Edit: This was written as the story was breaking. As more information has become available it would be hard to come to any conclusion other than some type of misconduct was performed on the part of Bishop Long toward those entrusted to his mentorship.
Whether or not Eddie Long is guilty of sexual misconduct and abuse of power, my prayer for the situation is that the truth comes out, any wronged parties receive justice, that the congregation and/or followers of Bishop Long do not get spiritually destroyed, and that the Church itself can learn some lessons and move on.
Time after time we see church “leaders” fall into sin. There is a huge outcry and backlash against the Church, saints are disillusioned, and there is great weeping and gnashing of teeth, rending of clothes, etc.
The Church becomes divided. One side says there should be forgiveness. One side says there should be legal action and punishment. I believe there is cause for both.
Eddie Long is a man. He is subject to sin just as you and I. If he sins and asks God for forgiveness, He will forgive him. As Christians we are taught to forgive, so should he be found guilty, many, if not all, in the church will also forgive him, and eventually welcome him back to the fold.
We are also instructed to “follow the laws of the land”. If he has been found to have violated the laws of the land, then he is subject to whatever consequences the courts deem appropriate. Forgiveness does not necessarily negate the consequences of sin.
King David committed adultery with Bathsheba. He then tried to cover up her pregnancy, and failing that, he had her husband Uriah the Hittite killed. While King David was forgiven for his sins, he still paid the price, including the death of their son together, a direct result of his actions. David was still described as having a heart after God. He was still “Christian” throughout his sin, still a believer. So don’t say “How can anyone be a TRUE Christian and do, x, y or z…”. Christians are not perfect. There is forgiveness of sin WHEN we sin, and it is almost a given that we will, even though we have accepted Christ. I don’t know Bishop Long’s heart but, as King David has shown, being sinful and Christian are not mutually exclusive. One can have a heart after God, and still not have control over sin.
There is a portion of the Church that believes that no one should ever dare utter a word against a man of God. “Touch not mine anointed” is quoted over and over again, almost threateningly, meant to instill fear should you even think to question the church authority. This was actually an admonishment during biblical times to Kings and others who might think to do physical harm to God’s prophets. While I do subscribe to the general rule of not speaking negatively against men of the cloth, and I do believe that God is not powerless and can therefore discipline his own, the bible does not condone or encourage ignorance, or contrary to popular rhetoric, BLIND FAITH. Where faith is involved, it is to be in God, not man. We are told to test God and the prophets.
Since the allegations have been made, it is the duty of the Church to investigate this for two main reasons. One, the congregation needs to have confidence in their leaders and more importantly, in God’s Word. As long as the stigma of any wrong doing is hanging over the head of Bishop Long, he will not be able to minister effectively. It casts a shadow over the integrity of the gospel he preaches. If the pastor is in unrepentant sin, he is out of fellowship with God and therefore cannot hear from God to lead the church spiritually. Also we are taught that if we are not in fellowship, our prayers are not heard. He cannot intercede on behalf of his congregation if his prayers are not heard. Two, as guardians over the children and shepherds over the congregation, there is a responsibility to see to their safety and well-being. If the Church does not investigate this and a crime has taken place, then we are responsible for the damage done to those children and are just as guilty.
Sometimes when one does not heed God, He makes one’s private sins public. (I’m not saying that is what happened here.) Regardless of what happens in court, men of God are held to a higher standard. Should these accusations be true, I would not want to be in the shoes of Bishop Long. The Bible does not take lightly teachers of the Word leading their flock astray. Bishop Long isn’t the main thing on my mind, though.
What is on my heart to discuss is the rockstar mentality that follows many preachers and teachers of the Word and handling of homosexuality in the Church. Stay tuned for part two.
Tags: Bishop Eddie Long