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Hi Adom, I think you are asking a very important question.  As you must realize there are hundreds of different Christian denominations.  There’s Baptist, Reformed/Presbyterian, Lutheran, Catholic and the list can go on.  Any one of these may look at a Bible teaching (or doctrine), like baptism a little differently from the other.  As Reformed Christians we may poke holes in the Baptist perspective on baptism, just as they may poke holes in our perspective.  Our perspective is a Reformed theological perspective.  And by our perspective all the bits and pieces of theology, or the Bible’s teaching, fit together consistently.  But the bits and pieces of Baptist theology or Catholic theology don’t fit well into our Reformed perspective.  Each perspective makes the overall teaching of the Bible consistent within its own perspective.  Pastor’s go to their denominational seminary to be trained in the Bible’s teaching according to their particular denominational perspective or point of view and way of understanding the Bible.  That way we can claim that the Bible is perfectly consistent, as long as we stay within our Reformed perspective.  So you could say that theology is an important key for having a consistent interpretation on the Bible.  If you go to a Baptist church you will be looking at the Bible’s teaching from the Baptist perspective (and there’s a consistency within that system). The same will be true of each different denomination.  Maybe you just have to pick the perspective that you like best.

The big problem is, why are there so many different points of view, in understanding the Bible?  Why isn’t there just one perspective, the right perspective? Of course, each denomination claims they have the right perspective.  It doesn’t seem as though the Holy Spirit has done a very good job of leading the church in all truth.  There is so much seeming inconsistency within the Bible that it’s like a maze by which we need a particular theological perspective in order to get through this maze without becoming hopelessly lost?  Well that’s what a particular theology does for a person, it helps him/her to get through the many twists and turns of the Bible without becoming thoroughly confused.  That’s my take on the importance of theology.

Thank you, Kelly’s husband, for your input.  I take it this comment was written by Kelly’s husband because further in the comment you say, “My wife (an ordained minister of the Word and Sacraments).”  You also mentioned going to the men’s washroom during a break at a Classis meeting in which you talked to other men.  That would be unusual for a woman, especially at a CRC Classis meeting.  It would be helpful if you would identify yourself at the beginning of your response, like everyone else.  Thanks.

As to Baylor’s accuracy of + or - 3%, we are talking of 2% on average of abuse in American denominations.  Wouldn’t a 3% change up or down change a 2% figure drastically?  Beside that, if only one in seven incidents are ever reported, how can an accurate count be formulated?  If the other six incidents are never reported how would Baylor know to include them?  Something’s fishy here.

You say my opinion is irrelevant in regard to this particular story because it is not true.  All opinions are relevant, yours included.  Church councils work on the basis that all opinions count, especially when a vote is taken. Not all council members are going to vote the same, but when the tally is taken the majority wins.  In this particular situation, this man was vindicated of sexual assault, plain and simple.  In the CRC we trust our church councils to make the best decisions in situations they deal with, regardless of the male/female make up of our elder/deacon boards.  If you don’t trust your elders and are accusing them of dishonesty, you are either in the wrong church or wrong denomination. 

Everyone sees situations through different lenses or biases.  Obviously this woman saw this incident through a bias of thinking she was sexually assaulted.  And obviously this pastor saw it as something other than assault, significantly less.  When these two groups of elders (two churches) heard their stories, in the end, they didn’t judge the situation as assault either.  Pinching a person on the rear end is not good decorum or right, but is it assault?  My opinion says no, as was the opinion of this church council. 

You say that this case was obviously mishandled and my opinion is irrelevant.  Is that your opinion, or fact?  Was there ever an apology by the council to the congregation for their decision?  Was the church ever reprimanded by the Classis or Synod for a wrong decision?  Then I take it the church was not at fault in their decision making process.  

Hi, husband of Kelly.  This is awkward, not even knowing your name.  How should I address you?  I do like your picture, although it is a little fuzzy on this website format.  Please use your name in the future.  It clarifies which family member is responding, or use the personal pronoun “we.”

Art. 83 of CRC church order states, “One of the key dynamics in considering abuse of office is the imbalance and misuse of power. The power inherent in the role of officebearer represents a sacred trust and must not be misused.”  There is no official documentation citing that this incident violated the new article 83.  Nor do I believe that past settled and binding cases are retroactively retried according to the new legislation.  Past councils (elders and deacons) did their honest best to resolve all cases in Christian love.  But certainly art. 83 is a good reminder in moving forward into the future in considering cases of abuse.

So, husband, I don’t see how anyone’s opinion is invalid according to this article, mine included. Does this article also mean that your opinion is invalid?  We are both simply stating opinions.   Blessings to you.

Thanks, Safe Church, for your concluding statement, “ It takes all of us working together and holding each other accountable in these matters to maintain an environment that is welcoming and safe for all of God's children.”  I would think that is a statement we can all agree to. Thanks.

Hi Frank.  I understand that you are baiting me with this comment.  That’s true because you have misconstrued most of what I have said in previous comments.  But I will still try to answer your questions.

First, and foremost, it is never ok to pinch any woman on the rear end, unless perhaps your own wife as gesture of love or compassion, like a kiss on the back of the neck.  Of course, kissing other women on the neck would fall into the same category as giving her a pinch on the hiney, and is off limits. 

As to pastors doing this, certainly it seems to be in order to give training in seminary to both male and female students.  In this new age of #Me too, it might be in good order to teach future pastors to never touch a women or a man, whether on the arm or shoulder or anywhere.  It can too easily be misconstrued as sexual misconduct.   As to this pastor, in this story, I have no idea what his motive was, other than I doubt that he was sexually assaulting her (in her husband’s presence).  His motive, whether in jest or as sexual assault, does not justify his action.  So pastors, “No pinching.”  Don’t be stupid.  And you can tell your sons the same.

As to what do you tell your two beautiful daughters.  I have one, too, and she is beautiful.  Should boys pinch her on the hiney, I would have suggested that she should face the boy or man and confront him immediately. “What do you think you are doing?”  Demand an explanation, as well as an apology if the pinch was unwanted.  If the pinch was from her boyfriend, that might be another story.  I imagine that would be the end of the incident.

I hear the stories of other men in leadership misusing their authority.  We’ve all heard them.  I hear stories in the news of men drugging women and while semiconscious raping them.  Or men holding a woman’s future career over her head unless she has sex with him.  I hear of pastors pressuring their staff members to perform oral sex on them.  But I’ve never heard of someone being brought up on sexual assault charges, whether in society or the church, for a pinch on the hiney.  And in this case, I can certainly understand the decision of the elders.

Thanks Frank, for your further comment.  I appreciate your concern for situations like this.  This incident took place in 1995, some 23 years ago.  That’s a long time ago.  This story is the retelling of an incident as she saw and remembers it from the past.  This is her account of what happened, but we have no accounting of events from this pastor, from his perspective.  In fact he is dead and cannot even tell his story.  But I do believe these elders from two churches heard his perspective, and finally sided with him in judging this was not sexual assault and dismissed any charges.  I am not at liberty, nor should you be, to hear a one-sided account and make a judgement.  If I had heard only his accounting and not hers or others, then I would be just as at guilty in making a biased judgement.  It’s too bad that these S.O.S accounts are given from only one perspective, therefore not impartial.

As I read this story and hear of the bitterness held still many years later, it would have been helpful to arrange for some counseling for this women to help her through her trauma.  It may or may not have been offered.  I don’t know seeing as this is a story as seen through one person’s lens.

Thanks, M Jill H, for sharing your own story and how you perceived the abuse that you experienced.  I have little comment for what happened to you, except that I’m sorry.  I hope that time and the love of those who surround you will contribute to your healing and comfort.

Life is full of valleys and mountain tops.  The mountain tops can come from a hundred different directions, as can the valleys.  Some people are struck with physical, mental, monetary, or psychological ups and downs that can be an extreme benefit or deficit upon one’s life.  In this roller coaster of life, it’s hard to predict the presence or beneficence of a loving God, especially when caught in a valley (as you have suggested).  The Psalmist often felt abandoned by God.  “The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10) The deist suggests, that God exists, he created this world as a watchmaker but is far removed from human activity.  His activity might be best seen in and through the natural laws (including the laws of relationships) that we experience daily.  So, to experience God’s healing and comfort in the valleys of life, it is important to avail ourselves of that which brings healing, such as counseling, understanding and loving friendships, and time.  I only wish the best for you in your situation.

Throughout my posting of comments, I have focused, in my opinion, on one flaw in this story.  The retribution sought by this women against this pastor far outweighed the crime.  Yes, he was wrong to pinch this lady on the hiney.  Even the church elders seemed to indicate this by their initial response.  But to classify this as “sexual assault,” was going too far.  And so the elders, of not one church, but two, dropped the charge.  To remove his pastoral credentials, even for a short time, would probably bring the end (ruin) to his ministry, a ministry that he had spent years preparing for.  I believe that these elders recognized this and refused to charge this minister with sexual assault, a charge that did not fit the crime of a pinch on the hiney, even with an unkind comment.  That’s my opinion, and now after all these other comments, I am convinced is still valid.  Thanks for stating your opinions, as well.

Thanks, Jane, for furthering the conversation.  I’ve been trying to step away from this dialogue.  My last comment to M Jill H was not meant to be sarcastic, as you seem to imply, but helpful if anything.  Read it, again.

Perception is very important to our understanding for a variety of actions.  I had suggested in an earlier comment (to Frank) that, [“In this new age of #Me too, it might be in good order to teach future pastors to never touch a woman or a man, whether on the arm or shoulder or anywhere.  It can too easily be misconstrued as sexual misconduct.”]  Perception can indicate to a person whether a touch is a “come on” or an expression of caring or concern.  How a young person perceives the discipline of his/her parents can be entirely different from that of the parents, whether as an expression of parental abuse or as an expression of parental love.  Perception is the difference.  This is just plain common sense.  I’ll not pursue this further.

Thanks for the suggested reading list of helpful books on the topic of abuse.  No need to send a hard copy.  I’m a Kindle reader and can order it from Amazon.  I imagine that you and I probably agree on many things, just not in regard to this particular story.  Blessings to you.

Thanks, Kelly, for the effort you have put into this last comment.  There’s much to agree with and gives me reason to pause.  But I think you, yourself, have hit upon the distinguishing factor.  You said, [“Of course there are differing interpretations of incidents involving harassment and abuse. From a judiciary view, opinions don't count, only facts count. If the event brought forth by the courageous story teller is true, there is only one interpretation...”] But of course interpretations do matter.  Our perception of an event may be entirely different from that of someone else.  The lens through which we see an activity shades the truth of what actually happened.  So you say, “if the event brought forth is true...”  Is a pinch on the hiney considered sexual assault?  What if it was a pinch on the arm?  Would that make it different?  What if it was a slap in the face?  As I have suggested we have one accounting of an event.  We don’t know what led up to it, if he was incited.  We have one account.  And obviously there is another accounting.  The pastor’s.

A high school boy gets into a school yard fight and is hurt, a broken arm, leg or finger.  He brings charges to the principal against the other boy. Does it matter who started the fight or if the other student was hurt?  I would think the accounts of both boys would be equally important in finding fault.  The lens through we see an event will make a difference.

Remember, also, this was a pastor’s wife.  As a pastor’s wife, certainly her word carried some weight.  And I would imagine that her husband (a pastor) supported her and his word as a pastor would contribute to her weight and influence in testifying. The charge was sexual assault, according to the article, a serious crime. Was the charge justified?  Apparently not.

The jury (the elders of two different churches), after hearing the two sides of the story did not charge this pastor with sexual assault.  You can talk about the abuse of power by 2% of pastors, that’s an average across all U.S. denominations.  Some would be lower and some higher.  What is the final tally for the CRC?  Does that 2% percent average mean all councils, made up of men, abuse their power?  Of course not.  And the likelihood of these two groups of elders making a biased judgement seems very unlikely, based on a 2% average.  By suggesting so, shows a bias on your part.  Thanks, Kelly, for your contribution.

Thanks, Safe Church Ministry, for publishing this account of a woman who felt she was sexually harassed by a minister at a CRC ministerial retreat.  I was personally offended by this account and felt an injustice was committed.

I believe the punishment sought by this women was not comparable to the wrong that was committed by this pastor.  Let me explain.  Petty theft and grand theft are both crimes of stealing.  Petty theft might involve the stealing of a candy bar from a grocery store, whereas grand theft might involve robbing a bank of a million dollars.  Grand theft might result in twenty years in prison, whereas petty theft might result in paying for the candy bar.  But both involve the act of stealing.  Pinching this woman on the bottom amounts to petty theft, whereas a man exposing himself to a woman, or rape, or proposing sex might be considered a more serious crime approaching grand theft.  To seek the suspension of this pastor’s ministerial credentials is way beyond the seriousness of this wrong doing (pinching a women on the bottom and making an ill chosen comment).

Put the shoe on the other foot, and consider that it was the woman who pinched the man on the bottom and said, nice hiney.  More than likely the man would not be offended, but see it as light hearted humor.  I doubt that very few men (including pastors) would consider this as sexual harassment.  And I’m almost certain that many women feel the same sentiment.  It, at least, demonstrates that most men think differently than women in regard to sex.  I would imagine this pastor was acting in accord with his innate male personality and saw his actions as light hearted humor.

It is often said a speaker should know their audience before speaking.  Although this pastor thought he knew his audience (this woman) for a variety of possible reasons, he had misjudged her.  What he intended as light hearted humor was taken as sexual harassment by her.  He knew he was in trouble the minute she made his action known to her breakfast group (which, by the away, amounts to gossip).   I cannot imagine this pastor had any designs on this woman sexually, especially with her husband present.  Again she was going for his throat for what he intended as humor. 

The fact that he would not apologize reinforces his position.  Although his outward actions accorded to her statement, he would not admit to sexual harassment (her accusation), but only to an intended humor.  And, also, the fact that the elders did not likely consider this incident to involve serious sexual harassment, they were willing to review the proposed course of action and reduce the charges. 

As I see it, this woman overstepped reasonable bounds in wanting to destroy this man.

Has the comment section been closed down for this article?  I've noticed several new comments, both pro and con, on my internet alert, that have not made it onto the website.  Is the opportunity for comments closed down for this article?  I won't write further comments if it has.  Thanks.

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