#ChurchDV Is A Necessary Topic for Discussion in the SBC
Church domestic violence is a necessary topic for discussion in the Southern Baptist Convention. As we approach the upcoming 2018 Annual Meeting in Dallas, there could never be a better time to address this issue as a convention.
#MeToo and Male Church Leaders
The #MeToo movement has come to affect evangelicals. First, powerful men in Hollywood were exposed for their mistreatment of women. Then politicians from Washington who had mistreated women were exposed. Pastors and other male church leaders (and in particular Southern Baptist leaders) who had also mistreated women or had other moral missteps have received critical attention.
First, Bill Hybels resigned because of a history of mistreatment of women. Then, Frank Page resigned because of a “morally inappropriate relationship.” Judge Paul Pressler has been accused of sexual assault of young teenage men. Paige Patterson, Pressler’s partner in the Conservative Resurgence has also received a storm of criticism.
A variety of people in the SBC are criticizing Paige Patterson for comments he made about women and girls. In particular, in one audio interview, Patterson seemed to be dismissive about domestic violence in the church. Wade Burleson was the first to comment about these remarks over ten years ago. Recently, Burleson was the first to call on Paige Patterson to step down as President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has also called for Patterson to step down from preaching the annual sermon at this year’s annual meeting.
Paige Patterson has replied to the outrage over his comments. Yet, it has not stopped the flow of criticism against him.
SBC Leaders Who Have Addressed Church Domestic Violence
Because of Patterson’s previous comments that have since come to light, other SBC leaders have used this opportunity to address their views about domestic violence in the church. At the same time, they have used this issue to rebuke Patterson. For example:
Beth Moore wrote about her personal experience with men in the SBC. Bruce Ashford tweeted a clear statement about how to handle domestic violence. Danny Akin also tweeted against abuse in the home. Thom Rainer issued a tweet concurring this view. Russell Moore agreed with Rainer. Ed Setzer issued a strong criticism of Paige Patterson and called for him to go.Others have joined the sentiment. According to Jonathan Aigner, Paige Patterson and Judge Paul Pressler, two idols of the SBC, could be hastening its demise. Dr. Laurel Shaler describes how disrespecting women leads to sex trafficking and domestic violence. A petition that includes signatures from prominent women in the SBC has been launched. (Update: Another petition for men has gone live as well. I signed it.)
The Church and Domestic Violence
If a woman is living in a domestic violence situation, I would counsel that person to call the police and leave that relationship immediately. A separation is temporarily necessary. You can pray while you are away just as easily as you can when you are with your husband. The husband needs to repent of his violent abusive actions. After which, the couple can try to build back that relationship in the way God intends. The husband has to see that he was wrong in being violent and he needs to change that. That violent mindset will only change when he sees his wife as God sees her – a valued and important person who God want the husband to care for and learn from.
This mindset starts with fathers as well. As fathers, we need to treat our children with dignity and respect. We should let them know that God values them. They are to be objectified as teenage girls. The pressure on these girls to live up a standard of worldly beauty is too much for them. The last thing they need to hear is a pastor addressing them sex objects to be admired for how they appear.
The Future of the SBC and the Domestic Violence
The fact that as Southern Baptists, we are being confronted with this issue means that we need to preach and teach our people about these topics. Southern Baptists should use this opportunity to speak about against domestic violence in the church. We should also use this opportunity to see if there are other areas in our churches that need refining and change.
Does this mean that Dr. Patterson should step down from his position at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary? It may be time for a new man to lead that seminary. Does this mean that Dr. Patterson should remove himself from giving the annual sermon before the annual meeting? Maybe he should remove himself. Perhaps he should use that meeting to model the right behavior that Christian men should have. He could use that opportunity to repent of his past mistakes and sins, apologize for his comments, and speak out against domestic violence and how it is incompatible with Christian values.