(Baptist Press has released an article about the events.)
Frankly, I don’t know what to do tonight. How do we respond to a tragedy like this? I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut.
When I got back to my office after evening service, there was an email waiting for me from someone I have grown to consider a friend, someone with whose judgment and astute theological argument I was increasingly impressed, admitting moral failure.
I did a little research and found a link to a news article that disabused me of any hope that this was not real or that it was not as serious as it seemed.
William Birch, a student at Southeastern and one of my favorite bloggers, was arrested Saturday afternoon and charged with sexual assault against another SEBTS student. Here is one local report. Another report by the same station is here. The charges are serious, and they are now public. According to the report, Billy has admitted the charges.
I feel like crying as I write these words, because a brother in Christ whom I counted as a friend has fallen deeply into sin. And, if the accusations are true, a 25 year old seminary student has had his life turned upside down as the result of this assault.
I write this article for several reasons.
1) Since the reports are on the web, and word is spreading, my original instinct to keep Billy’s email private seemed silly. I received counsel that the best thing to do would be to state the facts in hopes that the rumor mill would not kick in. So, I decided to state the facts as I know them.
2) I want to ask you to pray for William Birch. He seemed genuinely sorrowful and broken. Pray that God will bring him through the dark night of repentance to a restored walk with Christ and will carry him through the difficult days that lie ahead.
3) Of course, if the reports are true (and we have no reason to doubt them at this point), there is a seminary student whose life has been badly damaged by another’s sin. He will need God’s grace and power to find comfort, healing and strength.
4) I would ask that all of us choose not to gossip about this. There is no situation that cannot be made worse by the gossip and tale-bearing of God’s people. Let us not do that.
5) I hope and pray that the Baptist blogging community will respond to this tragedy with grace. Please, God, give us wisdom to seek your glory and to guard our words.
Comments will not be open here, and any comments on this subject will be deleted at this site. There is simply no benefit in us doing a blind autopsy on the situation. Let the authorities do their work, pray for the victim and for Billy and let us speak only those words which build others up.