How should the church respond to the Rev. Albert Whyley scandal?
I would like to opine on a highly controversial incident that has virtually rocked the foundations of the Christian community in Grand Bahama and throughout The Bahamas. The Rev. Albert Alexander Whyley, Sr. had been accused of sexually assaulting a nine-year-old girl. His arrest and subsequent trial and conviction by the Supreme Court has garnered a lot of national media attention. Many Bahamians were fixated on this particular case because of Whyley. He was a pastor of a small Pentecostal church in Freeport.
Let me state from the outset that it is not my intention to condemn the Rev. Albert Alexander Whyley, his family or the church that he had pastored. As far as I am concerned, the judicial system has already condemned the Freeport clergyman. Further, he has been vigorously scrutinized in the court of public opinion throughout the length and breath of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. I think that it is now safe to say that the Rev. Albert A. Whyley is well known throughout the country.
The church must pray for the Rev. Whyley and his family. We must pray for his spiritual restoration. That is, of course, if he is a true Christian. If he isn’t one, then we must pray for his salvation. I am writing, however, under the assumption that the convicted clergyman is indeed a Christian, albeit a backslidden one. While I have taken it upon myself to pray for the Rev. Whyley, I believe, however, that he must be straightforward with himself, his family, his former church, and more importantly, with God.
There is forgiveness in Jesus Christ. But until we are brutally honest with ourselves and with our Creator, we will never receive forgiveness from Him. True confession is when we admit what God says about us. We must never beat around the bush with God; nor should we play silly cloak and dagger games with Him. God expects us to be honest with Him and our fellow men.
While it is true that God has commanded his church to forgive wayward believers like Whyley, it is expected of the church – especially the leadership of the convicted pastor’s denomination – to take disciplinary actions against him. This can be done by excommunicating him. The Apostle Paul chided the Corinthian church in First Corinthians chapter 5 for not taking disciplinary actions against a Christian brother who had slept with his father’s wife. According to Paul, the brother should have been handed over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. According to evangelical Bible scholars, this peculiar expression by Paul simply meant excommunication from the church. Even Jesus Christ said in Matthew chapter 17 that an unrepentant brother should be expelled from his church.
True, it can be argued by many that excommunicating Whyley would be pointless and unnecessary. For the church to take disciplinary action against him might very well be a moot point, since he will no doubt spend some time at Her Majesty’s Prison in Fox Hill. Yet with that being said, Whyley, when or if he ever comes out of prison, should not be allowed to mount another pulpit in this country again. The Bahamas Christian Council and the government must ensure that the convicted clergyman never pastors another congregation in this country again. He has permanently disqualified himself from the ministry. Some might argue that I am being a little too harsh on the clergyman. But these critics of mine must remember what he has been accused of. He was accused of raping a nine-year-old girl. She is a child.
Also, the church must not pray that the state pardons Whyley. He must be punished like everybody else who breaks the law. While he might be a minister of the gospel, he is still a citizen of the state. The state has done nothing wrong in punishing the Rev. Whyley. His ministerial colleagues from his denomination must not criticize the state or our justice system over his conviction. It would be unfair to make the state look like the villain in this case.
Sometimes I am given the impression by fellow believers that the government is an antichristian institution. Some Christians act as if the government is a creation of Satan. But nothing could be further from the truth. God created government. The government is just as much an institution of God as is the church. In fact, the institution of government has been in existence since the time of Noah in Genesis chapter 9. That is why the Apostle Peter admonished the church in the first century A.D. to obey the civil authorities; even though Nero was the caesar of the Roman Empire at the time.
It is also important that the church pray for the young victim. As was mentioned already, she is only nine years old. It isn’t necessary for us to know her name or the name of her family. That’s none of our business. Besides, God knows them all. This experience has the potential to leave permanent psychological, spiritual and emotional scars on the innocent victim. This could very well rattle her faith in Jesus Christ and all that He stands for. Many persons who have been abused by church leaders have turned away from the church and God. Some of them have even become radical atheists. They now have a seething hatred for God.
Further, this unfortunate event has brought Jesus Christ to an open shame. This has left the Grand Bahamian church wide open to ridicule by hardened skeptics and unbelievers. Perhaps this sad story has taught the church the fundamental importance of vigorously evaluating individuals who desire to enter the ministry. The church must make certain that its clergymen are born-again Christians. We must remember, however, that this is not the first time the church has been embarrassed by the unchristian conduct of a prominent minister. Prominent U.S. televangelists Eddie Long, Jim Bakker, Jamal Harrison Bryant, Zachery Tims and Jimmy Swaggart have all been caught up in sex scandals. All of these men have seen hundreds of their loyal supporters abandon their churches after it was revealed to the members that these prominent pastors were not living up to God’s standards.
In the final analysis, there are no true winners in the Albert Whyley case. One man’s ministry has been destroyed and a young child’s innocence has been taken away from her against her will. Her life will never be the same. I hope she doesn’t believe that all pastors are predators. We have many fine, godly pastors in Grand Bahama. I hope she doesn’t hold anything against God. God is totally innocent. If anything, she should seek God for her healing. He is more than able to heal her. In fact, He is willing to heal her right now.