DALLAS—Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Dallas approved resolutions offering an apology to abuse survivors and affirming the dignity of women, while also emphasizing women’s “distinctive God-assigned roles.”
While demonstrators outside the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center insisted the #MeToo movement to stop sexual abuse demands a comparable #ChurchToo movement, messengers inside facility’s meeting hall attempted to respond to their concerns while holding onto a traditional understanding about the role of women in church life.
Call to ‘foster safe environments’
A resolution on abuse stated Southern Baptists “deplore failures to protect the abused, failures that have occurred in evangelical churches and ministries, including such failures within our own denomination.”
The convention’s resolution accepted an amendment from a messenger adding an apology to those who have suffered abuse and asking their forgiveness for failing to protect them.
The resolution stated spousal abuse “dishonors the marriage covenant and fundamentally blasphemes the relationship between Christ and the church.”
The convention-approved statement urged “pastors and ministry leaders to foster safe environments in which abused persons may both recognized the reprehensible nature of their abuse and reveal such abuse to pastors and ministry leaders in safety and expectation of being believed and protected.”
It also noted “church and ministry leaders have an obligation to implement policies and practices that protect against and confront any form of abuse.”
Underscores commitment to complementarianism
Another resolution, which marked the 100th anniversary of women being accepted as messengers to the SBC annual meeting, affirmed the “immeasurable contribution of women” to the convention and its ministries.
At the same time, it asserted, “God calls and gifts women for a variety of roles within the biblical framework of complementary gender relationships.”
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It also called on Southern Baptists “to encourage, cultivate and celebrate the diverse gifts, callings and contributions of women in biblically appropriate ways.”
Another resolution called on ministers and denominational leaders to practice sexual purity and set a high moral standard of behavior.
“Sexual infidelity and other violations of ministerial integrity egregiously pervert and demean the image of God and always have tragic consequences for the ministry leader, for those who are victimized, and for others impacted by the transgressions,” the resolution stated.
The resolution included a covenant to “recommit ourselves to confession, repentance and contrition, and to mortify sin in our won hearts and in our churches.”
No progress on immigration reform
A resolution on immigration noted “seven years of policy gridlock” since the SBC last spoke to the issue, asserting “there have been no substantive changes in the immigration system that would make it more just, humane, efficient and orderly.”
The resolution stated messengers’ desire for reform that would include “an emphasis on securing our borders and providing a pathway to legal status with appropriate restitutionary measures, maintaining the priority of family unity, resulting in an efficient immigration system that honors the value and dignity of those seeking a better life for themselves and their families.”
Another resolution disavowed the “curse of Ham,” mentioned in Genesis 9, as a justification for racism.
The resolution says the misinterpretation of that biblical text “has been used to enslave and continues to be used by white supremacists as a cloak to involve God’s holy name in unholy acts of demeaning, dishonoring and dehumanizing certain people who bear his image.”
A resolution on gun violence and mass shootings specifically noted the lives lost and individuals injured when a gunman opened fire on First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.
The statement calls on federal, state and local authorities “to implement preventative measures that would reduce gun violence and mass shootings while operating in accordance with the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
The SBC resolutions committee declined to present a resolution submitted by Grady Arnold of Cuero opposing “the anti-gospel of the social justice movement.”
In a printed rationale, the committee concluded “this resolution did not on the one hand present a comparable biblical understanding of justice, while on the other hand did address and intend to instruct SBC entities in a manner inconsistent with SBC resolutions.”
Arnold challenged the decision from the convention floor, but messengers supported the committee’s decision.
Other resolutions approved by messengers:
- Reaffirmed the full dignity of every human being, denouncing “the heinous murder of the unborn child in the womb, the enforced withdrawal of life-sustaining medical care from the ill or infirm, the prejudices and discrimination of racism and ethnocentrism, various abuses of other human persons, the denigration of opposing political groups and the persecution of religious minorities.”
- Called for “Christlike communication,” particularly in using social media.
- Urged greater awareness about opioid abuse and addiction and called on churches to demonstrate “grace toward the addict and hope for recovery that individuals might prosper and flourish.”
- Called Southern Baptists to pray for and support Arab Christians.
- Marked the 50th anniversary of Southern Baptist involvement in disaster relief and the centennial anniversaries of GuideStone Financial Resources and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
- Paid tribute to the life and ministry of evangelist Billy Graham.
- Reaffirmed Southern Baptists’ commitment to biblical inerrancy, to the exclusivity of salvation through Jesus Christ, to care for refugees, and to adopt or provide foster homes to children.
- Expressed appreciation to the host city, local volunteers and personnel involved in making the annual meeting possible.