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A Southern Baptist Pastor’s Plea: Please Pay attention

I’ve seen this earlier than.

As I watched 4 pastors (two of them belonging to the Southern Baptist Conference) declare former conference president Johnny Hunt restored to ministry—six months after he was placed on depart when a third-party investigation discovered he was “credibly accused” of sexual assault—I noticed I knew what I used to be seeing. I hadn’t watched this precise 14-minute video, after all, with 4 males providing assurances of repentance, however I had seen it.

I’d seen it on the church the place leaders gave their assurances {that a} younger man wouldn’t abuse any extra women. “We gave him a stern speaking to,” they stated. “This gained’t occur once more.”

I’d seen it when a pastor advised a lady whose husband had created a psychologically and spiritually abusive dwelling that she shouldn’t depart. “Let the pastors work with him,” he stated. “We’ll be like watchdogs.”

And right here it was once more.

Probably the most terrifying factor about these scenes is that these leaders usually are not unhealthy males. I don’t know Johnny Hunt’s quartet of supporters, however I do know the leaders of the church the place abuse happened. And I do know the pastor who gave that unhealthy marital counsel: It was me.

In order keen as I used to be to go surfing and denounce all that was appalling about this video—the misuse of Scripture, treating the abuser because the sufferer, and failing to even point out the actual sufferer—I noticed I couldn’t prepare my sights on this group of males. No, for a Southern Baptist pastor like me, the video will not be a goal however a mirror.

It’s a mirror that reveals us what occurs when our convictions about complementarity rot into misogyny. It’s a mirror that reveals us how the can-do, we-got-this pluck of Southern Baptist leaders devolves into vanity and presumption. It’s a mirror that reveals how, in our concern to protect establishments, we don’t hear.

We don’t hearken to survivors.

That, in spite of everything, was the goal of the Guidepost Options investigation into the SBC Government Committee: to hearken to survivors of sexual abuse by the hands of Southern Baptist leaders. However by releasing this video, Johnny Hunt’s “restoration workforce” has stated to the lady he abused, We dont wish to hearken to you. We wish to replatform our buddy.

We don’t hearken to girls. The absence of any girls’s voices on this 14-minute video was deafening.

However that silence compels me to ask: How properly are feminine voices represented within the Southern Baptist Conference? We’re a thoroughgoing complementarian denomination. However in observe, girls usually are not simply barred from pastoral positions. We’re additionally not proactive in welcoming girls into management positions that don’t contain preaching and educating. Simply have a look at the low share of girls that serve on our boards. In Christ there may be not Jew or Greek, male or feminine. However within the Southern Baptist Conference, there may be.

I want that had been all, but it surely doesn’t cease there. We additionally don’t hearken to folks of colour. Two years in the past, our six seminary presidents made a public assertion that denounced important race concept, saying it was incompatible with the Baptist Religion and Message. There’s a vibrant Nationwide African American Fellowship in our conference and lots of trusted Black leaders in our church buildings. They had been not consulted and even alerted about this announcement on the bounds of acceptable Baptist views on the issue of racism. No seminary president might be unaware of our conference’s racist roots or our poor file of dealing with what was referred to as “the race downside” or the nationwide uproar in the summertime of 2020. However they didn’t make any effort to hear.

I write this as a Southern Baptist pastor who holds to the inerrancy of the Scriptures and a complementarian view of church management. I’m not winding as much as make a pitch for progressivism. However certainly there’s nothing within the Baptist Religion and Message that claims that pastors can’t hear?

Can I hearken to Black pastors, who may know extra about the fitting method to answer racism than I do? Can I hearken to abuse survivors, who’ve lengthy recognized the truths most of us have denied? Can I hearken to girls who’ve faithfully sustained the work of the church for therefore lengthy?

And what about our establishment? What is going to occur if we hearken to survivors, to girls, and to folks of colour? Will this trigger our conference to fracture?

Our conference is already fractured. Following the CRT announcement, some outstanding Black pastors left the convention. Abuse survivors are perpetually discouraged by how abusers and their protectors are nonetheless platformed. And ladies are discovering that the conference is extra thinking about assuring they by no means develop into pastors than defending them from abusers. The ship is already sinking.

I believe we may repair it, if we’d simply hear. However we don’t wish to hear.

You may solely plug your ears for therefore lengthy, although. The church that gave their reassurances a person wouldn’t abuse women once more realized to hear—however solely after the abuser damage one other individual, one other individual, and one other, after which was arrested by the police.

The psychologically and spiritually abusive husband realized to hear. However solely after his spouse divorced him and he got here to the tip of himself.

Lord, I wish to hear earlier than it’s too late.

What is going to it take for the Southern Baptist Conference to have ears to listen to?

Chris Davis is senior pastor of Groveton Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, and the writer of Vibrant Hope for Tomorrow: How Anticipating Jesus’ Return Provides Power for Right now.

Talking Out is Christianity Right now’s visitor opinion column and (not like an editorial) doesn’t essentially signify the opinion of the publication.

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