GRAND RAPIDS -- Despite the stunning resignation of its top administrator over an allegedly inappropriate relationship with a female colleague, the Christian Reformed Church will recover and heal, the CRC's newly named executive director says.
Right off, this may be seen as airing somebody else's dirty laundry - but there is a very real purpose in it. Paul tells us church leaders are to be rebuked publically, so that others can be warned - read this and be warned.
This is my denomination, and Mr. Bremer has been well loved in it. A woman that I work with said today that he had been her family's pastor when they lived in another state and when he was first chosen, one of the ladies in my ministry group said the same thing. He has been highly respected and it is always sad to see a man of God fall. Our prayers should cover all of the people involved.
The thoughts that I've (I've been pondering this for a few hours) are a result of things that were said at work. I've said before that I live in a very special area; of the four staff in my classroom this summer, all four are professed Christians, two are CRC, two are Catholic - in most areas, how many public school classrooms can say that?
Anyway...we were talking about the news this morning and this came up.
The first thoughts center around the act. (hint: the third thoughts may be the most important.)
One of the women commented, "You see, it happens in other churches, too." I have a few thoughts related to that comment - the first one that happened to pop into my head was that "at least our denomination took care of it, instead of tranferring the guy and/or paying somebody off and/or sweeping it under the rug." But that doesn't make the sin any less, it just makes the denomination more credible in the way that they deal with it.
The second group of thoughts center around the consequences.
1) When confronted with the information, Bremer resigned within hours. The consequences were immediate, definite and public. (1 Timothy 5:19-20 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning) It does matter, Biblically, that it was public and not swept away, only to be made public years later.
2) Bremer denies a sexual relationship and officials are not alleging a sexual relationship. This is important - it really is. This means that the CRC is taking a stand that male/female relationships that are not sexual, but still cross boundaries are still serious enough for this kind of consequence.
The third set of thoughts center around the aftermath
One of the women I work with said this: "I told my husband that if he ever made a fool of me that way, with his name in the paper and all that - it would be all over - no second chances."
Within this marriage, this story could be a testament to consequences, or it could be a testament to repentance, forgiveness and restoration. Only time will tell what it will be.
If Bremer repents and commits to accountability and everything else it takes to make repentance real - will his wife forgive "seventy times seven". I know that every time it comes to mind (and it will come to mind), the forgiveness will have to take place in her mind. At least seventy times seven - and many more.
Will she forgive as God forgives? Will she commit to never bringing it up against him - to him, to others and even (with God's help) to herself? In the face of her husband's repentance, will she see her lack of forgiveness as a sin at least equal to the one that her husband committed?
Only time will tell...and God's hand will have to be on all of it, and my prayers are with them.