Lately there has been a lot of chatter on the blogosphere. Through the efforts of some in the church, abusers, child molesters, predators and other wolves have finally begun to be exposed for what they are. I thank God daily that my prayers are being answered and the wolves among us are finally being exposed for who they are.
However, there is also a dark note to all of this. With all of the exposure, the old way of viewing things still rears its head. I have lost track of how many times we have been chided and admonished to “remember mercy”, as if it operates differently than justice. An abuser cries the right tears, says the right things, and blame is then placed on the victim and the church for not forgiving. “David sinned”, is the repeating cry.
Bare sentiment gives no comfort. Lack of sentiment is even worse. How hard must a heart be to hear the stories of victimization, terror and abuse of God’s little ones without weeping with those that weep?
But true comfort must come from the Holy Scriptures alone. Is it true that we are to forgive everyone for every sin because God forgave David? Is it true that David’s sin and David’s repentance are guides to follow to allow an abusive man access to our children? Or could it be that David’s sin is still being used as an excuse for the enemies of God to blaspheme?
I would encourage everyone who is reading this to open their Bibles to 2 Samuel 11 and 12. Please read these accounts before continuing. I will wait…
Finished? OK. Notice several things. I will in no way say or imply that David’s sin was minor. Both the adultery and the murder of Uriah showed the ugliness and entitlement of David’s heart. “I am king. I deserve what I want to have. I could just take it. Being king is stressful. Besides, Bathsheba shouldn’t have been bathing on the roof in the first place. Really, it is her fault.”
It was ugly to the very core. Premeditated adultery, planned and executed outright murder, cover-up, deceit and entitlement. Please keep this in mind.
If your response is that since David sinned and was forgiven, then we need to go easier on adulterers. abusers, murderers and molesters, then you have missed the whole point, and do not at all understand the grace of God.
If you read Chapter 12, you will begin to understand justice and mercy meeting together without doing violence to either one.
Nathan confronted David with a parable (12:1-4). The actions of the rich man of the parable were reprehensible. And David sentenced the man to death and ordered restitution. Then Nathan exposed David as the one that was under the death penalty, which he commanded by his own lips.
Then, verses 8-12, Nathan continues stripping away every excuse from David, exposing the wickedness of his heart, and pronouncing the dreadful justice of God.
He did not say, “You made some bad choices, but God still loves you”.
He did not say, “I think that God still desires to use you for His work in His kingdom”
He did not say, “You have acted in an inappropriate manner, and we are suspending you until you get therapy”.
He said, “You are the man.” After listing all of God’s goodness to David, he said, “Why have you despised the commandment of God, to do evil in His sight?”
All of those who compare wicked church leaders to David seem to miss this point.
We have the hindsight of history. We know that David repented and that God was merciful to him, and that he was the elect of God. But this is important: at the point that Nathan confronted David, neither Nathan NOR David knew any such thing. What David knew was God’s impending judgment, that he was rightly under the death penalty – both civilly and eternally. David only knew that his own wicked heart – without excuse, without double talk, without blameshifting – put him directly under the judgment of God, and that he was hanging over the chasm of hell by his fingertips, without hope, without excuse, without appeal. It was finished, and David was finished as king and as a man.
And then, apart from any entitlement, apart from any demands, God’s incredible grace, wonderful mercy, comes through. “The Lord has put away your sins. Thou shalt not die.”
Wow. There were millions of others who committed murder and adultery and justly died. Paul refers to them in Ephesians 5:5-6. David knew that as well. At the point of Nathan’s confrontation, David had NO REASON whatsoever to believe that he was even a Christian. He was a filthy sinner, defiled and alienated from God.
This is what made the grace of God even more astounding. David wasn’t entitled to it and he knew it.
He didn’t simply quote verses on forgiveness, nor did he cite his fathers as examples of God’s grace and demand the same as his due.
He fell before the awful judgment throne of God, recognized that he was justly a dead man. And then he received mercy.
He also understood that his whole life from that moment on was not his, and God could do with him whatever God pleased.
So David never railed against God when God removed his kingdom.
David accepted Shimei’s cursing, as perhaps coming from God.
David understood that he was crucified with Christ, so that he might live in him.
Compare that with the current statement from the Board of Directors of the Institute of Basic Life Principles.
“Mr. Gothard has acted in an inappropriate manner.”
The board realizes the “seriousness of his lack of discretion.”
“He failed to follow Christ’s example to be blameless and above reproach.” This one really gets me. Look behind the fancy words. The really problem, according to IBLP, is that people were talking and blaming Mr. Gothard. He didn’t do anything. but his inappropriateness caused others to talk. Blame the victim. If they just kept quiet, none of this would have happened.
They also badly interpreted and spun 1 Thessalonians 5:22. They wrote, “As a Christian leader, he is to avoid the appearance of evil.” In other words, Mr. Gothard didn’t do anything evil, but he is liable for appearing to do something evil. This, however, is not at all the meaning of 1 Thessalonians. (I might remind them that as church leaders, they are also responsible to rightly divide the word of God, but they haven’t done that for years). Paul is using the analogy of a stage play. The “appearance” that he is referring to is like the mask that evil puts on when he makes an appearance on the stage of our life. Paul is saying, “No matter what mask evil wears, shun it completely.”
He does not at all mean that anything that anyone could possibly interpret as wrong should be avoided. Christians are always falsely accused, and always will be.
However, to apply this correctly, we would have to say this. Mr. Gothard has repeatedly and continuously preyed upon women and children. He has set himself up as a leader apart from the church, with no accountability (as is evident from this horrible publicity spin from the board of directors), and has used that position to gratify his own lusts for preeminence, control and power. These are not shortcomings, they are marks of a wolf. There is no biblical reason whatsoever to conclude that he has repented of any of these actions – it is simply more of the same, and he still does not acknowledge that he is what God says he is. That. as it did with David, always comes first. There can be no offer of grace without first a stripping away of every pretense and excuse, which also is the work of God. As long as Mr. Gothard is still spinning, he is not repentant, but what the Bible calls, “Stiff-necked and hard of heart, always resisting the Spirit.”
It is true, as I continually say, that God can call anyone to repentance and faith. Every believer is a testimony of life from the dead. I also am not saying these things out of hatred of Mr. Gothard. I don’t know the man, although I have first-hand experience of the damage that his false teaching has caused over the years.
I am saying this actually out of a sincere desire to see Mr. Gothard and his board truly get right with God. There is not one instance of true faith in the bible that came without first a full understanding and horrible dread of the awful judgment of God.
Only when you realize that you are a sinner in the hands of an angry God can you truly understand the beauty and comfort of the Gospel. But when you understand that, as David did, there is no more room left for presumption and demands.
As it has been said, “If you wish to follow David in his sins, follow him also in his repentance.”