Last week, stories about local pastor Mark Bidwell could be found all over the Internet and on the nightly news. As we already know, the story is the textbook definition of scandalous. It has sex. It has drugs. It involves a religious figure and it ends in death. It has all the makings of a crime drama episode.
But behind every scandal are real people with real lives. And unlike a TV episode, closure isn’t promptly delivered at the end of the last commercial break.
It would be easy to be mad at Mark. His actions will be used by bigots to stereotype our community. Mark was a recognized and trusted figure among us. He’s counseled many of us, inspired many of us, and encouraged all of us to stand up for our rights. How could he do this to us? we might wonder. How could he let us down?
We have to remember that this story is not about us. It’s about Mark, a man who has worked hard for our community, and a man who has suffered from many personal problems, health issues and – as we now know – addiction.
Mark, though a leader and a professed man of God, is merely human, just like the rest of us.
Our feelings of anger, shock and sadness are perfectly warranted. But we must find the strength to forgive Mark and support him through recovery.
It’s not just the Christian thing to do. It’s the human thing to do. After all, this isn’t a TV show, this is real life. The characters in our dramas don’t follow perfect arcs along predetermined story lines; they zigzag over and under unexpected obstacles, adjusting as best they can, often making mistakes – some bigger than others.
The only closure we get out of this is the closure we give to Mark. We forgive and we move on.