At ERLC’S Caring Well Conference, SBC President J. D. Greear Identifies Seven ‘Tragic’ Myths Many Churches Have About Sexual Abuse

J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, speaks at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s Caring Well Conference in Grapevine, Texas, on Oct. 3, 2019. | ERLC/Karen Race Photography

As part of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Caring Well Conference, J.D. Greear identified seven myths many churches have when it comes to sexual abuse and shared why such misconceptions are damaging to victims of abuse.

“We have to learn from our past, and we have to change our future,” the president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina began his message, titled “Overturning Myths Related to Sexual Abuse and the Church.”

For most SBC pastors, the idea that their church might harbor an abuser is “horrific,” Greear said, adding: “Still, we’re here, and that is in part, I believe because of a few myths that are all too commonly believed in our churches.”

Greear, who formed the SBC Sexual Abuse Advisory Group earlier this year, went on to identify seven myths regarding sexual abuse within the church, beginning with: “sexual abuse is not really a problem, it’s simply the latest, leftist attack on the church.”

“Believing this myth has caused us as a convention to miscategorize the words of people … as attacks from adversaries instead of warnings from friends,” he said, citing a report from Lifeway Research that found 1 in 10 churchgoers under the age of 35 who have left SBC churches did so because they felt the issue of sexual abuse wasn’t taken seriously.

By ignoring cases of sexual abuse, “we put more people in harm’s way, we create obstacles to faith for those who were affected,” Greear said, adding that because the SBC claims to prioritize the Gospel, it must take the issue of sexual abuse seriously.

The second myth, according to Greear, is that “abuse only happens in Catholic/Liberal/Complementarian churches.”

“The danger of this myth is that it is naive. It relegates abuse to an ideological problem when it should be seen as a depravity problem,” he said. “We evangelicals should have known this. Didn’t Jesus say there would be wolves in sheep’s clothing in order to … abuse the flock? Of all people, we should’ve known this could happen.”

Myth three, the pastor said, is that “the church is best to handle this internally.”

Greear cited Romans 13, which states, in part: “Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”

“If we are dealing with a criminal issue, we are disobeying Scripture if we don’t get authorities involved,” he said. “Charges of sexual abuse are clearly in the criminal category.”

Myth four, said Greear, is that a “posture of grace requires giving the benefit of the doubt to those accused and offering the convicted a second chance.”

“Friends, what about the benefit of the doubt for the one bringing the accusation? Do we not owe that to them?” he asked. “I’m not saying we throw out due process … just that we err on the side of compassion for the abused.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett