In an annual meeting in Nashville in June 2021, the Southern Baptist Convention overwhelmingly voted to ask an independent firm, Guidestone Solutions, LLC, to do an independent study of the sexual abuse reports in the SBC. Their report was released Sunday afternoon, May 22, 2022. The report is disheartening. The universal response among those in leadership is that the situation and extent of abuse is much greater and more pervasive than realized.
In light of the released report, Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary wrote:
“The first truth that must be spoken is the heartbreaking fact that many precious individuals made in God’s image have been victimized by pastors, ministers, teachers, volunteer leaders and others within the context of the local church and denominational ministries. Women, children, and young people have been particularly harmed. Some of their stories are included and their accusations are documented in the report (from Guidestone). One of the recurring revelations in the report is the resistance on the part of many leaders to see sexual abuse as abuse and all abuse as a sin that may well reveal a theological problem rooted in the neglect of the Bible’s teaching on sin and its deceptiveness. Every single one of these sexual abuse survivors deserves protection but they experience predation. Every cry for help deserves to be heard, but many were not heard. Worse, some were denied and uninvestigated.”
1. We should fear God and not man (Matthew 10:28-31). We deal with the living God who brings joy, healing, restoration and judgment.
2. God is on the side of those who are oppressed and he burns with holy anger toward those who abuse victims, cover up the offense, or abandon their responsibilities to guide and shepherd. Because of institutional neglect, this is the time for lamentation.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:26-27
“Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.” 1 Timothy 5:1-2
“For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.” Mark 9:41-43
3. Often, the response of those in authority is to “circle the wagons” (which implies personal or institutional self-protection) vs. open confession and visible repentance. (The former is dishonoring to the Lord and the latter is a biblical responsibility.)
“WHEREAS, Some journalists report that many Americans are willing to excuse or overlook immoral or illegal conduct by unrepentant public officials so long as economic prosperity prevails; and WHEREAS, Tolerance of serious wrong by leaders sears the conscience of the culture, spawns unrestrained immorality and lawlessness in the society, and surely results in God’s judgment (1 Kings 16:30; Isaiah 5:18-25).” SBC Resolution On Moral Character Of Public Officials, June 1, 1998, 1998 Annual Meeting
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26-27
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28
4. The Lord has appointed watchmen who are to wait upon the Lord, hear his instruction and speak his truth as they plead for his blessing.
“On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.” Isaiah 62:6-7
5. We should live/work to cultivate trustworthiness in a culture of suspicion.
6. We must continually taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
“It (biblical doctrine) is not apprehended by the understanding and memory alone, as other disciplines are, but it is received only when it possesses the whole soul and finds a seat and resting place in the INMOST AFFECTION OF THE HEART.” John Calvin, The Institutes of Christian Living, 3-6-4
7. We must constantly be aware that there is a malevolent force of evil (satan and his hierarchy) that is at work in various places in our culture and institutions and desires to infiltrate our lives, homes, and churches.