Well there’s much to decry that has happened in the last thirty years within our nation’s largest Protestant denomination, and, no doubt, a great reckoning is coming. Some men who thought themselves above the law abused others in the worst way while other men covered their tracks for the sake of saving the institution. It’s a sickening saga that is played out in institutions from government to education to media to entertainment, et.al—but it’s especially nauseating when it involves churches.
And the Left is beside itself with glee. After all, what provides pagans more pleasure than to learn that a bunch of white, straight, male, evangelicals played the hypocrite preaching such moribund platitudes as sexual purity while looking the other way when some of their own were committing the most impure deeds of all! Unfortunately, the whole denomination—the faithful who labor in those forty-thousand churches—must share the shame with those rascals. Oh, they understand that sin often gets the best of us, and most entertain no illusions of perfect men guiding the ship with steady and sinless hands. But it still hurts as people rightfully feel betrayed—and none more than the victims of this treachery.
But I recently read at the Progressive online magazine, The New Republic, a commentary on this sad scene which employs racism, sexism, and all the usual bogeymen which the Left exploit as lenses to invent their convoluted sociological explanations for human behavior. In short, the crisis the Southern Baptist Convention now faces is due to its creation in 1845 to maintain the institution of slavery, the raping of black women by white slaveholders, and the lynching of black men who spoke to white women during Jim Crow. Indeed, the purity culture whereby parents teach their daughters to guard their hearts and bodies before marriage (and their sons as well, but they don’t mention this) is a sickly symptom of patriarchy as fathers seek to control the sex lives of their daughters, and ESPECIALLY as that concerns not having sex with black men! I can say with a clear conscience that as a father who taught his daughters sexual purity the latter thought NEVER entered my mind.
But the article supplies an excellent example of the lengths sociologists on the Left will go to support the premises for their predetermined conclusions—which premises are always rooted in race and sex, and more recently homophobia and transphobia—all those societal ills brought to you by white, straight, Christian men and their demonic patriarchal reign.
A medieval philosopher who had more to do with our contemporary way of looking at things than most will ever know was a man by the name of William of Ockham. And though I disagree with his philosophy in general, I will state his most famous principle which may prove useful as I seek to offer an alternative explanation for this scandal. “Occam’s razor” goes like this: “Plurality is not to be posited without necessity.” Or to say it another way: “What can be explained by assuming fewer terms is vainly explained by assuming more.”
And so forgoing the Left’s attempt to dress the fall of the SBC’s most prominent leaders in sociological garb (the trappings of Trueman’s “psychological man”), I shall now explain the underpinnings of this scandal according to Scripture’s “spiritual” (or in this case, “unspiritual”) man, and we shall find that it complements both Ockham’s dictum and Christian teaching. To sum: These men allowed LUST to take control of their lives, and PRIDE to allow them to think they had the right and ability to commit these heinous acts without ever getting caught. Simple. Direct. Easy to understand.
Christian theology teaches that we are born with sinful natures, the transformation of which requires a radical rebirth of the Holy Spirit. Upon this renewal, a man must grow in knowledge and grace, living a truly religious and spiritual life in close communion with his Lord to gain mastery over his temptations. If he does not do this, or even desire to do so, it is evidence that his conversion was false. On the other hand, if he were truly converted and committed such scandalous sin, such a one would be broken, plead forgiveness, repent of such, and wish to do whatever feasible to right the wrong. He rejects excuses (such as racism, sexism, “my patriarchal upbringing made me do it”) and takes his place with the thief on the cross simply pleading, “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
The seven deadly sins are ever with us: pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. For this reason, the Apostle Peter wrote to Christians: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9). This is especially true of Christian leaders as they, above all people, are in the devil’s crosshairs. Let us pray that this scandal will be met with confession, tears, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, and above all healing for all parties. And let us further hope that the churches of the SBC, innocent and ignorant of these misdeeds, and which have done so much good over the years for their communities, will experience a season of their greatest fruit-bearing.