Pastors are not infallible. None of us are. Sometimes we want to believe so desperately that someone has repented and changed, that he or she is trustworthy, and that the past is in the past, that we throw caution to the wind…only to have our trust betrayed. “But they promised…!”
Humility enables us to admit that we were duped, overly trusting, naive, mistaken, whatever. Pride blinds us and makes us prone to repeat our mistakes.
First some background: Doug Wilson’s Failure to Safeguard Children
And now the open letter that I wish Douglas Wilson had written, instead of the numerous blog entires he has been churning out of late:
In light of the recent court proceedings involving Steven Sitler, and the resultant coverage of those proceedings in the media, I believe that it is necessary for me to make a public statement taking full responsibility for my actions in this matter. Rather than get bogged down in details that are readily available elsewhere on the internet, I would like to confess the following.
I made several grave errors in judgment. As Mike Sloan and Beth Hart have stated, “Offenders are masters of deception and manipulation, often saying what people want to hear so that they attract attention and compassion toward themselves and away from their victims.” I was deceived. But it’s worse than that: my pride prevented me from listening to the warnings and advice of others with more knowledge and expertise.
Furthermore, I misapplied the Scriptures that state it is better to marry than burn, and that each man should have his own wife because of the temptation to sexual immorality. Obviously Steven Sitler is not dealing with garden-variety sexual temptation. His desire to abuse, molest, and harm children will not be fulfilled or healed by the love of a good woman, and it was naive of me to think so.
I believe in the power of the gospel to transform lives; however, it was both naive and prideful of me to think that I could judge whether or not Steven Sitler’s repentance was genuine. Anyone can appear godly and contrite in half a dozen meetings in his pastor’s office — especially when the pastor is, like me, unqualified and untrained in counseling sex offenders — and the fact that he was willing to read some books means little. Furthermore, if he was truly repentant, he would understand and accept that he can never have a close relationship with any child, and certainly cannot be in an authority position over one. Thus, a Biblical marriage — one that is open to life — would be out of the question for him.
If I had to do it over again, I would have advised the elder in my church to give up on his misguided matchmaking efforts. I would have advised against marriage for Steven Sitler, and quoted Matthew 18:6 to him at every opportunity. It would be far better for a serial pedophile to have a great millstone around his neck and be drowned in the depth of the sea than for him to have the opportunity to harm and damage any more children. If we would not allow him to babysit children in our church nursery, certainly we cannot encourage him to have children of his own. It was wrong of me to perform that marriage ceremony.
I wish to repent publicly of my pride, arrogance, and lack of compassion.
Furthermore, I wish to repent of erroneous statements I have made regarding the very nature of marriage itself. Years ago, I foolishly wrote, “A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants.” What a mischaracterization of the beauty and tenderness God intends for the sexual relationship! What an offensive way to describe the act that God designed to be an expression and means of intimacy, unity, and fruitfulness!
In addition, I maligned many good, decent, loving men by claiming, “Men dream of being rapists.” I should have stated that only ungodly, immoral, depraved men would dream of such a thing, and that men with these desires need to repent immediately — and women need to protect themselves from these men until they demonstrate lasting fruit of repentance. Counseling by someone far more qualified than I am would probably be in order as well.
I deeply regret that much harm that has been caused by my pride, foolishness, poor judgment, and grave error. I pray that those I have harmed and offended would find it in their hearts to forgive me. I am grief-stricken over how I have contributed to the sufferings of even just one innocent child. May God have mercy on us all.
Of course what Douglas Wilson has really written is nothing like this.
Ah, those jolly Calvinists! One — with the handle of Jolly Calvinist — responded to this post with some tweets:
“Yes, he should be humble and all-knowing like you. Riiight.”
I freely admit that I made some assumptions in my wishful letter about what I hoped were Douglas Wilson’s motives, and I could see where someone might think I came across as “all-knowing”. And I freely admit I have a long ways to go in the humility department.
His second tweet:
“Also, you might want a refresher course on how sex works.”
Forgive me, but I shot back with, “Haha. 31 years of marriage & 6 children…no refresher course needed! Feel sorry for your wife if you dream of rape.”
Admittedly my view of sex is probably not Calvinistic…
Hmmm? Jolly Calvinist???
Ain’t NO such thingy… 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
This is very interesting, and strikes a chord with me. Would you please elaborate on how you believe Calvinism ties in with the reader’s response, and Wilson’s erroneous views on sex?
My comment was more about my view of sex. Although I am not Roman Catholic, and my view was not shaped by that theology, I have felt very at home reading Pope John Paul’s Theology of the Body.
If there is a cohesive Calvinistic view of sex, I’m unfamiliar with it. However, during my sojourn in that theological camp, I encountered far more emphasis on the sex act being an expression of the husband’s authority over the wife than an expression of love, unity and intimacy.
Lest one think I am overreacting to the Sitler situation, please read this: http://moscowid.net/2015/09/11/latah-county-prosecutor-bill-thompson-shines
I am happy to thank you for your words. I can see your motives for writing them and, as a Survivor, I appreciate them.
Here’s another good model of pastoral humility: the open letter that Pastor Peter Leithart actually did write! https://www.facebook.com/Leithart/posts/10152973045111467
Jeff, thank you for sharing that link. I am weeping. Truly a healing balm…
Pingback: Why it’s hard to believe us | Prone to wander…
What a great open letter. Just one problem with it. It’s clearly written by a person who possesses humility. That can’t work for a narcissist like Douglas Wilson. What troubles me as much as anything is how Wilson meddled and interfered with the police investigation by intimidating the parents of the victims to not testify. In my view Wilson should be criminally charged with obstruction of justice.