Summary: Church leaders are appointed to protect the flock. When the protectors become predators, you may be sure that God will shortly expose the sin and deliver judgement.

“Jerusalem sinned grievously;

therefore, she became filthy;

all who honored her despise her,

for they have seen her nakedness;

she herself groans

and turns her face away.” [1]

Shocked, disgusted, grieved, hurt—what a confused jumble of emotions flooded the heart of Christians when they learned the sordid details of the abuse of children perpetuated by priests throughout Pennsylvania. The report of the grand jury was released by the Attorney General of Pennsylvania in August, 2018. In graphic detail it laid bare the scandalous acts of over three hundred priests who had victimised over one thousand boys and girls for over seven decades. It is highly likely that many more children were victimised and for an even greater period of time, but this report provided details only for this period of time.

What was even more horrible was the fact that the report of the grand jury indicated that these priests had been excused and even sheltered by the hierarchy of the church throughout that period. Let the horror of that thought penetrate into your consciousness. Though they knew the evil deeds the priests had perpetuated on innocent children, leaders within the Catholic Church had moved predator priests around so they could avoid exposure and victims were counselled to remain quiet. The hierarchy routinely covered up the wickedness of the priests, regularly moving predators to where they could, and did, strike again. Leaders justified it as protecting the church from “scandal”—somehow ignoring the obscene scandal of their coverups.

Law enforcement officials were pressured to cease their investigations, which they did! In short, church leaders weaponised the Faith in order to institute a systematic cover-up campaign. Even the pope gave what is at best a tepid response to the disgraceful acts. Once the report had been\ released, it was disclosed that guilty individuals would likely never be held to account since the statute of limitations had run out for most of these crimes. Of three hundred one priests, only two are still subject to prosecution. The most damning portion of the report reveals, “monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected.” Then, expanding this horror, the report continues by stating, “many, including some named in this report, have been promoted.” [2] Now, we are being told of one hundred eighty-eight priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children over several decades in New Jersey. [3]

If these revelations were not enough to dishearten sincere Catholics, add the revelation that ex-Cardinal McCarrick had been defrocked for sexual abuse. [4] It is almost certain that this evil was not restricted to a few dioceses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Catholic communities in Chile, in Australia, in France and in Ireland have all reported similar scandals, some of which scandals are ongoing. Scandal has even touched Vatican City itself: At the beginning of the summer, Monsignor Carlo Alberto Capella was convicted by a Vatican court of distributing child pornography and sentenced to five years’ incarceration. In 2014, Monsignor Jozef Wesolowski, previously the Holy See’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic, was defrocked for abusing young boys but died before facing criminal proceedings.

And now we read of sexually abusive Catholic nuns! More than fourteen percent of these nuns have been sexually abused themselves. Filled with unresolved rage, these nuns become physically and sexually abusive to children under their care. [5] It is evidence that sin is never confined to the one initiating the sinful behaviour, but like yeast spreading throughout the dough, sin contaminates everything. If ever there was need to confirm the pervasive nature of sin, surely this would qualify!

Evangelicals dare not gloat over the difficulties our Catholic friends have experienced. Horrific as the situation within the Catholic communion is, similar horror stories are emerging of what appears to be a systematic rot among Protestant and Evangelical churches. Recently, a sweeping investigation published in Texas newspapers detailed the horrific abuse of over 700 victims—some as young as three and four years of age—by more than 380 pastors in Southern Baptist churches. [6]

What was absolutely disgusting about these articles was the fact that in repeated instances, the accused pastors moved on to other churches. The churches in which these men were serving when first accused remained silent or, in some notable instances, actually wrote glowing recommendations in order to move them on to the next church. It was almost as if the churches adopted an “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy. And the receiving church in far too many instances did not bother to check the credentials of those whom they were receiving. To be fair, most of those accused of sexual abuse were convicted and jailed; however, almost two dozen pastors, after being tried and convicted, were accepted into pastoral roles by churches!

Add to this the constant drip of news items over the past two decades as reports detail the corrosive impact emanating as Pentecostal pastors, Anglican priests, Presbyterian ministers, United Church of Canada ministers, and other religious leaders are charged with sexual and physical abuse of children and parishioners, and it becomes evident that a serious malady has infected the churches of our Lord. No denomination has been left unscathed, and the cause of Christ has received a black eye both from those who stand behind the sacred desk and from those who oversee the denominations.

Perhaps we should not be overly shocked at this knowledge in light of repeated studies that reveal the scourge of pornography that has contaminated our society. Numerous studies over the last two decades have revealed that up to three-quarters of ministers from all communions, view pornography on at least a weekly basis. Many ministers view pornography on a daily basis. God, through Hosea, warned His ancient people, and thus He warns us,

“The more [the priests] increased,

the more they sinned against me;

I will change their glory into shame.

They feed on the sin of my people;

they are greedy for their iniquity.

And it shall be like people, like priest;

I will punish them for their ways

and repay them for their deeds.”

[HOSEA 4:7-9]

Those are frightening words, “It shall be like people, like priests.” As those who should lead into righteousness are led by the world, the worse their sinful nature is revealed to be.

Pastors must heed the Word of the Lord delivered through the Prophet Ezekiel; and hearing His warning pronounced against wicked shepherds, each pastor should tremble in fear. “The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

“‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them’” [EZEKIEL 34:1-10].

Pastors and church leaders had better pay heed to the warning delivered through Jeremiah. “The LORD says, ‘The leaders of my people are sure to be judged. They were supposed to watch over my people like shepherds watch over their sheep. But they are causing my people to be destroyed and scattered’’ [JEREMIAH 23:1 NET BIBLE].

The LORD harbours anger at anyone who avers loyalty to Him and to His cause and yet dishonour Him through practising or tolerating wickedness. Though it may appear that God is doing nothing, we are warned, “Be sure your sin will find you out” [NUMBERS 32:34]. The weak and those who are victimised hold to this as it is meant to be, a promise of just retribution. The strong and those who abuse their position view this with fear, hoping, apparently, that they can somehow avoid what is coming though they refuse to repent. Nevertheless, each of us must know that there is a God. He does hear the cry of the vulnerable. He will never approve of evil perpetuated against the weak. Therefore, “Be sure your sin will find you out.”


“Jerusalem sinned grievously.”

When Jeremiah writes his lament, he does not speak only of the pain he experienced as he witnessed his people held to account by God. Like a good physician, the man of God opened the wound, draining the putrefying infection so that the disinfectant could be applied, and healing initiated. The first thing Jeremiah does in the text is put his finger on the sorest spot. Jerusalem sinned, and she had sinned grievously. Until the people acknowledged the reason for judgement, there could be no hope for healing. Christians don’t enjoy being told that they have sinned, we recoil at the thought that our evil is no longer hidden. We are deeply hurt that our sinful behaviour is exposed. How often I’ve heard the charge that I’m airing dirty laundry for the faithful, but I know that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

The brother of our Lord issues a sobering warning to those who imagine they are called to provide guidance to the people of God. He writes, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” [JAMES 3:1]. Those who imagine themselves to be teachers need to know that they are held to a higher standard. They must not treat sin lightly and they must be protectors. The actions of those who are teachers, those who are leaders among the churches, is held up to divine scrutiny.

It is a grave misunderstanding that pastors must never push back against evil. To be sure, pastors must be gentle. Clearly, those who are overseers must be hospitable; they must not be violent or quarrelsome [see 1 TIMOTHY 3:1-3]. An elder must not be arrogant or quick-tempered [see TITUS 1:7]. What is often overlooked is that the elder “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” [TITUS 1:9]. While the overseer must be able to correct his opponents with gentleness [see 2 TIMOTHY 2:25], it must not be forgotten that he must correct his opponents!

The man of God must hold to the sound words of Scripture, since they have been “breathed out by God and [are] profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” [2 TIMOTHY 3:16]. This teaching is the basis for the command, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” [2 TIMOTHY 4:2-4].

As the guardian of the flock, the overseer is required to expose wickedness. He must be prepared to resist the incursions of evil people who would harm the flock, and that must surely include those who would exalt their own perverted desires above the welfare of the innocent among the flock. How terrible is the warning given to all Israel as they were leaving Egypt. God warned, “You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless” [EXODUS 22:22-24]. Such a warning from the Living God should give all people pause. That it doesn’t restrain the base desires of people demonstrates how wicked the heart can be. For one to claim to fear God while ignoring His warnings reveals a heart that is devoid of goodness.

An old saw says that fish rot from the head. Tragically, this holds true among the churches of our Lord as it does in other contexts. When a congregation fails to address leadership that has acted wickedly, the failure of the church contaminates the entire assembly. This danger is addressed during the account of a grave sin committed by Achan the son of Carmi. Israel had conquered Jericho in their initial foray into the Promised Land. Beyond Jericho was a small community known as Ai. When Israel went up against this small town, they were defeated and their hearts “melted and became as water” [see JOSHUA 7:2-5].

According to God’s Word, judgement came because “the people of Israel broke faith” [JOSHUA 7:1]. What is fascinating about that statement is that only one man had actually sinned in this matter. However, his sin contaminated the entire camp. The LORD confronted Joshua and said, “Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you” [JOSHUA 7:11-12]. God held the entire community to account for the sin of this one man. That is how seriously God views sin. It is not simply a brief stumble or a minor issue—it is eternally offensive to Holy God!

Here is the thing that is often overlooked. Achan had not only dishonoured the Lord, he had compelled his family to share in the sin by hiding what he had stolen in his tent. His wife and even his children became party to the sin through their silence, demonstrating that they acquiesced in his wicked rebellion. It would be necessary for Joshua to expose the sin and then rid the nation of the sinner.

Throughout the writings of the Books of the Kings are examples of kings who did evil, and the evil became permission, if not actually inducement, for the people of the nation to sin. Jeroboam, Baasha, Ahab, Ahaziah—the land moved inexorably toward judgement as a succession of leaders embraced wickedness, dishonouring the Living God.

The same is true of churches and denominations. Whenever the leaders of a denomination choose wickedness over righteousness, whenever these leaders imagine that they are so important that they need not deal with sin in their ranks, that denomination is moving toward insignificance; it is becoming worthless to the Son of God. Whenever the leaders of a congregation, the elders or the boards of that church, act wickedly or when the people do nothing about the evil in their ranks, that church is assuredly moving toward death. And it will drop into the abyss of forgotten churches with all that continue there. Though the death of that congregation may require years to be complete, death will come. The only possible respite is if the leaders fall on their faces and confess their sin before Holy God.

It was as the result of a grievous sin perpetuated against members of a congregation that I left the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and moved to the interior. It had been discovered that the pastor of a two-point parish had engaged in gross immorality in a previous congregation. When this wickedness came to light, the denomination removed that man from oversight of the two churches he was then serving. The man entered into “therapy,” using the cover story to the congregations that he was suffering “heart trouble.” The congregations were unaware of what had taken place, and denominational leaders were complicit in perpetuating that myth.

I was deeply offended when I learned what the denominational leaders done in order to cover up the sin. This man was held in high esteem by the leaders, having served on numerous committees and counsels within the denomination. The leadership of the denomination sought to cover over his sin so he would not be embarrassed, and they would not be required to give an account for their inaction.

I informed the leaders of the two congregations he had been serving that their former pastor was indeed suffering from heart problems. However, the heart problems he was suffering would never be addressed by a physician—he needed to be saved. Nevertheless, the leaders of that particular denomination made exaggerated efforts to keep the knowledge of what he had done hidden, especially from the people the man had previously pastored. They disregarded the Apostolic admonition, “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear” [1 TIMOTHY 5:20]. To this day, the majority of the people within that denomination are ignorant of what this pastor had done. The actions of the leaders left me with the uncomfortable sense that this was standard procedure whenever immoral behaviour was discovered within the denomination.

Later, I served the church in which the original wickedness had been perpetuated by this man. Among those I served during that period was one lady who had succumbed to this man’s predation. It became known that the denomination was preparing to put him in charge of another congregation, though only a couple of years had passed since he was removed from ministry. He was pronounced “healed” by denominational leaders;, they said his “therapy” was successful. This action created a serious problem when the women who had first brought charges against this man learned of what the denomination intended to do.

Several of these women were enraged at this proposed reinstatement; at least two of them spoke with me, assuring me that they would initiate legal action if this proposed action proceeded. It was only the threat of legal action against the man and against the denomination that brought a measure of accountability as the denominational leaders decided that they would perhaps delay their planned reintegration of this predator into a pastoral role. Leaders of the denomination were more focused on helping their friend reintegrate into pastoral ministry than they were at acting honourably toward those who were victimised and toward the Lord.

I know that during a period of some nine years when I served in the north among churches of that denomination, six of the eight churches in the area had pastors who were removed because of moral failure. To my knowledge, none of these pastors ever stood before their churches to answer for their actions—they simply moved elsewhere or entered into “therapy.” Any people who were injured as result of the moral failure of these men were simply seen as collateral damage that could not be avoided. The leaders of the denomination gave every evidence that they were far more concerned to maintain a sterling reputation in the eyes of inhabitants of this world than they were concerned with honouring God. They were more concerned for the welfare of their friends than for the welfare of the sheep of God’s pasture. Jerusalem sinned grievously.


“Jerusalem sinned grievously;

therefore, she became filthy.”

Sin sullies the people of God. Sin contaminates the people of God. Holy God cannot permit sin to continue unchecked among His people; to do so would compel the Living God to approve of wickedness. Should God permit sin to continue unchecked, it would mean that He was no longer pure and holy. If we will not confront our own sin, confessing and seeking God’s cleansing, He will hold us accountable—He will discipline us. There does come a time when God says, “Enough!” Those who choose sin rather than holiness must face the Living God. It is bad enough when any member of the congregation sins, but when one responsible for providing oversight sins presumptuously, sins egregiously, the evil is compounded and the harm is multiplied. Thus, when an elder who was appointed by God has sinned morally, he is no longer fit to shepherd the people of God. The man has violated trust. Though a surprising number of churchmen in this day wish to see such fallen pastors restored to leadership, they are arguing against the Word of God. This appears to be the clear teaching of the Word.

As Paul is instructing Timothy, he writes, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer deserves his wages.’ Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure” [1 TIMOTHY 5:17-22].

The churches of the western world are facing a crisis. We have sinned, and we are unwilling to do anything about our sin. We value the warm, fuzzy feelings we get from accommodating old friends, regardless of how corrupt their hearts may be. I recall an incident with a friend. I had been fellowshipping with a group of churches for some time, but there was something that disturbed me greatly. Speaking with one of the leading lights of that particular groups, I commented that connections and credentials were more highly esteemed within that group than were character and calling. The pastors were drinking one another’s bath water, flattering one another and chasing the praise of mere mortals rather than seeking the blessing of God. Attendance numbers and bank deposits were more important than was power in preaching.

My friend vigorously dissented from my assessment. He insisted that I was wrong and that the group was really seeking God’s presence. He was quite certain that anyone who sought God would be welcomed within the group, and not merely those who graduated from the proper schools or who happened to have the right recommendations. It was obvious to me that either I was greatly in error or he was refusing to face up to the reality of the situation.

Some months after this exchange, his church removed this man from the pastorate after he had been caught in flagrante delicto; and the removal would be permanent, as it should have been. He would spend years suffering discipline administered by the Living God. Even after repenting and confessing his sin, he would spend the next several years repairing the damage to his own home. Throughout the process, I maintained contact with him, praying for him and inviting him and his wife to spend time with Lynda and myself, showing them friendship.

It was during one of these times when we shared a meal at a fine restaurant in our area that this man asked if I remembered the conversation concerning who was acceptable within that group of preachers. Of course I remembered the conversation. He said, “You were correct. We did esteem what others thought rather than what God thinks. We did promote ourselves on the basis of who we knew and the school we had attended. We were less concerned with character, as we should have been.”

If this one group of churches was the only group that had been infected with the dreadful malady of insular pride, it would be terrible enough; however, the wickedness that contaminated that group is generally evident throughout multiple denominations and groups of churches in this day. The leaders of the churches are more impressed with connections and credentials than they are with character and calling. Whether the hand of God is upon those who minister is of less importance that the measures provided by this fallen world.

This is a serious charge, but it does appear to be borne out through even casual observation. The recommendation of a well-known individual carries more weight among the faithful than does the assessment of those who know the candidate well. It is easy enough to explain why this happens. Denominal leaders are busy, and they can’t know everyone who presents themselves for a job among the churches. Thus, these leaders are reduced to dependence upon people they know, or people they respect. Who, if not those who teach in their schools and in their seminaries, should they listen to when seeking recommendations? However, the New Testament standard is the local congregation!

The standard given in Paul’s First Letter to Timothy demands that the receiving congregation assess those who will be elevated to eldership. “An overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil” [1 TIMOTHY 3:2-7].

The standard demands personal knowledge by the congregation of the suitability of those who will be set apart as overseers. This is not a responsibility that can be delegated to a committee from outside the congregation or to a board of people without a vital connection to the assembly. Here’s a thought! If the qualifications for deacons are to be assessed by the local congregation, as is evident from even a casual reading of 1 TIMOTHY 3:8-13, why would we expect that the assessment for elders would be surrendered to a group outside the congregation?

How poignant is the censure delivered by Isaiah!

“We have all become like one who is unclean,

and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.

We all fade like a leaf,

and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

There is no one who calls upon your name,

who rouses himself to take hold of you;

for you have hidden your face from us,

and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.”

[ISAIAH 64:6-7]

It is as if the churches of our Lord are determined to seek a better way to achieve what they want, than following that way which has been given by God, in whom is no error. Are not our continual and futile attempts to do things our way evidence that we are horribly flawed and rebellious? And when we excuse those who sin because we believe they are doing something good, are we not covering over sin?

I recognise that the sin of many individuals who are in leadership is easily excused. We focus so intensely on the “results” of their ministry that, though we may be momentarily confused, we overlook what is clearly sinful. Here is a truth that must never be neglected by the people of God: There is never a good excuse for sinning. No matter how much good we think a person does in their ministry, sin is a misuse of their God-appointed role.


“[All who honoured her] have seen her nakedness;

she herself groans

and turns her face away.”


Sin is always attractive at the first, but the results of sin are always vile, detestable, revolting. I recall Dr. John R. Rice speaking years ago and recounting how he had encountered a man during his youth. That man was seated in a wheelchair and quite obviously in poor health. As Rice and some other young men passed by, the man called out to them. “Boys, ten minutes of fun will buy you a lifetime of misery.” The man continued by speaking of a sexual dalliance with a young prostitute, and the consequences were lifelong. Was the sin worth it? The sure way to avoid STIs is to be pure. The sure way to ensure that you don’t contract a loathsome disease for which there is no cure is to be faithful to your own spouse.

Surely, one little look at the ubiquitous pornography that parades across the monitor won’t hurt anything! Surely a quick peek at what is promoted so heavily on every search engine won’t be bad for a person! But it will end in ruin as you discover that your wife can never fulfil the airbrushed fantasy of tortured minds. That little glance will never give you that fulfilment of a loving relationship and the stability of the love God intended you to know and enjoy. That little look contributes to the degradation of the daughters of multiple fathers and mothers. The sons of numerous fathers and mothers participated in the ghoulish debasement of those women.

We know that one in ten people who take the first sip of alcohol will become a drunk. Can that risk really be worth it for you? We know that viewing pornography has a physical impact on the brain. This is especially true in developing brains of children, though the effect on adult brains is likewise measurable. Can we really risk allowing our children to view pornography? Don’t we encourage this when we silently watch depictions of rape, sexual assault or sexual intimacy on television, excusing what we are watching by mewing, “Everyone knows it is only acting?” Do they really? Do our children actually understand the difference between “acting” and “acting out?”

It is bad enough when the world trains their children in unrighteousness, but when it is the leaders of the churches that tolerate evil and through their neglect even train their own families in wickedness, what hope is there for the people who look up to them for leadership? God, speaking through Ezekiel, confronted the religious leaders of His people.

“[The LORD God] said to me, ‘Son of man, lift up your eyes now toward the north.’ So I lifted up my eyes toward the north, and behold, north of the altar gate, in the entrance, was this image of jealousy. And he said to me, ‘Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see still greater abominations.’

“And he brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked, behold, there was a hole in the wall. Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, dig in the wall.’ So I dug in the wall, and behold, there was an entrance. And he said to me, ‘Go in, and see the vile abominations that they are committing here.’ So I went in and saw. And there, engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel. And before them stood seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had his censer in his hand, and the smoke of the cloud of incense went up. Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, “The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land.”’ He said also to me, ‘You will see still greater abominations that they commit.’

“Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the LORD, and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then he said to me, ‘Have you seen this, O son of man? You will see still greater abominations than these.’

“And he brought me into the inner court of the house of the LORD. And behold, at the entrance of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men, with their backs to the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east, worshiping the sun toward the east. Then he said to me, ‘Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations that they commit here, that they should fill the land with violence and provoke me still further to anger? Behold, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore I will act in wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them’” [EZEKIEL 8:5-18].

That final statement should be chilling to those who profess Christ and yet prey on the vulnerable. God declares, “I will act in wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.” A cardinal, once called “the third-most-powerful man in the Vatican, was recently convicted of sex abuse of young boys. [7] Though he offered prayers, surely God never heard him, though He assuredly witnessed what was done! And we can be certain that God is offended when anyone treats Him with contempt.

Malachi makes a frightful statement concerning those ancient priests who despised their calling. He wrote, “And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the LORD of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it” [MALACHI 2:1-3].

The open contempt for righteousness witnessed in far too many of the professed leaders of the Faith reflects the contempt for holiness exposed among those ancient priests. They treated God as though He was not worthy of their respect, so God would treat them as though they were garbage. It was as though God was saying, “You don’t value the ministry with which I honoured you, so why should you stay in office—an office to which I appointed?” Ministers of garbage! That is what they had become! Tragically, the condemnation of those ancient priests applies to those individuals presenting themselves as ministers of the Living God who are actually deceitful workmen in this day! Such people need to see that they are nothing but ministers of garbage.

How does all this affect us as Christians? In the first place, know that we are not to be apologists for wickedness. Though we must not rush to judgement at every charge of evil levelled against ministers and church leaders, neither must we attempt to somehow mitigate the wickedness that is done when those who claim to be fellow believers choose to do evil. When we hear of someone charged with a wicked deed, we must be careful neither to accept the charge uncritically nor to dismiss the charge as unwarranted. We must recognise that wicked people do maliciously charge Christians with evil in an attempt to discredit the Faith. However, we must be aware that evil does infiltrate the Faith.

You will recall that Jesus told a parable of how an enemy had sowed weeds in the wheat. Therefore, the Master charged his servants, “Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, ‘Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn’” [MATTHEW 13:30].

Jude cautioned followers of the Master, “Certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” [JUDE 4].

As followers of Christ, we trust that He is a perfect Judge. Likewise, we must accept that the authorities that govern are trustworthy, until they are revealed to be unreliable. By the same token, we must extend grace to those charged, trusting that the Lord’s will shall be done in His time. As much as lies within us, we must be friends to the friendless, not allowing ourselves to be pressured into choosing sides. We belong to the Lord, and we commit all things into His hands, for He makes no mistakes.

Again, we must be compassionate toward those who have been injured and betrayed by those who abused them. It doesn’t follow that all the churches must provide compensation; no financial remuneration can compensate for the wounds they have experienced. However, we must be prepared to show these tortured souls grace and mercy, encouraging them by showing them the love of Christ the Lord—a love that sees them as precious, as valuable in the sight of God, rather than seeing them as “things” to be used by others.

Above all else, let each believer determine that he or she will live righteously, a holy life that adorns the doctrine of God our Saviour. Let us declare the grace of God, revealing that grace through lives invested in service to Him. Amen.

[1] Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[2] “Bishops need to get out of the way of abuse investigators,” (editorial), New York Post, August 18, 2018, accessed August 18, 2018

[3] Sarah Nolan and Deena Yelin,, February 14, 2019, “The list of Catholic priests accused of abuse in NJ is out. What’s next?”, accessed 17 February 2019; Kelly Heyboer and Ted Sherman,, Feb. 13, 2019, “N.J. Catholic dioceses release names of 188 priests and deacons accused of sexual abuse of children,”, accessed 17 February 2019

[4] Chico Harlan, The Washington Post, February 16, 2019, “Ex-cardinal McCarrick defrocked by Vatican for sexual abuse,”, accessed 17 February 2019

[5] Isabel Vincent, “Inside the Horrifying, Unspoken World of Sexually Abusive Nuns,” New York Post, February 16, 2019,, accessed 16 February 2019

[6] Robert Downen, Lise Olsen and John Tedesco, “Abuse of Faith,” February 10, 2019, Houston Chronicle,, accessed 13 February 2019; Robert Downen, Lise Olsen and John Tedesco, “Abuse of Faith,” February 10, 2019, San Antonio Express-News,, accessed 13 February 2019; Kristine Phillips and Amy B Wang, “‘Pure Evil’: Southern Baptist Leaders condemn decades of sexual abuse revealed in investigation,” February 10, 2019, The Washington Post,, accessed 13 February 2019; John Tedesco, Robert Downen and Lise Olsen, “Offend, then repeat,” 13 February 2019, Houston Chronicle,, accessed 16 February 2019; Lise Olsen, Robert Downen and John Tedesco, “Preying on teens, 13 February 2019, Houston Chronicle,, accessed 16 February 2019

[7] Livia Albeck-Ripka, “George Pell Sex Abuse Conviction Unsealed in Australia, New York Times, Feb. 25, 2019,, accessed 26 February 2019; Melissa Davey, “George Pell: cardinal found guilty of child sexual assault,” The Guardian, 26 February 2019,, accessed 26 February 2019; “The sickening photograph that has haunted Cardinal George Pell for 26 years,”, February 26, 2019,, accessed 26 February 2019