Willow Creek Church’s Sexual Harassment Scandal


(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #1

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #2

Very sad moment. Not because of the accountability but because of the things that led up to this.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #3

This is hard episode to look at but it is important we do so. Through this sorry we see repeated abuse of power to protect an institution rather than open acknowledgment of sin. Power rules. Do not look away from the damage that unchecked power creates. This not just an evangelical or an atheist problem. Here we see a human problem.


(Guy Coe) #4

Let’s hope the resignations do not forestall a good investigation, so that real sin on each person’s part can be accounted for, and not just swept under a rug. Given how large evangelicalism is, it’s surprising we don’t hear about more of these, even though one is too many.


#5

It’s becoming very common to fall into affairs in today’s society (maybe, on the other hand, it’s just more public). Pornography and the trivialization of sexual relations by allowing them outside of marriage seems to be a source, in my opinion, however. I know so many good people who have fallen that I only can say “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Stress, fatigue, and many other things seem to also contribute. I do try to talk with my wife daily about everything, and that helps me keep out of compromising situations.

I am concerned that we tend to jump into a crowd mentality when things like this happen. There are so many that fall that we need to realize that a) we can all do this, b) try to help keep away from temptation (it seems the fad is always to fly as close to temptation as possible) and c) rehabilitate those who have fallen.

Here is a list of ways I read to avoid and deal with infidelity. I’m glad that they seem compassionate.

Ways to Avoid Affairs

If you’ve only reached the point of temptation, but you haven’t acted on it yet, make changes in your life so that it doesn’t go any farther. Some ideas:
•Avoid spending time alone with people of the opposite sex. If you struggle with fantasizing about a sexual relationship with a particular person, stay away from the temptation by staying away from that person.
•Refuse to act on (or even reveal) feelings of attraction to someone other than your spouse. Don’t share details of your marriage relationship — particularly problems — with a member of the opposite sex.
•Avoid outside influences and environments — such as business parties and private lunches, especially where drinking is involved — that could encourage infidelity.
•Make your spouse your top priority. Talk about problems and concerns and work through them together. Get joint counseling to help if necessary. If your spouse is angry or won’t go to counseling, go by yourself. As he or she sees changes in you, your spouse might soften.
•Change your attitude about your marriage. See it as a commitment that can’t be broken. Love flourishes in a relationship where there is complete trust, respect, and acceptance. Have fun with your spouse. Date each other again. How would you treat that person differently if you were trying to win his or her affections for the first time?

If You’re in an Affair and Want Out

While it won’t be easy, your marriage may be able to survive an affair if you work at it.

•Ask for forgiveness from your spouse. Keep in mind that when you confess your affair to your spouse, it might be a big relief to you, but it will be just the beginning of the heartache, pain, and distrust for him or her. It may take years of counseling and work to regain that person’s trust. While you’ll want to move on, seeking forgiveness is more than a one-time act; for your spouse to grant you forgiveness is certainly a long process. You can’t try to rush through the emotional healing process.
•Don’t be afraid to seek help and support. Get counseling from a minister or a professional counselor who can help you work through issues of lying, betrayal, mistrust, etc.
•Change your environment if necessary. If the affair happened at work, as hard as it is to take this step, maybe you need to find a different job. If it happened with a neighbor, maybe you need to move.

The good news is that infidelity doesn’t have to be a marriage-killer. When couples are determined to work through the pain of adultery, to end the affair, to forgive and to seek counseling, their unions can often be restored.

If Your Spouse is Having an Affair

After discovering that your spouse has been unfaithful, you’ll likely experience a torrent of conflicting emotions. Here are some important things to keep in mind as you sort through your feelings.
•Don’t give in to the extremes of “love-hate” feelings. Don’t immediately demand a divorce. Instead, affirm your desire to do whatever it takes to rebuild a healthy, vibrant marriage.
•Don’t give in to the extremes of “all my fault” or “all your fault” thinking. Don’t insist on knowing why your spouse has been having an affair. Instead, ask if he or she is willing to start over.
•At this point, you need to turn to others who can help you. Don’t ask a mutual friend or relative. Instead, ask an objective party who is in a position to help. That person might be an experienced senior pastor, certified Christian counselor, or respected marriage ministry.
•Cling to the promise that — with God’s help — even the most broken marriage can be saved.
•Remember, nobody wakes up one day and suddenly decides to have an extramarital affair. A person has been unfaithful in heart and mind long before he or she begins an affair.
•Be patient. It takes time to begin to rebuild trust, love and commitment.


(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #6

How are we educating our children about their own sexuality?


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #7

I’m pretty sure this has nothing to do with Hybel. That which wrought #MeeToo is an equal opportunity sort of sin Lawrence Krauss Ejected for Sexual Harrasment. I’m pretty sure the causal relationship is between a bad sex-ed class and behavior is close to zero.


#8

Well, this is a difficult one. Thanks for it.

  1. I completely agree they should not be bringing a faith based group in to a secular school.
  2. The sticky tape was not a good illustration
  3. I don’t think we can teach monogamy in school.

However, to think about how I would talk to my kids: let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Evolution has really shaped us a lot. Given that it takes years (more than most animals) to raise a baby human to adulthood safely, that they’re relatively helpless because of the burden of growing all that brain, and that the stable mono-or polygamous home helped survival, it’s a mistake to think that promiscuity, which is frowned on by most of the world’s successful cultures (not just religions) is a good idea.

There are studies that show that early dating leads to intercourse earlier, and we want to avoid that in immature folks without much prefrontal cortex–so that children are born with preparation.

My wife and I personally never allowed ourselves to be alone in a room till we were married. That’s partly because we didn’t trust ourselves; it was to glorify God in our minds. We did find it helpful, though. We have never regretted that. I never look back and wish I’d been more experienced.

I agree that abstinence doesn’t guarantee sex is wonderful after marriage. Sex is only one part of the commitment you have for each other. Have you ever listened to Ravi Zacharias’ “I, Isaac, Take You, Rebekah”? Funny and very helpful for how love follows commitment. H

But I would only teach that to my kids. I would never recommend that in sex ed in a public school. We do need sex ed, though.

Thanks for this article.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #9

Some were brave. Look at the story of John and Nancy Ortberg. Notice how they were dismissed as “disgruntled” for advocating for true victims. I’ve seen this pattern before.


#10

Very brave. My wife is from a mission where a surgeon molested children and had affairs. The grownup children exposed this. (This was from another station in another country from where my wife and her parents lived, but the pain affected everyone).

There are impartial investigation groups now that help investigate well. One was involved too late.

Power certainly does corrupt.

Part of the lesson to me from these stories is that it is very difficult, if not impossible, for those who are close to you to impartially keep you accountable. From the beginning, before going in to a difficult situation, keeping an accountability partner…not just your spouse…may be a good institution. I’m not sure how that works but it is probably a good idea in most cases.


(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #11

Focus on the Family is certainly NOT a group that I hold in high regard.

This is exactly where questions of morality, ethics, and values collide.

To describe life in today’s mixed urban secular society, I would like to invite you to my gym. It is a great place to work out, stay healthy, learn about proper nutrition and keeping your body fit for life. It is very large, with many people of various ages, martial statuses, sexual orientations, genders, and levels of fitness, body shapes and sizes. I am 100% positive that spending an hour or two in my gym at any time day or evening, you will see cosmopolitan life in action. Here is an exchange that recently took place between me and two young women. My wife still laughs aloud when she retells the story to friends and family.

I (a 60 years man who grow up in the 1960’s) goes to the gym nearly everyday to stay fit and healthy. I am an older person at the gym but certainly not any near the oldest. (lots of men and women in their 70’s and 80’ there too.) The gym has a lot of much younger people going both men and woman, guys and gals. I have my morals, ethics and values from living my life. I automatically do things like holding the door open for a woman when entering a store or building. Very old fashion.

One day this summer coming into the gym, I was a few steps ahead of two young women in their late 20’s. I instinctively stopped, opened the door, to allow them to pass into the gym before me. They both smiled, and one said to the other “He just did that to have a look at our asses.” Hearing this, I was stunned. I must have had a strange look on my face, because one of the women turned to me and said “That’s ok, I think it is kind of sweet.” I didn’t know what to say, just let it go by. Retelling the story to my wife, she laughed hysterically and said I was a dinosaur in this world. I still see those women at the gym, they were recently married.

So how does that fit into your view of today’s world?

My grandfather (26) has an arranged marriage with my grandmother (14) raises 8 children, he dies long before her.

My father (27) marries my mother age (23) raises 2 children, he dies 24 years before her

I get married at age 25 to my wife age 25 raise 2 children, living healthy happy lives together for 35 years.

One of my sons to get married next year at age 30 to a wonderful woman age 29, buying house, have two great careers and have no immediate plans for children but want to have children “some day”.

So who is to say what is right and what is wrong with how we chose to live our lives?


#12

Thanks for the great story. I apologize. I did not mean to offend. I just was thinking that so many of us…Hybels, Kraus, even friends of mine, have stumbled, that there must be a way to, in a compassionate way, prevent infidelity and deal with it if it happens. Sounds like you have a great story and a wonderful family.


(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #13

No need to apologize. I take no offense. I was just using four generation of my family to illustrate how morality, ethics, and values changes generation to generation. My son at 26 couldn’t conceive of allowing himself to be in an arranged marriage with a 14 year old girl. Would be considered immoral today. Conversely my grandfather would think it was a shame that my son and his girlfriend would have waited until age 30 to buy a house and get married in order to be educated and start careers and enjoy their 20’s together.
Morals, values and ethics now change greatly inter generational as depicted in my gym story. Determining what is moral and what is immoral is very hard today. I tend to let people decide for themselves once they establish some critical thinking and reasoning skills. But some kids (adults) never grow up.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #14

At the same time, there is timeless quality to morals, values, and ethics.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is just as salient today as he was 50 years ago. Of course, he is speaking to his moment, and some of the particulars need translation, but he also took hold of something real and rarely found in current discourse. The same I would say, if I dare, is true of what I see in Jesus. On one level, morals, values, and ethics are culturally defined and poorly fixed, even subjective. On another level, there is something fixed and real onto which a rare few manage to take hold of with confidence.

I hope we can recover the confident truth of MLK’s voice in our current moment…he tapped into something fundamentally real. Yes, he was not perfect. He would have been shredded by the #metoo movement if he ever fell under their microscope; that seems clear. Perhaps such a reckoning would even be just. Still, he also took hold of something real and good. Perhaps that is even the lesson too. Very broken people can be oppressive in one context, but also at the same time channel a voice of greater justice in another. Even MLK, it seems, was a sinner, but he also was redeemable.