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Ministry Theology

Our Abusive Leaders: Do We Love God?

And Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37–40, ESV)

The recent and growing number of stories—sadly all too believable—of repeated and grotesque abuses of power by evangelical leaders are wearying and burdensome to read. But it is important not to shut our ears and close our eyes to them, nor to close ranks and shut down those who cry for justice.

There are many reasons for (evangelical) Christians to vigorously oppose and deal with these recent abuses within our midst. Many of these reasons will, rightly, focus on the harm that preening bullies have caused their victims, and the ongoing harms that these victims experience. That is to say, it is right—absolutely right—to be motivated by love of neighbour.

But beyond and above that, a Christian’s greatest motivation is love for God. This is the first and greatest commandment. Love for neighbour is like it, but comes second.