There’s a story coming out of Nigeria about a famous pastor who potentially is a serial rapist, who targets teenagers. As one who grew up in church and now pastors one, this news really breaks my heart. We have too many wolves in our ranks, damaging lives, and getting away with it.
I think all churches MUST educate and inform their congregation on what sexual harassment is, how to spot potential predators and create clearly accessible channels for getting help in case one feels harassed. And those found guilty of sexual harassment must be reported to the police.
In the name of forgiveness, the church historically has perpetrated, condoned and covered up a lot of crime that should have been punished by law. Excommunicating a rapist is not enough punishment. They must be jailed. Churches must be homes of hope, not dungeons of decadence.
Church leadership must let its female members lead this conversation. Most of the victims of sexual harassment are girls and women, and to deny them a voice in this conversation is to deny them justice and love. Toxic masculinity has plagued church right from inception.
From today, we will announce in our church that if anyone feels harassed they should quickly let us know. We’re also going to create a women-led committee to design a church policy on sexual harassment with immediate effect, and we’d be happy to share that resource with others.
When the church fails the vulnerable and the victimized among us, we fail the very Lord we claim to serve. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus, Our Lord, presents himself as the vulnerable among us. When we fight for rape victims, we fight for Christ.