuse to cooperate with the law when they are doing what they are supposed to be doing…
And I’m sure that we could all come up with more.
Please think about it like this. If you are a restaurant owner, and you believe that foodborne illness only happens to the others, that it can’t ever happen to you – and you take no precautions whatsoever to teach your people how to protect against it – then you will eventually close, after causing a lot of sickness and perhaps death. It takes vigilance to protect against germs.
So also, if you believe that abuse only happens to others, to the other denominations, the other people, the liberals, those who aren’t as clever as we are, God will eventually remove your candlestick. But I pray that you won’t continue to cause death and destruction to those who have come to you for rest.
It takes vigilance to protect the sheep. Sometimes you have to take up your cross to do it.