In the aftermath of the report on sex abuse in the Houston Chronicle, it seems that the Southern Baptist Convention is cleaning house. If you read through this article at Christianity Today, it appears that many of the reforms they are undertaking are common sense. It appears that way to me, at any rate. No general objections, in other words.
But there still is a glaring problem.
The new president of the SBC, J. D. Greear, said that the SBC needed to “repent of a culture that has made abuse, cover-ups, and evading accountability far too easy.” This is all to the good, and at first glance it seems that many of the things they are doing are fully appropriate. I don’t object to them.
But at the same time keep in mind the fact that we are in a battle over the dictionary, and remember the fact that the SBC is slip-sliding toward the wokehole, which means we should all reserve our right to object down the road if some bait and switch becomes evident. Say ten years from now a church gets defenestrated because they arranged for some reparative therapy for one of their teens, and that kind of thing is at that time considered “abuse.”
But that is just a possible problem later on, and so I ask you to pardon my little worries. What is the glaring problem now?
If the SBC has exhibited a culture that enabled abuse, then why is the SBC being allowed to do its own clean-up work? I merely pose the question because there is no third-party independent investigation in sight. If Al Mohler’s objection to the Sovereign Grace Churches was the absence of an independent third-party investigation, then why isn’t sauce for the goose the same for the gander?
Again, my problem here is not what the SBC is doing to clean up their mess. My problem is the double standard. I believe that any repentant entity ought to do their own clean-up work. I believe that the SBC should do that, in a manner consistent with their own procedures and polity. I also believe that Sovereign Grace Churches should do that, in a manner consistent with their own procedures and polity.
But it is a bit rough when Al Mohler, president of the most influential Southern Baptist seminary, scoots away from CJ Mahaney because he didn’t commission an independent, third-party investigation, and didn’t step down while it did its work, and all while the SBC was handling a sex abuse mess that was way bigger than the original problem at SGC. So independent, third-party, church-polity-be-damned investigations are a good thing, are they?
Well, let’s see. Why don’t the Southern Baptists show Sovereign Grace how it is supposed to be done?
The problem is not the clean-up. The problem is the double standard. Here is the biblical problem with all this:
“Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small. Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small. But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Deut. 25:13–15).
“Divers weights, and divers measures, Both of them are alike abomination to the Lord” (Prov. 20:10).
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:1–5).
“Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (Rom. 2:1).
For the record, I do not believe the SBC should allow any independent, third-party investigations. That would create a royal mess, and would play old Harry with their polity. Rather, they should clean up their own mess as best they can. But, given that fact, I believe that in the meantime they should refrain from calling upon other groups of churches to do what they themselves (quite reasonably) would be unwilling to do.
So I believe this to be a basic, reasonable, balanced, biblical, pointed question. Why does the SBC get to demand that SGC do something that they themselves do not think they have to do, under circumstances that are demonstrably worse?
As such a question, it also illustrates the difficulty when there is no overarching adjudicatory body. A great question, kind of right there, and there is nobody around who can compel an answer to it. In a court, a judge could say, “Objection overruled. Answer the question.” But in our wild west melee court of online public opinion, the closest thing you will get to an answer is someone’s trenchant riposte running along the lines of “Wilson is no fit spokesman for anything because Sitler-slavery-extremist-racist-Wight-and-failure-to-kiss-the-ring-of-anonymous-attack-sites.”
Actually that last one comes closest. I am not a fit spokesman from their perspective because of insufficient groveling upon command.