In case you missed earlier headlines about Andy Savage here is a recap.
Andy Savage was the teaching pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, TN. A student from his youth group twenty years ago came forward and publicly named him as having sexually assaulted her years ago. The assault took place when she attended the church where Andy Savage was on staff. Andy said it was, “A mutually organic experience.” She was an underage high school student. He was an adult on staff. These two facts can’t add up to a mutually organic experience. This was the first time I’ve heard an abuser use this terminology.
I wrote more about this back in January. Read: 14 points the church needs to hear in the wake of the Andy Savage sexual assault case.
Is Andy Savage’s resignation over due? Yes!
Has he acknowledged wrong doing and accepted full blame? Yes and no. He has admitted wrong, admitted he poorly handled telling his church, and admitted to making mistakes, but is still spinning some wording and phrasing.
Has he admitted that he committed a crime? No!
Has anything good come of this? Yes.
Highpoint Church had an independent investigation performed and although they didn’t say exactly what all the conclusions were, they did agree that Andy Savage’s resignation was the correct decision.
We can be sure at least one church will do a better job safeguarding their flock. Hopefully, many churches are learning from example, instead of having to take a field trip to learn the lesson first hand. I hope another lesson learned is that is it never appropriate to give a standing ovation after someone divulges sin, abuse, or a crime.
I’m thankful for the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements. I know it makes many people cringe, but abuse survivors are not among them. I understand that ignoring the abuse or taking the side of the abuser is easier. This requires that you do nothing; see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Victims want you to share the burden of the pain they have experienced. They need validation. This will require action, engagement, and remembering.
“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” ― Augustine of Hippo
Jules Woodson, the victim, has received hate filled messages from some of Andy’s supporters. I hope they all write her a heart-felt apology. She had every right to come forward, but that is a whole other topic. She was brave and courageous, and victims of church abuse everywhere can be thankful she spoke, and thankful it led to Andy Savage’s resignation.
I did notice that Andy Savage said he is stepping away from ministry; not leaving the ministry. He needs to leave full-time Christian ministry where he would have leadership access in any capacity.
I understand that Andy Savage’s family will now suffer the consequences of choices he made and continued to make. It isn’t fair to them. This is why we must be purposeful raising our children while helping them understand that their sin never effects only them. It has immediate and lasting results and usually impacts those around them.
Most importantly, I pray the church is listening, remembering, and acting on allegations of abuse as soon as it’s reported. Regardless of what you think, know, believe, or feel the only correct course of action is to imediately call the authorities and allow them to investigate and sort it out.
I’m in favor of changing state laws to take the statute of limitations away for sex crimes; and making the new law retro active.