Prestonwood Baptist Church, near Dallas, Texas, has about 26,000 members. It has about 40 pastors to take care of various aspects of the needs of the vast congregation. One of those pastors was Rev. Joe Barron and on May 15, 2008, he was arrested in a police sting. Evidently Barron had been carrying on an internet liaison over a period of two weeks with someone he believed was a 13 year-old girl. What he didn't know was that his little girl was really an officer of the Bryan, Texas, police department. So all the vile, sexually explicit filth that he wrote was "taken down in evidence against him." Of course, at that stage the police had no idea of the pervert's identity. They discovered that when Barron set up a meeting with his 13 year-old victim. He drove his wife's car 200 miles for the meeting and was fully equipped for an illicit encounter with a minor. Instead, he walked right into the arms of the police.
Prestonwood Baptist Church publicly announced his resignation and their acceptance of it. The church is cooperating with the police to discover if Barron had contact with any other minor girls. An examination of his computers will, no doubt, tell investigators a lot. Meanwhile, once again, we have the unwholesome spectacle of a church leader embroiled in seamy perversion. Apparently, Barron was full of shame and remorse when he was arrested. Well he might be but I have a great deal of skepticism about the sincerity of a pervert who shows remorse when caught but could without remorse plan the rape of a 13 year-old girl. Such a man has no place in the Christian ministry. If he belongs anywhere in this world it is in jail and I hope that he draws a sentence that may act as a deterrent to the hordes of predatory perverts who are roaming cyberspace in search of young victims.
But we need to be careful here. We need to remember that even this monster has a family. He drove his wife's car. So he has a wife who will no doubt be devastated and deeply humiliated by her husband's vileness. She needs our prayers that the Lord will give her grace to bear the shame brought on her by her perverted partner. Then there is the church. When Prestonwood took Barron on staff, he had served as a senior pastor and as an education minister in other churches over a period of years. There is no evidence that the church ignored any warning signals. Many will use Barron's wickedness as a way of getting at the church. That would be unfair. They are victims not the perpetrators of this crime.
All this raises the issue of internet pornography. It seems to be everywhere. Boys are being introduced to it at an early age and being drawn into its foul sphere. Grown men live in a fantasy world of lust and illicit relationships. And the molestation of children grows at an alarming rate.Police sting operations help the situation. Getting rid of judges who routinely give derisory sentences to child molesters would help more. Parents taking responsibility to supervise their kids' use of computers would help even more. And, of course, tough action against the porn industry is long overdue. We have for too long allowed peddlers of moral filth to wrap themselves in the cloak of free speech. It's time we had men in politics and on the Supreme Court who had the guts to say that pornography is not protected speech. Would all these make America pure? No. They would help but the nation's greatest need is a resurgence of gospel preaching that will bring millions of our people to the knowledge of saving grace. That's the best way to rid us of perverts in the pulpit or anywhere else.