Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sovereign Grace and Saving Face (Amended Sexual Abuse Lawsuit)

Dear friends,

It's been an interesting and often disheartening week or so in the blogosphere following the recent developments in the (now largely dismissed) sexual abuse lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries, two SGM congregations, and several of its current and former pastors.   It seems to me that Sovereign Grace leaders and their neo-Reformed friends are more interested in saving face and serving themselves than they are for taking responsibility for their actions and serving the victims.  As a mother of 10 and a former long-time member of SGM, I am quite disturbed.  A think we need a lot more light in this darkness.

Short story: a civil lawsuit originally filed against SGM last October and expanded in both January and May alleges that at least 11 children whose families were members of SGM congregations were sexually abused.  I have read the entire lawsuit.  In some cases, the alleged crimes were committed by pastors, teachers, and other ministry leaders on church property during church events, with the knowledge of church leadership, who did nothing to stop it.  In other cases, the alleged crimes were in homes by church members who were either family or babysitters during home group meetings.  According to the lawsuit, when the families reported this to pastors, they were ordered not to go to the police, the young victims were shamed and made to "reconcile" with the perpetrators face to face, and official investigations were impeded.  In one instance, a man who served jail time for incest is still active in the church with free access to children through music ministry and other events. The lawsuit also alleges an on-going interstate conspiracy among the pastors to cover up pedophilia cases in the churches.  Unfortunately, most of the lawsuit was dismissed solely because of the statute of limitations.  The attorneys had hoped for an exception to this based on the conspiracy allegations.  Additional criminal investigations are also taking place.

Isn't that enough to make you vomit?  You'd think that most evangelical leaders would be in a complete outrage!  But here's the rub...  They haven't, at least in the neo-Reformed circles.  By and large, they stayed silent, and when they finally started speaking up this week, their responses were basically, "We stand by our friends.  The lawsuit has been dismissed and nothing has been proved, so we have to assume they are innocent.  Nothing to see here, so let's move along."  Want to see their real words?  See The Gospel Coalition: Why We Have Been Silent statement by Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, and Justin Taylor  and T4G (Together for the Gospel) Statement by Mark Dever (9 Marks), Al Mohler (SBC), and Ligon Duncan.  Note: The latter statement was originally posted on a Facebook page, but due to the moral outrage against SGM and T4G expressed in the comments, the entire thing was pulled rather quickly.  The post on their own site has comments disabled.  Of course, in their side bar they are advertising a new music album from SGM for sale.  Hmmm.

I have written about SGM problems related to sexual abuse in these posts:

I would also like to present you with a whole list of links about what other bloggers are saying...  Please note that I do not endorse everything in these posts or on these blogs.  They are here for you to read with your God-given discernment.  Most of these blogs have other posts and links about SGM; if you want to read more, poke around!

Just two of many secular news reports:

I have also just added a subscription list for this blog.  If you would like to receive it by e-mail, you can either do that in the right hand sidebar or send any message to watchtheshepherd-subscribe@googlegroups.com.  Not all of my posts are on such weighty topics, and some of them are actually rather aesthetic. :-) You may especially like my new inspirational series, Strength In Hymn.  You might also like to visit my other blogs, www.VirginiaKnowles.blogspot.com and www.ComeWearyMoms.blogspot.com, and my three home school blogs linked to them.

For justice,
Virginnia Knowles

P.S. The photo at the top was taken on Memorial Day, a day when we remember brave men and women who have given their lives to protect the innocent.  One of my daughters lit her sparkler off of mine.  I hope this blog post lights a few sparklers, too.  I'd love to hear from you.


  1. Georgia Ana LarsonMay 28, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    (1) Transparency is an essential part of the price of establishing trust. Where transparency is evaded for so long, a strong element of distrust appears; and (2) Truth makes the footprints that Grace walks in. I hate that people I care about are locked into the conflicts and consequences of a belief system that makes transparency (and therefore trust rightfully placed) unlikely. Let us never, ever, be afraid of Truth-and-Grace: He alone is worthy of our complete trust. In the meantime, keep a child protective services number on speed dial and -- whether it's at church or chuch-y outings, the scouts, school, your neighborhood -- use it if you see (or suspect) a child is being harmed or abused. Thanks for putting all these sources on one page, Virginia.

  2. I find it horribly negligent to make a victim face his or her accuser unless it is in a court room, where boundaries are obvious.
    The best test of forgiveness that I have ever heard (in the case of abuse) is to ask yourself, "Do you hope the abuser goes to hell?" If the answer is "no" you can be assured that you have forgiven them. Meeting face to face can only cause emotional pain for the victim, especially for a child.

  3. Thanks, Virginia, for creating this helpful list of sites to check out. It is important to get the information out there so that people can follow up on them and have a reasonable understanding of this ongoing situation with this group and other scenarios like it.

  4. Sigh. It's sad that facing face is more important than faith in what is right and just.

    To be a fly on the wall in Heaven to hear how they intend to 'spin' this up there, and think they will get away with it. I doubt very much their excuse of 'friendship' will fly....

    My prayers are with all involved in this mess. God hears your pain, and what more powerful friend do we need.

  5. You can still comment on the T4G page, anywhere you see Mahaney mugging for the camera like nothing is wrong.
    Such as this post:

    this whole thing is shameful.

    Thank God for Boz Tchividjian. We need more like him.