In case you missed it, my friends and readers, there’s been a whole lot of um, stuff hitting the fan this week in the Christian world because of some not-so-new but recently re-publicized and not particularly pleasant made by old school yet influential Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson, a man who shaped the SBC into what it is today, and who is currently the president of the Southern Baptist Southwestern Seminary. It seems Mr. Patterson believes a Christian woman should stay in an abusive marriage and submit to her husband rather than seek a divorce.
It comes down to, once again, someone in the church putting the sanctity of MARRIAGE over the sanctity of a HUMAN BEING. Namely, a woman who is being abused by her husband. And it is quite simply, wrong.
The comments made by Patterson in a 2000 speech were published last week on the Baptist Blogger. This Washington Post article summarizes them well, but here’s a fun screenshot from the Baptist Blogger as well.
In an audio clip also published on the Baptist Blogger, Patterson goes continues with a troubling anecdote. The Washington Post says,
He goes on to tell the story of a woman who came to him about abuse, and how he counseled her to pray at night beside her bed, quietly, for God to intervene. The woman, he said, came to him later with two black eyes. “She said: ‘I hope you’re happy.’ And I said ‘Yes … I’m very happy,’ ” because it turned out her husband had heard her quiet prayers and come for the first time to church the next day, he said.
Is is just me who finds that story kinda GROSS?
Naturally, Patterson has posted some “That’s not really what I meant” non-apologies since then. I read them as well and wasn’t overly impressed. I’d say he’s #sorrynotsorry.
For-tun-ate-ly, some other evangelicals have come out to say, “Um, hey, actually, we don’t advise women to SUBMIT to being abused and stay in an abusive marriage.”
Like my girl Beth Moore, for instance:
I’ve read that anyone in the Southern Baptist Convention that disagreed with Patterson doesn’t LAST REAL LONG, so it is heartening to see that Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, the SBC’s publishing and retail arm, bravely tweeted this week:
The ongoing discussion over recent comments by fellow Southern Baptist Paige Patterson remind me we live in a politically charged environment, both in our nation and in our convention. Any statement is almost immediately construed to be a statement of political posturing. Such is neither my intent nor my desire. However I cannot be silent on the issue of abuse of women. My silence becomes a reverberating echo of indifference at best. There is no level or type of abuse of women that is acceptable. We have been called by God to show honor and respect to all women and girls. They are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our granddaughters, and our wives. We thank God for them. And I stand with all who say ‘no’ to any type of abuse of women at any time and under any circumstance.
And of course, Christian marriage expert Gary Thomas wrote one of the most popular articles EVER published on this very website, saying:
“If the cost of saving a marriage is destroying a woman, the cost is too high. God loves people more than he loves institutions.”
When recounting abuse that a woman he counseled had suffered at the hands of her porn-addicted husband, in her abusive marriage, he said, “This is monstrous and vile. This woman needs to be protected from such grotesque abuse, and if divorce is the only weapon to protect her, then the church should thank God such a weapon exists.”
Y’all I am SUUUUUPER pro-marriage. I only have eighteen years of ups and downs to prove it, but I am married to a loving man, not an abuser.
The church must STOP using the institution of marriage to imprison women in abusive situations. It must stop shaming them for seeking help when they are being constantly degraded.
God made women in His own image, and marriage to be a picture of Christ’s love for the church. Let’s stop helping his daughters be degraded. YES, save marriages! YES! But save PEOPLE first. No one should have to endure black eye after black eye in the name of “submission.” That is not love, and that is NOT Christian marriage. Pretending that it is, will only drive already broken women farther and farther away from a God whose children have smeared His name.
Yes, my fellow women, we love our husbands, we honor our husbands, but NO, my sisters, we do NOT submit to abuse.
Of any kind.