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Old 01-29-2003, 05:46 PM   #1
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True Story...What Are Your Thoughts?

I borrowed this story from another message board, which is, supposedly, true; written by the son of the pastor in this story (who was the one posting the story on the message board). I removed all identifying parts of the story.

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My father preached about the time that Jesus arrived at the scene where a bunch of do-gooders were about to stone a woman to death who had been caught in the act of adultery (come to think of it, why weren't they about to stone the adulterous man with her?). In those days, the "righteous" did not tolerate adultery, and it was punishable by death. Jesus stopped the mob and asked them what the offense of the woman was, and they told him that she had committed the evil sin of adultery and that the law dictated that she be stoned to death. They were claiming their right to stone her to death right there on the spot. Jesus said, "You have quoted the law correctly; therefore, let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Powerful words. He looked the accusers right in the eye and told them, essentially, that no one is perfect, that we are all striving to perfect ourselves in this process called life, and that, most importantly, none of us has a right to act as if we are perfect and have a right to destroy those we designate imperfect.

According to the story, once Jesus said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," one by one the accusers of the adulteress left. When they had all left, Jesus turned to the woman and said, "Woman, where are your accusers?" And she acknowledged that they had all left. At that point Jesus said to her, "Go, and sin no more." In so doing, Jesus did not tell her that she would never be tempted to do wrong ever again, but that she should strive to live a life free from the trouble her ways prior to His intervention had brought to her. Go and sin no more. He didn't say, "I expect you will fall back into your old ways once I am not watching." Jesus did not go checking up on her for the rest of her life. He simply told her to strive to do right and left her to live her life with that thought as her guiding principle.

Jesus was condemned by His contemporaries, who wore their righteousness like bright garments, for associating with adulterers, thieves and criminals. Yet, He said that was why He was here, to minister to those whose lives needed change. And following that admonition from Jesus to allow those who need His message to come to Him, one thing I have seen in my father is that he has never prevented anyone from coming to any church that he has pastored. At the end of his sermon today, he told the rapist that he was welcome in this church.

Well, the associate pastor stood up, told my father he was wrong, stormed up to the pulpit and took his personal items from the pulpit, right in front of the congregation, and more than half the church stood up and left with him.

As they exited the church in their hypocritical self-righteousness, the members walked past my sister who stood in the vestibule and said to each one, as they spewed venom at her, that EVERYONE is welcome to come to this church.

Friends, my sister hurt so much as each of those hypocrites passed her, but she did not let the tears go until she was driving home. My father stood there in the pulpit and, when the associate pastor said that he and these others were leaving, my father said, "So be it."

I am sure that my father, mother and sister are hurting. I have called them all to tell them I am proud of the stand they took. If it were not hypocritical, I would almost go to that church and support it, but I am not a member anymore, and do not believe in all of their beliefs, so I am staying out of it. But I told my sister that those hypocrites who left, (you must remember that these are Fundamentalists who believe in the LITERAL translation of the Bible as their guide) these hypocrites do not believe in what they profess, because they say that Jesus can heal the sick. When they are feeling ill, they pray to Him for deliverance. They believe that Jesus changes the lives of any who call on Him as their Saviour, YET, and here is the big transgression on their part, they will not let Jesus change this ex-rapist into a Christian. No! He is to wear a scarlet "R" in his forehead forever. Jesus cannot save him. And I told her that if Jesus cannot save this young man, then He did not save any of those hypocrites, either. Their inability to believe in the saving grace of Jesus is proven herewith, that they know their lives are filled with all manner of evil, and if Jesus did not change them, He cannot change this former rapist. If they truly believed in what they say about the redemptive grace of salvation through the blood of Jesus and His atonement for our sins on the cross of Calvary, then they would put this young man's sins where their's are - in the sea of God's forgetfulness, buried by the grace of God.

Well, the hypocrites left en masse, but I truly think my father, who has never waivered in his Fundamentalist beliefs, would rather minister to those in need than to count himself a member of a social club composed of self-righteous bigots who dictate the material in his sermons.

So, folks, there is the next chapter in the continuing saga of God's forgiveness for a former rapist.
What are your thoughts? Was this pastor right? Or was the associate pastor right?

Melon
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Old 01-29-2003, 06:01 PM   #2
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Powerful story. The pastor was right. I am not a Christian but I love the teachings of Jesus nonetheless and this particular story from the Bible is close to my heart. This is probably why I have always had friends that other people have rejected...though I am rather conservative in my own lifestyle, I count among my closest friends a stripper, a male prostitute, a drug addict/alcoholic who is frequently in trouble with the law, and various other big hearted, big spirited, beautiful souls who live hard and wild and appear to be troubled outwardly but who love God. Any one of them would give their last dime to a homeless person and not think twice about it.

One question...do you know if the rapist served time for his crime--paid his debt according to the law?

When I was in high school, in a small, very conservative right-wing Southern town, a classmate of my sister's got pregnant and had to 'go away' for awhile. She left town to have the baby and put it up for adoption. When she returned, she was an outcast. My sister was her only friend. One day she (the girl) passed around stones to her classmates that had the Bible verse quoted in this story painted on the stone.
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Old 01-29-2003, 06:04 PM   #3
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melon...this story presents many thoughts and emotions and at the same time the idea of how far in God's mind and heart grace really go, and yet how far and at times short, God's grace has perpetrated itself in our own hearts and minds.

People often get tripped up in certain sin, especially those of the sexual nature. People don't want the children around rapist, because they fear he will strike again. I guess it is truly difficult to see grace being lived out in a person who has committed a horrific crime, and to know if he is truly sorry and healed off those desired to commit this act again, at the same time, who are we to judge a man's character and say that he is not completely healed and may strike again?

It is easy for me to sit here and to say I wouldn't be affected by this man being in the same congregation then I. That I would stay by this pastor's side and except this man unconditionally. However, where true Christianity is lived out like Christ lived it out with this adulterous, is when you do what you say without wavering, especially when you are confronted with a situation like this face to face.

I can't honestly say how I would react in that situation, but I would hope and pray that I could act in such a way that would cause this man to find the help and healing he needs to be able to find the Saviour who can help him to hopefully never act out in this manner again.

I'll have to think on these matters some more and come back with some more thoughts.

Chris
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Old 01-29-2003, 06:06 PM   #4
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This reminds me of the old saying "the most segregated time of the week is Sunday morning". Too many people treat Church as a social gathering, not a time of worship. The focus is on themselves (or, as in the story above, shift attention to the sin of others).

Any fundamentalist should recall Matthew 9:10 "While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples."

I cannot imagine the Scriptural support for the associate pastor's actions – thus making it an action of the flesh. I attend what most would call a conservative congregation. But our senior pastor refers to us as “sinners anonymous”. Everyone is welcome.
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Old 01-29-2003, 06:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
This reminds me of the old saying "the most segregated time of the week is Sunday morning". Too many people treat Church as a social gathering, not a time of worship.
I totally agree with you, Doug. I find it very discerning when people come to church and think its social hour, dont get me wrong I am guilty of talking during church sometimes but for the most part I tend not to. Its just annoying when people pay no respect to the worshippers and the priest/pastor around them.
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Old 01-30-2003, 02:43 AM   #6
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Didn't Jesus come to minister to the sick? Something about those needing a doctor and all that?

Obviously the associate pastor is in the wrong no matter what way you cut it because of his treatment of the pastor if nothing else. I don't see the love being exhibited.

Grace is something that is a gift and it seems as though it is the hardest one for we humans to get our heads around. It is interesting that we can believe that God could forgive us, but then we turn around and refuse to extend that forgiveness to our neighbors. I seem to remember Jesus telling a story about that...the man being released from a debt by the king and then going out and throwing someone who owed HIM debt into jail.

Nevertheless, I think we have to be careful in our reactions to this story as well because when we start throwing stones and condemning "hypocrites" we have become guilty of hatred as well. The only thing I can say is that we are all equally guilty of judging in one way or another, even those of us who feel that we are tolerant. I know I can say that for myself at least, and it is not something I am proud of.
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Old 01-30-2003, 04:11 AM   #7
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My reactions are very straightforward. If the rapist has served his sentence as per the existing law, the matter ends there.

The pastor will call the associate pastor as a hypocrite and the associate pastor will call the pastor as a hypocrite. No one is wrong and no one is right. Both has their own perspectives in life and are fully FREE to think, talk and act according to their beliefs.
They are FREE to interpret their belief in the way that they like provided it is well within the law. The pastor will probably think he is great and he did as Jesus would have done. The associate pastor would think the same.

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Old 01-30-2003, 11:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
The pastor will call the associate pastor as a hypocrite and the associate pastor will call the pastor as a hypocrite. No one is wrong and no one is right. Both has their own perspectives in life and are fully FREE to think, talk and act according to their beliefs.
I'm not sure if I agree with this. I believe in what you say, except for the fact that, the associate pastor was suppose to be speaking on the behalf of GOD. He didn't practice what he preached, he fell into the trap of his own flesh. There is no hierarchy of sins.

This is my problem with religion. Man controls it and not God.
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Old 01-30-2003, 01:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar
except for the fact that, the associate pastor was suppose to be speaking on the behalf of GOD.
I'm not sure I quite agree with that. In my opinion, only messengers of God have the ability to speak on behalf of God. While some preachers do an excellent job of interpreting that message, I'm not sure that I would say my preacher speaks on behalf of God. Can anyone really have that power?
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Old 01-30-2003, 02:05 PM   #10
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Yes you're right maybe I should have worded it differently. They don't speak on their behalf(thankfully), but congregations expect their clergy to at least give example of God's word, by words and action.
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Old 01-30-2003, 11:01 PM   #11
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We don't know the whole story.

I've been thinking about this all day.

Did the rapist rape someone from the local community? Did the congregation know her and love her? If so, perhaps they haven't yet healed from the crime committed upon their loved one. Was the rapist's victim a young girl? Did he destroy the life of someone dear to the congregation? Did his attorneys put the victim through hell on the witness stand to prove any points? I think some of you are quick to jump on the forgiveness/hypocrite bandwagon without looking at the other side. Sure, Jesus preached forgiveness, and it's a worthy goal; but He was Jesus. It wasn't/isn't as hard for Him as it is for someone whose daughter was raped.

Think about it.

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Old 01-31-2003, 05:57 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar

He didn't practice what he preached, he fell into the trap of his own flesh. There is no hierarchy of sins.

I disagree with it. Having no hierarchy of sins is an absurd concept. You cant put adultery and rape together. The latter is punishable by law and punishment is quite significant in all countries.

You dont know - may be the associate pastor would have accepted someone who was accused of adultery.

You cannot just extend the logic as done by the main pastor and assume that you are right. I am not saying main pastor was wrong. He tried his best to interpret his belief which is good enough. Associate pastor didnt agree with his theory and that should be considered OK.

Perhaps the associate pastor shouldnt have walked off but he didnt know any other way to protest in those circumstances.


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Old 01-31-2003, 09:03 AM   #13
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I think the point of disagreeing with a hierarchy of sins has to do with the idea that we cannot work our way to God. If some things were more "good" and others more "bad" then in theory we could do more of the better "good" stuff and less of the worse "bad" stuff and thereby earn righteousness on our own. According to the Christian belief, as far as I know, Jesus denounced that idea pretty soundly.

Now whether or not there are more or less consequences is another thing entirely and we could talk about it from that point. But the idea that all sins are forgiveable by God is a basic tenet of Christianity. It's called Grace.
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Old 01-31-2003, 10:25 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by martha
We don't know the whole story.

I've been thinking about this all day.

Did the rapist rape someone from the local community? Did the congregation know her and love her? If so, perhaps they haven't yet healed from the crime committed upon their loved one. Was the rapist's victim a young girl? Did he destroy the life of someone dear to the congregation? Did his attorneys put the victim through hell on the witness stand to prove any points? I think some of you are quick to jump on the forgiveness/hypocrite bandwagon without looking at the other side. Sure, Jesus preached forgiveness, and it's a worthy goal; but He was Jesus. It wasn't/isn't as hard for Him as it is for someone whose daughter was raped.

Think about it.

These are all good questions. Yet, I still think nbcrusader put it best and cut right to the heart of the matter: "Everyone is welcome" in God's church. That doesn't mean that people won't be conflicted inside in their personal feelings. But the question at hand to me is whether or not a rapist who, we might be able to assume but don't know for sure, is trying to make amends with his own conscience and with God, is welcome in the church. I honestly can see no other answer but 'yes.'
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Old 01-31-2003, 05:58 PM   #15
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Originally posted by joyfulgirl


But the question at hand to me is whether or not a rapist who, we might be able to assume but don't know for sure, is trying to make amends with his own conscience and with God, is welcome in the church. I honestly can see no other answer but 'yes.'
Ok. But I can't be too upset with the angry part of the congregation without knowing their side of the story. We have no idea why they did what they did, or what they knew about the story that we don't know. It's easy for us to say they are wrong. We aren't there. We don't have daughters, mothers, sisters, and wives sitting next to this man. We don't know the whole story of his situation.
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