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A Southern Baptist Pastor’s Plea: Please Hear

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 actual 14-minute video, in fact, 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 informed a girl whose husband had created a psychologically and spiritually abusive house 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 should 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 is just not a goal however a mirror.

It’s a mirror that exhibits us what occurs when our convictions about complementarity rot into misogyny. It’s a mirror that exhibits us how the can-do, we-got-this pluck of Southern Baptist leaders devolves into conceitedness 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 any case, was the purpose of the Guidepost Options investigation into the SBC Govt Committee: to hearken to survivors of sexual abuse by the hands of Southern Baptist leaders. However by releasing this video, Johnny Hunt’s “restoration group” has stated to the lady he abused, We dont need to hearken to you. We need to replatform our good friend.

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 follow, girls should not simply barred from pastoral positions. We’re additionally not proactive in welcoming girls into management positions that don’t contain preaching and instructing. Simply take a look at the low proportion 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, nevertheless it doesn’t cease there. We additionally don’t hearken to folks of shade. Two years in the past, our six seminary presidents made a public assertion that denounced vital race idea, 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 would possibly know extra about the precise means to answer racism than I do? Can I hearken to abuse survivors, who’ve lengthy identified the truths most of us have denied? Can I hearken to girls who’ve faithfully sustained the work of the church for thus lengthy?

And what about our establishment? What’s going to occur if we hearken to survivors, to girls, and to folks of shade? 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 all for assuring they by no means grow to be pastors than defending them from abusers. The ship is already sinking.

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

You may solely plug your ears for thus lengthy, although. The church that gave their reassurances a person wouldn’t abuse women once more discovered 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 discovered to hear. However solely after his spouse divorced him and he got here to the tip of himself.

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

What’s 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 creator of Vivid Hope for Tomorrow: How Anticipating Jesus’ Return Provides Power for At the moment.

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