The Ridiculously Good Marriage, a planned book by Memphis-area, megachurch, Pastor Andy Savage, was recently cancelled by Bethany House (link here).
This is good news in my opinion.
This publishing house made this decision following recent news that Andy Savage sexually assaulted a teenager while he was her youth pastor twenty years ago. I am encouraged to see that they took this principled stance.
A pastor who abused his position of power to gratify his sexual desires and then minimized the seriousness of said abuse is not fit to teach on marriage, IMO.
In fact, I don’t think he is fit to be a pastor at all as he is far from beyond reproach (see I Timothy 3:2).
Jules Woodson, the brave survivor, was moved to speak up by the #metoo movement.
The following is a summary of the basic details (warning a bit graphic). The links above provide more information; however, the best link is back to Wartburg Watch where Jules shares her story in her own words (link here):
Jules was seventeen, and Andy was her youth pastor. He was a college student and was 22 years old working at the church during the time under scrutiny.
It is important to understand the events transpired after a pastoral relationship was well established. Jules had a pastoral counseling relationship with Andy regarding some challenging personal situations Jules was facing at the time including her parent’s divorce as well as unwanted sexual encounter.
The night of the clergy sexual abuse of Jules took place when he offered to take her home from church. Youth Pastor Andy Savage then proceeded to drive her to a secluded location where he unzipped his pants and asked her to suck his penis. She complied recounting being scared at the time.
Then he asked her to unbutton her shirt, and he touched her breasts after first starting by touching her bra. After five minutes of this, he jumped out the car and started crying,
Jules told another pastor at the church. The church covered it up leaving people with the impression Andy had just had an inappropriate kiss. They even sent him away with a party!
Fast-forwarding to the present:
Andy Savage admits to a “sexual incident” that happened two decades ago while he was a college student and the high school senior was seventeen. In his official statement, Andy Savage claims he “…took every step to respond in a biblical way.”
Instead of his church removing him from office, they gave him a standing ovation this past Sunday when he talked about this matter (see here).
My thoughts on this matter:
1. Jules is a brave woman to bring this wickedness to light. My heart broke as I watched her recount her experiences to the local news (see at bottom of post here).
2. This was NOT simply a “sexual incident.” It was sexual assault. In fact, it was clergy sexual abuse. Like a therapist having sex with his client, it is improper and not something to which she could have consented. It is an abuse of professional power.
3.While this was not adultery and does not involve a divorce of the pastor, it will be curious to see if the denominations involved dare to intervene. My understanding is the megachurch is connected to Acts 29 and the Southern Baptist Convention.
Remember, Andy Savage does not deny his sexual wrongdoing!
What he did is much worse than having one’s wife cheat on and divorce you. We will see if those associations/denominations treat it that way or if they reserve such scrutiny unjustly for the divorced.