It's that time of year again!
The Southern Baptist Convention is holding its annual meeting in Dallas this week. The media is always looking for a way to make Christians look bad, and this annual gathering usually provides them with ample ammunition against people of faith. One year, the convention was held in "Sin City" itself, Las Vegas. A friend who attended described the hilarious diversity of the boxing fans dressed in furs and tuxedos headed to the fights, the gamblers in their pedal pushers holding cups of quarters and the Baptists - some of whom made a point of deliberately turning their backs when forced to pass a slot machine.
Last year, the big controversy was over whether to actually condemn racism and the Alt-Right. You would think that would be a no-brainer (especially for a church that was founded over the issue of supporting slavery.) Previous resolutions that sparked controversy involved women submitting to their husbands and gay marriage.
This year, the controversy started early with the ouster of Paige Patterson who was supposed to deliver the sermon this week. The #MeToo movement has hit the Baptists as many women, included famed evangelist Beth Moore are questioning the church over the handling of sexual abuse claims and treatment of victims.
There are a lot of issues I'd like to see the convention address. Here are my top five. I have little hope of seeing these passed. Ever. But maybe we can at least address them.
- Husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church. Many women took offense at the resolution passed a few years back requiring women to be submissive to their husbands. Personally, I have no issue with that. The bible clearly states in Ephesians " 22Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."
But there's more to the passage: " 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansingb her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”c 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."
See, it's a two-parter. Wives are to submit themselves to their husbands but husbands are to therefore love their wives as Christ loved the church - and Christ DIED for the church. Being the head of the house doesn't mean doing whatever you want because it's best for YOU. It means loving and protecting your wife and wanting what is best for HER as well.
- Denunciation of the Westboro Baptist Church. The group of lunatics who call themselves the "Westboro Baptist Church" aren't Baptists. They're not even a church. They're just a freaky little cult, mostly made up of family members, and a couple of them managed to obtain law degrees. They have no affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention. Or any other Baptist organization. Really, what I'd like to see is the Baptists suing them for using and tarnishing our name. Holding up signs reading "God hates fags" is a sin and an abomination. God doesn't hate anybody. But he has a special spot in hell for blasphemers.
Why the church hasn't taken a stand against these vile people in beyond me. But I suspect it may be because too many of its members actually agree with these sentiments (which is another thing the church might want to address.)
- All church services should end promptly at noon so that we can beat the Methodists to the Piccadilly. OK, that one is just a joke. But seriously, some of these ministers need to be put on a timer. If you can't say what you need to say in 30 minutes or less, you need to hire an editor to go over your sermon notes ahead of time.
- Sexual abuse of children will not be tolerated. It will not be hidden and it will not be dismissed. Jesus said in Luke 17 " 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin." The problems of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church have been well documented. Not so much in the Baptist Church. One of my dear friends was molested by our youth pastor when we were in high school. When he brought this issue before the SBC, they pretty much told him to go pound sand. The convention maintains that each individual church is responsible for the calling of its clergy, and that the convention really can't do anything about it. This is unacceptable. In this age of electronics, how hard could it possibly be to keep a record of clergy that have been accused (or convicted) of sexual abuse? How would you feel if it happened to your child? And then you found out the pastor had left his last church for the same reason? And nobody bothered to tell you? The welfare of children is one of the most important missions of any church. If we can't at least protect our children from predators, what good are we?
- All reports of sexual abuse will be immediately reported to the authorities. If a church member, or university student or staff member or guest reports sexual assault, CALL THE POLICE! It's not a matter to be handled by the church board. Rape is not only a sin, it's a crime. It should be treated as such. And just because the perpetrator repents (even if it's genuine) that does not absolve him of the consequences of his actions. You don't get to keep your job or avoid jail time just because you said that you were sorry.
We may eventually see action on that last one.
So, let us pray for all of the attendees in Dallas. I hope that we see some progress come out of this convention.