Rev. Jack Schaap was pastor of a huge megachurch in Indiana. While there, he convinced a teenager that God’s plan for her was to have sex with him. He wrote her:
“That is exactly what Christ desires for us. He wants to marry us + become eternal lovers!”
The teen was living through a time of confusion and trusted her pastor. She listened to his sermons three times a week and considered him to be “the voice of God.” The church itself supported his claim that she needed to spend time alone with him in his Michigan cabin.
“He told me to confide in him, to trust him, and he made me feel safe and comfortable around him as a man of God. He preyed on that trust and my vulnerability.”
The story above is obviously reprehensible, but it raises a larger question. Is it ever right to justify an ethical decision on the basis that it is the “will of God?” Are some churches right to deny women leadership roles simply because they believe God has established men as the only proper leaders? Should contraception be withheld, or gay marriage denied because someone claims to know the mind of God?
While the idea of the will of God may be a wonderful symbol for the highest possible ideal, is it ever a justification for a particular action? Think of the wars, the oppression and the superstitions that have been justified because someone could find a Bible verse somewhere on some topic. Can any mortal human brain house the infinite knowledge of what what God would do in a given situation, or are we more often like Pastor Schaap projecting our petty desires and opinion upon other innocent people?