The Word Rabbit

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This article was written on 30 Sep 2015, and is filled under Uncategorized.

Voyeur

I do voluntary work as a Street Pastor. Between the hours of ten at night and four in the morning, we support the homeless and make sure that people who have enjoyed themselves a bit too much can get home safely. This is good and challenging work and, without wanting to sound like a pious bore, I think it’s where God is. So far, so good.

The man who introduced me to Street Pastors and who got me enthused about it has just been sentenced for voyeurism. He filmed a girl using a hidden camera which she then discovered. The wheels of justice then rolled over him in their slow, inexorable way, until he was sentenced. I feel fairly vile about having met and liked him, but that’s not the reason why I’m so exercised about this.

Advice from senior Street Pastors is that we don’t discuss this openly. It’s that we don’t click on the link to put the news story up the rankings. And that news story contains the memorable lines that his church have forgiven him so, presumably, it’s all a closed book and we shouldn’t talk about it. Well, I’m sorry, but no.

There is a problem with any kind of abuse in wider society and in the church as a whole. It’s hushed up and never spoken about, as though the victims should be ashamed that a man – and it is normally a man, fact fans – made them complicit in his own enjoyment, against their consent. This will prevail as long as individuals are prepared to go along with it. And I’m not.

My uncle was sexually abused. It’s ruined his life and given him far more to get through than anyone should have to face. And I’ll talk about that abuse to anyone who wants to listen. So it is with this. Paul Jacobs was involved in voyeurism and not only should we talk about that openly, in public, and answer any questions that people have to ask us as Street Pastors, because that is right and proper, we need to be clear about one thing.

We can quack on and on about forgiveness, but the person who needs to forgive him is the other individual involved. Not us. Not his church, who can take their simpering pronouncements and hammer them straight up their Godly backsides. But the other person. Without this, nothing is possible. And nor should we assume forgiveness as a given from that individual. What they decide is sovereign. Nobody has any right to say otherwise.

It should be clear from the above that I hate any kind of abuse with a passion. Were it left to me, Paul Jacobs would be beaten half to death and put in prison for the rest of his natural life, which is perhaps why it’s a good job that I’m not put in charge of this part of the criminal justice system. But if we as a church, seen as a corporate body by the outside who know nothing of denominations, don’t condemn this, in public, then we’re worth nothing.

And as a final detail, Street Pastors are a voluntary organisation. I have signed nothing which commits me to keep quiet about the misdeeds of its members and, while I remain a committed volunteer, I can’t stand by while a key question is, at worst, not answered, or, at best, bumbled over. As I’m not a hypocrite, the link to the story is at the end of this blog. I wish the other person, the victim, in this story, all the love and healing in the world. May she go well.

http://www.surreycomet.co.uk/news/13784849.Voyeur__Former_Christian_street_pastor_jailed_for_secretly_filming_naked_woman/

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