A Topic Often Ignored or Shunned in the Church
On Sunday, February 10, the Houston Chronicle printed a 3 part series entitled, “Abuse of Faith: 20 Years, 700 Victims: Southern Baptist Sexual Abuse Spreads as Leaders Resist Reforms.” This article details alleged sexual misconduct of over 700 victims over the last quarter century in Southern Baptist churches, denominational entities and agencies. The article noted that the sexual abuse was widespread. From leadership to laity (and everywhere in between), the article informed its readers on a subject - sexual abuse - that is often ignored or shunned in and amongst the church.
There will be additional details that will emerge. This blog is nowhere to pass judgment or induce organized reparations on the guilty. We will let the issue play out in courtrooms and the sphere of public opinion. I often tell the church to “think biblically” on any issue which floods into our lives. Let me try and model these sentiments.
First, the Bible is clear that any sexual abuse is pure evil. The Bible is complicit with its warnings against sexual abuse. Genesis 6 (the destruction of the earth by the flood) and Genesis 18-19 (Sodom and Gomorrah) detail the debauchery of mankind ever further. Even Judges 16 (Samson and Delilah), 2 Samuel 16 (David and Bathsheba) all display the pure evil of sexual sin. In the New Testament, Paul adds to the dangers of sexual promiscuity (1 Corinthians 6-7).
Second, the Bible is clear that God loves the sexual victim and the sexual aggravator. God loves the helpless, the widow, and the orphan. This includes the sexually abused. But, He also loves the perpetrator. He desires all to come to repentance. I may not, you may not, but God so loves the world (and everyone in it). (John 3:16)
Third, the Bible is clear that the sexually abused did nothing wrong. Abuse is never the fault of the abused. (Psalm 9:9, Psalm 10:17-18). It is understandable to be afraid; yet, Jesus counsels, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27-28). Have faith that you as the victim did nothing wrong. Let God be your vindicator.
Fourth, the Bible is clear any kind of sexual abuse is a serious offense. It is a sin against God and a sin against the civic order. Any victim, regardless of the situation, must come forward. God did not cause your attacker to lash out at you. He is there to protect the helpless. I am reminded of Proverbs 31:9, “Open your mouth, judge righteously, and please the cause of the poor and needy.” God will judge the rich and the poor, the helpful and the helpless, the sinner and the saint. He will bring every hidden sin into view.
He is the God of the hurting.