He Led Her Down The Path To…

Well, not really.

In all seriousness, the only innocent parties in this one are her daughter and their son, Miguel Barahona, who was murdered.

Personally, I think he was a victim of sorts at one time. I agree with the premise that she “groomed” him and aggressively initiated that relationship. She was a predator who preyed on his raging hormones.

But when he chose to flip the switch and commit murder–particularly his own son–he swept all of that off the table.

She was a sexual predator. He is now a murderer.

Unfortunately, her daughter and their son paid the price for the depravity of their parents.

Potential Libel at TWW

Here is what I am talking about.

According to the known facts:

(a) The youth pastor was downright reckless–or, worse, grooming the 16-year-old for a relationship–in speaking of his marital issues to the teen. (IMHO, the church should have fired him right then and there, but I can understand the case for not going that far. To their credit, they ordered him to stop.)

(b) The youth pastor, after heeding the warning for a season, resumed his reckless/grooming behavior, and pursued a relationship that became sexual in nature.

(c) The church, according to what is known, spoke to the youth pastor and promptly reported the matter to police once they became aware of it.

(d) The youth pastor is now serving ten years in prison.

Why am I suggesting that TWW is potentially engaging in libel? The headline–“Female teen was told by church to apologize to the wife of the *delusional* youth pastor who raped her.”

We do not know if that is true; that is merely what the teen’s mother said at the hearing. Right now, it is hearsay and has not been confirmed as a fact. The headline, however, suggests otherwise.

As far as we know, the church did an acceptable job handling the situation, as they made no attempt to cover for the youth pastor. They warned the pastor to knock it off before things had become sexual; when it became apparent that things had become sexual, they reported to the police.

The folks at TWW have rightly complained long and loud about churches whose leaders DO NOT report allegations to the police, and yet–in this case–the church DID report the matter and TWW is MAKING UP a reason to pile onto a church.

Ruth Tucker–because of her status as an “abused wife”–gets a free pass from TWW for covering up her husband’s sexual abuses, and yet a church that reported such matters gets accused–without tangible proof–of ordering a sexual abuse victim to apologize to her abuser?

Give me a flippin’ break, Dee.

NeoCals and “Accountability”

First, some stipulations:

(1) When we speak of Calvinism, it is important to distinguish between two things: Calvinism as a hermeneutical model (good) and Calvinism as a dogmatic set of teachings (not so good). Calvinist hermeneutics–which, in a nutshell, takes the Scriptures at face value and allows the Scriptures to speak for itself–is a solid, intellectually honest methodology for Biblical understanding. When one uses that system to dismiss what is clear, natural tension in the Scriptures regarding key matters dear to Calvinists and Arminians, then it’s eisegesis if not assegesis.

The same is true for Arminian dogmatics.

(2) You cannot have a church without discipline. The Old Testament–in the Law and Prophets–and the New Testament–in the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles–are very clear on this. At the same time, it is important to note the scope of the discipline, and to what sins they apply.

The Church, as presented in the NT, is a Body in which members have substantial liberties. While the Church must never excuse sin, discipline, with little exception, comes in the form of exhortation and admonition. Paul is always exhorting the Church to eschew sexual immorality, to engage one another with love, to select leaders with proven competence and character, to be honest and forgiving, to embrace sound doctrine.

Very hard discipline–calling out people for public rebuke–and the “nuclear option” (excommunication) are reserved for the most egregious sins: slander, false doctrine, sexual immorality. The Bible never commands for such discipline to be used to to keep victims of sexual abuse by members of the Church “in line.”

Never once does Paul or Peter or Jesus command the Church to coddle sex offenders, or to harangue victims of said abuses. In fact, Jesus had very stern warnings regarding those who harm children. If anything, the Church ought to be a Body that provides refuge for those wronged–particularly sexually–and pursues justice for the wrongdoers.

And yet, throughout the last century, we are learning that the Church has done the opposite: they have worked to cover up abuses by their members. The Catholics engaged in this, at all levels of leadership, and the depth and breadth of their damage is breathtaking.

Protestants, as we are learning, are almost as bad. And that includes otherwise conservative sectors.

Enter the NeoCals (NeoCalvinists).

FWIW: I go to a church where most of the Elders would identify with the NeoCals. Much of the music is from Sovereign Grace Ministries, and it is pretty solid. The pastor–who spent many years in some very harmful Baptist churches–tends to err on the side of liberty. The Elders are generally “hands off”: unless you’re engaging in fraud, violence, neglect of your family, or sexual immorality, they’re not going to bother you.

I’m a small group leader, and also a teacher for one of the children’s classes. And the Elders cut me far more slack than I’ve received in every other church at which I’ve been involved. They don’t have a problem with my light drinking, and my occasional in-your-face commentary. They have no problem with me providing counsel to others, either.

If NeoCals all operated that way, we would have no problem.

Sadly, what we have witnessed in other sectors, particularly Sovereign Grace Ministries, 9Marks, and even Southern Baptist and Acts 29 churches, is troubling.

The latest calumny includes the actions of Lakeside Bible Church and Ken Ramey against a family whose teenage boy was sodomized by another teen in the church. You can read about it here.

Like the recent debacle at The Village Church–for which, to his credit, pastor Matt Chandler publicly apologized–this is a case of accountability gone off the rails. Even worse, in the case of LBC, the leadership has maligned the victim’s family while coddling the abuser and his family.

While Ramey is not to blame for the abuser’s actions, he IS responsible for his subsequent handling of the matter. And if you think his response is a Christian one, then I would question either your Christianity or your understanding of Scripture in this matter.

My larger issue here is with the NeoCals. The whole “Covenant Membership” paradigm, while often sold in benevolent terms, has been turned into a green light for micromanagement at a level unseen in Scripture.

Over here, we often debate over matters such as public school versus private school versus homeschooling; or whether women should pursue higher education versus a career as a SAHM; or the dating versus courtship versus online pursuit of marriage. This is not a matter of right versus wrong, as there are substantial liberties in these matters, but rather over which is the most equitable or prudent path. There are good, Christian parents whose kids attend public school; there are good, Christian women who obtain PhDs and law school and medical school; there are good, Christian folks who seek their spouse in varieties of ways.

When a church starts telling a family that they won’t support them unless they put their kids in a public school, that is overreach beyond all recognition. When a church starts telling families that the courtship model is the only way to pursue marriage, that’s overreach (my view: there’s nothing wrong with it, but that’s up to the families to decide.)

Confronting sin is one thing–the Church has to do that. And that includes confronting those who sexually abuse children. Not only is this a criminal matter, this also demands the harshest discipline. Those wronged ought to be recognized as wronged. This is not to promote a victim mentality, but rather to acknowledge that, in the process of healing, there is no small amount of baggage to unpack that the victim and his or her family did not invite.

And woe to anyone who seeks to cover that up or otherwise impede either the justice process or the recognition of the truth.

Heartbreaking

Moira Greyland, writing to the The Guardian (emphasis added):

Greyland, writing to the Guardian via email, said that she had not spoken out before “because I thought that my mother’s fans would be angry with me for saying anything against someone who had championed women’s rights and made so many of them feel differently about themselves and their lives. I didn’t want to hurt anyone she had helped, so I just kept my mouth shut”.

Greyland, a harpist, singer and opera director, said it was now clear to her that “one reason I never said anything is that I regarded her life as being more important than mine: her fame more important, and assuredly the comfort of her fans as more important. Those who knew me, knew the truth about her, but beyond that, it did not matter what she had done to me, as long as her work and her reputation continued.”

I can absolutely see where Moira would have arrived at that conclusion, and in fact many in the SF/F community probably think exactly that: that MZB’s life is more important than Moira’s. I can see where that would have kept her from speaking out for so long. Not knowing anything else, I’d hazard an educated guess that Moira probably figured it was her duty to be the sacrificial lamb on account of how well everyone else seemed to regard her mother. Besides, it’s entirely possible that, for many years, she figured that “deserved” the abuses she received.

Sadly, MZB got away with a myriad of atrocities against many children, including her own, during her time on this earth. She married a man she knew was a pederast; she covered for his abuses; she engaged in abuses of her own against children. She was a despicable, sordid excuse for a human being. Ditto for her husband.

Against that backdrop, Damien Walter raises the following issue:

It’s a truism that the writer you read on the page is not the writer you meet in the flesh. It’s for exactly this reason that meeting our cultural heroes is so often a profound disappointment. The transcendent singer on the stage is a bawdy lech in the bar. The poet who expresses beauty in words is a drunken misanthrope in person. So we commonly separate the artist from the human being, the icon from the reality. But when the actions of our cultural heroes go beyond bad behaviour, into to moral outrage, illegality and immorality, that separation becomes far harder. And in some cases, impossible.

I agree with the entirety of that statement. Truth be told, most writers–even the best Christian ones–were hardly sterling pure.

C.S. Lewis drank a bit much, smoked, and had sexual appetites that were bizarre at best and twisted at worst. And yet, he was probably the best Christian writer and apologist in the last 500 years.

I accept that great thinkers and writers are often “out there”, and are sometimes wired a bit differently than the average bear. At times, their devotion to excellence often leads to imbalances in other areas of their lives, and, given that one’s sexuality is a huge part of one’s life, that is a facet that can easily become disjointed.

Still, there is a threshold beyond which one can no longer separate the artist from the art. Lewis, whatever his sexual issues, kept his activities among otherwise consenting adults. As far as we know, he was faithful to his wife, and–after she died–he grieved like few men grieve.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, on the other hand, exceeds that threshold. I cannot separate the artist from the art in her case.

One reader of this blog–Savvy–remarked that, in the Mists of Avalon series, MZB “wrote about incest with great ease in a manner that turned my stomach.” Now we know how she was able to write about it with said ease.

Because of the damage that she inflicted on her children–Moira and Mark Greyland–as well as others, and because she covered for her husbands abuses against other children, the proper place for her works is the incinerator or gun range. I generally oppose the practice, but–if I owned any of her books–they would be targets for my next trip to Knob Creek.

If you want to support art from that family, then buy Moira Greyland’s music, or Mark Greyland’s art.