“Nothing is worse than the use of the name of Jesus to prey on the vulnerable.”
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
If there is one good thing about the plethora of sexual abuse revelations in church bodies, it is that some of the wolves preying on the sheep are being caught.
Lots of bad news, of course, most poignantly the abused, traumatized victims that suffer from PTSD, self-abuse, and cynicism toward the Christianity. The sexual predators aren’t the only guilty ones. Too often, knowing church officials turn a blind eye, cover up, or wash their hands of responsibility. And who do not offer compassion and healing to victims. Also complicit, although less directly, are church leaders and laity who do not take precautions to thoroughly guard their flocks.
The notorious sexual abuses within the Catholic Church, including cover-ups, are not alone in Christendom. Former missionary kids of New Tribes Mission (now Ethnos 360) have recently come forth alleging their suffering of sex abuse as children in mission schools. On February 11, 2019, the Houston Chronicle released the first of three stories revealing 700 victims of sexual predation by 200 perpetrators, some of those perpetrators still active in church ministry. Some in the Southern Baptist Church are trying to distance themselves from the scandal, but Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, says the denomination must take responsibility, outlining several key points. Succinctly, these points are to be watchful and vigilant, compassionate to victims, and reporting to law officers any suspected crime.
A core message of the Christian Gospel is that Christ forgives sinners, and so should we. But egregious sin has consequences, and a remorseful, repentant sinner will accept full consequences including penance of imprisonment, ban from church office, distancing from children and other vulnerable people, and stripping of entitlements, retirement funds, and monies to settle lawsuits. In other words, stripped to beggar status. Too often the opposite has occurred, as in the case of the Catholic Church where sexual predators were reassigned to new parishes, or when finally shut down, given luxurious retirement. Meanwhile, victims suffer terribly.
The entire Church universal needs to
repent in absentia for the sins of sexual abuse within its ranks. And all
members should be taught that sexual predation is occurring, and to be vigilant
One of many helpful ministries is GRACE, which empowers Christian communities to recognize, prevent, and respond to abuse.
May God forgive us, deliver us from evil, and purify us!