Like yesterday’s blog, I was inspired to write after having seen something on my Facebook feed. However, today’s topic is not about an up-and-coming musician, rather it is a cautionary tale for up-and-coming ministers of the Gospel. News broke today that former Southern Baptist Seminary professor, David Sills (who resigned 9 months ago), resigned due to an inappropriate sexual relationship with former student, Jennifer Lyell, that lasted over a decade. If you would like to read the report, here is the link. I do not know either of the people involved, personally, but as a Southern Baptist, I do know people who do. Some of them have already shared with me about how shocked they were to find this news out. And since I do not know what really happened, I will not speculate beyond what information has been made public. All we know right now is that the affair began in 2004 while the two were on a mission trip.
Some people on Facebook were saying that it is insane that this man’s life is being ruined, while this “girl” (who is now in her 40s, mind you) gets off scot-free. One commenter said that “they were both consenting adults, so why does she get to play the victim?” First, we don’t know all the details. Second, although the student may have been 26 when the affair began, she was still a student and he was her professor. We cannot overlook the reality that Dr. Sills was someone she trusted and was viewed as an authority figure. The fact is, he failed her as a professor and he failed her as a brother in Christ, regardless of her willingness to participate.
Listen folks, no one is safe when it comes to temptation. Not me, not you. Temptation doesn’t care how long you’ve been a Christian. It doesn’t care how many people you’ve led to the Lord. And it certainly doesn’t care about your Bible degrees and accolades. Sin is always crouching at the door—we must rule over it (Genesis 4:7). And when it comes to fulfilling the Great Commission, if there is any hidden sin in our lives, it will inevitably ruin our witness. If we want the people God is calling us to reach to trust us, we have to be trustworthy. I’m talking truly trustworthy and holy before God! This veneer of holiness will not cut it. Know that I am preaching to myself here, too. If we want to reach the nations for Christ, we must make a priority of killing sin in our lives with the Sword of the Spirit.
My prayers go out to the hurting families, churches, and communities that have been and will be affected by this revelation. I find hope in knowing that God’s love can cover a multitude of sins, can heal all wounds, and can forgive the most egregious of wrongdoings. Even still, may there be a flood of justice within our churches and denominations as we seek to address more unchecked sin. It will be painful. It will be costly. But, ultimately, it will set us free.
Spare me the sound of your songs. I won’t listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice flow like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.