Dear SBC Leaders,
There are words that I would love to speak to you, however perhaps they should wait. Perhaps you do not understand the magnitude of the decisions that lie before you. Perhaps you only see the numbers, the statistics, and the urgency of addressing the media. Maybe you don't see them as people. Perhaps you fail to remember that these victims are image bearers of God. Perhaps it would be different if you placed their photos on the wall and looked into their eyes. Maybe if you could see them as children. Perhaps you are like me and have never suffered sexual abuse at the hands of another person, particularly one considered to be a Christian role model. Maybe you have never loved someone who was abused. Maybe some of you truly want to understand but you don't know the questions to ask the victims. From where I stand it doesn't seem that this has been important to you to investigate, but maybe you didn’t understand the gravity of what had occurred.
Maybe if you only knew the questions to ask the victims, perhaps then you would be better prepared to make a responsible decision. In case that is the case, here are some questions you might try to ask.
• Did the abuse cause them to be behavior problems in school?
• What hindrances did the abuse cause in their development?
• Did they grow up having nightmares with flashbacks of the abuse?
• Did they try to tell someone in an attempt to get help but no one believed them because it was somebody at church?
• Did they act out at home and other places only to be punished rather than anyone to question why?
• Did they avoid sports because of the locker rooms because they feared someone could tell that they had been abused when they changed clothes?
• Has it been hard for them to form friendships and other relationships?
• Were their teenage years clouded by confusion about their sexual identity?
• Were they promiscuous as teenagers and as adults?
• In those churches where abuse occurred, how many committed suicide? How many considered it?
• How many of the victims struggle with their view of God and church?
• How many of them have trust issues?
• How many of the victims have or currently identify themselves as homosexual? Bisexual?
• How many struggle with addictions? Alcoholism? Drugs? Pornography?
• How many of their marriages have ended in divorce?
• How many of their marriages suffer because their spouse cannot understand the depth of their pain?
• How many of their spouses were first given a clue into the depth of that pain because they ended up holding them in their arms as they cried on their honeymoon?
• Do they still cry in their sleep because of the flashbacks?
• Do they harbor hate? Shame?
• Do they overwork themselves because they have to stay busy to keep the memories at bay?
• Do they have children of their own now and is the fear to protect them so overwhelming that they are almost paralyzed by it?
I've been told that as a convention that you have done great things to advance the kingdom of Christ. I'm sure that this is true, however by allowing these things to happen and to continue to happen for decades, what have you done to hurt the witness of the Church? What have you done to hinder the cause of Christ? When God looks at the Southern Baptist Convention does He see your good works as far exceeding the current situation or does He see their faces as He watched them suffer at the hands of the very ones who claimed to be His? How does He feel about where we are? Does He understand that there must be deliberations as to what must be done next or does he remind you that He has already spoken to that point when He pointed out that it would be better to have a millstone hung about the neck and be drowned rather than hurt one of His little ones?
My prayer is that you search the heart of God as you make plans for the future. I pray that as you consider not only registries, but that you also consider sources of support for all abuse victims within the church. I pray that you see a need to educate our churches to understand sign of abuse, to teach their children what abuse is and provide a channel where they can report it, and to provide support for abuse victims and their families.
Your Concerned Sister in Christ