Over the past few weeks, many questions have been asked about why professional institutions like Michigan State University and the United States Gymnastic Association would cover up Larry Nassar’s crimes.
But these events force another painful question to the surface. Why do churches also do this? Why do Christians cover up similar sin within the church? The same questions can be asked of para-church ministries and institutions, and all of what follows here is applicable to them too.
I’ve seen and heard of multiple occasions on both sides of the Atlantic where good people (and some not so good) have made horrendous decisions about how to handle complaints against individuals within the church. Time and again I’ve found myself utterly perplexed: “Why are they doing this? How can they do that? What is their motivation?”
As I’ve processed this agony and listened to people who have made bad decisions in these situations, I’ve come to realize there is no one reason that explains everybody. Instead there are numerous possible motivations, and often a few are found in the same heart.
I’m going to list the various motivations I’ve discovered over the years with a view to helping Christians in positions of power examine themselves as they make decisions and judgments going forwards. But, before that, a few caveats are in order.
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