I am beginning to think that this forgiveness thing has gone a little bit too far. At least its definition has been stretched to the lunacy stage. As Christians, we are commanded to “love your enemies, do good to them that hate you,” but I don’t think a church in Florida has it quite right.
The elders at Christ Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, have invited the newly released convicted child molester and rapist, Darrell Gilyard, to preach at their Sunday morning services. This is the man who served three years in prison for admitting that, for over three decades, he sexually abused trusting women and girls under his ‘protection’ as pastor/shepherd in the churches he served, and who fathered a child with one of his rape victims.
At least there are glimmers of sanity in the community. A Duval court has decided that all children shall be barred from attending his services – at least until the end of the month – as “the Department of Corrections has confirmed that Gilyard is in compliance with the rules of his probation as long as minors are not present when he’s in the pulpit. Gilyard also is refraining from performing any pastoral duties, such as counseling.”
So he’s not allowed to counsel any more. Well, duh!
Apparently having a convicted rapist as a pastor is good press. In recent weeks this little church, formerly having 10 members, has swelled to over 300. Without kids of course …
There are reports circulating that he is allowed to preach as his sermons are amazing, that he has such a way with words, eloquently quoting Scripture. Apparently he has sweet talked his way back into a place of authority as well. Sounds an awfully lot like a wolf in the sheep pen, a classic narcissist who only uses remorse when he has been caught, who can turn on the charm like a tap and who thinks he is above the law.
Forgiveness does not mean that trust is automatically restored. Forgiveness does not mean there will be no consequences, but even when prison time has been served, if trust is not present, then there can be no restoration of relationship. I can choose to forgive the person who stalked me for three years, but I would never want to sit at a table and break bread with this person. I can forgive someone for stealing from my home, but I would not trust them with my housekeys.
Relationship is a privilege that Darrell Gilyard has not had restored. None of us is blameless and it seems right that we should all be given second chances, but there are crimes whose consequences can never be overlooked. This man has lost the right to preach, unless it is to a congregation of sexual addicts and convicted offenders. He stole the innocence of girls and young women who trusted him. Their lives are forever changed. He should never be exposed to another one of these lambs again.