Why the Church Should Never Cover Up Sin in Light of the SBC Scandal

The SBC might have tried to cover up their sexual abuse for many years, yet as the whole world can see, we all know now about the sexual abuse. Covering up sin may fool mankind for a while, yet none can ever be hidden from God.

Contributing Writer
Published Aug 17, 2022
Why the Church Should Never Cover Up Sin in Light of the SBC Scandal

The recent scandal within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has caused much controversy across the United States. The United States Department of Justice has now become involved with this scandal, and investigations are underway in each SBC entity.

This recent scandal within the SBC has caused many individuals to be suspicious of churches and even Christianity.

Covering up Sin

The recent SBC scandal has proven why the church cannot cover up sin. The SBC has tried to cover up sin for 20 years, only now for it to be exposed across all media outlets. The sexual abuse done within the SBC cannot be swept under the rug.

Sexual abuse is a huge sin problem that needs to be addressed. The Bible repeatedly talks about sexual sins. Paul tells us, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18).

In addition to Paul’s teachings on avoiding sexual sins, the Lord tells us directly, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

From Jesus’ words, we are told that if we even simply look at another person lustfully, we have already committed sin in our hearts. The Lord tells us this in order to emphasize the severity of the sin and how it can be committed with just a single look or thought.

All sin starts with a thought or a look, which can turn into something worse, such as sexual immorality and, in the situation of the SBC, sexual abuse. The scandal that has erupted in the modern day is a major problem within the Christian community.

Not only will it cause friction between Christians and embarrassment, it is also a terrible representation of Christ to the world. As Christians, we are to be the light of the world. Jesus tells us,

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

We cannot shine brightly for Christ if we are living a life of sin. As in the case of the SBC, instead of seeing the light of Christ, the outside world is going to associate Christianity and the church with sexual abuse.

This is not a good representation of Christ to the world. In fact, this could lead unbelievers away from Christ or cause them to have a distorted view of God. God is a safe place, and He can be fully trusted, yet when “Christians” are shown to be guilty of sexual abuse and sexual sin, it can cause individuals to doubt God, not believe in Him, or grow hateful of God and Christians.

For many Christians, allegations such as these could even cause individuals to deconstruct their faith.

When scandals such as these break out within the church, the individual church and, in this case, the SBC should have been open with what happened instead of trying to cover up the sin.

The Bible tells us we need to be open to God about our sin, confess it, and repent. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

As soon as we confess our sins to God, we are forgiven, yet this does not mean that the aftereffects will not affect us.

As in the situation of the SBC, the individual members can confess their sins to God and repent of their sins, but they are still going to have to live with the consequences of their sins.

Due to this scandal of the SBC, it is highly plausible the entire Convention will be discredited and looked down on by other Christian Conventions in the present and the future.

This is not the first scandal that has broken out within the SBC, as there have been many sexual abuse allegations made over the course of two decades.

However, with this newest scandal that has brought in the United States Department of Justice, there will be a larger and more intensive investigation enforced by the government upon the SBC.

It is reasonable for SBC organizations to expect to face investigations and possible fines over unethical behaviors. 

The names of many church leaders and their church names who participated in sexual abuse have already been released, and these leaders can be expected to be asked to step down as a leader of the congregation.

Pastors and leaders within the church should be trusted individuals. Before a church hires a pastor or a church leader, there needs to be a background check done on the individual in order to protect the church.

The Bible also gives us guidelines on church leaders. Paul gives instructions on deacons and elders in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.

Once a church body can properly ascertain the potential leader fits the criteria of 1 Timothy 3:8-13 and after they have prayed over the decision, then they can allow an individual to be able to become a leader in the church.

Unfortunately, many predators prey on churches in the hopes of being able to abuse church members. As Christians, we do not need to be oblivious to this truth. Jesus tells us to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16).

The Lord does not want us to place individuals who are not trustworthy in leadership roles because they cannot be trusted, and they can easily be wolves sneaking into the church.

Victims of Abuse

If you have been the victim of sexual abuse within the church, you need to speak up and tell a trusted individual. You do not need to keep silent at this time. Whether you are a member of SBC or another church denomination, you need to speak out about your sexual abuse.

It can be embarrassing or cause shame to rise in your heart but know that the sexual abuse was not your fault. You are a victim of the abuse. There is help out there, and healing is possible through Christ. Give all of your pain over to the Lord and allow Him to heal your heart piece by piece.

Therefore, why the church cannot cover up sin because sin will eventually be exposed whether the person is ready or not. God reveals sin in our lives, and He convicts us by His Holy Spirit to help us grow more into His Image.

The SBC might have tried to cover up their sexual abuse for many years, yet as the whole world can see, we all know now about the sexual abuse. The SBC may have been able to fool mankind for many years, yet none of their sins has ever been hidden from God.

Only time will tell how the rest of the scandal will unfold, yet as Christians, we can pray and ask God to help convict these individuals, to be honest about their sin and that justice will prevail in the matter of the SBC scandal.

For further reading:

What the Southern Baptist Scandal Calls Us To

How Should We Respond to Abuse Within Church Leadership?

What Should We Say to Victims of Abuse?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Boyrcr420

Vivian BrickerVivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.


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