Paige Patterson, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Abuse of Women
Toward the end of last month, an audio recording of Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson surfaced on which he can be heard claiming that he's never counseled an abused woman to seek a divorce. Instead, he encourages them to pray for their husbands and "be submissive in every way that you can."
Since the recording surfaced, Patterson, the 75-year-old president of Dallas' Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) and past Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president, has defended his statements and insists that he's done nothing wrong. In a press release, he related the time a woman came to him who accused her husband of being abusive. Patterson urged her to return to her husband and pray for him. He "warned her that he could become angry over this and seek to retaliate." Paige claims that "subsequently, on a Sunday morning, she arrived at church with some evidence of physical abuse."
He then expressed that he was happy that what the man "had done to his wife brought conviction to his heart."
"I was happy - not that she had suffered from his anger," he said, "but that God had used her to move her husband to conviction of his sin."
In an interview with Baptist Press, Patterson explained that "minor non-injurious abuse which happens in so many marriages" is cause for the wife to pray and not to leave.
The controversy continues to pick up steam, leading SBTS and Patterson to call for a special meeting of the seminary's trustees on May 22. In the press release, the chairman of the board wrote, "Since April 28, 2018, I, and the Executive Committee of the board of trustees, have been in conversation with our president. In light of recent events, Dr. Patterson has requested that I convene our full trustee board to meet in official session."
As an elder (a pastor) in an SBC church, I want to add my voice to the growing number of people denouncing Patterson's words and calling for his resignation. The abuse of women is a heinous sin before God, and any leader of a church that takes the abuse of women less seriously than it deserves disqualifies himself for the ministry. Secondarily, Patterson has brought reproach upon the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Southern Baptist Convention.
I say secondarily because God is quite able to defend Himself and He calls His church to protect and defend the vulnerable and oppressed. As far as the SBC is concerned, I'm far less concerned about the Convention's reputation than I am the safety of women.
By repenting of our sins and placing our faith in Jesus Christ, we are reconciled to God and adopted into His eternal family. An outworking of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the healing of the broken relationships that are the result of sin. After Jesus Christ returns, those who are His will be ushered into His eternal kingdom in which there will be no conflict and no broken relationships.