Michael Gerson on the Paige Patterson Debacle


Washington Post reporter Michael Gerson reflects on evangelical Protestantism’s #MeToo moment.  Get up to speed on the Paige Patterson debacle here.

A taste:

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.”

Read the rest here.

One thought on “Michael Gerson on the Paige Patterson Debacle

  1. John, I would imagine that I am probably the only one of your readers that has actually heard this story related by Patterson in person. I heard him tell it probably 15 or 20 years ago at a wild game dinner at a church I attended. Since this story reappeared this past week, I have noticed that one crucial element has been left out of every account I have read. That element is this part in Patterson’s statement on the SWBTS web site:
    “That morning, he did make his decision for Christ public before the church, and she was ecstatic. They lived happily together from that time on in commitment to Christ. There was no further abuse. In fact, their love for one another and commitment to their home was evident to all. She herself often shared this testimony.” This part, and that Patterson states that the husband was not abusive – verbally or physically – before this are two critical points that I would think a historian would appreciate. The whole story is not being told. I suspect many folks are “Bartonizing” this story to accomplish their agendas.

    Gerson either did not bother to read Patterson’s statement, doesn’t believe it or doesn’t care. One would think someone claiming to be an evangelical would have no problem understanding the restoration of the marriage and the changed life of the husband were what Patterson were happy about, not the idiocy Gerson claims: “the church gets a new member. God works in misogynist ways.”


Comments are closed.