The Body Of Christ Betrayed: Reflections On Sexual Abuse In The SBC

Por Karen Swallow Prior
abuse sbc church
Prolific author Karen Swallow Prior offers a work of prose-poetry about abuse revealed in her church home, the Southern Baptist Convention. (Photo: Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash / Creative Commons)

The following reflection contains themes of sexual abuse, domestic abuse and church abuse and is written in response to recent findings from an independent investigation that Southern Baptist leaders have systematically ignored, belittled and intimidated survivors of sexual abuse for the past two decades while protecting the legal interests of churches accused of harboring abusers.

The church is the body of Christ.

The body is hiding — broken, bleeding, bruised and scarred.

Someone said he’d feed her, but he ate her instead.

Someone who said he would be as a father to her betrayed her instead.

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Someone who was her father was something else to her altogether.

Someone told her to go home.

Someone told her to go back to the husband who harmed her.

Someone offered her a ride home but took her down a dark, deserted road to despair.

Someone made her feel dirty then told her to clean herself up.

Someone looked her up and down, undressed her with his eyes then with his hands.

Someone told everyone it never happened.

Someone told her she was destroying a godly man and his ministry.

Someone said he would help, but he changed his mind.

Someone snickered at her sorrow with his friends.

Someone passed around pictures of her.

Someone said she was a distraction from the gospel.

Someone said she was a liar. A psychopath. A witch. A whore.

Someone averted his eyes to evil.

Someone just stayed silent.

Someone built a tower and named it after himself. Inside the tower, he stands under the glow of spotlights on a stage. He wears a nice suit and good hair and cries, “Lord, Lord.” He displays his humility proudly, like a gold watch hanging from a chain, a watch that never has truly told the true time. His outside suit pocket is stuffed with a silk handkerchief. It matches his tie and gleams under the lights, spotless. It never has wiped away a single tear. His inner jacket pocket holds a fat wallet made of human skin.

The crowd is looking up at him nodding, clapping, Amening, Praise God-ing, and praying.

So much preying.

But there is another One.

This One is outside. He has left the crowd to look for the lost one. (So many lost ones.)

This One searches high and low, on hill and dale, under cliffs and trees and shrubs.

With his rod, he beats a brood of vipers.

With his sword, he holds the wolves at bay.

With his voice, he calls her name and calls her name again. Over and over, he keeps calling her name.

Not all who cry “Lord, Lord” will be saved.

But this One will save all those he calls, those who do the will of the Father.

Like that very good Samaritan, when this One finds her, he will bind up all those wounds. He will pay the full price to tend all her pain and suffering. He will wipe away every tear.

Like a true shepherd, this One will bring the lost lamb into the fold to join all his sheep. There they will rest and sleep and feast.

Like a mother hen, when this One finds the wounded one–trembling, dying, nearly dead and all alone—he will gather her to himself. Over her once-bent body, He will brood, for all eternity, “with warm breast and ah! bright wings.”

This prose-poem was inspired by one written by Lori Anne Thompson, which she shared at the Restore Conference on May 21, 2022. You can read it at her Blog.

Esta historia fue publicada originalmente por Religión desconectada.

Karen Swallow Prior

Karen Swallow Prior, Ph. D., is Research Professor of English and Christianity and Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a columnist at Religion News Service. She lives in Virginia.

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6 pensamientos sobre “The Body Of Christ Betrayed: Reflections On Sexual Abuse In The SBC”

  1. Melisa Fernández

    Beautiful. I want to read it at Celebrate Recovery, but I’ll cry too much. I want to share it with my wounded daughters who were also abused by a church who was not acting in accordance with ‘the body of Christ.’

  2. What is so disappointing and infuriating to me is the Church should be LEADING the way, showing the world integrity, humility, and justice. But they are irrelevant to anyone right now. They only face the music now because we are forcing them to, not because they want to. I cannot rejoice in anything the Church does right now, unless maybe they close their doors (all of them)!

    1. Wilma Ellsworth

      Sadly I feel the same way. I’m so weary of all this. I absolutely want all this dysfunction, corruption and deceit exposed. I fully support getting this out there but I just dont understand how and why there are pastors that sexually abuse people, women and children, go to great lengths to line their pockets and have mansions here, there and everywhere, etc. It’s all so distressing. Even my own church just became so money driven and by the time I left, I was so sickened by the bully James Macdonald & Mark Driscoll type behavior and leadership. I’m disgusted and terribly disappointed BUT we have to keep getting these horrific truths out there, sad as it is.

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