Al Gore is legally innocent of the accusations of sexual assault brought against him by a masseuse in Oregon. He may be totally innocent of all sexual charges, although he is guilty of being stupid. Why would any thinking, sane person, especially a celebrity, have a female in his room late at night? Why would he register under an assumed name? The accuser says that she has some of his body fluids on her slacks. DNA will confirm or refute that.
So whether or not Gore is guilty he has a further problem: what will his church do about the charges? Some would tell us that it is not a religious or church matter but they are wrong. The New Testament instructs the church to discipline its members who go astray and disgrace the church and the cause of Christ. No church member is exempt from accountability. No one. Not a president or world leader or a former vice-president of the United States. Not even a Nobel Prize winner.
In my adult life traveling across the nation and the world, I know of few cases of church discipline especially when the accused was a “celebrity.” Even Bible-preaching churches have members who booze, lie, gossip, are gluttonous, stay out of church, fornicate, etc., with impunity. Many pastors refuse to deal with those sins for fear of losing members and more importantly, their money. It is also increasingly a legal problem.
In recent years, we have seen many “celebrities” caught with their pants down and they often talk about pressure they live and work under (who doesn’t?) and speak of their “mistake” in letting down their family. They seldom admit to sinning against God.
I suggest those who sin against their Savior, their church, and their family emulate King David as he stood with head bowed, scalding tears rushing down his cheeks as he cried out: “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight….Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow….Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
Paul gives us further instructions in II Thes. 3:14: “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.” Note that offending church members should be “ashamed.” However, few fallen men appear to be ashamed--only embarrassed at being caught.
All major church denominations teach church discipline when members go astray or, more correctly, live ungodly lives. Roman Catholics have always taught that concept but have been very reluctant to practice it as seen by their permitting mass killers such as Hitler, as well as major South American dictators and Mafia dons, to die as members of the Roman Catholic Church.
Baptists aren’t much better, especially large churches. After all, they don’t want to make waves, embarrass the innocent family members, destroy the ministry, disrupt the work, and other excuses for disobeying clear scriptural directives.
Frankly, the issues have been the same down through the ages. It has been common for members to sin then refuse to confess and forsake their sins and church leaders have used the same lame excuses listed above. However, there have been times when courageous leaders demanded church discipline, sometimes going to unbiblical extremes as a case during the Middle Ages shows.
It seems a drunken baron stole an expensive chalice from a parish church, and was seen riding away with it. The following Sunday, the bishop draped the church in black and rang the bells as they did for major funerals. The congregation gathered and the bishop and the area priests who surrounded him, each holding a lit candle. To a hushed crowd the bishop stood at the altar and called out the name of the thief and said, "Let him be cursed in the city and cursed in the field; cursed in his granary, his harvest, and his children; as Dathan and Abiram were swallowed up by the gaming earth, so may hell swallow him. And even as today we quench these torches in our hands, so may the light of his life be quenched for all eternity, unless he do repent!" (Evidently that bishop had not read How to Win People and Keep Church Members!)
Each priest then threw his candle to the floor and stamped out the light. The thief was now an outlaw, worse than a “leper or Jew.” The thieving baron heard about his judgment and it brought him to a place of repentance!
His first step was to give his entire fortune to the bishop! Then he appeared at the altar barefoot, and lay prostrate praying for 24 hours. The next step was for him to kneel while 60 monks and priests beat him with clubs! (Is this where we get the idea of "beating the devil” out of a person?) Every time a blow would fall, the victim yelled, "Just are thy judgments, O Lord!" (Of course, those were not the Lord’s judgments!)
Then, with bones broken, lying on the floor bleeding, the bishop absolved him for his thievery and kissed him with a kiss of peace. He was now back in the graces of the Roman Church; however, they did not get their “church discipline” from the Bible.
It is past time to revive the discarded biblical practice of church discipline and use it against erring laymen and pastors. If Gore’s pastor refuses to act then he should be removed as pastor by principled laymen. If his church refuses to discipline him, they should remove “Baptist” from their church name.
Churches used to be the moral compass of America but, instead of being a force to be reckoned with, they have become a farce to be ridiculed. If Gore is guilty and refuses to repent then his pastor and church are on the bubble.
"I am a Christian. I am a Protestant. I am a Baptist," Gore told Newsweek in an interview in 2002. Obviously, Gore does not know the difference between a Protestant and a Baptist, and I wonder if he knows what it means to be a real Christian. Al Gore does not, however, consider himself a Southern Baptist any longer. I’m sure most Southern Baptists are thrilled to know that.
Copyright ©2010 Dr. Don Boys, Ph.D.