A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Something Stinks Here

I read the following news report today –

“Rev. Robert Jeffress, a Dallas Baptist pastor who previously endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) for president and ignited controversy last October for calling Mormonism a cult [Internet Archive link], said he would hold his nose and vote for Mitt Romney if he ends up being the GOP nominee for president.  In an interview with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell [Internet Archive link] [Scroll part way down the linked article to read the story. Editors.] Tuesday, he said, “I’m going to hold my nose and do it, but that’s hardly a ringing campaign endorsement. I don’t think that’ll make a slogan — hold your nose and vote.” He explained that he wrote in his book that, “Given the choice between a non-Christian like Mitt Romney who at least embraces some biblical positions like the sanctity of life and sanctity of marriage, as opposed to a professing Christian like [President] Barack Obama who takes unbiblical positions, I believe there is merit in choosing the non-Christian over the Christian.”

Ok.  Mormonism is not Christianity.  That’s a given.  Mormonism denies the deity of Christ.  You can’t do that and say you are a Christian – no matter how hard the Mormons are trying to convince us that they are.  Mitt Romney is a Mormon.  Ergo – Mitt Romney is not a Christian.  There it is.  Narrow and harsh, but there it is.

But I don’t think that this is sufficient reason for Christians to be running around making statements like Robert Jeffress, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, made.  I agree (though I would tweak his statement a bit) that given a choice between two non-Christians, one who embraces a more biblical morality and the other who does not, we should vote for the former.  No need to talk about the thing stinking just because the one we vote for is not a Christian.  We aren’t appointing a President to be the head of the church.  As one commentator put it – when we elect a President in this country, we don’t watch for a puff of white smoke to come out of the Vatican (or wherever it comes from when the Pope gets elected).

What does this have to do with domestic violence and abuse?  Just this – Pastor Jeffress: there is a big stench in your own organization. It is prevalent and it has been longstanding and it is odious in the Lord’s nostrils.  The smell is the injustice being regularly dished out to abuse victims, usually women, by your pastors and deacons and church members.  I am sure (kind of) that some SBC churches are an exception.  I sure hope so.  But for every exception, we can call up abuse victims whose SBC church protected their wicked abuser and chastised the victim.  Politics and coverup are big time in the SBC.  Read Christa Brown’s This Little Light for an inside look.

So I don’t think it is really wise to go around holding your nose when you are in the presence of a non-Christian, when something smells really fishy (rancid-fishy) in your own backyard.

I add here that we should all applaud Pastor Tom Ascol’s tireless work (see Founders Ministries Blog [Internet Archive link])  in repeatedly calling upon the SBC to adopt his proposed Integrity in Membership resolution.  It calls for churches to repent of their failure to practice church discipline, to begin to do so, and to strive to do all they can according to Scripture to see that their local church memberships consist of truly regenerate people.  In other words, stop padding the membership roles with names of people who never come to church or who live in open, willful, unrepentant disobedience to Christ.  That should be a no-brainer, but as Pastor Ascol has found out, the boys down at the home office haven’t been too keen on it.  Local associations of SBC churches have, however, been more willing and some have actually adopted the resolution.  Good job!!

As all too many Christian women who are victim / survivors of abuse know very well, tolerating sin and hypocrites in the local church creates an abuser-friendly climate.  And all of them would tell you – it stinks!  (See also Christa Brown’s blog article, Church boots children so preacher-predator can take pulpit [Internet Archive link].)

2 Comments

  1. Fishy indeed!
    Southern Baptist Convention is not the only group that has not dealt with the bad smell in it’s own camp. James and I wrote (quite a long time ago now) a Critique of the Statement On Abuse put out by CBMW (Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood). You can read our critique (now found) here:
    https://cryingoutforjustice.blog/2012/11/28/critique-of-cbmws-statement-on-abuse/

    We let CBMW know when we published our critique online. They eventually replied saying they thought we’d made some good points but didn’t agree with everything we said; but they’d be reviewing their Statement on Abuse in light of our comments. I check from time to time. They haven’t changed their Statement at all.

    This has to be more than just an administrative oversight. One must ask: what is holding CBMW back from reviewing and improving their Statement? I leave the reader to imagine possible reasons (I can think of several, but I’d rather not speculate in public).

    • Jeff Crippen

      Barbara – Yes, you would find the same thing in other Protestant denominations. There is a mentality and I don’t know yet what to call it nor fully how to describe it. There is an unapproachableness in church leadership, and the higher up you go, the more intense it often gets. We say that we believe in the Reformation doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, but in practice we deny it. So we don’t listen. Do we as pastors think that we are expected to know everything or else? Whatever the thinking is that kicks in when an abuse victim or their ally approaches the church, it results in the victim being discounted. I face it too. If I go to a pastor’s association meeting and start talking about abuse (or actually, any doctrine or subject that isn’t exactly on along the company lines) then you can see the faces go blank. They just do not want to hear it. It is very, very refreshing when you find just one pastor who is humble and ready to learn.

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