“You can erase my program Doctor, but you can never change the fact that you’ve already used some of my research. Where was your conscience when B’Elanna was dying on that table? Ethics, Morality, conscience; funny how they all go out the airlock when we need something. Are you and I really so different?” – Crell Moset, ST VOY “Nothing Human”
Should Christians use materials from disgraced or controversial ministries to further the cause of Christ? Sometimes I wonder about our ethics. At least the doctor wrestled with the morality of using medical research that was obtained unethically.
One ministry that I keep tabs on is just now featuring a sermon series about their favorite subject and promoting it as the best sermon that they’ve ever heard. The sermon series comes from a graduate of a disgraced ministry that is caught up in a sexual abuse scandal.
Another minister was outed as having been an abusive person after he had died, but his transgressions went ignored as long as he lived because he wrote the book on Christian pacifism.
The founder of another ministry was forced to step down in light of his own misconduct, but the materials that ministry produces are still being used to spread the message. One family that uses those very same materials is caught up in a scandal.
Does the use of these materials suggest that we support the message of these ministries? Are we complicit by providing material support to disgraced ministers? Are we minimizing the victims?
I wonder how much various materials would be considered “off-limits”; how many books, sermons, and various teachings would be unusable if we made a point of it not to use them so long as a scandal was unresolved and restitution to victims was unmade. With so many flawed humans running things, we can’t count on always having a large number of morally perfect people to provide us with flawless materials. But we had better make some effort to do better.
We could use a philosophy like to ‘first do no harm.’ We should not help people hurt other people. We should not approve of people who hurt people. We shouldn’t give money to the ministries of people who hurt people. We shouldn’t ignore people who have been hurt.
Crell Moset cured the Fostossa Virus and saved thousands. But his experiments on hundreds of people resulted in painful, prolonged deaths. We don’t have to wrestle with that. Christianity has ministers that have abused their authority resulting in untold harm to thousands of people, but what does that matter so long as the Great Commission is carried out and millions come to know Christ?
It matters a lot to me. It bothers me that we can ignore the people who are hurting not from visible wounds, but spiritual gashes. It bothers me that these ministers aren’t always caught and continue to do harm. It bothers me that the ones are caught can utter ‘I repent’ and they’re in the free and clear without giving a second thought to the people they hurt. It bothers me that money flows into these ministries as if the things they did don’t matter. It bothers me that we are providing the means through which more harm can be done.
Christians do have a principle – it’s our ‘first do no harm’ but it goes like this: ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ Our problem is that we don’t know how to apply it. How does one hold another accountable without creating a revenge problem?
If someone slaps me, do I have the right to “do unto them” as they “did unto me?” Or would that create a sort of Three Scrooges situation where people are slapping each other? The problem is in that the original minister didn’t give a thought to the golden rule. It’s a situation where power corrupts. Where he believes that he is above the rules. The ministers that are humble never get themselves into these situations.
Perhaps these two philosophies were meant to go hand-in-hand, ‘First do no harm’ and ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ It’s something that we all ought to keep in mind.