Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. And how Highpoint Church Memphis twisted it to defend Andy Savage.
When Jesus said “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” he was speaking to a bunch of hypocritical men who were quite happy to mistreat a woman for their own agenda. Their agenda was to discredit Jesus…they saw the woman as disposable. They were using the woman just so they could induce Jesus to say something which would discredit him to either the Jews or the Romans. They hadn’t brought before Jesus the guy who supposedly had been caught in the act of sex with the woman. They only brought the woman to Jesus.
Those men would have been happy if the Jesus had said “stone the woman”. Then they could have reported Jesus to the Roman authorities for illegally instructing the crowd to stone the woman to death. Israel was under Roman rule at that time. Only the Roman Emperor or his appointed delegates could issue the death penalty in Israel, because Israel was a vassal state to Rome. If you want to read the story click here: The Gospel of John, chapter 8.
Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” to those men in order to prick their consciences (if possible).
They felt the prick, and they walked away.
I rather like to think that Jesus eyeballed each one of them and they felt his gaze driving a nail of truth deep into their corrupt, self-serving hearts.
Jules Woodson (that’s her real name) has alleged that twenty years ago when she was a 17 years old member of Youth Pastor Andy Savage’s youth group at Stonebridge Church in Texas, he sexually assaulted her. Later in this post I will give you two links where you can read Jules’s account of what Andy did to her and how Andy and the church shamed and bullied her after the sexual assault.
Andy Savage and all the men who have supported him to remain in church leadership for these twenty years are a bunch of hypocritical men, in my opinion. One of those men, Chris Conlee, is lead pastor at Highpoint Church, Memphis, the church where Andy Savage is now a teaching pastor. (link)
Yesterday, Pastor Chris Conlee twisted “let him who is without sin cast the first stone” to manipulate his multi-campus congregations to tell Jules Woodson and her supporters to shut up. And the vast majority of the Highpoint congregation appear to have been deceived by Chris Conlee’s “sermon” and the statement which Andy Savage made to the church before Conlee’s “sermon”.
The whole church service from Highpoint Memphis is on YouTube here. [May 10, 2021: This video is currently available only to those who have been granted access, and a working Internet Archive copy of it was not found. Editors.] This I suggest you skip the hyped music and graphics at the beginning. But if you want to see Andy Savage’s statement, it starts at 16:00, and Chris Conlee’s “sermon” comes after Andy Savage’s statement.
I suggest you steel yourself if you are going to watch them. Pay attention to your emotional responses and how Andy’s presentation pulls on your heart strings. Pay attention to the way Chris Conlee uses a stone and hand gestures to give drama to his message. The whole thing is a case study for those who want to sharpen their discernment.
Andy Savage said, “I never sought to cover this up.” (18:31 in the YouTube link I gave above)
Andy Savage said, “Until now I did not know that there was unfinished business with Jules. So today I say: Jules, I am deeply sorry for my actions twenty years ago. I remain committed to cooperate with you toward forgiveness with you, and towards healing. And I mean that.” (18:49)
I have read Jules Woodson’s account very carefully. I believe that Andy Savage lied in those two statements he made.
Trigger Warning: I know that many of our readers are rightly wary of being triggered by hearing other survivors’ stories of sexual assault, spiritual abuse and interpersonal oppression. I honor each and every person who has suffered abuse. Please make your own judgement call about whether you want to click on the links I’m going to give in the next paragraph. The links will open in new tabs.
I have read Jules Woodson’s account of what Andy Savage did to her when she was 17 years old and he was her youth pastor, including her account of how Andy and the church bullied and shamed her into keeping silent. She kept silent for 20 years. Now she has come out, using her real name, and told her #MeToo #ChurchToo story. Her account was published by two websites. The Wartburg Watch published it here. And Watchkeep published it here.
Both of the websites which published Jules’s story are victim-advocate websites. Their websites are examples of ‘watchblogs’. (The term alludes to how the prophet Ezekiel was a watchman for Israel.)
In my considered opinion, there are MULTIPLE discrepancies between Jules Woodson’s account and Andy Savage’s account. Those discrepancies are typical of cases where women accuse powerful men of sexual abuse. I totally believe Jules Woodson. The way Andy Savage has responded to her allegations is very typical of how skilled abusers respond when they are exposed. His responses and the responses of his allies and defenders are a case-book study of what happens in these situations.
I honor Jules Woodson. She is an immensely brave lady. She has told her story using her real name because she wants other survivors of sexual and spiritual abuse to know they are not alone. She said that in a video interview here. [While the video no longer works, the accompanying story still exists. Editors.] She wants to help empower other survivors – help them shed the false shame and false guilt and the fear of stigma … and all the other fears that the abusers induced them to feel. She wants to give survivors of abuse and oppression the confidence to believe that “It wasn’t my fault! I was not to blame!”.
Now … over to you, dear readers. If you have chosen to watch Andy Savage’s statement at Highpoint Memphis ‘C’hurch yesterday, or if you have watched Chris Conlee’s message, or if you have read Jules Woodson’s account of what Andy and the church did to her, please offer your observations and thoughts here.
- Did you notice any things that seemed ‘”off”?
- Did you discern any marks of wolves in sheep’s clothing?
- Did you discern any falsehoods, or evasions, of half-truths, or minimisation, or victim-blaming, or manipulation?
- Did you discern anything that might help other readers come out of the fog?