Patterson clarifies domestic violence stance
    May 2 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

    Paige Patterson has clarified his view on domestic violence and voiced regret “that the way I expressed that conviction has brought hurt.”
     
    Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), issued a written statement April 29 amid discussion on social media of an audio clip from 2000 in which he said the proper response of a wife to domestic abuse “depends on the level of abuse to some degree.”

    SWBTS photo
    SWBTS President Paige Patterson (pictured here at a 2015 chapel service) says he has “never counseled or condoned abuse.”


    In his April 29 statement, Patterson said, “For the record, I have never been abusive to any woman. I have never counseled or condoned abuse of any kind. I will never be a party to any position other than that of the defense of any weaker party when subjected to the threat of a stronger party. This certainly includes women and children. Any physical or sexual abuse of anyone should be reported immediately to the appropriate authorities, as I have always done.
     
    “I have also said that I have never recommended or prescribed divorce,” Patterson said. “How could I as a minister of the [g]ospel? The Bible makes clear the way in which God views divorce. I have on more than one occasion counseled and aided women in leaving an abusive husband. So much is this the case that on an occasion during my New Orleans pastorate, my own life was threatened by an abusive husband because I counseled his wife, and assisted her, in departing their home to seek protection. In short, I have no sympathies at all for cowardly acts of abuse toward women.”
     
    In an interview with Baptist Press (BP), Patterson said he doubts “seriously” that a person of either gender experiencing physical abuse ever would be morally obligated to remain in the home with their spouse. Yet, he said, “non-injurious abuse which happens in so many marriages” – and which does not make the wife fear for her safety – might spur a woman to “pray [her husband] through this” rather than leave. Patterson later told BP that he had “minor non-injurious abuse” in mind when making the previous comment.
     
    “Am I going to tell a woman like that she is wrong to take the matter to God?” Patterson asked. “I don’t think so.”
     
    The 18-year-old audio clip that generated social media discussion was posted April 28 on a blog that has been critical of Patterson. Information from that blog was tweeted the same day by a writer for Religion News Service. Amid the ensuing social media discussion, The Washington Post reported on Patterson’s April 29 statement.
     
    In the audio clip at issue, Patterson was asked his counsel to women “who are undergoing genuine physical abuse from their husbands.”
     
    Patterson replied, “It depends on the level of abuse to some degree. I have never in my ministry counseled that anybody seek a divorce, and I do think that’s always wrong counsel. There have been, however, an occasion or two when the level of abuse was serious enough, dangerous enough, immoral enough that I have counseled temporary separation and the seeking of help. I would urge you to understand that that should happen only in the most serious of cases.”
     
    Moments later in audio clip, Patterson told about a woman at one of his pastorates who “was being subject to some abuse and I told her ... ‘Every evening I want you to get down by your bed. Just as he goes to sleep, get down by the bed and when you think he’s just about asleep, you just pray and ask God to intervene – not out loud, quietly.’ But I said, ‘You just pray there.’
     
    “And I said, ‘Get ready because he may get a little more violent, you know, when he discovers this,’” Patterson said. “And sure enough, he did. She came to church one morning with both eyes black. And she was angry with me, and with God and the world for that matter. And she said, ‘I hope you’re happy.’ And I said, ‘Yes ma’am I am.’”
     
    Patterson went on to explain his happiness stemmed not from the abuse, but from the man’s presence at church that day for the first time, his brokenness over the abuse and his decision to trust Christ as Lord and Savior. The abuse stopped, Patterson said in the audio clip, and “he’s a great husband today.”
     
    “Remember,” Patterson added in the audio clip, “when nobody else can help, God can. And in the meantime, you have to do what you can at home to be submissive in every way that you can.”
     
    Patterson clarified to BP he did not suspect any physical abuse in the relationship prior to the episode he recounted. Any hint in the audio clip that he did suspect prior physical abuse was an error in the recounting, he said, adding, “I’m sure I didn’t tell it as well as I should have.”
     
    “For sharing this illustration,” Patterson said in his statement, “especially in the climate of this culture, I was probably unwise. However, my suggestion was never that women should stay in the midst of abuse, hoping their husbands would eventually come to Christ. Rather, I was making the application that God often uses difficult things that happen to us to produce ultimate good. And I will preach that truth until I die.”
     
    He added to BP that he may have shared publicly the story of the abused woman on other occasions, though he did not recall doing so.
     
    A March 2018 “statement on abuse” by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), Patterson said, agrees “entirely” with his views.
     
    CBMW called abuse “not only a sin but ... also a crime” that must be reported “to civil authorities” by “church and ministry leaders.”
     
    Patterson’s statement concluded, “To all who love me and have supported me across the years and to those who have been wounded by these accusations, I express my deepest regret. I do not apologize for my stand for the family and for seeking to mend a marriage through forgiveness rather than divorce. But I do greatly regret that the way I expressed that conviction has brought hurt. I also regret for my own family this deliberate misrepresentation of my position as well as the hatred that lies behind much of it.”
     
    The complete text of Patterson’s statement follows this story.
     
    **********
     
    Press release from Paige Patterson:
     
    “For the past several months, my life and the lives of my family have been subjected to rigorous misrepresentation. Even had I done some hideous wrong of which I am accused, my wife, children, and grandchildren have not and do not deserve such mischaracterization.
     
    “For the record, I have never been abusive to any woman. I have never counseled or condoned abuse of any kind. I will never be a party to any position other than that of the defense of any weaker party when subjected to the threat of a stronger party. This certainly includes women and children. Any physical or sexual abuse of anyone should be reported immediately to the appropriate authorities, as I have always done.
     
    “I have also said that I have never recommended or prescribed divorce. How could I as a minister of the [g]ospel? The Bible makes clear the way in which God views divorce. I have on more than one occasion counseled and aided women in leaving an abusive husband. So much is this the case that on an occasion during my New Orleans pastorate, my own life was threatened by an abusive husband because I counseled his wife, and assisted her, in departing their home to seek protection. In short, I have no sympathies at all for cowardly acts of abuse toward women.
     
    “Many years ago in West Texas, a woman approached me about the desire of her husband to prevent her attendance in church. He was neither harsh nor physical with her, but she felt abused. I suggested to her that she kneel by the bed at night and pray for him. Because he might hear her prayer, I warned her that he could become angry over this and seek to retaliate. Subsequently, on a Sunday morning, she arrived at church with some evidence of physical abuse. She was very surprised that this had happened. But I had seen her husband come into the church and sit down at the back. I knew that God had changed this man’s heart. What he had done to his wife had brought conviction to his heart. I was happy – not that she had suffered from his anger, but that God had used her to move her husband to conviction of his sin. I knew that she was going to be happy for him also. That morning, he did make his decision for Christ public before the church, and she was ecstatic. They lived happily together from that time on in commitment to Christ. There was no further abuse. In fact, their love for one another and commitment to their home was evident to all. She herself often shared this testimony. For sharing this illustration, especially in the climate of this culture, I was probably unwise. However, my suggestion was never that women should stay in the midst of abuse, hoping their husbands would eventually come to Christ. Rather, I was making the application that God often uses difficult things that happen to us to produce ultimate good. And I will preach that truth until I die.
     
    “The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood released a statement regarding abuse with which I agree entirely. I do not believe there is a woman or girl ever associated with me who would allege any abuse on my part. To all who love me and have supported me across the years and to those who have been wounded by these accusations, I express my deepest regret. I do not apologize for my stand for the family and for seeking to mend a marriage through forgiveness rather than divorce. But I do greatly regret that the way I expressed that conviction has brought hurt. I also regret for my own family this deliberate misrepresentation of my position as well as the hatred that lies behind much of it.”
     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
     

    5/2/2018 10:01:33 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Abuse, Paige Patterson, SWBTS




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