The following video is from a non-SBC church service on May 22, 2022, recorded on Facebook Live. Evidently, the church cut its live feed when this took place. While it is not an SBC church, the 14 minutes or so seem to be a parable illustrating all that has gone on in the SBC World during the sexual abuse scandal.
(if the link doesn’t pop up immediately – it works for me – try this hyperlink)
(I retried this video in a different format – hopefully this will work better).
Consider the following:
1. The abusive pastor minimized his sin while confessing.
After the service, the long-time pastor of this church stood to confess that “a long time ago” he had “an affair.” it was an isolated event in his otherwise faithful ministry, according to his statement.
This is common for abusers, to describe their sin as affairs, consensual relationships in which they are not guiltless, perhaps, but in which the blame is to be shared.
One of the most egregious sins of recent years has been the description by many of the act of abuse of a professor at SBTS against a student as a “consensual relationship.” Even Baptist Press spread this lie, causing immeasurable damage to the woman. It is not an uncommon practice.
2. The abuser strikes a heroic pose.
Far from being a creepy pervert, this pastor is a man of God who, while he had a moment of weakness long ago, has genuinely repented and is submitting himself to the discipline of the church. He’s heroically doing everything right. What a man!
The ability of abusers to paint themselves in a positive light is impressive!
3. The church gave the pastor a standing ovation.
I don’t get it. If the pastor had demonstrated genuine repentance, show him grace, but a standing O? Cheering him for adultery (even if that is all it was)? Folks, we don’t give standing ovations for confessions of adultery.
4. The victim stood to speak.
This part is anomalous, not fitting the parable. Usually, the victims are silenced. This one was not. She came to the pulpit after the ovation and told her story. She did not have an affair. The pastor began grooming her when she was 14 or 15 years old and took her virginity at age 16, in the church office. He continued to wield his authority over her to abuse her for 8 years. This was not an affair, but child abuse, abuse of authority, and perhaps statutory rape (depending on local laws).
She spoke with power. It is interesting that the pastor never challenged the truth of what she said. She and her husband laid out the story of this pastor’s despicable abuse.
When the light shines in dark places, it is ugly. See the Guideposts report!
5. The church reacted in stunned silence.
There was no standing ovation for the victim. I noticed a few people hugging her – maybe two or three. Most totally ignored her. The abuser got a standing ovation and the abused got stony silence.
Every survivor in the SBC can identify with this. Some might say she was fortunate that they didn’t hurl epithets at her.
6. The pastor stood again to “revise and extend” his remarks.
He still did not exhibit humility and genuine repentance. He admitted the essential truth of her statement after a few angry calls from the congregation to “tell the truth.” He claimed he’d already admitted that there’d been an affair. He did not admit the truth – that he sexually abused a teenage girl under his ministerial care.
Watching abusers justify, explain, downplay, or otherwise deflect about their abuse is painful.
7. The church gathered around the pastor to lay hands on him and pray for him.
In the end, the church stood around the abuser to show they would be there for him. The woman and her husband walked out. As far as we know, no one gathered around them to pray.
When a friend sent this clip this morning, it was as if that church had done a dramatic reenactment of our convention’s behavior for decades.
We must do better. The church should have gathered to pray around the woman!