Jesus Doesn’t Give a Standing Ovation to Sexual Assault

If the church is going to function as God intended, we need to take stand against sin in our midst.

This is grievous to God. Sexual assault utterly appalls him. A confession of sexual assault is not something to be applauded. Yes, we can be grateful that the event has come to light, but we shouldn’t be applauding a man for a half-hearted confession that should have happened twenty years ago. There is nothing admirable or praiseworthy in admitting you raped someone only after that person goes public with their story.

 

Note: Normally, I don’t write about topics like this, but this is really important. I talk about sexual assault, so if that triggers terrible memories or feelings in you, you may want to consider not reading this. 

We are living in strange times. Really, really strange times. Disturbing times, actually.

Last week, megachurch pastor Andy Savage told his congregation that in 1998, he was involved in a “sexual incident” with a 17-year old girl in the youth group he pastored. After acknowledging the “incident”, he “apologized” publicly (I’m using quotes intentionally here) for the hurt he caused.

In response, the congregation gave him a 20 second standing ovation.

This is wrong and ungodly on so many levels. I’ve seen first-hand the absolutely devastating effects that sexual assault has on a person. And let’s be clear, it was sexual assault, not a “sexual incident”.  He forced a 17-year old girl to doing something sexual to him that she did not want to do.

Let’s be even more clear. This was rape. The very definition of rape is forcing someone to engage in any form of sexual intercourse without their consent, which is exactly what happened.

That is wicked. That is sin.

I don’t know whether Andy Savage has repented to God for his sin, but what is clear is that he hasn’t truly owned his actions, doesn’t understand the catastrophic damage he has caused, and hasn’t suffered the appropriate consequences for what he’s done.

His “apology” wasn’t an apology or repentance. It was a faint acknowledgement that he was involved in something wrong in the past and also a defense that it had already been “handled within the church”.

What’s also clear is that many, many Christians don’t understand the nature of sexual assault. I know for certain that I don’t understand it like I need to, but I’m trying to learn and trying to do a better job of speaking up for those whose lives have been destroyed by it.

For the past 20 years, Andy Savage has continued on with his life as if nothing happened. He hasn’t been held back in ministry. He currently pastors a megachurch, and presumably has received the benefits associated with such a position. He was in the process of writing a book titled The Ridiculously Good Marriage, although that contract has since been canceled.

Meanwhile, his victim has had to carry the crushing weight of the assault for the past twenty years. She never received an apology. She never saw Andy Savage receive appropriate consequences for his actions. She never received the spiritual, emotional, and psychological help she needed to move forward. She was even made to feel like she was an active and equal participant in the assault, which is utterly deplorable.

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