Source: China Christian Daily
A shocking scandal recently broke out on social media about a gruesome child marriage case. A 10-year-old girl named Sherry Johnson was caught in a tragedy when both her church pastor and other members cruelly raped her, unfortunately causing the young girl to become pregnant. What's more surprising, Sherry's parents forbade her from an abortion after discovering her case because of their traditional religious views. Thus, little Sherry unfortunately had to give birth to her own baby at the age of ten.
The situation turned even more unbelievable when Sherry's church members and parents wickedly arranged for Sherry to marry her rapist in order to distract the police from investigating the case.
The Old Testament says," If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)." Scripture does not intend to exempt the rapist from his sexual sins. Instead, it points towards a binding obligation to be borne by the rapist due to his sinful deeds. However, in Sherry's case her church was intentionally trying to cover up its members' illegal acts so as to maintain their church's image. Hence, Sherry became the victim who suffered the most pain for this tragedy.
Three things have shocked me badly about this news： Sherry's unwise parents, the unloving church, and the false statement of love through a gruesome act of covering-up.
Sherry wrote her own autobiography after growing up, revealing in detail her painful experience as a victim of a child marriage and the ugliness of her church. Her book also objectively described the personal struggles of those who caused tremendous pain to her. Praise the Lord! Today Sherry has already been healed by the grace of the Lord and is spiritually reborn with a forgiving heart towards those who hurt her badly before.
Sherry's Autobiography, Forgiving the Unforgivable" serves as a powerful beacon to rally for laws against child marriage. Ironically, some of these seemingly uncivilized acts can be commonly found in so-called modern and religious places such as Sherry's city in Califonia. With religion's "white lies" and the covering-up of truth, such sinful acts would bear no difference from the "witch child" tragedy in Africa and Honour Killing phenomenon in the Middle East.
Though most people still associate religious believers with faithfulness and loving-kindness, religion could indeed also mask one's sinful desires, hypocrisy, distorted identities, and shameful deeds.
Apart from moral obligations, religion should at least be bound by legal laws without compromise. No exception should be given to churches when it comes to punishing illegal acts. An exemption from taxation for churches in a certain country does not mean an exemption from punishment by the country's legal system. If a church is given the freedom to do all it desires without legal boundaries it should rather be called a cult full of false teachings instead of God's holy church.
With the occurrence of endless church scandals, many Christians intentionally avoid talking about them as if they had never existed. However, complete avoidance of such topics would do no good at stopping them from being spread outside the Christian circle. Instead, we should face them openly in order to address the root cause and thus prevent similar situations from arising by applying Jesus' teaching.
Traditional methods of identifying authentic teachings indeed hold three crucial characteristics: authentic doctrines, authentic baptism, and authentic rebuking of sin. However, if the elements of mercy or justice are taken away from these characteristics, the church's teaching could easily become fake or depart from the truth.
Surely, there's no perfect church or perfect human. However, a Christian without a heart for justice would be unfit to be called a child of God. Similarly, a church without a heart for justice would be unfit to be called the Church of God. Hence, we continue reminding ourselves of our true calling -- to be the light and hope of the world!
Translated by Maggie Li