A pastor of a megachurch in Memphis has resigned over allegations of sexual misconduct 20 years ago with a then 17-year-old High Schooler. She was part of his youth group in a church in Houston. At the time they considered the actions consensual, ignoring the fact that the woman was under-age. When Mr. Savage was hired at his current church the incident was admitted, but the full extent of it was not. Now, after an investigation that brought it all to light, he has stepped down.
This is not a new story, except for one thing. There was never any denial of the event on the part of the pastor. Oh, for sure, the event was minimalized and not fully disclosed, and at one point the church leadership said that he was also “a victim,” but the article I just read didn’t show him fighting to keep his good name. He admitted clearly that he had done wrong, and he stepped down as pastor. No tabloid drama of allegations and negations and forced digging for sordid facts. He was wrong, and when confronted by the real victim, he admitted it fully. His victim did right in joining the #MeToo movement and bringing this incident into the light of day. I pray for healing for both of them.
A religious community is not perfect, no matter what the stripe. It should never claim to be. The accusation of “hypocrite” is true. What a religious community is all about is not showing the world a perfect human society, but one that is struggling to be come so; not perfect human beings, but people on the journey to full humanity. It serves no one to try to measure the gap between the real and the ideal in another, but only to be driven by the awareness of that gap within oneself to strive forward. It serves no community of faith to try to measure the gap between word and deed in another, but to push forward according to their own tradition toward their vision of full humanity.
May #MeToo call us all to reckoning.