After audio of old comments circulates on social media, Southern Baptist leader clarifies his pastoral approach to domestic violence.
On Sunday, Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson spoke out to address his position on domestic violence after old comments he made regarding counseling women in abusive marriages circulated on social media over the weekend.
Patterson, the president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) and a key player in the Conservative Resurgence of America’s largest denomination, said that his past statements—discouraging women from divorcing in cases of abuse and celebrating the faith of a woman whose prayers led her to be hit by her husband—had been misrepresented and mischaracterized.
He clarified both instances in an SWBTS press release, adding that he has “never counseled or condoned abuse of any kind” and that “any physical or sexual abuse of anyone should be reported immediately to the appropriate authorities, as I have always done.”
Patterson said he has advised and helped women to leave abusive husbands, but stood by his commitment to never recommend divorce: “How could I as a minister of the gospel? The Bible makes clear the way in which God views divorce.”
Among Patterson’s remarks being shared on Twitter is an audio clip said to be from a conference in 2000, where he was asked about cases where a woman is being asked to submit to an abusive husband. In the recording, he says separation should be reserved for only “the most serious of cases” and divorce is “always wrong counsel.”
Overall, American pastors are more likely to condone divorce in cases of domestic violence than for other commonly cited reasons for ending a marriage. Though almost half of American evangelicals (46%) say divorce due to abuse is sinful, just over a quarter …
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