In light of recent events within the Southern Baptist Convention, the branch of Protestantism I was raised in, I have begun to wonder how serious we are about dealing with real issues within the body of Christ.
Earlier in the continuing saga of the SBC sexual abuse scandal, the current president of the Convention made this statement:
We believe in the autonomy of the local church…[T]he local church is where accountability must be enforced.
Along the same lines, the Florida Baptist Convention spokeswoman stated that it was “a local church matter.”
Now, while I agree to some extent with both of these statements, especially the phrase “The local church is where accountability must be enforced,” I have a real hard time with the fact that the Convention is being so flippant with this issue. Not to mention their almost total silence.
I visited the SBC’s news site, Baptist Press, and there is literally nothing about it there. All they have there are stories making the denomination look good. They are completely ignoring one of the bigger stories in their history.
I believe that this attitude reflects the attitude of many, if not most, in the Body. We don’t, as a whole, want to really deal with the issues.
Conservative Christians especially.
We claim to be champions in defense of the traditional family; we are adamantly against homosexual marriage; yet we do little nothing to change the fact that the divorce rate among us is higher than that of those outside the Church. We scream loudly against abortion and yet say nothing of the fact that, while it can cost as much as $20,000 dollars to have the baby, it only costs around $500 to abort it. And we ignore the fact the majority of abortions occur in developing nations and among the poor.
According to Jesus, we have to be willing to confront the real source of the problem head on. In one place He said,
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17 ESV)
And in another, He stated,
You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:21-24 ESV)
Jesus demands here in these passages that we deal with the real source of the problem. But how willing are we to do this?
Within the SBC, there needs to be a change in policy. Maybe it is time for them to rethink their structure. But something else also needs to happen, and that is a willingness of those in the higher ranks to actually do something, whatever that may be. But another something else needs to happen. The people in the churches need to deal with why their pastors did these things. And once the why has been addressed, safegards need to be set in place so that it doesn’t happen again.
And what about the issues of the traditional family and abortion? Are we willing to address the root causes of these issues head on?
Are we willing to really deal with it?