G. Lloyd Rediger’s “Beyond the Scandals” is a three-part guide to understanding human sexuality with specific application to the role of clergy.
An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Rediger incorporates a myriad of explanations in deconstructing both healthy and unhealthy sexual expression. Moving from the current emphasis on clergy scandals and how the role of the minister in contemporary society is unique to psychological underpinnings of human sexual expression, Rediger offers a thorough and well-cited argument that attention to sexuality is not meant to be swept under the rug–but rather is a significant and complex part of every person meant to be explored and understood.
Throughout the book, Rediger identifies the uniqueness of the clerical role. Attention is given to the specific dynamic in relationships that accompany spiritual leadership. For example, Rediger points out that pastors frequently struggle with normal human conditions while feeling the pressure to be perceived as someone who has risen above common human struggles. Rediger follows this with the concept of the “star factor” of having one’s name listed in conjunction with that of the congregation. Letterhead, church signs, identifying landmarks, community identity and official roles in meetings are some of the common contributions to this condition.
Also, Rediger explores in non-judgmental fashion the pitfalls of many clergy and what leads to their brokenness with self, family and parishioners. A combination of case studies as well as analysis of psychological and spiritual motivators highlight these destructive behavior and attitudes. A good discussion evolves that combines the shift in thinking from behavior based on belief, to behavior based on consequence. “Why people act as they do,” (chapter 8) explores the slippery slope of unhealthy motivations and the psychological set-up that contributes to this break with healthy, accountable behavior.
Finally, Rediger points the way to healthy sexuality and the communion it offers not only within intimate human relationships, but also within God’s creation as a whole. Exploring a theology of sexuality, Rediger highlights its regenerative qualities and how healthy attitudes in our sexuality bring us into a more productive and less exploitive relationship with creation as a whole.
Rediger has clearly done his work in both well-documented research and good, solid thinking about human sexuality. With appropriate attention given to the clergy-specific role, Rediger offers a reliable handbook for clergy that will illuminate both the dark side of unhealthy sexual attitudes and practice as well as preventive maintenance and boundary checks for the one looking for testimony about how to avoid at-risk malfeasance.
Beyond the Scandals is recommended for all clergy because human sexuality is a part of all people. Furthermore, it is well written and organized into clear, concise divisions that address the topic from many interconnected perspectives.
Jason Rutherford is pastor of Slate Hill Baptist Church in Scottsville, Va.