April 19, 2014 by Stacy McDonald

Something to think about…

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What exactly is it that causes that perverse glee to spring up in the heart of man when he sees another person fail? It’s evident on the front of every tabloid. We love to see someone else fatter than us, dumber than us, or seemingly more wicked than us.

We compare our strengths to someone else’s weaknesses and we pat our back pockets…the one containing those stones.

Sadly, the same thing happens in the church—especially if there is already angst against the person who fails.

“We just knew there was something about that guy! We used to think he hung the moon; but lately, after getting to know him, he started seeming so, so…human.”

We’ve seen the cycle. And it hurts. It hurts everyone. It hurts the church and it hurts the heart of Christ.

If your idol-of-the-day has failed you, don’t blame your idol for your idolatry. He has his own sin to deal with. You deal with yours.

I might add that I’m not part of the “we have no right to judge” crowd that wants to excuse sin in the church by behaving as though 1 Corinthians 5:11 doesn’t exist. But someone else’s sin, no matter how grave, should never cause us smug satisfaction. Instead, it should cause us to grieve, as our Lord grieves. And it should cause us to examine our own lives in humility and godly fear.

No happy dances here.



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29 Responses to “Something to think about…”

  1. Pam Marshall says:

    Thank you for getting this out there right now. One of my daughters read some of the comments people left and told me some of them, which were grievious, indeed. You are exactly right in your judgment call. It’s bad enough that we expect these attitudes from the heathen, but from Christians? Speculation, bitterness and gossip are sins that are just as abhorrant in the eyes of the Lord, and yet maybe even rank “worse” because of self-righteousness and the lack of granting grace. Or how about some plain mercy?

    I know I am still a work in progress, but these people? I guess they’ve “arrived”. Oh, beware the beam in your own eye…..

    God has so ordained all this and He is not surprised at all by all the vitriol. May these be convicted soon, lest a stricter judgment befall them.
    He continues to refine His church of the tares. I’m so grateful for the Scripture reminding me “to make my calling and election sure”. Very sobering, indeed.

    Thank you, Stacy, for speaking out and keeping us on the straight and narrow.

  2. BrandyLynn says:

    Thank you so much Stacy, for putting this publicly out there. I was trying to convey this very thing today with other “disillusioned” women. My heart aches for a certain man who has been in a leadership role, and his family right now. But it also aches for the backlash I know is happening among the community of believers. Where is our testimony of Christ’s live and forgiveness? The testimony of hope? Why is it the fallen (especially leaders) are ripped to shreds, rather than being lifted up to the throne of mercy and grace? We expect that for ourselves, but are unwilling to offer it to others because of the idolatry of our own hearts. Why do we feel it is okay to expect more of our leaders than we expect of our own selves? What does our testimony within the Body communicate to the unregenerate? Why must we give the Enemy for fodder for the mudslingers? How my heart aches right now. How it aches!

  3. Kelly says:

    Dear Stacy, thank you for this post. Our leaders in ministries and churches have feet of clay. They are mere men at the end of the day. We have seen strong pillars come down due to sin. We are not to exalt them
    above everyone else, but look to Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith. My heart breaks for the wives and families who must rebuild after the foundation is shaken. Praise God that repentance is a beautiful thing and God is the God of broken hearts. I pray that Christians will not devour one another or the one that has fallen. By the grace of God, go I. – Kelly

  4. doreen says:

    I can only guess what you refer to. And to read about it, it hurt to the very core. The kind that almost hurts to the point of tears.

    Won’t say any more. Enough willl be said.

    Will be praying.

    God bless.

  5. Stacy McDonald says:

    The most miserable horror is not the one that is unjustly forced upon us by wicked men. No. The most miserable horror is the one we know we brought upon ourselves and those we love through our own sin. Shame. Suffering. Loss. A repentant brother in such a situation should be viewed through the eyes of Christ.

    Of course, it is the sacred duty and responsibility of the church to hold men accountable – one of the reasons we’re Presbyterian. ;-) But, it does not glorify God to gloat over, ignorantly critique, or kick a person in such a place; instead, when we see someone truly repent, we’re taught to extend the love, mercy, and comfort of the Lord…the same that we would desperately hope for if we were in such a dark place.

    Of course there are necessary consequences – and sometimes they are severe – I think King David experienced that. But we still have the Christian duty to respond to the (even heinous) sins of others in a way that glorifies God. Rather than bringing more shame into the situation by behaving with arrogance and venom. How blind we are.

    “For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.” – 2 Cor 2:6-8

    Our self-righteous tendency is to scoff, “That’s what you get.” But we forget our own equally loathsome sin in other areas, and we fail to realize how badly we would want/need that same mercy.

    “With the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

  6. HollymMead says:

    We love to say (even if only in our own hearts), “Well, at least I’m not as bad as THAT guy. . .” because our hearts still harbor a works-righteousness att itude. The idea that God will let us into his heaven b/c we are, comparatively, better than all those “bad” people still rents space in our heads. How many times have we seen the interviews of street evangelists with some gnarly-lookin’ dude with a gecko tattooed across his face saying that God will let him into heaven b/c he’s been a “good person.” Because we know the gospel we may scoff at Mr. Tattoo’s answer, but pockets of our hearts are quietly in agreement with him.

    Even more we love to find a ghastly flaw (to which we don’t fall prey as yet) in someone whose righteousness, or fruitful works, or outward appearance, we envy. Excellence (subjective, or objective) makes us feel lacking and it’s easier to destroy excellence in others than it is to aspire to more excellence ourselves.

    When we give in to temptation, or fail in ways large and small, we want to be forgiven and restored. We want to have good works to continue to offer to Christ, His Kingdom and His Bride, and to have the love, support and prayers of those who want our good.

    Praying in love for our fallen brothers vs. mocking how the mighty have fallen separates the sheep from the goats.

    Let’s forgive the repentant as we wish to be forgiven when WE repent of our many, many sins.

  7. Kris says:

    When part of the body hurts the whole body hurts.

  8. Biblical Marriage says:

    I agree with Kris. When part of the body hurts the whole body hurts. When part of the body is infected the whole body is infected, unless you cut that part of the body off. We must decide who is repentant enough not to be cast out from among us, by their actions and words. Then that infection can be healed without the whole body rotting.

  9. Nick says:

    What I find it very hard to understand, Stacy, is why we have to make that man’s recovery harder than it already is. By trying to justify somehow his sin through somehow pointing at his critics as if their sins would be more heinous. I have never had anything against my pastor, in fact I loved and I love him dearly. But when we discovered that he was an adulterer and a perfect hypocrite for years (not a one-time fail event) as he taught us year after year how to be pure in our marriages, I guess Christ did not judge us the same way when we confronted him and rebuked him sharply (as Paul commands Timothy to do with false teachers and the like), and when we said that a well-written letter of confession and resignation is not enough for him to claim restoration, but rather a long-term process of demonstrating repentance, and our elders stated “long-term” because the hypocrisy was manifested on “long term” too. You see, if I would be the person you are referring to in your post, I would have requested all my friends and admirers (and everyone else) to refrain from defending me in any way or from entering in any debate with my accusers, or from accusing my accusers. I would tell everyone that I deserve the shame and public slaughtering. Remember king David’s attitude towards Shimei in 2Samuel 16, when Shimei cursed him – here is a display of true repentance and humility, as David knew it for a fact that the situation he was in was caused by his adulterous affair in the past. And this relates then to the restoration, as verse 12 puts it – “It may be that the Lord will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of his curse today”. It may be the same situation with the person you wrote about. What if the Lord actually wants to humble him more than we as humans see fit, and in fact by our opposition to his accusers and critics stand before the Lord and him? What troubles me is that I see people who actually make a case in the defense of this man, arguing that in fact his sin was caused by the weak authority of another man, who did not defend his family the way he should…Such a thinking is very close to a cultic mindset, and if I would be this man, I would be troubled even more, and I would definitely ask everyone to abstain from defending me or fighting my accusers…

    I surely appreciate his honesty and openness to make his resignation public and to engage himself on the track for recovery, but let’s not simply put an equal between a letter and real repentance, which is not merely words, but actions (maybe on long term).

  10. It’s quite right that we shouldn’t enjoy seeing another stumble – I remember the proverb that says exactly that. But that doesn’t wholly dispose of the case. It is also written that when the wicked perish there is glad shouting.

    If a guy has been teaching oppression and error, it’s a relief when he is seen through, which rightly feels like the Egyptians drowning in the sea.

    Which of these it is needs to be sorted out right, and it’s hard to do that right if we don’t question the doctrine they were preaching. We all remember that mass murder by Communist regimes were always mistakes and the fault of STalin, Mao, or some other particular personality – never could have been that the doctrine was wrong in some way. God has left these to us for an example.

  11. Martina says:

    Dear Stacy, I think it speaks of much wisdom of what you say. Your article came to mind when I read of the Philips family situation today . I have read some blogs on the situation of Doug Philips and I was horrified by the ugliness an viciousness of those who don’t like his ministry to begin with. I do not know if you see that too but I am stunned by some of the Christian woman bloggers, there are times I actually think that they would serve the world better by doing their dishes rather than blogging. Sad is so woman are not discerning in whom they follow in the blogger world. Maybe you could write an article on that, I usually share your blogs on face book because of your insight and wisdom and desire to see God honored is really what they need.

  12. Avelinn says:

    I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not to respond to this. I don’t disagree, at all, Mrs. McDonald with the heart and intention of your post. And while I think that those who are not of the faith will have a tendency to rejoice when those who are of God fall (and sometimes fellow believers will as well) I’m not entirely sure that is all we are seeing here. I think when people feel they have been morally policed and judged by one person or a group of people, only to find out that person or people are guilty of some of the same sins they were policing others for, not only is there hurt and a sense of vindication, but also a profound need to talk these things through. And while I do not condone gossip, I think it’s hard to avoid in these situations, particularly online. I do believe, however, that people expressing their feelings is to be expected.

    Silly as it may seem, I feel like I’m speaking in codes, but I have made an effort to follow your example and not mention names or specific circumstances, out of respect to you, your blog, as well as persons specifically involved.

  13. Stacy McDonald says:

    Though no Christian should ever be happy to see someone fall into sin. I would like to clarify that I was referring in this post how to respond to the sin of a repentant brother or sister. If the person has not repented, it is another matter all together.

  14. Gracie says:

    This is so pertinent and deeply convicted as well as comforted me. I am very blessed this evening by the words the Lord gave you to publish, Mrs. McDonald. I am very, very grateful. May He enable the tearing down of heart idolatry. ~Gracie

  15. Jennifer says:

    Biblical Marriage, I like your blog. At least some of it.

  16. guilty says:

    The thing that makes this post and some of the comments leave a bad taste in my mouth, is finding out what you’re actually talking about.

    Sure, lets talk about grace. Lets talk about grace when a baby is murdered by a unliscensed doctor in an unsanitary abortion clinic, when young men from India are taken to Dubai and trapped into slavery, and lets talk about grace when a young woman is sexually abused by a powerful religious leader, who is also her boss.

    But first, would it hurt you to recognize the victim? This young woman isn’t the only one of our dear daughters to be cruely used in this manner, and we must do better to prevent such vile treatment in the future. If we haven’t warned them, let us begin. If we haven’t educated them about their rights, the time is now. If we have given them no opportunity to seek an advocate, we must find those who are willing to speak for truth in their defence.

    It may be for God to judge, but let us all repent that we have alowed such evil within our church.

    There is a time for the grace of resurrection, but first comes the sorrow of crucifixion. We are all guilty.

  17. Stacy McDonald says:

    Guilty, I think you missed the point of the post. I added this part for you: I’m not part of the “we have no right to judge” crowd that wants to excuse sin in the church by behaving as though 1 Corinthians 5:11 doesn’t exist. But it should never cause us smug satisfaction. Instead, it should cause us to grieve, as our Lord grieves. And it should cause us to examine our own lives in humility and godly fear.

  18. Jennifer says:

    I understand your frustration, Guilty, especially when reading things like Doug Wilson’s smug attempt to kick at people relieved to see the truth come out like a disgruntled mule. But try, even in the face of proud people denying the truth, to see the good here: the consequences have been huge, the perpetrator named while the “victim” was protected (I say this with quotes because we have no idea if the woman involved with the family ministry leader was taken advantage of emotionally, or if she went in with eyes wide open and was as shameless in the actions themselves as Ms. Lewinsky. But if you’re referring to Mr. Gothard, this is criminal offense we’re speaking of and it won’t be ignored by the people who matter.

  19. Stacy McDonald says:

    Before I was a Christian, and partly because of the lifestyle I lived, I developed a jaded view of men. My girlfriends and I would jokingly brush off our numerous break-ups or experiences of infidelity with a flippant, “I hate men.”

    After becoming a Christian, I had hope once again. “Christian men” are different. Of course, it didn’t take long to find out that Christian men sin too. And in pretty bad ways.

    I was a brand new Christian during the Swaggart confessions. I could hear the old “I hate men” echoing in the back of my head, but life was different now. I had a fresh and zealous faith. Even then, I was shaken, but not moved.

    A lot happened over the years. And most of my bad experiences with men and their various lusts were in relation to unbelievers. But, I soon discovered that marriage, purity, and family were minimized everywhere… even in the church.

    When I met my husband, James, we had a mutual passion for marriage and family. So we began to speak out about the importance and beauty of a godly marriage. We both had painful stories and pasts that made us passionate about it. Then, we began to get involved with Christians who believed as we did – that marital fidelity was an awesome thing. These people were different.

    So, surely, this time, THESE men – men who defended the honor of women and held marriage and family in high regard were…different.

    Apparently not. And I know it’s true. Sin, even the most vile sin, is possible with anyone. I am capable of the most heinous sin I’ve read about in the paper – the one that causes me to shrink back in horror, “How could someone ever…”

    The only one we can truly trust is Christ. We can’t even trust our own hearts. God have mercy on us.

  20. Ann says:

    Stacy, I am a first time visitor to your blog. While a do agree that it is wrong to find joy or entertainment over the fall of a leader, I struggle with the rest of your opinions. Have you read the lawsuit? Did you read the message (threats) Beall sent to Lourdes? Phillips admits he did not have intercourse with Lourdes, but says he crossed physical boundaries. Doug was not only much older, more savvy and experienced than her, Lourdes was raised in an environment that teaches submission to church elders. The physical boundaries that were allegedly cross come straight out of pornography. Few women would receive any pleasure from his actions. Also with Doug’s experience, he could have easily manipulated her into believe his actions didn’t compromise her purity. Yes Beall and her children are victims, but Doug needs to man up and repent. Doug is setting a poor example to his children by projecting his guilt onto the other victim, Lourdes. Doug has lived in the “world”. Lourde’s “world” was shaped by a small circle of family and church leaders. She was never given the tools to stand up against the abuse of authority. She never knew she had a voice. Now that she has found it, she is speaking. Maybe not perfectly, but hey, this is the first time she has gained the tools and confidence to speak. It is a crime in Texas for a religious leader to engage in sexual behavior with a parishioner. Instead of showing true repentance, Doug is trying to manipulate opinion to cause further emotional pain. Also Doug broke his vows, not Lourdes. By projecting his guilt onto Lourdes, he dishonors his wife and children, as well as his victim. I hope you will respond to my concerns.

  21. Kelly T. says:

    Ann,

    I think you have totally missed the point of this whole blog post. I do not think this is the place to re-hash all of this. I know from reading Stacy’s articles for years and years that she does not condone sinful behavior on any level. She is also a very discreet respectable woman and handles issues like this with care and discretion. No one is trying to cover sin..but I know for me that I want to speak and behave in a manner that honors the Lord. The Lord is well able to deal with persons caught in these situations without a bunch of gossip and judgement going on. Just my thoughts on this.

  22. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Ann,

    Thanks for writing. Sorry for the delay, but I’m having a hard time processing this whole thing. I go from wanting to forget this man exists to painfully empathizing with his wife and children. It all just makes me sick.

    “Lourdes was raised in an environment that teaches submission to church elders.”

    I doubt Lourdes was ever taught that she should submit to sexual advances outside of marriage. To the contrary – I’m sure she was taught about sexual purity and that adultery is a serious sin.

    That being said, I have said repeatedly that I can see how she was manipulated and seduced by a man that she looked up to and loved – a man who wickedly abused his position and her trust, as well as the trust of both their families. His actions are reprehensible and sickening to me – both what he has confessed and what she alleges. I pray that he has truly repented; but thus far, I have not seen many signs of humility or sorrow. But, then again, I am not someone who is in his life, so all I can do is pray.

    She was never given the tools to stand up against the abuse of authority. She never knew she had a voice.

    I guess this is part of where we disagree most. I don’t know Lourdes, but I’ve known hundreds of homeschool girls. I have seven daughters myself – three are married with children and one gets married next month. They were what I’m sure you would describe as sheltered, but they are far, far from timid, helpless victims who think they are supposed to obey dirty old men like some sort of pre-programed robot.

    I can remember being in some unsavory situations as a young non-Christian woman – situations I don’t care to get into here. And I understand the panic and the freezing and the “what do I do now?” moment that you later regret and wonder “why didn’t I do this or that or scream or run etc. I get all that. But this went on for over a decade. She was a solid adult when it started and she continued to go to his house even when she didn’t live there. She had plenty of time to think about it – she wasn’t caught off guard.

    But IF she was in love with him, IF she had been been seduced by him, IF she had dreamed and hoped for marriage (after his wife’s promised and imminent death), and even IF Lourdes had the sort of love/hate relationship that many young women have with abusive boyfriends, I can see it. And if that’s the case, she could have certainly avoided ongoing adultery, even if she couldn’t have avoided an initial proposition or assault.

    Yes Beall and her children are victims, but Doug needs to man up and repent.

    I totally agree. This has nothing to do with lessening his guilt or his consequences. His guilt stands. I just think that, unless she had absolutely no physical choice in the matter, she owes Beall and her children an apology too. But apparently victims can’t possibly be sinners in need of repentance because they have been canonized by a weird new victim theology that makes them invincible.

    I just pray that all who need to repent in this relationship do so – and in humility and genuine sorrow for the harm they’ve caused Beall, the children, and the Church.

  23. Stacy McDonald says:

    Thank you, Kelly, for getting it.

  24. Jennifer says:

    Ann, no critic of the VF could ever allege that they taught women to be lusty servants of elders.

  25. Jennifer says:

    I never knew she lived with them; I was just telling someone else who claimed men always have the responsibility because they’re heads of the household that that didn’t apply because she wasn’t a member of his household (I guess my point still stands, because simply living there for a while would not have made him her “head”). I thought he sounded repentent, but he really does refuse it and almost any accountability unless forced into a corner (points go to the VF then for that). All these years, then, I’ve been right about him in that regard. Since something of this level surprised me, though, maybe I’m still naive.

  26. Jennifer says:

    Oh, one more thing: they did sleep together, Ann. That’s been confirmed. I hope Beaull’s threats, if any, were not too severe, but people say very heated things when they’re scared and hurt like this. I’m just glad she’s held both guilty parties strongly accountable, and I’m afraid that Lordes is now trying to strike at both of them. Whatever else, she does not seem repentant.

  27. Mary says:

    It seems that we are missing something in these discussions. The greatest sin here is that men like Phillips and Gothard have shamefully besmirched the name of Christ. These men “…crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” Hebrews 6:6.

    Jude describes them with profound perfection:
    “8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. …… 10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves….. 11 Woe to them! 12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about[c] by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots;13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”

    While I don’t rejoice in a man’s sin, I do rejoice in the eternal truths of God’s Word. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” Gal. 6:7

    God has faithfully exposed their years of gross hypocrisy and we are witnessing the beginning of their season of reaping.

    Shame on those who served alongside these men and did not come forward sooner and hold their feet to the fire! Shame on the thousands of families that bought into these ministries hook, line and sinker, promoted these men and threw their discernment out the window!

  28. Ann says:

    Stacy, Thank you for your well thought out response. I understand your stance on Lourdes apologizing to the family. However, do you know if she has tried? The reason I ask is based on Beall’s e-mail threatening Lourdes. She refers to Lourdes seeking peace in the “wrong way”. The whole note seems to be threatening Lourdes and by omission, “protecting” Doug. Again, Doug broke the law and broke his vows. Lourdes did neither. It seems everyone is speaking out about the situation (including me), except for Doug. As an elder and public figure, Doug has not publically shown remorse. He and his wife appeared on the news, going on the offense. He does not appear remorseful and Beall only enables him. If Doug were not a public figure, this situation would not have hit the radar. (I live in N.C.). Kelly, I don’t disagree that Stacy is discrete and respectful, but Doug is neither of these. Light must shine on the dark deeds of man and expose them to all. As repugnant as you feel my words are, I can imagine Lourde’s experience of these deeds is much worse. The shame is not on her, but on the activities perpetuated on her. Unfortunately, Kelly, you seem more interested in propriety than truth. I hope this attitude doesn’t prevent open dialogue with your children. Stacy, I am very happy that you raised strong daughters. Whether or not we agree on this matter, you are obviously a woman of strong opinions and I bet this helped your daughters learn the value of their voice as women. That is a good thing.

  29. Kelly T. says:

    Ann, I do not put propriety over truth. However, let me ask you a question. What is your involvement in this matter? Have you been personally affected? Are you part of the problem or the solution? Do you realize gossip, slander and busybody behaviors are JUST AS SINFUL as adultery and other sins? I am not protecting the reputation of Beall or Doug. They stand before their Maker. Ann, what do you want done here? Do you not trust the Lord to orchestrate his judgements on such matters? It seems that people who are not directly involved in this want a pound of flesh. If people are bitter or angry at Gothard or Phillips they need to go to God and deal with their own heart in the matter. I am very WEARY of crusaders who have nothing better to do than just pick apart others lives. Are you sinless? Have you gotten the beam out of your own eye? Again I am protecting NO-ONE. Mostly we all have enough weeds in our own garden that we don’t need to cross the fence and weed someone elses. Ann, you don’t know me and my attitude in my home..again a baseless judgement. Yes these forums are for dialect, but they are NOT for casting stones…God sees what people write, speak and what goes on inside their heart. Kelly

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