The news could not be worse. Nearly three hundred pages documenting 330 interviews revealing a coverup of Watergate proportions. The report accuses the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention of protecting convicted sex offenders who were still in ministry and not “…caring for survivors or creating any plan to prevent sexual abuse within SBC churches.”
I don’t fault your anger. I don’t blame you for feeling heartsick. I don’t– not for a second– criticize you for wanting to turn your back on the church and walk away. There you were, already teetering between leaving and staying. You’d had your fill of pastors, problems, congregations and controversies. Yet, you’d done your best to keep cynicism at bay. To give the church yet another chance; the benefit of the doubt.
And now this. This bombshell. This oil spill of an announcement. This Mount Vesuvius level eruption of bad news, sad news, sickening news.
Add that report to the other stories of the last decade; leaders of mega-churches, diocese and ministries using their platforms for personal pleasure and profit. The final straw, right? I’m so very, very sorry. If you wash your hands of the whole mess and leave, no one would blame you.
But before you do, maybe you would indulge a thought?
I’m not a Baptist. I’m not an official spokesperson for Protestant clergy. But I am a survivor of sexual abuse. And I know, firsthand, how Jesus can heal. Please, I urge you, don’t turn from Him because of them. Stick to Jesus like a barnacle to a boat.
He defended the weak, stood up for the forgotten. The idea that his church would be unsafe for his sons and daughters disturbs him deeply. And you can bet your Bible that he’ll turn a few tables. If history teaches us anything it is this: Jesus will not sit idle while his church drifts from His cause. “I will rescue my flock from their mouths,” he declared through a prophet. “It will no longer be food for them.” (Ezekiel 34:10)
Repentance is necessary; heartfelt, tear-stained, face-on-the floor repentance. By all of us in positions of leadership. Will we see it? I pray so. Regardless, I pray that you will pursue the difficult path of seeking Christ in spite of Christians who have let you down. His pastors have failed to pastor. But when they don’t, he still does. Let him pastor you.
This article originally appeared in the Dallas Morning News.