Why Good Friday Really IS A Good Day To Talk About Sex Abuses In The Church

Written by Wes Walker on April 7, 2023

This week, a report on the sexual abuses within the Catholic Church, going back to the 1960s was released to the public. Some details of that report were especially horrifying.

More than 150 Catholic priests and others associated with the Archdiocese of Baltimore sexually abused over 600 children and often escaped accountability, according to a long-awaited state report released Wednesday that revealed the scope of abuse spanning 80 years and accused church leaders of decades of coverups.

The report paints a damning picture of the archdiocese, which is the oldest Roman Catholic diocese in the country and spans much of Maryland. Some parishes, schools and congregations had more than one abuser at the same time — including St. Mark Parish in Catonsville, which had 11 abusers living and working there between 1964 and 2004. One deacon admitted to molesting over 100 children. Another priest was allowed to feign hepatitis treatment and make other excuses to avoid facing abuse allegations. — AP

Before Protestant Christians get too eager to point any fingers, this is not a problem unique to the Catholic Church. The Southern Baptist Convention — the largest Protestant denomination in America — released a similar report of its own last year, detailing similar problems.

The natural instinct at this point is to take sides and point fingers.

Non-Christians would point to this kind of moral [and, at times, criminal] failure among our leadership as evidence that the whole Christian enterprise is a sham.

Christians would be tempted to deflect and point to very real figures showing the same trends of abuse and arrest happening in other places where people are vulnerable to this kind of exploitation, which the experts would enable through cover-ups. They might even cite very real statistics about arrests and accusations among public school teachers and coaches.

After all, a certain Tara Reade is still clamoring for somebody — anybody — to hear her allegations of a sexual assault against her when she was an employee of none other than then-senator-now-president Joe Biden. The temptation to justify oneself, and to act like a kid in a schoolyard by saying ‘Yeah, but he did it too’ is a strong one.

But, for Christian churches observing the liturgical calendar, Good Friday doesn’t merely commemorate the Crucifixion. It is the culmination of the season of Lent. Lent is about self-reflection and repentance.

This isn’t a time to excuse sin by saying someone else does it too. It’s a time to remember that the entire POINT of Christ coming to the Cross was to live the sinless life we were called to live and pay the penalty of sin, so we could live a life in which we are no longer slaves to our sin.

His message throughout the gospels was ‘repent’ and ‘go and sin no more’.

He called people to live a new life: one that was centered on God himself, one that flowed from there into all other aspects of our lives.

One of the most chilling verses in the entire New Testament is the one in Romans that tells us how the world will respond when Christians live a life marked by the same wickedness we claim to reject. ‘For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.’ — Romans 2:24

As we look around and see the corruption and compromise in the church we often rail against the symptoms and not the cause.

We see the secular influence of culture rewriting our moral norms. We see the dumbing down of doctrine and the embracing of heresies. We see the lives, personal conduct, and general beliefs about the world of church members tracking very closely with everyone else in society.

All of these are merely symptoms of the greater question we see in the 2nd chapter of Judges. Joshua KNEW God (ie: on a personal level). The elders that followed after him had SEEN the work of God (ie: on a spectator level). The generation that followed the death of those elders neither knew nor saw God, and did whatever was right in their own eyes.

Lent isn’t just a season in which ordinary Christians should give up chocolate or binging Netflix shows as a token of self-denial.

It should be a period in which we ask ourselves where we fall in that spectrum. Do we know God? Do we know ABOUT God? Or are we just going through the motions in an institution that was handed down to us by those who did?

That’s the beauty of this season. Today we remember words of hope that Christ gave to a condemned man soon to take his last breath on a cross beside him — however guilty you are, and however far down that road you might be, today is the day of salvation, if you will humble yourselves and accept it.

The church often laments the state of the world around it and quotes 2 Chronicles 7:14, hoping for revival.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

That promise is as real as any other promise in scripture. But there is one part the Church tends to skip over in their calls to pray for revival. Such calls always seem to emphasize the sins of ‘those people’ who need revival.

But if you look closely, that’s not how God built that promise. The believers need to begin with repentance of their own. Humbling their own hearts. Seeking His face themselves, and yes — even turning from wicked ways — until we have done that, we have no reason to believe that such a prayer should be answered by a Holy God.

If we are unwilling to be made holy and enter into a deeper and more meaningful relationship with a God who loves us, what right have we to demand God change the hearts of those around us?

When Christ called for people to follow Him, it was done in the context of repentance of sin.

In fact, this was such a critical element to Christ’s ministry that God sent John the Baptist ahead of him to preach repentance so that the hearts of many would be prepared for Christ’s message of grace and peace.

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