" 'Quite frankly, any time an institution — a Christian institution — responds or defends its behavior as it relates to sexual abuse allegations with quoting laws and hiding behind constitutions, it causes me concern,' said Tchividjian, a law professor and grandson of Billy Graham."
We just marked Day 100 in our count of silence. The Calvinista machine barrels ahead with John Piper rolling into Louisville where he will address students in chapel tomorrow at Southern Baptist Theological 'Seminary (SBTS) and at the Resolute Collegiate Conference February 15-16. On Sunday morning Piper will deliver the sermon at Sovereign Grace Church Louisville.
Is Piper's visit a sign of things to come at Mahaney's church plant? According to the church website, Jerry Bridgers will be preaching there on March 10. Then we have Al Mohler traveling to Knoxville next fall where he will be speaking at the Cornerstone Church (SGM) Men's Conference.
It certainly appears that these gospel-centered leaders are wholeheartedly endorsing SGM while turning a deaf ear to the bleating sheep who have come forward to say they have been hurt in this 'family of churches'.
As we have previously discussed, the class action lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries and specific individuals — which claims member churches had victims forgive their abusers face-to-face and discouraged victims' parents from reporting abuse to authorities — has prompted the denomination to cite its First Amendment right to religious freedom. SGM's legal strategy may entail defending its right to provide confidential pastoral counseling without government interference.
A recent article in Christianity Today stated the following:
"SGM believes that allowing courts to second-guess pastoral guidance would represent a blow to the First Amendment that would hinder, not help, families seeking spiritual direction among other resources in dealing with the trauma related to any sin including child sexual abuse," Tommy Hill, SGM's director of administration, said in a November 14 statement.
Such a stance strikes some legal observers as more of a smokescreen than a legitimate defense.
Boz Tchividjian, founder and executive director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), which has investigated sex abuse allegations previously for New Tribes Mission and currently for Bob Jones University, readily acknowledges that he does not know all the facts. But the former Florida child abuse prosecutor takes issue with the SGM statement.
"Quite frankly, any time an institution—a Christian institution—responds or defends its behavior as it relates to sexual abuse allegations with quoting laws and hiding behind constitutions, it causes me concern," said Tchividjian, a law professor and grandson of Billy Graham. "I think an authentic, gospel-centered response to sexual abuse disclosures within an institution is to be transparent and to be vulnerable."
When I read this CT article, I was unfamiliar with Basyle (Boz) Tchividjian. He has a brother named Tullian, who serves as pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Here is Boz Tchividjian's bio on the National Child Protection Training Center website:
"From 1994 until 2001, Professor Tchividjian was an Assistant State Attorney for Florida’s 7th Judicial Circuit. During his tenure as a prosecutor, Professor Tchividjian created the “Crimes Against Children” division of the Office of State Attorney and was personally responsible for the prosecution of hundreds of child sexual abuse cases. Professor Tchividjian is a frequent lecturer on the various legal issues related to the prosecution of child sexual abuse and is active in training prosecutors, investigators, social workers, and medical personnel.
Professor Tchividjian is a founding member and Executive Director of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). The purpose of GRACE is to educate and equip the faith community to correctly respond to sexual abuse disclosures, while also providing practical guidance to churches on how to protect children. GRACE also provides confidential consultations to churches, schools, and other organizations which are struggling with issues involving sexual abuse. Professor Tchividjian speaks extensively on this subject at various conferences, schools, and denominational gatherings. He has also appeared numerous times on radio and television to discuss the work of GRACE. In 2006, Professor Tchividjian was a contributor to the video series Caring for Kids God’s Way produced by the American Association of Christian Counselors.
Professor Tchividjian is a member of the Florida Bar Association and is admitted to practice in the State of Florida and the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Professor Tchividjian is the 3rd eldest grandchild of Reverend Billy Graham…"
As his bio states, Boz Tchividjian is a founding member and Executive Director of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). Allow me to share a little information about this relatively new organization (taken from the website):
"WELCOME TO GRACE
All communities are scarred by the destructive evils of child abuse. In fact, the rate of child abuse in the United States is ten times the rate of cancer. Studies show that:
1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have been sexually abused as children.
Yet sadly the Christian community has largely ignored the sin of child sexual abuse and its prevalence within the Church. Even more disheartening: The evangelical church has often unwittingly contributed to the suffering of victims because of its failure to protect children and adequately respond to disclosures of sexual abuse. Additionally, the Christian community often overlooks the many needs of those within their congregations who are adult survivors of child sexual abuse.
Child abuse eats away at one’s faith.
There is no doubt that child abuse profoundly impacts a child’s faith. This spiritual damage is often compounded by the inadequate response of the Christian community. As a result, many survivors of child abuse flee the church, wanting nothing to do with God.
Child abuse spreads like cancer in the Body of Christ.
Everyone knows you don’t just cut out a cancer and trust that good health will continue. Rather, doctors study the cancer to be sure of its nature, they scan the body for signs of its spread, they put patients on an action plan for continued health with possible treatments and follow-up care.
But leaders and workers inside the Christian community are often ill-equipped to understand how offenders operate and how children experience abuse. They don’t know how to protect children from experienced abusers; they don’t recognize the signs of abuse; they don’t know how to measure the scope of the abuse; nor do they know how to effectively respond to abuse disclosures.
Today, over 60 million survivors of child abuse are living in the United States, many of whom are sitting in our churches and attending our Christian schools."
What follows is the organization's Mission:
"The Mission of GRACE is to empower the Christian community through education and training to recognize and respond to the sin of child abuse.
He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me..” Mark 9:36-37
As lovers and followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to be faithful and obedient to Him. Our justification through his sacrifice must result in one response – a desire to honor and glorify Him in all we do. God is glorified when we love children and welcome them in the name of Jesus Christ.
We live in a sinful and corrupt society that devalues human life and existence. Sadly, children not exempt from the ravages and degradation of sexual abuse. Most of those within the Christian community are ill-equipped and unacquainted with the issues of child abuse and thus are unable to adequately respond to this sin. As a result, the Church often lacks the wisdom needed to address the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of these young victims. The consequence to this failure is that the Christian community fails to understand how to “welcome these little children in the name of Christ”. These children (and their families) often leave the Church to seek “answers” from the same world that places so little value on their existence. Clearly, this does not honor and glorify the One who gave Himself for us.
Obedience to Christ dictates that the Christian community must learn how to respond to those children and their families who cry out for help when they are victimized. This obedience begins with the education and training of those within the Church regarding the sin of child abuse and how to respond to such disclosures in a God honoring manner.
GRACE is an organization whose sole purpose is to equip and assist the Church and those within the Christian community to fulfill Mark 9:36-37."
Just yesterday GRACE was in the news – Missionary Group Fires Sex Abuse Investigator. The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) hired GRACE in 2011 to investigate allegations of 1980s sexual abuse by former missionary Donn Ketcham in Bangladesh. According to the article:
"Weeks before the release of a nearly two-year investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of missionary kids, the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) has fired and replaced its investigator, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE)."
To read what each side has to say, you've got to check out the news story! Perhaps ABWE should have hired the Ambassadors of Reconciliation to ensure that there would be a favorable report at the conclusion of the process.
Furthermore, the article states: "CT recently reported that Bob Jones University has hired GRACE to investigate allegations of sexual abuse on its campus."
In the wake of the Sandusky tragedy, it seems that child sexual abuse has moved to the forefront of most people's minds. There appears to be a growing intolerance of this kind of abuse, and it would behoove ministries and organizations to make some drastic changes in how they operate. We are planning to do an update on these developing stories soon.
We leave you with a 'clip' of some sheep who are no longer bleating and have bounced back very nicely because they have been heard and their needs have been addressed. Spiritual and sexual abuse have been a difficult topic, and we hope you will appreciate a moment of humor 🙂 amid the pain.
Lydia's Corner: Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20 Luke 11:37-12:7 Psalm 78:1-31 Proverbs 12:19-20