Some contend that abuse in the church – particularly spiritual abuse – is not so prevalent as to constitute a crisis.
“It’s just a few bad apples,” they say of corrupt leaders and child abusers. “Just a few bad apples we can easily avoid.”
But here’s the thing about bad apples: they spread their rot to other apples. Their bent theology, their twisted doctrine, their apathetic attitudes, their warped logic; these things take root like spiritual mold spores, starting as dots of sin and developing into ugly clusters of iniquity.
One time, I had a bag of apples in my pantry. One apple had become damaged and quickly rotted before I’d noticed. Nasty, sticky, moldy juices seeped from its skin onto the other apples – onto the good apples.
And what do you think happened then?
Well, the good apples began to rot too. Bacteria gathered on their ruddy skins, ate through their flesh, and corrupted them to the core.
So it is with sin.
“A few bad apples” in your denomination are nothing to take lightly. In your local church, you’re in even more serious trouble. You must weed them out quite quickly, and throw them in the trash. You must thoroughly clean the other apples, examining them for rot and damage, before drying them and putting them in a fresh bag.
Otherwise, your entire bag of apples will become corrupt.
They will be overcome by the bacteria of sin and the decay of evil. Corruption will work its way into the very core of your once good leaders, blinding them to sin, leading them astray, and eating away at their consciences until they grow rotten themselves.
So, by all means, keep using this metaphor to describe abusive pastors and leaders who cover up or enable wickedness. But when you do, understand the full import of what you’re saying.
“All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
“Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.”
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”