By Jennifer Davis Rash
The Alabama Baptist
A group of Alabama Baptist pastors have decided it is time to speak out on the issue of sexual abuse, assault, harassment and exploitation of women — and they are urging other pastors across the state to join them.
Daniel Atkins, pastor of Taylor Road Baptist Church, Montgomery, said, “We felt the need to speak to what is going on in our culture right now. … Any given Sunday every single one of us (pastors) have men and women in our congregations who have been victims.
“If we don’t speak to it now, then we lose our credibility to speak to it in the future,” he said. “In this current climate of all these accusations that are flying around, we as the Church must be on top of speaking out to the issues that are relevant in culture.”
While the issue of sexual abuse and assault is not new, it has gained a new level of attention with current conversations taking place across the nation, he noted.
During the past six months news outlets have been inundated with allegations of harassment and assault from women across the country against various high-profile subjects, including media moguls, actors and politicians.
These allegations, plus a flood of #MeToo stories across social media, have sparked a national conversation on sexual harassment and assault.
“We felt it was necessary to provide a biblical perspective,” Atkins said. “We felt there needed to be a biblical worldview on what’s going in (the) culture.”
John Brock, pastor of Highland Baptist Church, Florence, is one of the initial signers of the statement.
“I signed it because it is an issue that is very current in our culture,” he said. “It is an issue that demands … that we be salt and light, that we speak the truth of Scripture on the issue. … It is important that the Church let its voice be heard on issues that are going on in the culture right now.”
The statement reads:
“Prompted by the amount of victims of sexual abuse, assault, harassment and exploitation within the past several weeks coming forward with their accusations against persons (predominantly men) in positions of power and authority, we first, as followers of Jesus Christ, and second, as Alabama Baptist pastors, find it incumbent upon us to make the following statement:
“We believe that the Bible declares that God has created both male and female in His image and after His likeness (Genesis 1:27) with intrinsic value and worth and to live before Him in complementary roles;
“We believe that the Bible teaches that God created humanity to live in perfect relationship with Himself and with each other, and that God’s perfect design was broken by the fall of man (Genesis 3:16–19);
“We believe that the Bible teaches that sexual intimacy is to be practiced only within the confines of marriage between one man and one woman (Hebrews 13:4);
“We believe that the result of man’s fallen condition and deviation from God’s perfect design for His creation is the brokenness of relationships between men and women which, at times, manifests itself in the form of physical and sexual abuse of women by men (Judges 19:25; 2 Samuel 11:2–4; 2 Samuel 13:14); and that in a broken and sexually depraved culture where every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted and every year over 321,000 Americans are sexually assaulted (https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence);
“We believe the gospel redeems and restores the brokenness of mankind in every facet of God’s creation, including relationships between men and women, demanding and enabling men to treat women with the utmost honor, dignity and respect (1 Peter 3:7; Colossians 3:19) and that the Bible teaches that, in Christ, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28);
“We resolve, therefore, as ambassadors of the gospel of Jesus Christ in this fallen world to denounce and condemn every form of sexual abuse, assault, harassment and exploitation of women. We also resolve to pray for and seek opportunities to minister to victims of sexual abuse in the name and healing grace of Jesus Christ and to continue to uphold the honor, dignity and respect of all people, both males and females, as image-bearers of God.”
The statement was posted at albaptistpastors.wordpress.com Nov. 15 and at press time had 62 signatures.