Evangelical Protestantism, thank God, is experiencing its own version of a #MeToo moment.
Paige Patterson — head of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and icon of conservative Baptist belief — is being called out for a story he told in 2000. An abused woman had come to him for counseling. Patterson recommended prayer. Later, the woman returned with two black eyes. In Patterson’s telling: “She said, ‘I hope you’re happy.’ And I said, ‘Yes . . . I’m very happy,’ ” because the woman’s husband had heard her prayers and come to church the next day.
This, presumably, is Patterson’s version of a happy ending: A wife gets battered, but the church gets a new member. God works in misogynist ways.
A number of prominent Baptists have risen in criticism. Thom Rainer, president of the Christian publishing house LifeWay, tweeted, “There is no type or level of abuse of women that is acceptable.” Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, added: “Any physical abuse on any level is completely unacceptable in marriage. The church should immediately step in & provide a safe place for the abused.”
But it was the response of prominent Baptist teacher Beth Moore that laid bare the reality of being a woman in some evangelical circles. In “A Letter to My Brothers,” she recounts decades of being demeaned, dismissed, ignored and patronized by colleagues. “I came face to face,” she says, “with one of the most demoralizing realizations of my adult life: Scripture was not the reason for the colossal disregard and disrespect of women among many of these men. It was only an excuse. Sin was the reason. Ungodliness.”
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