Friday 28th April, 2023
Wrongdoing. In some versions this word is translated “evil” “iniquity” “injustice” “unrighteousness” and in a couple of translations it’s not written as rejoicing in one’s own evil but that of others; “does not gloat over other people’s sins” or “doesn’t revel when others grovel” or “rejoiceth not over the unrighteousness”
Which makes me think of a story I saw in some Christian media about a megachurch leader being charged with a drink-driving offence. We do love a good fall from grace story don’t we? The fact it was being reported in much the same way the tabloids revel in reporting celebrity gossip made me feel uncomfortable, the sins of others shouldn’t be something we delight in or entertain ourselves with.
The same pastor had been in the Christian news a few months previously for his part in covering up his fathers sexual abuse. Several commenters had made a similar comment to the one I made above; that the media shouldn’t be reporting on this, that the evil and wrongdoing of our brothers and sisters isn’t something we should be revelling in. But this brings me to the next part of this verse “love delights in the truth”
There’s a line we have to walk where we expose sin, especially abuse, where we bring such darkness out into the light where it cannot thrive, where we support victims and hold perpetrators accountable, and importantly, where we discuss the prevalence of these cases within our wider culture, because if we don’t talk about it we will never change the aspects of Christian culture that feed abuse. But in doing this, we must not revel in the perpetrators guilt.
This comes down to a heart issue, there are so many high profile abuse cases within the church, and we are quick to condemn the perpetrators, quick to distance ourselves, quick to express our outrage. Quick to say “they were never really Christians in the first place” or perhaps, if we never liked them “I told you so.” We’re less willing to question the culture that led to their creation, less willing to ask what our own part in a society where one in four women experiences abuse is. Don’t get me wrong, the blame for abuse lies solely and squarely with the abuser, but, we have to admit that Christian culture is one where abusers can thrive, we have to ask “why?” And we have to change that. Otherwise all we do is sit revelling in our condemnation of evil whilst doing nothing to stop it happening again.