Private Missteps, Public Speculation

They gave just enough information to pique curiosity but answer no questions. Pastor Matt Chandler from the Southern Baptist Village Church has been put on leave due to inappropriate correspondence with one of his female congregants. Apparently, though, his missteps were neither romantic nor sexual in nature. The spouses of both parties were aware. But the church leadership felt the nature and frequency of their communication were unbecoming. Whatever that means. The church’s official statement raised more questions than answers. Even though the church hired Castañeda and Heidelman, a boutique law firm, to investigate the pastor’s messages, it didn’t dispel the confusion of those who wondered about the justification for having the pastor step down. I am a staunch believer in accountability. Far too often it’s neither offered nor accepted. Yet at the same time, I am cautious of overreactions to innocuous interactions for the sake of optics. Yes, avoiding the appearance of evil is important. But taken to the extreme, actions in this vein can do more harm than good.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11966

Lesson No. 1: NEVER judge someone by the opinion of another is the biggest lesson I have learned in my life, especially in religion.

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Thank you, Dr. Ray, for this well-stated piece. I have always said that women should seek and foster no fewer than several high-quality, non-sexual relationships/friendships with men, other than their husband (if they are married). It brings value, collegiality and depth to learning how to relate to others and provides balance in life. In my day, those kinds of relationships were the only ‘mentor-type’ experiences available, since women were not as prominent in high-level leadership positions as they are today. But even now, I strongly support the development of those friendships and mentor-opportunities with people of the opposite sex.

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That is, what I a life long said and upheld as my guideline : The very intelligent lady colleague, strictly conservative like me, twenty years younger - years of weekly very fine coopreation - ok, she got some of my private troubles and problems , intimate matters as the realtionship to my boys and the daughter in law and my grandchildren - - but the attempt to not necesarily quoting her at my dinner table at home - about her opinion on this performance and that author or the politicla situation or the coming summer sale - - - - I try to avoid. No, we here do not need the Billy Graham / Mike Pence rule, we find it quite hilariuos - it was far enough to then and now say :"Well, let me ask Dr. XX- - about that - - - see, Dr. YY will accopmany me for the 300 km drive to - - so I have to leave a bit earlier to get all her lugagge att her homer stored into the car - - "

But there were a number of ladies , my age and on the same hierachial level - and repeatedly for long weekends in the same “Seminary Hotel” for our extra professional training - -, then there were (younger) trainees, then there were nurses, older and with their treasure of experiences in observing and treatmernt for patients, very young ones, just beginning - the teen girls of the School of Nursing - -

I. Thess 5 : 22. - “Abstain fom all appearance of evil” - also in your style of communication at the coffe break, also the offer " You can come along with me in my car." - - still being friendly and communicative and sharing (parts of) your private life - - and theirs - -

But we have another history that shaped us. We have ( - better : had) the heritage of a society cultivating the conventions and values of yesteryear, be it even as just keeping the facade of long ago times continuously repainted in “imperial yellow” - - - >And here i s a local style of communication and metacommunication not to be neglected or misunderstood.

No, Im am not writing from “Disneyland”. We all also were observed quite sharply - and mutually - for getting some clue for some phantasies for some material for the gossip - guess what about - -

(We also have “womanizers” here !! - successful womanizers" !) (Times change) (And we are keeping up !)

I Thess 5 : 22 - - -

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In simpler times, Thackeray said “The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.”

Lots of things have changed and now things are really complicated so his simple observation is referred to as “projection”, or the “mental process by which people attribute to others what is in their own minds.”

IOW, some things have stayed the same and 100 times out of 100 people’s assessments of others are merely indictments of themselves!

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Sorry, no. I have witnessed 5 (five) cases of abuse / harassment through my life and in a little church of (average) fourty members. In the nineties Kit Watts in “Adventist Review” and Neither / Bochmann in “Adventecho” pulished their studies of SDA within their Unions - - for 1999 I had a workshop on the matter placed in the program for the meeting of physicians / therapeutic professions / social workers - - inTheologische Hochschule Friedensau, headed by Wolfgang Scherf - - - now we have appointed study groups here and in Germany.

The results until now : Well, still all the ego - defense - mechanisms described by Freud and his daughter Anna are to be seen - --by the victims, the predators, the families, the church, the community - - .

Oh, there are also some overheated reactions now within the SDA : The retired minister with his wive on a visit in a SDA institution meets some youger woman of his home village , her working there. - - a happy reunion ! . Just as nowadays more and more getting in use : Hugging, embracing. This, when seen by another person, immediately was reported to the Union office - and late in the same night the president and some secretary apeared in the ministers home. Loud and heavy scolding, instant prohibition to enter the institution again, his wive weeping - -

Of course something has developed within the last decades, the last century : Here our SDA community is (was) econimically, socially, and in lifestyle rather to be found in a small section of a pluralistic society. My way of communicating, as described above is also (was also) to be found in lower middle class, the “petites bourgeois” , so neglecting the Billy Graham / Mike Pence Rule is (was) quite according also to my professional environments style of conduct in the “world”… Some illustration within another, upper class section around 1900 ( ! ) in Vienna you find in “Eyes Wide Shut”, the original play by Arthur Schnitzler (1925) situated in “Schloss Wilhelminenberg” of that time.

Times change, traditions fade out, conventions of communication get lost, orienations get the more difficult - - -

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1 Timothy 5:1-3
Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
NIV Biblegateway site

If people don’t get platonic relationships and they misinterpret such things kindness, friendliness and Christian love as some sort of sexual interest then they need to seek God’s guidance to see themselves. Sexual harrassment and interest are illustrated very clearly in the mandatory workplace sexual harassment videos that most people have seen.

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