A couple of weeks ago, I watched with great interest how the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) would handle some particularly tough issues during its annual gathering in Nashville. Like any such gathering, there were things that were encouraging, and there were some things less encouraging.
But, I was particularly encouraged to see the SBC decide to do a real, thorough investigation of how it has handled abuse claims in the past. For those who watched, it was clear that there were many present on the floor of the gathering, mostly women, who had never received justice for the abuse they had endured at the hands of an SBC leader or church.
On the contrary, it seems that these abusive leaders were allowed to remain in ministry. They were still considered to be in “good standing.”
It’s not hard to imagine the excruciating pain this must have caused the victims of abuse. Not only did they endure the abuse itself, but then they’ve had to endure a church process that wouldn’t believe them. Then, on top of all of this, they had to watch the pastor that abused them remain in the SBC as he preached, taught, and performed the sacraments. They had to watch as other leaders welcomed him with a handshake or a hug as if everything was perfectly fine.
No wonder these women broke into sobs as soon as the SBC made its decision to investigate these issues properly.
But there are many out there still—across other denominations—who find themselves in this same situation. They have been abused (whether it be sexual abuse or spiritual abuse), and there has been no justice for them. What can be said to them? What can they do?
My heart breaks for these people. So, as a pastor, here are a few thoughts for those who are hurting. [Read more…]