While I was in Seminary (St. Louis), a 16 year old boy in my Field Work church came to me and said that he was being sexually molested by the pastor of Concordian Lutheran. A member of the congregation was also the Chief of Police in Maplewood, the St. Louis area in which the church is located.I asked him to join me in investigating the allegation. After doing so, the evidence clearly pointed to the validity of the accusation. We then met with the Pastor, who neither confirmed nor denied the charges. We told him that if he didn't immediatly resign his call and leave the church, he would face criminal charges by the police Chief, and a report to the LCMS President. The pastor did not resign, and instead left the state the next morning and entered an alcoholism treatment facility, though he had no signs of such an addiction. We then met with the church Elders to disclose the situation. They were utterly befuddled by the situation and ended up doing nothing. Neither did the District President. The Pastor ended up resigning his call and, last I heard was employed as a counselor in a Lutheran Social Services agency in another state, with no warning given by the District President, nor was he removed from the LCMS Roster.
The police Chief continued to investigate and learned that this pastor had a similar episode in another District and had been transferred to our District with the knowledge of our DP. And what about that boy? I'm still in touch with him, 38 years later. It was years before he was able to resolve the damage of that relationship and to at last be able to marry and have a godly family. Needless to say, he want's nothing to do with a LCMS church.
Of course we now have a LCMS policy on such things, and it has teeth. However, we still have only secular resources for the victims of such abuse, which causes as many spiritual problems as psychological ones. I am also a retired psychologist and want to say I've long lamented the resorting to secular counselors alone as the only action being taken.
I hope this email supports the need for your proposal.
Rev. Dr. Donald G. Miles
Emeritus, St. John's Lutheran Church
Pastor Miles thank you so much for your support and continued support of this victim and now survivor. You have courageously made your story public in an effort shine the light on this problem that is unfortunately in every religion. I believe your story illustrates the need for the National LCMS to hire an inhouse Sexual Abuse Expert. Our District Presidents, our school administrator, our church administrators, our paid staff, our volunteers, our families, but most importantly our children need this!
On Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 9:53 PM, Mark Eddy wrote:
There is another explanation for the lack of specific sexual abuse policies. God already gave one, and we in the LCMS have always believed, taught, and confessed it: You shall not commit adultery. We also proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and lead people to believe in Him and repent of sins, including coveting. We also are God’s hands to give the Holy Spirit in baptism and His mouths to give the Holy Spirit through the Gospel. The Word of God, properly and regularly proclaimed is and always has been the best “policy” against sexual abuse and all other sorts of abuse.
We should blame the perpetrator and not the congregations in which they worked, unless the congregations have failed in their condemnations of sin and/or in their loving determination to help people who are having trouble resisting temptation to any kind of sin.
Our insurance company no longer covers us for sexual abuse, because we refused to adopt a secular policy which spreads suspicion, violates the confessional, and picks on some sinners (to hand them over for prosecution) and not others who are equally guilty before God and harming their neighbors. I have to trust God’s promise to lead members of His church to will and to do His loving will. That will keep us from abusing others far more than making arbitrary policies which follow the latest fad in religious or secular psychology. Even one instance of abuse is too much. Even one sin in one too many. Jesus came to save all sinners, not only to forgive past sins for which we repent, but also to prevent sin, as we shall read in this Sunday’s epistle.
Protestants who do not believe the whole Bible are as bad as the Catholics who teach doctrines of demons such as forbidding to marry, and then wonder why they have sexual abuse. I believe that the church which I serve is probably just as safe as your, perhaps more so, because we are smaller, more family oriented, and everybody who works with young people either grew up in the congregation or married into it (except for the pastor). They have watched each other grow up. Those whose faith is weak (regrettably) have mostly dropped out of church. Those who are left are engaged in the best abuse prevention on earth: hearing the word of God (both law and Gospel) and receiving the Sacraments, so that that Christ and His Spirit are at work.
I have no illusions that this will work perfectly. We are all sinners with a corrupt nature. Some will fail. But some will fail under any additional policy which human beings might write up. Our compliance with the law of love is only as strong as our faith in the God who gives that law.
We are working on building faith in the all-seeing God who defends widows, orphans, and the afflicted. In most cases the LCMS always has. I do not want any “experts” in child abuse. In that evil we should be as innocent as doves, yet always aware that the devil is seeking someone to devour. He who thinks he stands should watch out, or he may easily fall. But the way to watch out is not to watch a movie or go through training to prevent each and every sin. Every time we teach details about how sins are committed, we are teaching someone’s flesh how to commit that sin. Better to have everyone scared to offend God by getting anywhere near a sin. Knowing that as Christians we take Christ wherever we are should lead us not to sin against Him. Knowing that God is watching should be more fearful than knowing that big brother is watching. All of us should “flee fornication,” not become experts in how some people do it. Confession and absolution, repentance and forgiveness of sins have always been preventative of all kinds of abuse. So our Synod has not (as a whole) been lax about this, except in those places where people have not taken the Scriptures to heart. So I plan with the help of God to continue to preach the word and prevent abuse from the inside of people, rather than trying to impose it from the outside on someone whose heart is not right with God.
God help us all.
Pastor Mark Eddy
Zion Lutheran Church
Taylor Ridge, Illinois