Are these Baptists colleagues of ours?


     Southern Baptists may be well intentioned and they’ve been around for years. But what’s recently happened tells us that Patterson at the very least, is old-fashioned. What is it you ask? I’ll tell you: the rights of women. Yes, I thought we all knew, but in the American South, it’s different. I’m told that Southern Baptists often don’t know what’s happening, in the denomination’s culture, that they should know. Right or wrong, I sensed in a reference I was given years ago: men get all the rights they want and that’s that. Why in the world should women not get their rights? Why? Why?  I suspect that southern Baptist men may quietly know it, but then avoid it. I’m not surprised that much of the American south is highly conservative, self –centered and not given to ecumenism. It’s been that way for years and years. Here’s proof: a southern Baptist woman named Susan B. Anthony — who looked to the future for fairness — put it well many years ago: “Men? Their rights and nothing more. Women? Their rights and nothing less.” (She made that statement just before she died and guess what that year was? 1906. Not to be uppity but I’d say that the Southern Baptists should get out a big dictionary, then turn to the word “progressive” then try practicing what it means!                                                         

     Let’s now turn to the more important aspect that the Religion News Service lays out as an embarrassing problem. It truly is just that.  To me, the most annoying aspect is this crude and rude policy: women are not to be ordained. I usually like calm and quiet words, but this policy and practice is an outrage. It has to be.  Look at medicine. Look at law. Look at education. Look at sport. Look at politics. What is this based on anyway? (One sentence in Corinthians that urges women to be silent. So one sentence shuts up millions of women!!)  Wait a minute – the Southern Baptists have created their own scriptures by amending the existing biblical literature. It was brought about in 1998, along with a created 19 page booklet, then adding this sentence which will surely warm the hearts of all male readers: “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.” (By the way, if her husband leaves her, one way or another, I suggest her son take over.) To be accurate and fair, we must endorse an aspect that Religion News Service recognizes: “Question: What about the women? Are they silent?” Answer: “Not really any more. Many have voiced their opposition to Patterson’s comments. Please note that bible teacher Beth Moore, one of the most popular women within Southern Baptist ranks, has tweeted that “domestic abuse is ‘wrong’ it is criminal & never to be excused or submitted to.”

        As for the man who helped sparked this controversy, Dr. Paige Patterson, we can be grateful that in very recent days, he has amended his iron insistence on the policy that women will stay put. Recently, around mid-May, he had the courage to amend his own view on the rights of women within the church and call upon others to do likewise. (You and I don’t know how abusive this rejection of women has been. We leave it at that but I’m wary as to the nature of past treatment of Southern Baptist women.) However, Paige Patterson has had the courage to turn the page on the policy of female exclusion, which has been close to both stupidity and disgrace. Shame! In his recent statement he has said this: “Pastoral ministry that occurred 54 years ago, repeated as an illustration of domestic violence in sermons on more than one occasion, as well as another sermon illustration used to try to explain a Hebrew word have been hurtful to women in several possible ways. I wish to apologize to every women who has been wounded by anything I have said that was inappropriate or that lacked clarity. We live in a word of hurt and sorrow, and the last thing that I need to do is add to admonitions. Please forgive the failure to be as thoughtful and careful in my extemporaneous expression as I should have been.”

     Naturally we are far from knowing the nature of the approach and the conduct of the male leaders and the irrelevance of their attitude and language. For example, the head title of the recent clarification has a suggestive word that provokes something serious, from the ministry of the clergy. It reads: “Southern Baptist Leader Paige Patterson issues apology to women for ‘inappropriate’ language.” I wonder.

    Just as I reread my blog for the third time, my computer provided me with what is probably the most decisive decision on Patterson, which is in the heading: “Paige Patterson removed as head of Southern Baptist seminary….” The leading paragraph says enough to wonder how a distinguished Southern Baptist scholar and President of the Southern Baptist’s largest seminary, would now be dismissed. Maybe you’ll see why in the actual words leading the article:

   “Paige Patterson, the embattled president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s largest seminary, was asked to step down after an outpouring of criticism for his rugged comments on women, including for example, his advice he gave to a woman to stay with her abusive husband and in news reports he asked another woman not to report a rape….” What?

   Pardon me but I was just concluding this essay when suddenly significant new issues connected with the Southern Baptist leader suddenly popped up on the screen. First the fresh heading: “Southern Baptist leader removed after controversial remarks; backlash over comments about women…..” What? I’m now trying to get this new information to you promptly: “A quorum of about 30 male trustees and three female trustees of the 1,200 student Texas seminary were present for the meeting that began Tuesday afternoon to discuss the fate of Patterson, a past president of the Southern Baptist Convention who has been revered as a giant for standing guard for decades against liberalizing changes….” There’s much more, but for now, it’s wait and see. Sunday is here so I’m off to worship but I’ll be back to you as this is a most critical issue. The man, Patterson, was a senior age having major, major influence in the Southern Baptist culture. Hence, thereby he was representative of that culture, which to me, held its head not just high but VERY high. Nonetheless there’s dreadful trouble in the ranks.

      Over the years, the Southern Baptists, gave the rest of Protestants, the back of their hand. It was partly dismissing us for liberal thought. (It even declined joining The World Council which is both crude and rude. Still they’re better outside the council.) Now they’re facing their own inward troubles that I predict will worsen. I managed to research sufficiently that I came upon letter upon letters — all from women!– shocking me that they, of all, are abused and excluded. Here are some brief aspects of the women’s written resentment (a)”Morals, cruelty and disgust have just been brought in to us…”(b) “is this the end of evangelicalism…” (c) “They can’t deal with the realities honestly….I’ve just totally given up on the Southern Baptists…”. From there it’s on and on. There are a great many evangelical women who by now signed the open letter to condemn the words and the tactics of Paige Patterson, a very influential figure and leader of the Southern Baptist Convention. All you and I can do, at least right now, is wait and watch.