Dr. Frank Page has resigned because of a “morally inappropriate” relationship. Dr. Page initially announced his retirement as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. Later, in the day, he announced his resignation. This resignation would be effective immediately. The explanation was for a “morally inappropriate” relationship.
Dr. Page was President of the SBC from 2008-2009. He was also a steady helpful figure during the Conservative Resurgence. Page initially announced a retirement. He later clarified that his retirement was based on a personal matter of a “morally inappropriate” relationship.
First, there came the #MeToo movement. Next, powerful men in Hollywood have been accused of inappropriate relationships. Now, a wave of evangelical leaders have been accused of or confessed to a morally inappropriate relationship.
Morally Inappropriate Relationships Among Evangelical Leaders
Bill Hybels recently has been accused of sexual harassment and misconduct (originally reported by the Chicago Tribune) by a few women (although as noted in the article, internal inquiries had cleared Hybels).
Paul Pressler has been accused of a sexual abuse by a man. Along with Pressler’s lawyers, the SBC has argued against this accusation in court. The justification by the SBC against the abuse is interesting, to say the least. (Stay tuned for more developments on this story.)As Christian leaders, we all have the potential to fall into sin. Sin hurts relationships and affects one’s ability to lead others. The problem here is with the evangelical leadership. These evangelical leaders have tried to protect the doctrinal purity. In the effort to protect doctrinal purity, they have lost personal moral integrity. Doctrinal purity is irrelevant where there is no moral integrity. They go hand-in-hand.
Yet, unlike the Catholic church denomination, evangelical churches have no central form of accountability. Each church is technically autonomous and responsible for their own affairs. In the Southern Baptist Convention, there is no central database that keeps track of moral failures or sex offenses. As such, there is no “sex offender” listing for leaders. (Although there is a website that keeps up with news reports of pastor offenders).
There have been SBC leaders who have promoted conservative values. Yet, they struggle with personal integrity. I have seen this tension in the leadership and I believe it only hurts our denomination. I pray that Dr. Page will see forgiveness. I also pray that our SBC leadership will learn from this experience. Perhaps the SBC leadership will heed the warnings that come with diminishing personal moral integrity while emphasizing doctrinal purity.