Those We Choose to Follow

The other day I followed one of my childhood youth pastors on Twitter. He is still in the “ministry”, perhaps even more so then he was during my youth, and he is seemingly trying to be one of those pastors who have created their own brand. There were signs of that when he “served” at our church. He would fly across the country to give sermons at Bible camps, only to come back to “his” church and have us watch video clips for Sunday School, too worn out from his other serving.

As you may be able to tell from the tone of that introduction, I was never very close to him or to any of my youth pastors. Our church tended to hire a particular mold of young, newly married men, loud, outspoken, attempting to hold onto the hipness of youth in order to interest teenage boys in church. Personality types that never meshed well with a young introverted and insecure bookworm. Yet I tried to listen and obey all that they taught me over the years, thinking that even though I had issues with the presentation, the principles were still correct. Yet certain things nagged me…

The way he jokingly referred to his wife as “woman” in front of impressionable teenage boys, how we had so many sermons on sexual purity and modesty to the exclusion of all else, how we shouldn’t want PG-13 movies bc of sexual scenes but showing movies rated R for violence in Sunday School was ok, the way he took his seven year old daughter on “dates” to show her how a “real” man behaved and the list goes on and on…

Needless to say I don’t follow much of what he tried to instill in me growing up but while starting the twitter account for this endeavor I followed a bunch of pastors so my Twitter feed wouldn’t become a mere echo room and because I still believe there is some good out there in parts of the Christian culture. So I searched his name, found his twitter account and it wasn’t long before he tweeted…

And suddenly I felt myself back in a folding metal chair listening to a lecture about short skirts and low cut blouses. I can recall once again the debate going over and over in my mind about whether or not I could reach out to this man with the secret that pressing down on me. I have never been one to like to ask questions. As a bookworm, and now as an archivist, I have always done my own research to try to answer any puzzles in my mind. But in the era of early internet and with a sense that only my own church had the truth, I didn’t know who else could tell me if having been raped made me less-than, if the church still upheld the rules of Deuteronomy that had victims marrying their rapists, if the Jewish man who told me such things really had more knowledge about the Old Testament than Christians….so many questions and fears.

But somehow those things about the Youth Pastor that had irked me before, even though I didn’t know why, kept me from seeking him out. Unfortunately, those I did seek out, although gentler in their approach, were probably no better in their advice. But following him now on Twitter, while not following him in real life, makes me think about all the other young women stuck in such situations, reaching out to “godly” advisers who make their lives hell with guilt, shame, and misinformation, all in the name of love.

I’m still too non-confrontational to call him out on it. Which makes me wonder…should I be following him at all?