From Unquestioning Submission to Speaking Out
Michelle Van Loon
My husband and I once belonged to a congregation where leaders took their cues from the Shepherding Movement. Emphasizing allegiance and church unity, they expected members to submit to their authority in all matters. One of their favorite mantras came from 1 Corinthians, using the King James Version for extra emphasis: Touch not God’s anointed. I was taught that to question a leader was to defy God himself.
I was a naive sheep in this flock until I stumbled upon the elaborate efforts to keep hidden the pastor’s porn addiction and infidelity with a congregant. Anyone who got too close to this secret was branded a problem. I found myself drafted into the uncomfortable role of whistleblower. After my husband and I brought our concerns to church leadership, the elders made it clear that we were untrustworthy and troublemakers. After a number of failed attempts to resolve the situation, we left the church.