By GERALD HALLMARK
Boy, has the news been full of pirates, hijacked ships and heroic deeds. I remember as a child reading “Treasure Island” and all the exciting characters that introduced pirates into my life. Long John Silver is still a part of my romantic notions about the pirates of the Caribbean. However, these Somali pirates are just a bunch of thugs and thieves and there is nothing likeable about them. All honest people are disgusted with their ungodly practices and know they deserve their fate.
This got me to thinking, there are church pirates at work today that are just as dangerous as those Somali renegades. The ones in the church certainly dress differently and behave with a decorum of respect, but their intentions are no different from those of the pirates on the high seas.
First, all pirates are known for their robbery. This fact alone defines them as people who take from others for their own ends. In the church, people rob God of His tithes and their offerings, yet never associate themselves with thieves. God said He was robbed in the book of Malachi because people used His money for themselves. Maybe some of these folks need a patch over one eye and a parrot on their shoulder so they can see themselves for what they are.
Another thing pirates do is make people walk the plank. Oh, this is done regularly in our churches when someone has erred and messed up their lives. The pregnant teenager, the housewife on prescription drugs, the uncontrolled drinker, the convicted felon or the desperate embezzler are examples of those ostracized and made to walk the plank of the church ship because they are no longer worthy of fellowship. Maybe we ought to issue cutlasses to the crew to make the work go faster.
Pirates hijack ships for their own use. Church pirates hijack fellowships and have their own agendas that sail the churches into waters where the pirates are comfortable but not where God wants them. They control the church through finances by outvoting everyone or even by intimidation. As long as they are in charge, they are happy and think they ought to control the rudder and take the church in the direction they deem is best. These folks need earrings and tattoos so they can be more easily identified.
Another thing about pirates is they love to take hostages. Younger members are influenced by older ones, family patriarchs and matriarchs dominate family churches and teachers sway weak minds and wills into heresy. Their gold teeth can identify these pirates every time they give you a big, fake smile.
Like the Somali pirates, the church pirates become a law unto themselves. They are so intent on having their way they disregard scriptures, traditions, policies and customs of the church. They twist the laws of God and man to suit themselves and wreak havoc in their wake. Their only goal is to do what they want to do, when they want to do it and the way they want to do it. You’ll see these folks with their peg legs clomping around the ship not even knowing they are spiritual cripples.
Finally, pirates are always brought to justice. They may sail the high seas with flags flying for a while but eventually they have to answer for their sins. God is not mocked and He will sail the ship into port and require an accounting of how His boat was handled. Church pirates live large for a while, but there will be a day of reckoning.
Dr. Gerald Hallmark is a retired minister living in Alexander City. His column appears here each Friday.