The news of what Jesus had done traveled throughout the town. But there was no rejoicing for the healing of the two men. Nor was there any gratitude for the expulsion of the evil. Instead, the townspeople asked Jesus to leave.
Apparently the townspeople were okay with the evil that possessed the two men so long as it didn’t affect anyone else. They were content with the status quo so long as only a couple people were harmed by the evil.
But when Jesus allowed the demons to go into the pigs, it affected the livelihood of the community.
The Gospel of Mark reports on the same story and says that the herd was about 2,000 in number. That’s a whole lot of pigs, and I’m sure it meant the loss of a whole lot of money.
People didn’t like that.
So they asked Jesus to leave. They didn’t want him around.
They would have rather kept their pigs than to have a couple individuals delivered from evil.
The power of that evil was so great that it drove 2,000 pigs over a cliff. That was the sort of destructive force that those two men had been living with.
But the townspeople didn’t care about the two men. They wanted their pigs.
When getting rid of the evil required the townspeople to sacrifice something, they wanted the person who did the ridding to get off their turf.
They cared more about the loss of their pigs than about the loss of a couple people to a dreadfully evil force.
So they rejected Jesus Himself. They didn’t want Him messing up anything else in their comfortable little world.
That’s how I see the response of Southern Baptist leaders to clergy sex abuse in their ranks. If getting rid of the evil might cost them something, then they prefer the status quo. They want to keep their pigs.
So they talk the talk with brochures and preaching, but that doesn’t cost them much of any trouble. That doesn’t require any sacrifice from them.
Talking the talk is easy.
But don’t ask them to walk the walk.
Don’t ask them to actually see the many hundreds who have been wounded by clergy sex abuse. That might hurt the community-at-large. They prefer to leave the wounded ones as outsiders.
And don’t ask them to actually look into clergy abuse allegations in a responsible manner. That would cost money to implement a review board like other faith groups do.
Besides, if too many clergy abuse cases are brought into the light of day, it might hurt Southern Baptists’ image. And that could hurt revenues. People might stop donating.
Southern Baptist leaders are content to keep the evil in their midst because that’s the status quo. To work at routing out clergy sex abuse would carry the risk that some of their livelihood might go over the cliff.
They want to keep their pigs.