Dan Leach stopped short of giving Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" his full imprimatur. In Leach's opinion, the film "didn't completely follow the Bible account."
Quite obviously, neither did Leach.
According to published reports, the 21-year-old Texan impregnated his girlfriend, Ashley Nicole Wilson, last year. In January of this year, inspired by the CBS hit series "C.S.I.," Leach hanged Wilson, then made it look like a suicide, right down to the note next to the noose found in her apartment.
March 7, shortly after seeing "The Passion of the Christ," Leach stood in front of his home congregation - the Avenue N Church of Christ in Rosenberg, Texas - and asked for prayers, saying he was embarking on a journey that would take him away for a long time. Later that day, he confessed to killing his pregnant girlfriend, an act that would have to be considered a double murder to remain consistent with how most conservative Christians view the unborn. Police didn't detect remorse in Leach's mea culpa; instead, he told them he had to fess up to keep his place in heaven secure.
The tragedy of this case begins and ends with the deaths of Ashley Nicole Wilson and the baby she carried. But somewhere in the middle is a disconnect between Bible knowledge and daily discipleship so drastic you don't know whether to laugh or cry.
A worldwide directory of churches of Christ lists the Avenue N congregation as "non-institutional," a term used to describe a church that doesn't believe in supporting parachurch ministries, such as missions and relief organizations. (No word yet if Leach will try to invoke his "non-institutional" status to try to clep out of jail time.) Somewhere along the way, Leach learned "the Bible account" of what happened to Christ on the cross and that you can't go to heaven if you haven't been forgiven.
What he obviously didn't get was everything Jesus said pre-propitiation. Subtle truths, such as, "Don't kill people" and "Don't tear apart what God has joined together." And more esoteric teachings, like "Whatever's in your heart determines what you do" and "I don't want rote obedience; I want your heart."
I'm sure it thrills the flock at Avenue N to know it took the work of a Vatican I Catholic, Mel Gibson - Catholicism being somewhat institutional - to convict unto confession one of its own. (I'll go out on a limb in guessing Avenue N doesn't genuflect toward Rome, seeing as how "The Christian Chronicle" quotes a member of another church of Christ in Rosenberg as saying there's virtually no communication between his church and Avenue N.)
Leach told authorities "The Passion of the Christ" was one of several "pricks in his heart" that prompted his profession of guilt. Fortunately for him AND for those of us who think our theology superior, the pricks in Jesus's hands and feet are sufficient to save us from both our unspeakable sin and our misguided doctrine.