Statement on Abuse
When Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary comes to the topic of abuse, above all other emotions we feel compassion, concern and a commitment to protect women, children, and others whose lives of promise and potential have been altered in tragic ways by the sin and violence of abuse. These are people whom God has made in his image.
Southwestern Seminary takes the Bible as its guide in all matters of faith and ethics. The Baptist Faith & Message is the instrument of our doctrinal accountability to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention.
First, we want to affirm that law enforcement officials and civil authorities have a vital and God-ordained role in addressing abusive relationships. Article XVII of The Baptist Faith & Message states that “Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God.” The wording of The Baptist Faith & Message draws substantially from the declaration in Romans 13:4 that “[Government] is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For it is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.”
Second, we want to affirm the importance of protecting the victims of abuse. Because of the clarity of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s Statement on Abuse, we affirm that statement in its entirety and draw particular attention to the affirmation that “the local church and Christian ministries have a responsibility to establish safe environments; to execute policies and practices that protect against any form of abuse; to confront abusers and to protect the abused, which includes the responsibility to report abuse to the civil authorities.” The statement echoes Southwestern Seminary’s mission to send out into the world ministers of the gospel who are committed to protect and counsel women, children, and other victims of physical abuse; who will offer them strong encouragement and support to seek safety away from abusive environments; and who will seek to “provide ongoing counseling and support for the abused.”
Third, we want to affirm that the gospel of Jesus Christ has led us to believe that there is no person in this world who is beyond redemption. Alongside every church’s responsibility to report abusers to civil authorities stands the church’s responsibility to seek that the abuser confess to, denounce, and repent of the sin of abuse, accepting responsibility for those sinful actions, and trusting in Christ for salvation and forgiveness from sin.