“From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.
Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
they will be brought down when I punish them,”
says the Lord.
-Jeremiah 6:13-15, NIV
It matters that pastors–i.e. priests–talk about adultery. The position saying these things communicates important matters to the flock.
Adultery needs to be taken seriously!
Today’s passage is taken from the book of Jeremiah as God’s people were about to be taken away by Babylonians. The situation is certainly not analogous to today. However, I see some important lessons set forth by this passage.
First, honesty is what God expects of His priests.
We see the opposite happening in Jeremiah’s day. The priests and prophets were lying–i.e. being deceptive. They were the opposite of honest.
Second, priests ought to address serious wounds with serious treatment.
Jeremiah calls these priests to account for minimizing the severity of the spiritual wounds. He chastises them over offering bandages to heal gaping heart-cavity wounds. It is a call to wake them to the fact that the problems are serious.
Finally, priests ought to recognize a spiritual state of war when they see one.
The prophet essentially calls these priests and prophets willfully blind or downright deceptive. He refuses to agree with their assessment that the emperor has clothes when he is stark naked. War is upon them–i.e. a physical as well as a spiritual one. Everything is not alright!
I am mindful of my office as an ordained minister–i.e. priest–as I write this blog. One thing I realize is my voice is buttressed with the authority of my office. At times, this makes some of my readers uncomfortable with what I write.
But it still needs to be written.
Truth needs to be spoken.
Serious wounds need to be treated as serious.
And a spiritual war raging over the souls of spouses needs to be acknowledged.
Often times, it is only a word from a pastor that can bring healing for a serious wound caused by another pastor. I see this on a regular basis in my professional capacity as a chaplain. Wounded people who were beat up by an over-jealous or condemning pastor need a healing word of support to remind them that God loves and accepts them.
It is important that a special representative of God says this. Such a word has weight just as the damaging word had weight when in sunk into the congregant’s soft, trusting soul.
Without that word, it is easy to believe God thinks they were partially or totally responsible for the adultery of their (ex) spouses because the pastor said so.
God does not.
But it is hard to see that when the opposite is spoken by someone claiming to represent God. Another model is needed. Truth of God’s heart on the matter needs to be spoken by His representatives in order to correct the priestly lies and bring healing.
We may not be in a physical war as in Jeremiah’s day.
But we are certainly in a spiritual war. And it is war crying for priests who will speak the truth and take the wounds plus conflict seriously!