What is a Person to Do

Saturday, November 20, 2021

When Scapegoating Destorys One

Leaving One In Poverty and

All Goodness in One’s Accusers

Goes Up In Smoke

What is a Person to Do?

Proverbs 3:27

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

2 Thessalonians 3:13

Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.

Words of Grace For Today

What is a person to do?

A megalomaniac hired me to fly and do ministry to native people (as we honourably referred to them back then), and because some in the ministry looked to change the direction from the paternalistic method the megalomaniac had developed (supported by ensuring chaos reigned among all those working for him so that he could dictate whatever he wanted to) to a ministry which was responsive to the people’s direction. I followed their direction and worked to develop relationships that would support that ministry. Progress was slow. It did not take the megalomaniac long to figure out he’d lost control of my ministry and that he was incapable of raising enough money to support the ministry even if I had followed his patronizing methods of ministry. I was fired. That was not enough. He and those that supported him had to grab a rumour going around the congregation where I worked 1/4 time (along with a full time senior pastor) that the pastor was gay. Mid 1980’s and that would spell the end of anyone’s career as a pastor. They applied the rumour to me, along with many people in the congregation. That was not enough. As I had tried to make sense of the chaos that the megalomaniac created I spent hours tracking his communications and directions and all else that he produced. None of it made sense, unless one allowed that he was trying to create chaos. That was more evil than I was able to imagine back then, fresh out of seminary as I was, so the time I spent was attributed to me having gone crazy. This is a common method for those who try to use chaos in order to gain and maintain control: they blame good, honest, honourable people with insanity. From his position of power in that organization there was little anyone could do to defend me, and no one stepped up to try in the face of the charge that I was both gay and crazy.

What is a good person to do?

A good person could try to fight back. A good person, other than me, could have stood up to defend me, knowing it would have cost them their job with the organization. A good bishop could have sent someone to defend me, but that didn’t happen. I did not even realize what I was being accused of until long after it was all done.

Then came truth came out: the senior pastor was discovered, murdered, naked along with a male prostitute in the city. The congregational president, whose gay brother had recently died in Vancouver of AIDS, quickly sold his car dealership and moved far away. I was on a trip for the church in Europe and found out about this over the following months.

None of the truth made any difference. I was supposedly gay. I was supposedly crazy of some kind. Every congregation I served as a pastor would have some kind of power issue among themselves and they’d scapegoat me to resolve their conflict with each other, using the rumours against me. I thought there was something wrong with the way I did ministry. There wasn’t unless one counts that as a pastor one has to be more than good, honest, gracious, and capable of sharing God’s Word in all one does. One has to be complicit, scheming, devious, and manipulative of the people with power in the congregation to keep them from using you as a scapegoat for their own sinful issues with each other. And one needs to be fortunate to have people of power willing to step up to protect one, so that one can continue in ministry.

What is a good, honest, gracious, and very capable person to do?

Some say: get one’s vengeance. Destroy those who would destroy you.

Others say: make sure you have more power than anyone else.

Others say: just give up and let the false accusations happen. Find other work. Move to some other town. Eventually the rumours will die out.

Jesus calls us to something different. As the passages today remind us, in the face of evil what a person is called to do is not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it, and do not be weary in doing what is right.

People still make those false accusations about me, that I am gay or that I am crazy.

The people who do so reveal themselves as working for the Devil. They are the people and pastors and bishops, congregational leaders, cops, ex, step children, lawyers, and plenty of judges and justices who are not good, kind, gracious, nor honest.

What is a person to do?

What a person is to do is to continue to do good, speak the truth, receive all people with kindness, and pray that God will soon bring the scapegoating to an end.

What is a person to do? God will do enough, soon enough.