What the Word Says to the SBC Inaction on Clergy Sex Abuse

By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved

I have been thinking about the SBC decision not to create a clergy offender database ever since I first heard the news. The thing that has been nagging at me is that the only thing the SBC did was publish an article about child abuse. They say they are not turning a blind eye to the issue of clergy abuse. They say clergy sex abuse is terrible and intolerable. The article was well-written and emotionally moving. BUT – it struck me as “let’s do this spiffy article, pull some heart-strings, and say all the right things. That way we will have done something about this issue and we will placate all the voices asking about what we’re doing about clergy sex abuse.”

The article was their single action; and that action was a collection of mere words. Their response was passive, not active.

As I considered this, these words came to mind,

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

I John 3:16-18

God’s model of love is not to throw words at the needy and afflicted. God’s model demands that we get in there and do everything that is in our power to do. Is it in the power of the SBC to build an offender database? Absolutely. None of the reasons they gave for not creating the database were reasons that made it impossible to do. In fact, here’s an analogy of what they said…

A woman in the church has lost her job and now she has no more food in the house for her children. So she goes to her church for help. The pastor says he will bring her need to the elders for consideration.

The next week, the elders send back a message to the woman via the pastor. Their printed statement reads as follows,

“Dear Jane,

Thank you so much for bringing your need to the attention of the elders. We, as your local body of Christ, are committed to serving the needs of those within our church. Our mission is to help the afflicted and needy, and we make sure we offer regular sermons to that effect during Sunday services.

In fact, just the other day, we heard a touching story of a family who had lost everything in a tornado. They were desperate for help and the children were in tears. It gripped us strongly. We are so committed to being God’s church!

We believe that all churches should reach out to the needy. We support all the missions offerings for the convention and regularly promote the SBC disaster relief program. We even showed a video in church two weeks ago about the great work they did during Hurricane Katrina. The issue of needy families in our country is just appalling. We will do everything in our power to support this issue.

At this time we will not be writing you a check for your groceries, though we are still completely committed to serving the needy. We feel this would not be a helpful thing for us to do because we can’t possibly make sure every person in the country has food for the rest of the year. We also cannot force everyone in the church to donate to the benevolence fund. Besides, if we give help to a Baptist, what about all those people in other denominations out there that we can’t help?

But please be assured, as your church elders, we are completely dedicated to meeting your needs.

We are praying for you.

Blessings!

Your Church Elders

Sound familiar? Making excuses – none of which really prohibit the SBC from creating a sex-offender database – is inexcusable. And it is in stark contrast to the plain teaching of the Word.

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