“If leaders and church members alike don’t fear God more than they fear the consequences of standing up for the abused, the possibility of church scandal or the threat of personal conflict, if we don’t fear God in light of what he promises is to come—abused sufferers will continue to get silenced and dishonestly characterized.”
(Rebekah Hannah – For the Church) Last week as a series of articles outlined a detailed history of sexual abuse within Southern Baptist churches. I have friends and family affected inside what was reported. I am affected.
My whole life, I’ve watched faithful men and women in Southern Baptist churches and seminaries love God, serve the church, and lovingly teach me to do the same. But I’ve seen the other side, too. I’ve observed the lengths people will go to protect themselves, gain power, and dominate in the church. I’ve seen the politics and the handshaking. I’ve witnessed the collapse of conviction for the sake of “keeping the lights on.” I’ve experienced that a big church is more important than individual members. The sin within these church experiences has, in many ways, caused my faith in Jesus to be more authentic, but also my heart to ache deeply.
The recent exposure is grievous, but it absolutely gives me hope. I lament over the sin within churches I love. But, I’m hopeful because the One I love more is disciplining them.
God’s Righteous Discipline
In the wake of these scandals, much of the SBC history of spiritual and sexual abuse will no doubt be blamed on Satan. And by all means, let’s give him some credit. But quite frankly, I don’t think Satan should take the bulk share.
The blame lies with us.
God will not sit idly while men build personal Towers of Babel and call it church. God will not allow women and children to be rampaged by evil, camouflaged with charismatic personalities and closed-door meetings. God will not let pastors flatter his people instead of taking responsibility for the many forms of abuse in his church. He will not permit pastors to stand on church legacies built with bits of corruption and not admit the shame in creating earthly kingdoms.
Our God is the one who brings justice (Ecc 3:17). He brings light to darkness (Job 12:22). He heals the hurting and redeems the broken (Ps 103:3-4). The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed (Ps 103:6).
The exposure of evil deeds and sinful victimization of God’s people is not an act of Satan attacking the church, but an act of God’s discipline (Heb 12:6). Satan loves a good cover up because when true sin is exposed, Christians get to repent (Rom 2:4).