This article is a second one I have seen about the firing of Dr. Paige Patterson, former head of two Baptist seminaries and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, for his conduct in regard to suppressing reports of sexual abuse on the campuses and, further, harassing the victims to keep quiet or stay in marriages where abuse was occurring.
Sadly, I’ve seen some really poor results from this kind of “counsel” by male religious leaders toward females…..I’ve been referred in on some cases where individual women were nearly suicidal from having received that kind of advice from a male preacher, friend or a family member. Divorce is rarely a wise first resort, but it certainly is an option when a husband is “lording” his authority in a way that denies a woman’s soul (and possibly her body, too) the ability to flourish…. Husbands, love your wives as the Lord loves the church…..There’s no room in that for domination and demeaning, jealousy of her gifts, squashing her personal ambitions, physical violence, oppressive behavior, humiliating her through unrepentant repeated sexual infidelity, using her as an object of male- macho pridefulness, etc. When religious leaders act out of self-interest or institution-interest motives instead of the interest of a victim of physical or sexual or emotional abuse, they are wrong….. Ahasuerus’ princes were wrong when they told him to dump Vashti because of their fear that her refusal to come on his command to the beer-bash he was holding for the princes might influence their wives to challenge their demands and put the men of the kingdom in a difficult spot. But God redeemed their misguided counsel and made a way for Esther to influence the entire kingdom for ultimate good for people who were threatened by a jealous and bigoted enemy.
Beth Moore recently addressed some of the chauvinism / misogyny / macho houndishness / ignorance that has perverted the mission and ministry of Christ’s church and sought to shame women into “staying in their place.” My place is wherever the Lord calls me. My husband respects God’s call and claim on my life and trusts me to keep our family’s interests as well as my own and those of the kingdom in mind as I balance the various roles of my life in harmony with his.
Recently I was asked if I would be willing to teach Christian life recovery lessons in a particular setting that was men- only. I responded to the question with a swift “No”. My ministry is to women. Part of the reason for my “no” is that the spiritual needs of men and women are different. Just as few men know and understand all that a woman’s heart holds, I have no claim to knowing and understanding the needs of men’s hearts in general. (Though I have learned in 46 years how to grow in spiritual, emotional, and physical intimacy with my husband, as God intended). Nor do I feel called or equipped for that task, although there are, no doubt, some women who do. But I can tell you, as I told the person asking the question, that the real reason I said “No” so swiftly is that I have encountered the male would-be superiority among quite a few men from the setting we were discussing and also in the teaching of more than a few men (and some women) in such a setting that fosters disregard for and lack of credibility for the teaching of women. The inquirer looked at me quizzically and responded that such discriminatory conduct would not be allowed in THIS place. Oh, yes, I would have liked to have said. And I knew he could say that only because the male-domination of the venue we were discussing has never been challenged with regard to spiritual teaching there of men by women. That’s not a fight in which I care to engage at this point of my life. All I sought to do and what I discussed doing was teaching women spiritual principles that could strengthen their resilience, self- regulation, and self and God- awareness. But that’s not likely to happen because of some particular men who have influence there and who would be protecting some of their own personal and institutional interests if the prospect of me teaching – women or men – were raised with them, given past conflicts over women intruding on their authority.
- The “Our” church referenced in the title indicates those churches in which women are restricted from teaching or preaching by group dogma.