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Sexual Abuse and the Jack Hyles Rule: If You Didn’t See It, It Didn’t Happen

jack hyles 1973

The late Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, spent decades training Fundamentalist pastors through his annual pastors’ school, Hyles-Anderson College, and country-wide Sword of the Lord conferences. Hyles was a powerful motivator and speaker. In the 1970s and 1980s, I heard Hyles preach many times. I remember coming home from hearing him preach, filled with renewed desire to serve God and build a New Testament Baptist church that would reach thousands of people for Christ. Hyles was the type of preacher who could motivate pastors in such a way that they would be willing to charge the gates of hell with a squirt gun — an empty one at that.

Hyles taught pastors how to handle accusations and conflict in their churches. One line that stood out — I heard Hyles say it several times was If You Didn’t See It, It Didn’t Happen. Hyles often talked about gossip and false allegations, telling pastors that they should teach congregants not to believe such things unless they saw them for themselves. Hyles had Biblical support for his approach:

Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father … Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. (1 Timothy 5:1, 17-19)

Elders (pastors), according to the Apostle Paul, are to be considered worthy of double honor and revered as fathers are. Accusations leveled against pastors were to be rejected unless they could be confirmed by two or three eye-witnesses. Thus, if a woman says the pastor raped her, the church was to reject her allegations unless two or three people saw their pastor rape the woman. In other words, if you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen.

Since most church sex crimes involving pastors, youth directors, missionaries, deacons, church bus drivers, and Sunday school teachers take place in secret without others seeing the abominable behavior, this means, according to Jack Hyles, that allegations of sexual misconduct should be rejected out of hand. No eye witnesses? No crime. Welcome to the Jack Hyles Rule®.

This kind of thinking allowed Hyles and countless pastors trained and influenced by him to ignore criminal behavior within their churches or to excuse their own behavior. When confronted with allegations of sexual assault, Hyles influenced preachers to say, did you see this happen? Were you there? If the accuser said no, then the allegation was rejected out of hand. If the accuser said yes, then he or she would be asked, did anyone else see this happen? If the answer was no, then nothing more was done about the allegation. Thanks to the Jack Hyles Rule®, countless abusers and predators escaped punishment for their crimes, including Jack Hyles’ son David.

Hyles and other like-minded pastors groomed their churches to turn a blind eye to sexual abuse, adultery, and other criminal behavior. Remember, church, if you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen. Throw in sermons about pastoral authority (Hebrews 13:7), not touching men appointed by God to preach his words (Psalm 105:15), and bears eating people who slander pastors (2 Kings 2:23-24), it should come as no surprise, then, that congregants were fearful and hesitant about voicing accusations against their pastor and other church leaders.

Add to this the fact that many churches are secretive about sexual misconduct in their midst. Members are expected to trust church leaders, and if nothing is ever said about a matter, it’s because there was a good reason for not saying anything. I can’ tell you how many times I have heard through the grapevine that a pastor or some of other church leader has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior, yet the powers that be refuse to publicly acknowledge the allegations or inform the church about how the matter is being dealt with. My wife’s parents have attended the same Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church for over forty years. When asked about what happened to so-and-so after he was accused of rape/sodomy/sexual assault, Polly’s parents tell us, we don’t know. Pastor never told us anything about this matter. He asked us to trust him and not talk about Brother So-and-So’s criminal behavior. So, they didn’t. And as long as good people such as they sit silently in the pews and do not demand full disclosure, sex crimes and illicit affairs will be swept under the rug.

Did your church or pastor promote/use the Jack Hyles Rule®? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Are you unfamiliar with Jack Hyles? Please read:

The Legacy of Jack Hyles

The Mesmerizing Appeal of Jack Hyles

The Scandalous Life of Jack Hyles and Why it Still Matters

Jack Hyles Gives Advice on How to Raise a Girl

Jack Hyles Teaches Parents How to Indoctrinate Their Baby

Jack Hyles Tells Unsubmissive Woman to Kill Herself

Jack Hyles Tells Christian Women it is All Up to Them

UPDATED: Serial Adulterer David Hyles Has Been Restored

Serial Adulterer David Hyles Receives a Warm Longview Baptist Temple Welcome

Cindy Schaap, Daughter of Jack Hyles, Divorces Convicted Felon Jack Schaap

What One IFB Apologist Thinks of People Who Claim They Were Abuse (features letters and texts Jack Schaap sent to a minor girl in his church)


  1. Pingback:Sexual Abuse, & the Jack Hyles Rule: If You Didn’t See It, It Didn’t Happen –

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    Kent J

    I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and do not trust any fellow human being to assume the role of spiritual advisor, leader, or First Authority in my life and relationship with our Lord. Some will come forward with a good and fitting word from time to time but issues within a local congregation or an association of congregations need to be addressed by the believers who ought to require accountability on the part of their pastors, presbyters, deacons, stewards or other responsible persons (and even of themselves). In Jesus Christ we are saints, yes, but saints who sin and who have no right to insist that our transgressions be hidden or overlooked for the sake of the titles or positions of leadership we may hold. Personal growth in the Lord Jesus requires our personal devotions of study and prayer and examination of ourselves in relation to Him. The peace and grace of Jesus Christ be on you..

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      Well, Kent, peace be upon you too. I am sorry that your world is so closeted and that your fantasy is so insistent that it prevents you from facing reality and allows that you continue to support abusive practices. Jesus is not your first authority, you are… You are in the boy’s club and it does nothing whatsoever to curb abuse any more than any other place in the world. And no matter what I say to you, in your heart and head you will not hear me as doing anything more than confirming your rules, your ‘faith’. When I tell you that I see Chritianity as designed to harm us, you will just shake your head in disbelief and carry-on. You will not lean on yourself for understanding because you have turned against yourself in your acceptance of the world view that says everybody is hopelessly lost. It is very sad that we have been harmed like this, Kent but I prefer not to throw gas on a fire.

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        Brian, you say that Christianity is designed to harm us, I disagree, depraved humanity will always find a way to the bottom, Christ is the only things that sets men free. But I’m not here to argue with you.

        I am glad you are doing the work of the Lord by exposing this wicked man David Hyles, there are very crafty wolves who brainwash and devour the flock, the bible warns against it, for Christian that read their bibles.
        Luke 8:17 For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.
        Numbers 32:23 But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.

        You are still helping to protect the flock even though you yourself have grown weary and in unbelief. There’s always the spark of HOPE left even when we don’t know it.

        As for these false teachers, “And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24:51)

        Be Blessed

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    Jimmy Wilson Jr

    Mr Gerencser,
    Question for you sir..why are you a humanist and atheist not arguing or attacking you sir, just curious.
    Thank you

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