Recent news that popular Christian comedian John Crist has been accused of—and admitted to—sexual harassment put the spotlight once again on sexual sin within the church.
This would not, of course, be the first time a prominent Christian figure has fallen from grace because of a moral failure. With the advent of the #MeToo movement, more stories of sexual abuse and harassment and even rape within the church have come to light. It should break our hearts that the body of Christ has failed to protect the most vulnerable among us and, at times, has even been complicit in covering up for abusers.
The good news is that these revelations, as painful as they are, have prompted churches and denominations to do more to protect people in their community who may fall prey to an abuser. Some churches are implementing measures such as background checks for volunteers and installing security cameras. Denominations also are setting up committees and encouraging member churches to treat any instance of sexual abuse as a crime and report it to the authorities instead of dealing with it internally.
Yet there remains the issue that these measures are largely reactionary, not preventative. Because how do you hedge against a sin that originates in the human heart? As the New Testament’s letter of James reads,
Let no man say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil; neither does He tempt anyone. But each man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed. Then, when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin; and when sin is finished, it brings forth death (James 1:13-15).
Is there a better approach churches can take to dealing with sexual sin? James gives us the answer a few chapters later: “Therefore confess your faults to one another and pray for one another” (James 5:16a).
Now, many of us who come from the Protestant tradition have a troubled history with the idea of confessing our sins to another person. After all, the Protestant Reformation was ignited because of the Roman Catholic Church’s abuse of sacraments such as the confessional to exert power over the masses.
The Reformers rejected the idea that followers of Jesus needed a human mediator to receive forgiveness or commune with God. They believed, as we do to this day, that Jesus’ sacrifice was all-sufficient and, as the book of Hebrews teaches, he is our permanent intercessor before God. At the time, removing the requirement of regularly confessing one’s sin to a church official liberated the masses who for so long did not have direct access to God or Scripture.
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SOURCE: Charisma News