Anti-gay Christian Pastor Caught Masturbating While Watching Kids on a Playground

Via on Mar 4, 2011

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. –Romans 7:15, 18b-19

I hear people use the word “hypocrite” a lot, and I fear that most of the time it’s a pretty blunt instrument. And the more promiscuously we fling around a loaded term like that, the blunter it becomes.

The word is actually derived from the Greek word for a stage actor, and refers to “a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.”[i]

By this definition, Moliére’s Tartuffe, who feigns religious ardor for the sake of social advancement while actually being a libertine, is a classic example of a hypocrite.

And few will dispute that when Newt Gingrich was spearheading the impeachment of Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair while he was actually having an extra-marital affair himself at the time, it was breathtaking hypocrisy.

And when John Edwards, champion of the working class, was allowing his marriage to be held up as a model of traditional family values at work–and to be contrasted with the rocky matrimonial histories of prominent Republicans–while hiding his pregnant mistress in expensive hotels, it was surely the most vile hypocrisy.

But the soul, as one of the Desert Fathers said, is a vast country, and I wonder if things mightn’t be more complicated than that sometimes.  Maybe the name of “hypocrite” cannot be bestowed on everyone who acts in a manner contrary to their professed beliefs because, despite what their actions imply, they actually and sincerely believe what they profess.

If anti-gay Christian pastor Grant Storms was really masturbating in his truck while watching children play in the park, that is pretty hideous; I think we can all agree on that. And although there is no link whatever between pedophilia and homosexuality, it’s clear, even if we assume that anybody has any business criticizing other people’s sexual behavior, that the gay-bashing Storms doesn’t. But I’m not sure he really deserves to be called “hypocrite,” as many have been quick to do.

I suspect that Storms, George Reekers, and other religious leaders who have been caught up in sex scandals genuinely believed what they taught, and failed, despite enormous effort on their part, to live up to their own sincerely held standards. Rather than hypocrites, I see them as tortured souls­–people at war with themselves, who try and try to do what they believe is right, and cannot.  They continue to act as they do publicly because they believe their outward actions are good in spite of their inward dispositions, and they make war on their own desires by attacking them–or something they perceive as similar to them–in others. Paul gives these self-alienated people a voice in his moving letter to the Christians in Rome:

I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?[ii]

We “mindful” people like to go around preaching self-compassion and reminding everybody that what we resist persists, but when someone who has been loudly professing beliefs we don’t like is caught out in behavior that contradicts their message, does it occur to us that they, too, may have been futilely resisting desires that, despite their best effort, persisted?  Or do we immediately brand them as hypocrites?

When I think of my own daily failures to live up to my standards, my never-ending inability to put my deeply held beliefs into consistent practice, and multiply that frustration by the magnitude of the moral failures of these justly pilloried leaders–my God, the pain, the despair these people must live with! To call them mere hypocrites—liars who never believed what they said they did–is to rob them of the dignity of a struggle that must have given them titanic anguish every single day of their haunted lives.

Yes, there are actual sexual predators who use religious authority as a blind, and they are truly hypocrites and worse. But as sordid as it may be to acknowledge it, even if Storms was jerking off while looking at kids, he wasn’t luring them into his truck. Jesus said that whoever looks with lust has already sinned in the heart,[iii] but for temporal purposes, public indecency is a lesser charge than child molesting, which is as it should be. Other religious leaders—and atheists, too–have resisted temptation less effectively than Storms.

This is why the church traditionally distinguishes between the “remission” and the “forgiveness” of sins. The latter means canceling out the guilt of sinful actions, while the former means abrogating the penalties that attend them. After a condemned criminal confesses and receives absolution, he still goes to his execution. The fact that we are forgiven doesn’t mean we don’t pay the price for our crimes. But it does mean that we need not be alienated any more, as Sri Krishna told Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita:

Though a man be soiled with the sins of a lifetime, let him but love me, rightly resolved, in utter devotion.  I see no sinner, that man is holy. Holiness soon shall refashion his nature to peace eternal.  O son of Kunti, of this be certain: the man who loves me shall not perish.[iv].

Of course, even if we believe that, forgiveness still comes hard to us mortals.  “It’s very hard to feel forgiveness to people like this,” said a friend of mine about Storms, ”that claim to be leaders because of God, publicly shame others and then turn out to be hypocritical and beg for forgiveness. People have this expectation of instant forgiveness that I just can’t give. Prove first that you have changed.”

Fair enough; I wouldn’t ask anybody to forgive someone to whose actions they cannot be reconciled. But in a way, demanding proof that someone has changed before we forgive them is like not letting them into the gym until they have lost some weight. Making forgiveness contingent on demonstrable goodness will only discourage struggling souls from confessing their wrongdoing and seeking forgiveness. “If you tarry till you’re better,” says the old hymn, “you will never come at all.”

Justice will be done; the seeds of karma will sprout when the right conditions arise.  “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,” said God to Moses, “and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”[v] We don’t forgive people like Storms to spare them the consequences of their actions, or because our forgiveness has any effect on the state of their souls. We do it, in the end, for ourselves. If I harden my heart, then I become hard-hearted, and a hard heart is a terrible burden to carry around.  And if I sow hard-heartedness, what will I reap when I, having willed what is right with all my power, fail in spite of myself to do it?


[i] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hypocrite

[ii] Romans 7:21-24

[iii] Matthew 5:28

[iv] Bhagavad Gita 9:30-31

[v] Exodus 33:19

About Scott Robinson

Scott Robinson taught college music at a Christian university for ten years before leaving to pursue creative work and fatherhood.  He has written for Sojourners Magazine, PRISM, Cross Currents, Minnesota Parent, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  He currently composes, records and performs original kirtan with his band Mandala mandalaband.net. Scott is a professed member of the Third Order of St. Francis,  and lives in Philadelphia with his wife, two children, and two incessantly shedding dogs. 

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18 Responses to “Anti-gay Christian Pastor Caught Masturbating While Watching Kids on a Playground”

  1. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for posting this. I think that what people like Storms do is disgusting and revolting, but I can understand the struggle they face. I actually think it is the reason people like Gingrich and Limbaugh get as "crazy" as they get – their struggle is too much for them, so they have to instill the values they fail to attain onto others. That does not make it "right," but if we are going to preach compassion and understanding, having it for those who we would rather abhor is vital. I just wish people like Storms, Gingrich, Limbaugh, etc. would have the same compassion in their hearts for those who cannot achieve their highest moral standards either. Thank you for the great reminder.

  2. Randy Sullivan says:

    Why would a headline read ANTI GAY christian pastor? ANY CHRISTIAN is anti gay because GOD condemns the sexual acts of two same sex persons. I applaud you on your article. EVERY human being born is born into sinful flesh. We are all born condemned but by the grace of God. I am a Minister and I have just as many faults as the next. When Jesus spoke of "Looking upon a woman to lust after her as having comitted Adultery already…..simply shows me that SIN is a condition of our hearts, thought processes, etc. People have an innate ability of looking on someone else's shortcomings (sins) and be extremely judgemental while denying the judgement of their own sins. Is one sin worse than another? In Gods eyes, sin equals death….So I may not commit adultery but I may "cheat" or "lie" on my income taxes. EITHER sin carries the same penalty. Why is it that people have such a desire to look negatively upon some one struggling with sin and condemn their actions? I believe the closer one's relationship to God obviously the more one will want to "live" by His word. Jesus stated "If you love me, keep my commandments" BUT as Paul stated… The things I would do I do not, The things I would not do……I do! It shows me that the closer the relationship with God the more "warring" goes on between one's soul and one's flesh. WE are ALL SINNERS. Let us look in a mirror at the reflection of our flesh and be honest with ourselves…Are we so pure that we can judge the actions of others so condemningly. I put my wife away because she was engaging in extramarital sex. ADULTERY… She experienced a range of emotions about being caught and put away….BUT the important thing to remember is that none of the emotions showed by her showed evidence of remorse about the SINFUL act……but rather just because she got caught. God asks……… WHO can know a persons heart? Only the person and God I suppose. One moment of weakness, one moment of giving up/in from the constant battle to live sinless in thought and deed………..does not make a person a Hypocrite….Rather…..I would call those yelling crucify him…..the hypocrites….. keep up your good work. God bless you…..and more importantly….YOU bless God.

  3. Diane D'Angelo says:

    Uh Randy — Actually, God doesn't condemn same-sex relations. Your interpretation of certain Biblical (which was wriiten by mere mortals) passages apparently does. If you think your puny little brain can comprehend the depth and the richness of God, you have little faith.

  4. Joe Sparks says:

    According to God, there are no "bad" human beings, but only good human beings acting badly as a result of how they were hurt. What is hateful is the hurt and not the human. So, what is "wrong" with a particular person is a unique thing, the result of the unique hurt experience which she or he has endured and mis-stored, experiences which never exactly happened to anyone. This understanding immeadiately makes unjustifiable many old unworkable approaches to human behavior and disfunction. Punishment, reproach, shaming, ostracism, isolation, condemnation or enforcement have never worked well in dealing wit human problems. We do not have people who purposely do wrong, we have non-survival behavior enforced upon innocent humans by the unhealed residue of damages done to them.

  5. Steve S. says:

    Tough. Right on, but tough. Take that mirror away. I don't want to look in it.
    Thank you.

  6. jjhackett505 says:

    While I admire your instinct to start from a place of forgiveness, I find that I'm not quite there yet.

    Schadenfreude is an unattractive and un-Christian reaction, but LGBT rights can only move forward when we stop allowing blowhards like Storms to define sexual morality. Whether his actions technically make him a hypocrite or simply a flawed human being, he and his ilk lose some of their authority as spiritual leaders at moments like this. Given that no one was actually hurt by his crime, I'm pretty darn gleeful that he was busted.

    This man held himself up as a moral leader, and preached from a platform that demonized those whose only "fault" was loving someone of the same gender. He contributed to the suffering of ordinary people who just wanted to live their lives, and he built a successful career out of it, including his own radio show. He called other faiths "Satanic." I can't speak to his motivation–maybe he truly believed that he was helping people become closer to God–but he profited from the pain he caused.

    Based on the details surrounding his arrest, it is reasonable to assume that Storms is a pedophile. He wasn't caught having a wank at a bar, an adult movie theater, or a Weight Watchers meeting, which means that his predilections are not merely odd, they are criminal. One of my objections to the religious right's narrow view of acceptable sexual practice (married, hetero, for procreation) is that it has a tendency to flatten out the distinctions of behavior outside those parameters. If watching porn, having sex before marriage, and loving someone of the same gender are all sins worthy of public condemnation and legislation, the true horror of rape, incest, prostitution, and pedophilia are softened a bit. If jerking off is evil, the circumstances become merely details. In this case, the circumstances indicate that this man is sexually attracted to children. If we have learned one thing from the distressing scandal of the RC Church over the past few years, I hope it is that this sort of thing must be taken seriously from the start, because children will suffer if we jump too soon to forgiveness and second chances.

    • Scott Robinson YesuDas says:

      Fair enough, Jen–but I'm not advocating for any "second chances" in a worldly sense; that's where the "remission" concept comes in: my dropping the weight of moral condemnation from my psychic backpack doesn't mean that someone like Storm doesn't have to suffer the consequences of his actions. Of course he does. Would I extend the hand of friendship to him if he seemed to want it? Yes. Would I trust him around my kids? No. My main point is to draw a distinction between a simple hypocrite (a la Tartuffe) and a tortured soul who knows he is doing wrong and can't stop himself. I find the latter more pitiable, but not necessarily less culpable.

      It may seem like splitting hairs, but strictly speaking, predilections aren't criminal–actions are.

      • Scott Robinson YesuDas says:

        P.S.: I hear what you're saying about the hatefulness of so many of these people. When people are acting hatefully, I usually find it useful to ask myself what they are afraid of.

  7. Scott Robinson YesuDas says:

    Not at all–go on on with your bad self! And actually, Storms *did* apologize to the gay community, interestingly enough. What that will mean in the future–Ted Haggard now says he "over-repented" about buying meth from gay prostitutes–remains to be seen.

  8. randy sullivan says:

    Diana One day in the not too distant future you will have a much clearer understanding of sin, eternality, Gods laws etc.
    How in the world can you possibly read God's word and not know that God does not intend for man to lie with man nor woman to lie with woman? Indeed you cannot understand God's word, perhaps because in is HIS word it states It is given to some to know and to some it is not. No matter what you say….and you can lash out at me just like people are doing this man….it makes no difference. The truth is the truth? How could you possibly say "If you think your puny little brain can comprehend the depth and the richness of God, you have little faith" I never implied that i could comprehend the depth and richness of God. One thing I can comprehend regardless is that ……. we are all condemned according to God's word unless we acknowledge our sinfulness, our need for Gods mercy and grace and according to Romans 10:9 summized in 10:13 YOU and every other individual that does not have remorse for one's sinful condition and cry out to God for salvation through the only means by which He appropriated salvation……..JESUS……. will die physically and eternally as you seem to be already spiritually dead. My puny brain? I never stated to be smart or educated, I'm not a scholar, I'm just a guy, I didn't post on here to say how I feel, what I think, etc to provoke. I posted on here to reply to the way that headline read? Christians (True born again Christians) are against anything God is against. SURE they are. We are against the things God is against even when we ourselves commit these things. Is that a secret. The Gay community and world as large knows at least the surface level of what Christians believe about certain things. I don't personally condemn homosexuality because In my sinful flesh its possible I'm just as likely as another to engage in it? I was merely quoting a belief from my faith. Oh……and the God I serve……in His word……says I ONLY NEED FAITH as a grain of mustard seed……..Do you know how small an amount that is…….? I'm not going to get into an argument with you about my beliefs…..vs….yours or my comments….vs….yours…..etc. It's futile. You will never change my faith or belief and I have no intention of trying to change yours. I wasn't called by God to save anyone. Just deliver the message. I leave the saving part to Him. Do you remember an old adage…. You have to stand for something or you will fall for anything? Everybody individually cannot be pleased. Civilization needs in place a set of "governing rules" if you will to maintain civility among people. WHY? because a large percentage would just "do" what they know to do. Rape Steal Kill Pillage etc. I've heard the declaration by some that Homosexual behavior is not a choice but rather it is a DNA thing. They are what they are because of a Gene? I could argue against that….but in essence they are right. It is a gene that causes that behavior….the S I N gene. and we were all born with it. One of the largest growing forms of hypocrisy in this country is that of An older man being condemned and labeled as a "pervert" for desiring sex with younger but of legal age, while older women who desire to have sexual relations with younger but of legal age men are heralded as "COUGARS" and are actually celebrated to some degree. If there is a gene that makes a homosexual behave the way they do why isn't it possible that there is a gene that makes others engage in other "socially unacceptable" behavior? One last thing. We as a people want to "please" everyone and make everybody happy. Well that can't be. Just for fun Remember me when this happens. When America falls from super power status and becomes another 3rd world country, when Christ appears in the sky to rapture out those TRULY belonging to him, When all hell breaks out on this earth and you find yourself scared beyond belief……do one thing for me. Remember it was this lil puny brained person that told you. Please? Btw you concluded that the men that wrote the original letters making up the bible were mere mortals? Did you know them personally? Of is that another conjecture?

    • Roger Wolsey Roger Wolsey says:

      Randy, I don't know you. But based on what I've just read. I sense you may need one of these: ((hug))

      • Randy Sullivan says:

        I linked on to your site and checked out your book. It's amazing how many ways the same message can be distributed. BUT it's important that "the truthful message" be given, by whatever means appropriate. Congratulations and God bless you in your ministry to get this book out.

  9. Randy Sullivan says:

    Thanks…….I can always use a hug……I am passionate about my God. Thanks again Roger.

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