The SBC Isn’t Alone In Sin: Kevin H.
“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” – I Peter 4:17
“For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church[a] whom you are to judge?” – I Corinthains 5:12
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” – Ephesians 5:11
The report on sexual abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, was released a couple days ago and it is horrid in its expanse and detail of the abuse that occurred and the manner in which it was covered up and the way abuse survivors were abused all the more by leaders they went to for help. It is horrific evil.
Yet, do not be fooled that such evil resides only within the SBC. We have seen a seemingly exponential increase of individual cases exposed over the last several years that span across evangelical boundaries and denominations. The sexual predation of Ravi Zacharias and the way he was supported by his ministry (RZIM) and other Christian leaders until the evidence was overwhelmingly glaring was truly despicable. Bob Coy of Calvary Chapel fame was removed from his position of senior pastor after he was exposed for having carried on multiple affairs and soon after this it came to light that he was reported to the police for allegedly sexually molesting a girl for many years, starting at a young age. Carl Lentz, pastor of the celebrity church of Hillsong NYC, was outed for an affair and abusive behavior. Jerry Falwell Jr., former president of Liberty University, was exposed for corrupt and strange behavior and a bizarre affair involving he and his wife and a former pool boy. The list just goes on and on.
In each and every one of these cases, there were plenty of red flags and accusations that preceded the falls, but they were essentially ignored and excused away. In each and every one of these cases, there was a lack of accountability structure, or a lack to act on what structure there was. In each and every one of these cases, there simply were not enough people who cared, especially at the higher levels, until they were forced to deal with the situations.
What if the people of the church took seriously the instructions in God’s Word that judgment begins within the church and that the focal point of our judgment should be inside the church and to expose the evil within it? Some do take these charges seriously, but abundantly more Christians appear to be far more concerned with the supposed evils of how “outsiders” are trying to steal our freedoms, or a supposed stolen election, or mask mandates, or the LGBTQ+ lobby, or CRT, or mainstream media, etc., etc., etc. Simply one quick scan of social media points to such a reality.
What if we took the majority of the energy we spend on these other issues and instead directed it towards dealing with abuse and corruption within the church? Not only because abuse and corruption is seemingly rampant within the church, but because this is what God actually instructs us to do. How many abuse and corruption victims may end up finding some manner of peace and healing if we did so? How many more potential future victims of abuse and corruption may be spared from experiencing such if we did so? How many more people might not be offended and reject the church and its message of the Gospel if we did so? How many more souls may be saved if we did so?
This is not to say that we ignore all other issues of the world and concern ourselves only with what is happening within the church.
Nor is this to say that we’re ever going to be able to clean up everything that happens within the church. Moreover, this is not to say that each and every one of us needs to actively get involved in battling church corruption and abuse. But God’s Word is quite clear as to our first concern when it comes to such matters. So how “literally” do we actually take the Bible like many of us are so apt to say that we do? Does reality belie our words?
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22-23
It’s never too late to make a change. God’s faithfulness, goodness, mercies, and forgiveness are ceaselessly available. May we dwell in such and allow them to manifest in us in our thoughts, actions, and priorities.