Paige Patterson To Baptist Women: Don’t Bother To Duck

Do not criticize Paige Patterson for telling the truth: if your black eyes, in whatever form they present themselves, mean some man will show up at church, then do not complain about them. That’s God’s plan for you. Don’t bother to duck. 


Paige Patterson and black eyesDoes God mind it when women get hurt by the men in their lives? It seems like a silly question, but recent events make it a realistic one. Yes, even as I write this, I can hardly believe we are still at this point.

As anyone who knows anything about religious news knows, Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has made it clear: he has nothing to apologize for by telling women to stay in abusive marriages and submit better to their spouses. A woman follows his advice and gets two black eyes? Patterson rejoices–the husband is finally coming to church, putting his butt in the pew for Patterson to count for “success” in ministry.

Jonathan Merritt, a longtime religion observer and writer, contends that the impact of the recent #metoo movement will cause the Southern Baptist Convention to split if Patterson does not willingly step down as the keynote speaker at the next meeting. Too many women are finally speaking out in large numbers about the pervasive atmosphere of sexual harassment and intimidation they have long faced, To see abuse justified by a well-known religious leader appears to have crossed a line.

I think Merritt is wrong. The current outcry against Patterson’s words is only so much politically correct talk polish the Baptist image in the eyes of those who are not part of that theological world. The truth: Patterson’s words are totally consistent with the core theology underlying the entire strain of Baptist/Calvinistic thinking.

The bedrock belief: God needs an innocent to suffer for the non-innocent. Otherwise, God can’t forgive human sin.

The anecdote above about Patterson and the beaten-up woman that brings Patterson so much delight correctly displays that need for suffering innocence. God, disgusted by human sinfulness, requires the substitutionary death of a wholly innocent victim. Otherwise, there cannot be justice.

Many historical religious movements practice human sacrifice. Generally, the sacrificed ones are sexually pure young women or infants. Again, the death of the innocent appeases the wrath and curries the favor of an angry (male) god-figure.

Some branches of Christianity do not see the death of Jesus as sacrificial. Instead, Jesus overcomes the crucifixion tragedy to offer hope of victory over the final enemy, i.e., death. However, the theology that Paige Patterson and those in his camp follow centers on the need for a substitute victim.

So, God substituted Jesus. The wickedness of sin nailed Jesus firmly to the cross. But those chosen ones who are washed in Jesus’ blood and who believe precisely the right way get to go to heaven no matter their evil deeds.

Those deeds can and do include men treating women any way they wish. It’s all covered. Washed away. Fully forgiven.

Remember, in Patterson’s theological world, only males (whom we hope has fully intact genitalia, but that’s another story) may serve as spiritual leaders in church and home. With that in mind, why shouldn’t a woman sacrifice her life, her health, her bones, her soul, for the sake of maybe bringing a man to salvation?

It is far more critical for the male find salvation than a woman enjoy safety in her own home. He matters. She is collateral damage in the quest to get him saved.

Full disclosure here: I bought into this theological world for much of my life. With the male-only leadership principle, women and children, despite lip service to their value and importance, are ultimately disposable. Without men, there can be no church. Therefore, no one would ever get saved because only they can speak authoritatively about the nature of salvation.

Again, all moaning and groaning about Patterson’s words serves primarily as window dressing to keep women from abandoning the church. Everyone knows you can’t run a church without free female labor.

Ultimately, we should applaud Patterson for telling the truth underneath the rhetoric of “oh yes, women are so precious!” That truth: their value lies in their willingness to be sacrificial victims.

Of course many will take issue with what I have just written. Women in that theological world will rise to defend how loved and valued they are. Men will speak of how well they protect their women.

But I ask you: Do women have a voice at the top level of leadership? Are all final decisions made by all-male groups? Yes, I know: women have their “spheres” the men have kindly delegated to them where they can speak more freely and even exercise leadership.

But that is not voice. That’s subjection.

Go for it if it works for you. But do not criticize Patterson for telling the truth: if your black eyes, in whatever form they present themselves, mean some man will show up at church, then do not complain about them. That’s God’s plan for you. Don’t bother to duck.

And best of luck to you.

Photo credit: dualdflipflop on VisualHunt.com / CC BY


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  • Brandon Roberts

    by that logic we should let isis take over cause “it may bring people to gawduh”

    • Delon Duvenage

      funny you should mention that ….. oh if only you knew

  • Nimblewill

    As a life long Southern Baptist, any man, preacher, pastor, who recommends any such thing should be taken out behind the church, hog tied and beat to a bloody pulp.

    • Grace Terry

      Unfortunately that would not solve the problem. A problem is never solved at the same level of consciousness at which it was created (paraphrase of Einstein). Abusers are not healed or cured by being abused themselves. Often (but not always) they are survivors of childhood neglect and/or abuse which has left them deeply scarred emotionally, spiritually, and/or physically. If beatings would redeem/heal them I would be in favor of that. I suppose but it is just not that simple ….

      • Nimblewill

        I was being facetious, sorta! I agree with your assessment and believe that Jesus would handle it much differently.

        • Grace Terry

          Respectfully, this is not a topic to joke about. If you don’t take it seriously, perhaps it would be best to stay out of the conversation. …Blessings to you and your family. I hope none of your family has serious challenges/problems and are depending on you for help.

          • Delon Duvenage

            Grace do you think what you just said and especially the last sentence is the way Jesus would have said it ? perhaps you should take the beam from your own eye….
            humor is not a wicked thing and humorous does not mean the person is not serious

          • Grace Terry

            Delon, I agree with your statement “…humor is not a wicked thing and humorous does not mean the person is not serious. …” Having a sense of humor is a sign of good mental/spiritual health and I do have a good sense of humor. I just don’t think that abuse/violence is a funny topic. I expect Jesus had a great sense of humor, but I don’t think he would have laughed at jokes about people being abused (even women). In this case, Nimblewill stated that he was being facetious, but his being facetious was not evident from his first posting about ” beating (a person) to a bloody pulp.” I have known people who espoused this and other “pseudo-solutions” to the problem of abuse/violence who were 100% serious (i.e., they were not trying to be funny). I have also known many Jokers who “laughed off” the issue of abuse/violence against women and other serious concerns as a way to trivialize/discount the issue and the person discussing the issue. I have most often seen this way of trivializing used by people of privilege (males, Caucasians, well-to-do, heterosexual, citizens of the U.S….) when the concern being voiced is a concern of people who are oppressed/marginalized (females, people of color, working class or poor, LGBT, foreign-born residents). As a peacemaker, when I see or hear such “humor” (which serves to maintain the privilege of the Joker and therefore reinforces the oppression), I feel called to name it for what it is, as “unfunny” as my challenge may seem. And yes, I agree, Delon, I pray daily to have all beams removed from my own eye so that I can be a better peacemaker/servant. God is not finished with me yet. I do wish and pray for blessings on Nimblewill and his family, on you Delon and your family, and all who might be reading this and your families. Please pray for me in my journey to total Truth , total Freedom, and total Love. Angels abide, G~

          • Delon Duvenage

            I am not pointing a finger at you btw , just reminding you that kindness is always a better option , you know men who beat their wifes have a terrible self-image , they hide it behind an act , but i have seen these men break down , and underneath is just a scared little boy whose mother never really had time for him , for whatever reason

            keep that in mind in other words be mindful

            I don’t like this article , it’s mud slinging and not objective to the real problem in society these days

            I don’t know these “southern baptists” but it seems they have serious problems within their Church and they would do well to get to the bottom of it , I get a feeling Jesus is no longer the foundation there ?

  • Don Windle

    Christy: I was not familiar with the theological premise described in your article and apparently championed by Patterson. I am horrified and appalled that such a set of ideas is actually espoused by a seminary leader of an identified “mainstream” Christian denomination.
    As a member of the UMC and predecessor MC since birth ( I am almost 70 years old), I have never heard this theological concept taught in the UMC. Admittedly, I studied law and not theology and have maybe not studied as diligently as I should but this is foreign and abhorrent to me.
    If this type of ideology is actually at the core of mainstream Christian denominations, it is abundantly clear to me why we are shrinking in numbers and influence.
    God help us! We need mercy. We sure can’t stand justice!

    • Linda Coleman Allen

      I have always been aware of these things about the Southern Baptist Church. I was raised in the SBC and every Sunday morning I saw hung over deacons smoking their cigarettes between Sunday School and Church. During the church service, I heard the minister preach about fallen women and godly men. At age 12, I left the SBC for the Methodist Church where I was much happier. There I learned about love and forgiveness, acceptance and joy.

  • Fuzzybeard2016

    It’s things like this that have caused me to leave organized religion largely behind in my life.

    • Chuck Johnson

      Over the last few decades, organized religion has come under the glare of public scrutiny.
      Under such pressure, it is becoming disorganized religion.

      • Chari McCauley

        The Oldest Living Minds did not invent religion; the jealous ones did.

  • Chuck Johnson

    The immorality of authoritarian politics is becoming more obvious both in religions and outside of religions,

    • Chari McCauley

      You mean like when humans think they are qualified to be “God”?

      Because, I see a difference. If immortal health has ever been achieved; The Seed of I ( A mind capable of learning, and the spirit or motivation to learn to use that data) did not invent the “laws” of chemistry and math, They learned them. Not all smart people grow to be wise, because not all smart people are patient enough.

      There is a difference between a jealous god and a Father. Anyone can sit in the jealous god’s chair; Father (The Oldest Living Soul, is as individual as He made sure you are; therefore, His only Son born to Him (Romans 1:20, Genesis 1:26, John 1:1) is also an individual Who loves His Father. They are a team, They are friends, They do work for the same team and the same goal. Ever growing life and expansion. Healthy grows; unhealthy dies. Jesus said that it wasn’t the healthy that needed His salvation, because they are already living the way Father and Mother want us to live. In harmony, cooperation, understanding that we all need the same things.

      Father’s Son took the ten (10) instructions His Father wrote for us, and added empathy (put you in the victim’s skin). He also repeated the first, It’s not your Father who wants you to fail, it is those who wish to control you. The thief or satan or the jealous god is govern-mental; The Father is pa-rental.

      There is a difference between light that blinds you, and the light that helps you see.
      The sun shining in your eyes, instead of warming your back…..

      • Chuck Johnson

        “. . . did not invent the “laws” of chemistry and math, They learned them.”

        People both invent and learn the laws of chemistry and math.

        • Chari McCauley

          You bet! That’s why we know you can’t transfer just any blood type or organ into a body, because Mother Nature or whatever you call it will reject an unhealthy union of chemistry, and will attempt to render a warning, first. Granted, sometimes the combination will just go boom; we’d like to advoid doing that, if possible.

          A chef may not use the same ingedients or math as a doctor, but both mix things that go into your body and can either help you or hurt you.

      • Chuck Johnson

        “Father’s Son took the ten (10) instructions His Father wrote for us, and added empathy (put you in the victim’s skin).”

        That was added by Jesus, but added by other people,too.
        The Golden Rule is recorded in history long before the time of Jesus.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule

        • Chari McCauley

          Because, The Oldest Living Minds are older than “Christianity”.
          Eternity is older than immortality.

  • summers-lad

    I had never heard of Paige Patterson (a downside of the Internet is discovering views like his) but what he has said which you quote here is sickening and disgusting, and even more so because he tries to link it to Christianity.
    But I strongly disagree with you on “Patterson’s words are totally consistent with the core theology underlying the entire strain of Baptist/Calvinistic thinking.” Whatever view we take on penal substitutionary atonement, this doctrine states that Jesus was that innocent victim. Once and for all. There is no more sacrifice. And as the hymn says, “there was no other good enough to pay the price of sin.”

    • Marcia Whitten

      Thank you for your comment. I was thinking the exact same thing!

  • Karie Ryan Ordway

    This is spot on. There is a saying that if a person’s paycheck depends upon their not knowing a thing, they won’t know it. People who are invested in this religion will never see it for what it is. They will never see or admit the ugly reality that Christianity is a man’s religion borne on the backs of women. Their book spells it out exactly the role and dress code and worth of women. Women who follow this religion are fools. Absolute fools.