It is unfortunate what people will believe. We have gravitated toward a society in which there is no due process in the court of public opinion. I believe this is most prevalent within the evangelical church (where we judge and condemn one another based on gossip), within the media because the more salacious the more it must be true, or at least get hits on twitter… I also think this is primarily prevalent on oversight boards, whether that be organizational boards or ethical boards.
In my case, I experienced both the rumor mill of gossip from my church turning friends and allies into enemies. Enemies who boldly stated it was their self-righteous job “to protect the world” from me. Instead of seeking out truth, they believed lies and fanned those into a fear driven response.
These same saints, who once were friends, colleagues, and allies then chose to extend propaganda, liable, and slander in the community towards my reputation, my business, my family. It was amazing how many people knew confidential information from discussions I had with church leaders. Clearly, they allowed the rumor mill to do their dirty work since they were too immature to be adults and confront their own erred projections.
Hurt people hurt people. I get that. But it still wounds none the less. When we are afraid, angry, hurt we lose our ability to be empathetic, objective, and clear minded.
When the church asked me to “repent” part of their demand was that I resign my secular counseling license. I refused to do so because their request was based on false allegations and lies. Instead of following a scriptural (or even moral?) process [see Matthew 18…] to understand the whole story. They chose to believe one side of the story, painting me as the persecutor, “so called brother,” and I even heard ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’.
Interesting that these very same church leaders had been entrusting me with their deepest secrets, their sins, their shortcomings for years. They were the first to throw stones.
As the rock pile grew, I learned that the church had taken their side of the story to the state licensing board, as well as the media. I guess since I was “un-repentant” in their definition, this was their way exacting their church discipline. I find it ironic that they turned their church discipline process over to secular hands, but that’s another blog post some day.
I would not be a grace filled truth teller if I did not fully communicate the whole story. Yes, I made mistakes that I wish I could take back. Are those as bad as you read about in allegation reports and news articles?
Not even close.
The church had to make me out to be a monster, the villain. It was the only way they could cover their backside holding their pocketbook, so they could be the rescuers for their perceived ‘victims’. If the church had chose any other course, including the right course of applying the Gospel of grace for an actual restoration process…they would have opened themselves up as liable. They needed a sacrificial lamb, and to exact punishment to fulfill their desire for justice.
One of my overseers actually told me in closed door meeting, “it would be better for us if you gave us the finger [the middle ‘fuck you’ finger] and walked away.” Funny how that piece of confidential information didn’t get spread around the town and media.
I didn’t walk away. But I also didn’t follow their definition of restoration. I took the high ground and chose not to confront any rumor, refute any allegation posted, or return any angry email or letter I received.