June 10, 2022

The Sinking of the Southern Baptist Convention

The sexual abuse task force report on the Southern Baptist Convention is sinful, shameful, and sickening. We should care for every victim of sexual abuse. And yes, we should hold accountable those who commit and cover up such abuse. While the report is deeply saddening, it’s not altogether shocking. The sinking of the Southern Baptist Convention has been years in the making. Like the Titanic, obvious signs of danger were ignored and now the largest protestant denomination in America is going under. While I condemn every vile act, I also recognize the road that led us here.


The Danger of Form Over Function

Everything rises and falls on leadership. Too often in the last 25-30 years, we’ve chosen leaders based on their giftedness or popularity before considering their doctrinal integrity. In other words, we looked at form over function. Many were even chosen because of the size of their congregation or their cultural awareness and acceptability.


I’m not saying that every leader has or is lacking godly integrity. However, the size of a church doesn’t determine the godliness and credibility of its leaders. Just because it’s big doesn’t mean it’s biblical. Consequently, we’ve justified accusations, slander, gossip, and malice on social media—all in the name of transparency and justice. The danger of putting form over function leads to my next point.


A Dangerous Lack of Biblical Discernment

This particular observation troubles me most. Why? Because a lack of biblical and spiritual understanding drives this whole shameful and tragic demise. For example, two SBC presidents have publicly stated that the Bible only “whispers” about sexual sin but shouts about greed, materialism, and pride. My study of God’s Word reveals frequent—and yes, loud—warnings about all kinds of sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 18; Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5-6; Jude 7).


Many Southern Baptist pastors stopped preaching these warnings. In doing so, they failed to acknowledge factors within our churches that help to cultivate sexual abusers. Any sin left unchecked will increase in both scope and intensity. When the sanctity of marriage is marginalized, it’s only a matter of time before sexual sin grows into the violence of abuse. But when a situation involves two adults of the opposite sex, those who lack biblical discernment often can’t tell the difference between adultery and abuse.


The Danger of Cultural Thinking

We’ve seen other denominations adjust their doctrine to “keep up with the times.” So much so that a large majority of Christian pastors now have a syncretistic worldview. As Southern Baptists, we too can see the blending of cultural thinking into how we operate and what we teach. And the result? Many SBC churches think about what is culturally acceptable before considering what is biblically acceptable.


Is it right to encourage the love of sinners? Of course! But it’s wrong to ignore the holiness of God. The prophet Isaiah speaks to this dilemma, “’Woe to the rebellious children,’ declares the Lord, ‘Who execute a plan, but not Mine, and make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, in order to add sin to sin’” (Isaiah 30:1). Let me offer my grandmother’s south Georgia translation—“If you play with the Devil you’ll catch hell.”


Our Response to the Report

Our response to this report is just as telling as the report itself. So, how did the Executive Committee address it? They aligned us with a secular company that celebrates sexual perversion. Hear me clearly—where there is abuse, there needs to be accountability. However, the alliance made with Guidepost Solutions only serves to widen the breach, allowing the SBC to take on more shame. Sexual abuse is real and rampant in both the pulpit and the pew, but we cannot meet God’s call to holiness in one area by ignoring it in another. We can speak out against both sexual abuse and sexual perversion at the same time—God does!


That being said, I’m also aware that expressing sorrow for the victims tends to be dismissed if you have questions about even one accusation. We live in a culture where accusation and guilt are inseparable. That’s why some see this report as a call to not only clean up the system but clean out certain individuals. To me, that’s like mopping the deck of the Titanic as it sinks into the Atlantic. So, I’m not leaving the Southern Baptist Convention, I’m just saying goodbye to the SBC that left me years ago.