The Last Enemy, Reprise

The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:26)

This week my mother was admitted into a hospice house. Mom is very weak, but alert and aware of her surroundings. She can’t even roll over. Breathing is hard for her. She has to do it intentionally, which is uncomfortable and tiring. She told me and others she is ready to go and be with Jesus. She’s not speaking in a metaphor or feigning false hope. Faith is natural to mom. She knows whom she has believed.

Mom has been slowing declining for some time now. My two sisters spent much of last year taking care of our parents in Ohio. That’s been a huge commitment because they normally live with their husbands (and pets) in North Carolina and Wyoming. But the past year has not been normal. Our brother died last May after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Our parents have needed increasing care. So my sisters stepped up and helped. They have carried all my share of care, for which I’m grateful. Sometimes I joke with them and ask if they’re still married. Fortunately, they both are blessed with flexible and faithful husbands.

Much of last year was a stalemate as dad resisted moving to assisted living and the required stairs in their split-level house became more problematic. I have often joked with mom, saying “What were you thinking?” about the split-level house they designed and built in 1964. She always laughed and said it was just right for the family. It was. It’s still home to me.

They were still searching out other solutions in January when mom became ill and had to be hospitalized. Since then she has never been able to regain her strength. The last time I talked with her at home was Easter Sunday. That week she was hospitalized for what may be the last time. This week as my older sister was driving from the hospital to the hospice house for the transfer, I naively asked if mom was with her. I deserved the sarcastic answer she delivered on the phone, saying, “Right! Mom’s bed is in the back of my car.”

It turns out mom may bypass both assisted living and the nursing home. It’s unlikely she’ll go home to dad. She may be graduated to heaven from the bed in which she now lies with discomfort. She is not at death’s door, but her sojourn’s end is likely not far away on the horizon.

When I asked mom this week if she is afraid, she immediately said, “No.” Then she hesitated and added, “But I’m not sure of the process.” That, of course, is the great mystery of life. We walk the valley of the shadow of death only once. Nobody returns to explain what lies on the other side of death.

Except for one. Jesus came back from the grave and has told us what lies beyond. He’s been there and can describe it to us. Death is not oblivion. It leads to a place Jesus has prepared for us. Because he lives, we too shall live. Mom and I talked about that on Easter Sunday.

I have told people hundreds of times that the other side is far better than this side. I still believe that. I said it to mom again this week. Heaven is not just a “where;” it’s also a “who.” Jesus referred to his death as “leaving the world and going back to the Father” (John 16:28). Heaven is about a relationship with a God who is intimately knowable.

Mom already knows God. Sometime soon, she’ll get to know him face to face. That’s far better. What a privilege!

Postscript: Shortly after posting this entry, I received word that mom’s death might be sooner than I had anticipated. That’s not a reason to panic. It’s a reminder that our times are in God’s hand, as King David eloquently penned in Psalm 31:15. When we are in God’s hand, all is well. Mom told me on Tuesday she is looking forward to heaven. It was well stated. Heaven is worth anticipating.


Another Standing Ovation

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

It has happened again. Another round of applause for a pastor whose public ministry has ended in turmoil.

Three months ago Andy Savage stood before the congregation of Highpoint Church in Memphis, Tennessee, and confessed to a “sexual incident” which had occurred two decades earlier. He wasn’t unveiling a secret, as the informed circle of confidants had been diverse and influential. But the incident hadn’t been a matter of public information until that moment. In response to Savage’s story, the congregation rose and delivered a standing ovation of support.

Leadership guru Ed Stetzer wrote that the applause was heard around the world because it was wrong. A snowball was rolling and a month later Savage resigned his position with no new accusations of misconduct and no new details about the old one except for insight about the way it was mishandled, which did not bring healing and closure to the victim.

A cultural tidal wave continues to sweep across the ecclesiastical landscape. Two days ago Bill Hybels stood before Willow Creek Church near Chicago and resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Unlike Andy Savage, Bill Hybels vehemently denied charges of sexual misconduct, labeling some of them false and others misleading. Once again the congregation rose and gave their beleaguered pastor a standing ovation. Probably someone will condemn the standing ovation as wrong. I don’t know if it was wrong. I wasn’t there. But it was another ovation that will be heard around the world.

No doubt Hybels’ accusers are irked. One of them wrote that she wasn’t looking for a resignation. She merely wanted an acknowledgement of the truth and proper accountability. The truth may never become public information. Nearly all concerned parties were part of the inner circle of leadership. Bloggers are taking sides. Detractors are gloating. It looks really ugly.

The accusers’ roles in leadership lend them credibility. They speak about fearing Hybels’ dominant personality. I can hardly imagine the dynamics of leadership at that level. The size of the church I serve is less than one tenth of one percent of Willow Creek. I’ve encountered numerous conflicts where accusations seemed utterly absurd to me. But the people making accusations really believed them. Even in a tiny church, signals can get crossed, motives misinterpreted, and facts distorted.

Many years ago in another place I was accused of being pure evil, thick headed, and a numskull. That was merely the preamble to a list of accusations a church worker presented to me. Her story was so different from mine I could hardly believe we were talking about the same events. Yet there we were. Without a doubt I knew her story was wildly distorted and twisted by rage. But she believed it. So did the board members she told it to. They never consulted me. Fortunately, the accusations were nothing sexual or unlawful. But in the end, I resigned my position. So I speak from a little experience in this kind of “he-said, she-said” conflict. Maybe that’s why all this sad news has hooked my attention. It’s a #MeToo moment.

I know just a little about the deception of power. I can dominate a conversation and sometimes a decision in a small church. A revered founding pastor of a megachurch has exponentially more power. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Bill Hybels was not fully aware or dismissive of the massive force of intimidation his associates endured. It can be knee-knocking when you get cross-ways with the guy who holds your career in his hands. My experience with these kinds of conflicts (on a much smaller scale) is that the truth often is somewhere in the middle.

In my own horror story, I can look back and see how I had made mistakes along the way. I had no idea of the hidden drama or my role in it while it was unfolding. But afterwards the firestorm hit me with a vengeance. Though I was “innocent” of the accusations, I was not guiltless. I had made naive mistakes which allowed accusations to take shape in the mind of another person. It wouldn’t surprise me if Bill Hybels is guilty of much less than his accusers believe, yet much more than he realized or acknowledged. There are other possibilities, too. Our depravity is deep enough that an articulate, conscientious, spiritually-aware man who professes innocence could be covering up subtle sin. The accusers could be completely right. On the other hand, our depravity also is broad enough that the accusers could be confused about what actually took place. The charges may be false or the result of a misunderstanding, exactly as Hybels says. Moral fog is thick in the context of conflict. It’s hard to see what’s really happening.

Mistrust and anger distort truth. Every leader knows his actions and words will be misunderstood and interpreted in the worst possible way by people who are suspicious and mistrusting. Not only does it happen. It’s unavoidable. Jesus is a prime example. He was constantly accused of doing things he didn’t do, such as casting out demons by the power of the devil.

Hybel’s resignation won’t end the conflict. Trust has been broken. The church is likely to go silent and handle the conflict as an internal affair. I hope they sort it all out. But I don’t have to know about it. We don’t need to sling any more mud in public.

One final thought: I have felt intimidation in the presence of my district superintendent, especially when I was a young pastor and new in ministry. I struggled with how to relate to an authority figure. We were both men. How much more complex would it have been if gender had been a factor in the power equation? At Willow Creek, where women are placed in all positions of governance, leaders must deal with the opposite sex in positions of power. Bill Hybels was the ultimate authority figure. Is it possible the unpleasant sexual dynamics at Willow Creek were an unintended consequence of egalitarianism?

Money, Sex and Power

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:38-42

Twice in the past month someone has asked if I could provide a biblical defense for a stand-your-ground law, which allows people to use force in order to protect and defend themselves when they are threatened by another person. Apparently Minnesota does not have such a law, although many other states do in one form or another. I had never really thought about it before.

To make it more personal for me, the questioner asked what I would do if someone broke into our home and attacked Carol. To be honest, that’s not a scenario I’ve ever seriously prepared to face. Well, maybe I did 35 years ago when we lived near downtown Dallas. Finally I replied that I would call the police and rely on their help. But in reality, I probably would do more than that.

There was one occasion when I did feel threatened in my home in the middle of the night, but I didn’t phone the police. Instead I called one of the members of our church. Carol was away visiting family at the time. I was home alone. And the person I phone came to my defense and brought along three allies. We diffused the situation with a team effort.

Even with that history, the question took me unprepared. My mental search for appropriate Scripture came up empty. A few days later when he asked the same question a second time, I still had no answer. Finally we landed in Matthew 5:38-42, a sermon in which Jesus instructed his followers not to resist an evil person.

“You’re not going to like this,” I commented as we turned in our Bibles to the passage. What followed was a remarkable moment of clarity and insight into Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount. We had a great discussion. I felt like God had spoken to us. At least we had a beginning point, even if that paragraph wasn’t everything God had to say about self-defense. A way forward seemed clear.

Then the moment passed. I realized that nothing had changed in us. We had an answer from Scripture to address stand-your ground. Or at least we had a key part to an answer, but we didn’t embrace it. We didn’t commit to it. We didn’t even puzzle over it; it had seemed clear enough. I think we basically ignored Jesus words. It clearly wasn’t what any of us in the conversation wanted to hear.

Sometimes God says things in Scripture we don’t want to hear. Matthew 5:38-42 is one of those passages. 1 John 2:15-17 is another one. It fits into three categories – money, sex and power. We struggle with all three of them. The stand-your-ground question is about the use or abuse of power. But it’s not alone. We also wrestle with how to relate to money and how to address our sexuality.

We’re going to talk about money, sex and power at New Life Church for the next several weeks. In the process, we may hear God say some things we don’t want to hear. Some of the passages we’ll study aren’t on our list of favorites. But we’ll listen for God’s voice anyway.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:15-17

Our Need for Grace

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19-20)

Grace has been on my mind all month. This year March Madness has been much more than basketball. Infidelity and abuse scandals have been snowballing ever since Harvey Weinstein was exposed last October. This month the lives of even more politicians, media celebrities, and ministry leaders have imploded as new accusations are unleashed. Sadly, many of the dark revelations have turned out to be true. Lives are being shattered like glass bowling pins.

Perhaps more devastating is that some accusations may not even be true. It has never been easier to falsely accuse a public figure than it is right now. A falsely accused person has to decide whether to fight back. A long time ago my seminary professors taught that noble ministry leaders should ignore lies told about them. We were counseled to take the high road, remain silent and leave our reputation to God. But with the advent of social media, it’s getting much more complicated than it used to be.  It’s pure madness. In some cases we may never be able to sort out the facts.

Not all the mud slinging is about sexual indiscretion. Some of it is about theological tolerance and hiring decisions which critics can label sinful or evil. Anyone with a blog can smear a leader with whom they disagree. If you’re articulate and savvy, you can gain a following and manipulate a church or a school in the name of a godly rebuke. Followers will applaud you for revealing “the truth” without ever hearing a rebuttal from the accused, who typically won’t respond at all. The dirt flies, but it’s all one-sided. You can even twist a person’s name to ridicule people. (Ever heard of “Obamanation”used for “abomination”?)

Is a church or an organization not headed in the direction you want? Are leaders ignoring your attempts to correct their course? In the old days you had few options except to part ways. But now you can call them out. You can blow a whistle. You can drag private leadership and personnel matters into public. Social media has changed everything. It’s a form of March Madness, but it’s not limited to March.

Leadership disagreements are inevitable. Most high level decisions are complex and debatable. In the early church, Paul and Barnabas experienced a falling out. It involved a young disciple named John Mark who had deserted them on a missionary journey. Barnabas wanted to give him another chance. Paul didn’t. Paul was focused on the task at hand. John Mark wasn’t the best person for the job. Barnabas was focused on the person. John Mark still had untapped potential for the Kingdom. In the end Paul and Barnabas separated. But they parted as friends. God was in the process. They each picked a new partner. Suddenly there were two missionary teams instead of just one. It was a win-win. Paul formed a new missionary partnership with Silas. Barnabas chose to continue his work with John Mark. It worked. Later John Mark wrote the second book in the New Testament. And Paul and Silas became the greatest missionary team in history.

A win-win requires maturity. It requires tolerance. It requires grace. Earlier this month, Jim Denison wrote a blog post about grace. It’s a good four-minute read. The link below is for anyone who, like me, needs grace in a graceless, social-media-frenzy kind of world.

Our Problem with Grace

Shaun White won gold in a thrilling halfpipe finale at the Winter Olympics Tuesday night. By Wednesday morning, however, his dramatic feel-good victory was tainted by news reports of sexual harassment in his recent past. Some writers were blistering in their condemnation both of Shaun White and of NBC’s neglect to highlight the sexual harassment in their television coverage of White’s Olympic quest.

It seems like half the sports stories these days are more about personal misbehavior than sporting events themselves. It’s not just athletes who are in trouble. Announcers are not immune. Misdirected humor or careless slips of the tongue into a microphone have come back to bite them big in the backside. In some cases it has cost sports commentators their jobs.

The pendulum in society is swinging hard from silence to retribution regarding both personal and professional faults. Many people feel as if they are increasingly balancing their lives along the edge of a knife.

If you are in need of grace, I’ve found some and want to share it with you. Yesterday I happened to land on a powerful blog post, Our Problem with Grace, by Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk. Spencer, who died in 2010, was a champion of grace.

Here’s an excerpt:

I’ve thought a lot about grace as I’ve gotten older and lived the Christian life longer. I see and hear young, fired up, Pentecostal preacher boys, full of sermons about what will happen if we will pray more, live holy lives, get extreme, go the distance and all that fizz. It doesn’t get to me anymore. I am slowly living past the point of being affected by all the rah-rah Christianity around me.

I know I am not very obedient. I know my sinful patterns and my perennial laziness. I know where I fall short. I am well acquainted with my lusts, my pettiness and my stupid pride. I may make more progress on these things, but honestly, I doubt it. My efforts at obedience have about run their course. Most of what I am going to be as a human being living as a Christian on this planet, I’ve probably already achieved. I want all the years God has for me, and I want to honor and glorify him, but if I am going to learn about grace, now is the time. I need it now.

Spencer’s blog entry is old, but the message is refreshing and timely. We can soak in grace rather than sour in retribution. You can find the entire post at the link below:




Me Too

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:16-21)

Yesterday I wrote about the Andy Savage story and my sympathy toward him in an awkward situation. Today I will address my sympathy toward his accuser and many others who have been in similar circumstances.

First, my bias: I’ve never been abused. My childhood was happy, sheltered and carefree. If you press me, I might concede that my dad was a little stoic and my mom was a little dominant. They weren’t perfect. But they did the best they could. Actually, they did very well. As President Trump would say, “They’re good people.”

As a result, I can say with King David, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” (Psalm 16:6)

I carry neither the baggage nor the insight of those who have been abused. For most of my life, abuse hasn’t been on my radar.  Sexual abuse was always a story about something unimaginable happening somewhere else to other people. I’ve never had to deal with it firsthand in my pastoral ministry. I wonder how much I missed that was right under my nose.

It’s not profound, but here’s the short version of my response to those who allege abuse against Andy Savage: I believe the pain is real. Abuse has been suppressed far too long in society and in the church. Finally their stories are being heard. That’s a good thing. It’s also a hard thing. Some of the stories are horrific and we have too often the church has been complicit in the cover-up by our passive silence. Those who have been abused deserve our greatest care and our deepest love.

Abuse paints a horrific picture. It’s stunning. In the past few days, Larry Nassar has become a poster child of the problem. It may be just a tip of the iceberg. It’s helpful that abuses long hidden are finally coming to light. Here is an opportunity for the church to help hurting people heal.

The gospel is a message of redemption and forgiveness. The church is a body where abusers and victims can find mutual resolution. The common denominator is that we all are sinners and we all are victims of sin. At the cross God placed our sin on Christ – all of it – and bestowed on us Christ’s righteous – all of it. God is the ultimate victim of our sin. In Christ he forgave us completely and reconciled us to himself. His vengeance for our sin was poured out on Christ. This is called substitutionary atonement. But God didn’t stop there. He adopted us as his children. We are in a family relationship with God.

Recently media outlets reported how 156 women testified at the sentencing of Larry Nassar. The disgraced doctor sexually abused young athletes for decades without being stopped by those who may have known (or should have known) about it. I don’t know how much his punishment will contribute toward the healing of the victims. At a minimum, they have certain knowledge that he will never do it again to another young woman. Some of the victims stated that they had forgiven Nassar for what he did to them. Other victims did not.

At one point a father of three victims tried to attack Nassar and had to be restrained. Ironically, the angry father now may face criminal charges himself. God claims the right of vengeance and has delegated it to the state. Taking personal vengeance does not bring healing.

Those who forgive Larry Nassar will heal the most. After our sins have been forgiven, Jesus taught that we must forgive others. Receiving grace from God is linked to giving grace to others. That’s the power of the gospel. It’s not easy. It’s not automatic. There’s a long and difficult process in forgiving others for their abuse. But it’s essential to healing.

I don’t know if Andy Savage’s accuser is a follower of Jesus. The media sound bites are mostly about accusations and anger and don’t mention her faith. The best thing the church can do for Andy Savage’s accuser is help her bring this pain to Jesus. That may sound counter-intuitive and simplistic to unbelievers. After all, she is the victim and the cross is for offenders only. But it’s the only way. The anger of man will never give birth to the justice of God. I’ve seen a few angry people in my pastoral ministry. For the most part, their anger has served only to distort the truth and drive a wedge in the body of Christ.  For Andy Savage and his accuser, the facts of the case need to come out for the good of both parties.

I suspect awareness in the church will help more than I yet realize as more and more abuse is exposed to the light. But when the search for healing has boiled down to essentials, we all will arrive together at the foot of a cross. Substitutionary atonement and adoption are the only reliable grounds for forgiveness and reconciliation. That’s what the church is all about for abusers and victims alike. That’s where healing will be found.

Ex Post Facto

All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. (Romans 2:12-16)

Last month Ed Stetzer wrote a laser-sharp article about abuse in the church which is well worth reading ( Stetzer reflects on a clandestine event which took place between a youth pastor and a teenager two decades ago which then resurfaced a few weeks ago. The result has been a whirlwind of controversy.

When the Andy Savage story first broke, my gut reaction was sympathy toward a man who is being dragged through the mud today for a 20 year old offense, although he had confessed and repented long ago. I probably would have been one of the people standing and applauding. Ed Stetzer is helping me rethink this.

Stetzer’s main idea is that we should protect victims in the church, not abusers. Absolutely! Right on! Yet something inside me resisted. I felt sympathy for Andy Savage (and still do). The first time I read Stetzer’s article several days ago, something seemed to be missing. A thought niggled at my subconscious mind but didn’t break through. Today it finally did.

This is what’s hard for me:

When I was entering pastoral ministry in 1985, we talked very little about abuse in the church. It was rarely mentioned in seminary. I was naive enough to think abuse was much rarer than it actually is. Generally, we were taught (if we were taught at all) that the best response to scandalous sin was to work through forgiveness and redemption by all parties. We were told not to report such matters to the police unless the situation couldn’t be worked out privately. From time to time a scandal would appear in the news. Often the offender was given a chance to work through life issues and to be restored to fellowship, if not a church office. We would hear spiritual leaders make statements about second chances and reconciliation. I never heard anyone rebut this approach as protecting the institution at the expense of the victims. Very little was said about victims at all.

Back then the cultural climate was very different than it is today. I don’t remember anyone at the time who would have labeled a consensual sexual encounter between a 22 year-old college student/youth pastor and a 17 year old girl as abuse. We would have called it “premarital sex” and counseled the parties toward healing and reconciliation. Church discipline may have been initiated. There was little or no regard for the fact that one party was a youth leader and thus an authority figure. Today such a consensual sexual encounter is considered coercion with a perpetrator and a victim. Twenty years ago when President Clinton had sex with Monica Lewinsky, he was impeached for lying about it, not for the indiscretion itself. Standards have changed.

This is illustrated in the Savage case by the fact that there was no state law prohibiting such sexual encounters when the encounter occurred.* According to news reports, the district attorney said there is unfortunately no case to prosecute today because the applicable law didn’t exist back then. That reflects a very important part of our constitution known as ex post facto. Our nation’s founders recognized that it’s inherently unjust to create laws to fit a crime after it has occurred. In the present controversy, what is a crime now wasn’t a crime 20 years ago. That doesn’t make what happened 20 years ago between a 22 year-old youth pastor and a 17 year old teenager right, but it does make it unprosecutable.

Some people have criticized the way church leaders handled the Savage situation at the time. Exactly what did happen is in sharp dispute. The accuser and the accused are framing what happened and the aftermath very differently.

This is not an isolated case. Accusing authority figures ex post facto is a cultural tidal wave. Several years ago an abuse scandal rocked Penn State University which ultimately brought down legendary coach Joe Paterno. I’m not excusing what took place in the locker room by any means or the coach’s inaction which allowed the abuse to continue. Abuse must be stopped at all cost. At the same time, Coach Paterno’s reputation was destroyed for leadership decisions made decades earlier in a very different legal and cultural climate. That’s ex post facto. Such judgments are unjust. Child abuse is much, much worse than ex post facto. But two wrongs still don’t make a right.

The same kind of ex post facto condemnations are bringing down celebrity figures, politicians and church leaders all over the country. Many of them are falling because of indiscretions which occurred years ago, but are now judged by a very different standard. Minnesota celebrities have not been spared. Just ask Garrison Keillor or Al Franken. The tolerance of the 1980s has become the intolerance of the 2010s.

The Apostle Paul addressed ex post facto in Romans 2:12-16. He didn’t excuse or justify any sin which someone commits before they received God’s law. Nor did the apostle judge them by the law which they received later (ex post facto). Instead, Paul identified a code of conscience as the criteria for God’s justice. If there is no law, conscience becomes our guide.

When we are in a crisis and we don’t know what to do — when the code of law has not yet been given, I think God will judge us by how well we follow our conscience. That’s not a free pass. We won’t get away with anything. I have an exceptionally sensitive conscience. There’s easily enough in my conscience apart from God’s law to condemn me to hell for eternity.  Probably there’s enough in your conscience to condemn you, too. We are wrong to apply the law (civil or divine) to those who don’t have it, whether we use it against ourselves or someone else. Yet it happens a lot in today’s world.

Bottom line: God doesn’t judge anyone ex post facto. That would violate his perfect justice. Therefore, we shouldn’t judge anyone ex post facto, either.

*Update: Later news articles report that Savage’s actions actually were illegal in Texas at the time, but he cannot be prosecuted because the statutes of limitations has expired. Savage himself describes the events differently, stating that he believes what he did was immoral, but not illegal. Almost two months later, the two sides continue to frame the events very differently. If Savage in fact did break the law, it’s not a case of ex post facto after all. Whether he broke the law remains in dispute.