PADUCAH, Ky. — When Todd Brady heard about a minister at a prominent Texas Baptist church being caught in a sex sting, his first thought was, “Oh, Lord, I pray we never see something like that happen here in our church.”
His second thought was, “What do we need to do to prevent it?”
With that question, the new pastor at First Baptist Church in Paducah, Ky., called the staff together determine what steps they could take to be sure none of them made a bad decision that would bring disgrace to the gospel and the church.
The result was a strongly worded resolution, replete with scripture references, that was mailed to every family in the congregation. The letter sparked a wave of discussion about the dangers of sexual temptation and even pushed the church into a spotlight on the evening news.
“News of moral failure among ministers of the Gospel is sad and alarming,” the statement said. “But we know ourselves well enough to know that moral failure could happen to any one of us if we were not careful and diligent in our pursuit of purity.
“For the sake of the gospel and for the sake of our own souls, we desire to maintain the highest levels of sexual accountability,” the statement continued. “We will be proactive in our efforts and dogged in our determination to uphold the integrity called for by our sacred office.”
The resolution also noted preventive measures the church staff had put in place, from windows in all office doors and a rule about not counseling women and children without another person present, to having accountability partners track Internet usage and regularly praying with one another about sexual purity.
Brady, who was campus minister at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., for 11 years, knows only too well how many people are in danger of moral failure.
“Particularly in my work with young men, I realize how prominent this issue is among college students,” said Brady, who has pastored the Kentucky congregation for just one year. “This issue is everywhere in our society. I read one place where it is estimated that half of Americans regularly access Internet pornography.
“We live in a sex-crazed and sex-saturated culture,” he said. “We realize that the gospel, this church and our very lives are at stake with this particular issue. Anything that stands in the way of our sharing the gospel, we need to make sure that it is removed.”
Besides the news about the Texas minister caught in the sex sting, Brady said another factor that prompted him to engage the issue was a presentation in early June at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
“The Southern Baptist Convention is on record for having stood strongly against sexual abuse,” Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, told messengers to the annual meeting. “We have long condemned those who would use our churches as a hunting ground for their sick and selfish pleasure.
“At the same time, sexual abuse is a growing crisis in this nation and we must continue to do everything within our power to stop this horrendous crime,” Chapman added. “We owe our boys and girls and the women of our churches every protection possible.”
Chapman encouraged churches to use the national sex offender database to screen prospective staff members and volunteers. He also noted that resources for preventing sexual abuse had been posted on the SBC web site.
Brady challenged pastors to get confrontational with each other over the issue.
“This will be of no good if we sign it, put it on the wall and then never think about it again,” he said. “My desire is that we as pastors are continually in one another’s face, asking the tough questions, fighting for our souls, fighting for one another, holding each other accountable.
“Pastors need to provide some leadership by speaking to the issue and acknowledging that we are all, as we sing, 'prone to wander, Lord, we feel it,'” Brady said. “Our churches will be encouraged to know that their leadership is raising the bar, wanting to be held accountable.”