My Church Right or Wrong is a Dangerous Philosophy that Enables Abusers
When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” (Jos 5:13-14)
I have always found the response of this angelic messenger (who may well have been the pre-incarnate Son of God) very interesting. Joshua asked him whose side he was on. His answer? “I am on the Lord’s side” (my paraphrase). We must always strive to be sure that we are on the Lord’s side as well. The question properly asked of us is “whose side are you on?” not “Lord, are you on my side?” And yet many Christians really act as though the Lord must always be on their side, or on their church’s side, no matter what.
This attitude enables evil to thrive.
When Winston Churchill was a young member of Parliament he and a few other young MP’s formed a small group called the “hooligans.” They were members of the conservative Tory party but they were more concerned with what was right or wrong than they were about blind loyalty to their party. Once they were rebuked for this by an older member of the government who said:
What is the use of supporting your own party only when it is right? It is just when it is in this sort of pickle [ie, when it was wrong] that you ought to come to its aid.
When Christians support their own church or denomination no matter what, right or wrong, evil is aided. Is this not largely what we see in so many cases when a pedophile, for instance, has been discovered in a church? People rally round him, minimize his sin and crime, try to hush up the victim, all for the protection of and loyalty to their “church.” But whose side is the Lord on in such cases? He is on the side of righteousness. He is against the wicked. He is for the oppressed and downtrodden.
I am convinced that much of the injustice dealt to abuse victims in their churches stems from this “my church right or wrong” philosophy. It is the source of the ill treatment victims receive, the accusations leveled against them, and the efforts to hush them up. I have seen it in action, and so have most of you.
The Lord Jesus Christ is no respecter of persons. He judges in perfect righteousness. As His people, we must do the same to the very best of our ability. When our church is wrong, when we are wrong, we must repent and embrace what is right. Only then will we be on the Lord’s side and do holy battle against the wicked.
As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. (1 Timothy 5:20-21)