Sunday, February 10, 2019

The scandal of sexual abuse in Baptist churches

In "Southern Baptists and the Scandal of Church Sexual Abuse" Russell Moore responds to an investigation revealing such abuse and the often inadequate response of churches in his denomination. My denomination should take note. Moore:
...[C]hurch autonomy is no excuse for a lack of accountability. Yes, in a Baptist ecclesiology each congregation governs its own affairs, and is not accountable to anyone “higher up” in a church system. And yet, the decisions a church makes autonomously determine whether that church is in good fellowship with others. A church that excuses, say, sexual immorality or that opposes missions is deemed out of fellowship with other churches. The same must be true of churches that cover up rape or sexual abuse. ....

Our approach is seeking to encourage policies and practices that protect children and the vulnerable from sexual abuse in autonomous but cooperating churches, all the while promoting compliance with laws and providing compassionate care for those who have survived trauma. True, we have no bishops. But we have a priesthood of believers. And a key task of that priesthood is maintaining the witness of Christ in the holiness and safety of his church. ....

We should see this scandal in terms of the church as a flock, not as a corporation. Many, whether in Hollywood or the finance industry or elsewhere, see such horrors as public relations problems to be managed. The church often thinks the same way. Nothing could be further from the way of Christ. Jesus does not cover up sin within the temple of his presence. He brings everything hidden to light. We should too. When we downplay or cover over what has happened in the name of Jesus to those he loves we are not “protecting” Jesus’ reputation. We are instead fighting Jesus himself. ....

1 comment:

  1. Some years ago, Seventh Day Baptists adopted a strong resolution condemning domestic violence and abuse. Our people get that we should never condone rape, molestation, harassment or coverups. Other denominations may have hierarchy, but we have family-style accountability. If there is an abuser among us, let's deal with him as the Bible prescribes.


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