This week the 288-page report about abuse in the Southern Baptist Church (SBC) came out. To some, it was utterly shocking.
To others it was, “It’s about time.”
I guess it depends on which side of the road you were standing on. What you had seen, heard, experienced. Who you had talked to. Who you had listened to. Who you had revered and who you had dismissed.
So I join my voice with others: It’s about time.
Long, long, long before I got involved, other stalwart voices were crying out, “These are not isolated incidents. This is a systemic problem!”
Well, what do you know. They were right after all. Russell Moore, who to his credit had already left the SBC, called the systematic covering of abuse a “Criminal Conspiracy.”
I wrote the piece below almost exactly four years ago, knowing so much more than I could actually write about. The systemic problem was staring me in the face.
I pray that there will be enough people in the ranks of the Southern Baptists who have the fear of the Lord and will fall on their faces before Him for refusing to see the evil in their midst, for refusing to listen to these voices crying in the wilderness, for dismissing and ignoring and blaming and shaming those who cried out for help and hope.
The real Jesus is not like that.
When a church elder said to a friend of mine, regarding her husband’s 25-year-long pornography problem, “It’s just a little porn,” I knew the problem went deeper than the husband’s porn. That church elder had a problem too.
When Sovereign Grace Ministries/Churches protected child abusers and accuses the victims, the problem is obviously way beyond child abusers. There is every indication of serious rot at the core of SGM/SGC.
When Beth Moore described the condescension, stereotyping, objectification, and downright misogyny she had to deal with in the Southern Baptist Church, there is every indication of a much deeper problem at work at the core of the hearts of the men she’s interacting with on a regular basis than simply ignorance and arrogance. [Note: I have since learned that Beth Moore could act in a very inappropriately exalted way in her own arena.]
When Paige Patterson promoted Darrell Gilyard, a pastor who raped many women—not just ignored his heinous sin, but actually promoted him—and almost none of Paige Patterson’s peers thought this was a problem, this indicates a problem in their own hearts and perhaps with their very own bodies. If a man does not see rape as a problem, then something is going on.
When Paige Patterson and other evangelical leaders stereotype older women as difficult gossipy biddies and younger women as sex objects, and the young men they’re speaking to just laugh and enjoy it, there is a problem in the hearts of those young men, and very possibly with their eyes and their very bodies.
And these are the young men who are heading out all over the country to start churches in the mold of the “conservative resurgence” that Paige Patterson himself directed, the leaders of which are getting stained-glass windows in their honor.
So here I am, learning about things such things as (for example, and I could give so many examples) a young man in ministry berating his fiancée to read “complementarian” material so she would submit to him to allow him to do sexual things to her and force her to do sexual things to him. The leaders of conservative evangelicalism might cry out that this is never what they intended, but they are breeding these men.
Another woman told me that her extremely abusive husband, one whom she had to flee from for her life, had been a seminary student under Paige Patterson’s teachings and loved how he taught submission.
When Paige Patterson spoke the atrocious words eighteen years ago showing not only a complete ignorance of abuse, but an apparent delight in it (he was “happy” when the woman in his story showed up at church with two black eyes), he demonstrated a problem in his own heart far beyond ignorance.
When recently instead of recanting these words, he defended them, and then his conservative evangelical friends considered him “under attack,” for the public outcry and held a prayer meeting to pray imprecatory psalms against his “attackers,” they show that they have a problem in their own hearts. They demonstrate that they themselves are the very people that Beth Moore describes. They demonstrate that something far deeper and darker is going on here than simply ignorance or even willful ignorance, which is bad enough. They demonstrate that they want to continue to breed a generation of abusers.
There are those of us who are in the trenches dealing with the fallout of horrendous teachings such as that which Patterson recently defended. But with a very few isolated exceptions, Patterson’s fellow SBC and conservative evangelical leaders will not decry his teachings, apparently because there is something going on in their own hearts.
Apparently continuing to breed a generation of abusers is more important to them than showing the love of God to those in need. God help us.
The breeding of the generation abusers, according to the Guidepost Solutions report, has been going on for many generations. Almost as if it were in the warp and woof. As if it were systemic.
It looks like, from reports like these, that there may be true repentance. I pray that there will in fact even be a revival, among those who claim to be the people of God. Oh my friends, it is not too late.