Paige Patterson, the SBC, and Women

Growing up in the South, we were surrounded by Southern Baptists. They went to church a lot; Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday night. They would typically ask if you would want to come with them. We did go to a few Vacation Bible Schools with neighborhood friends. It was a good way for mom to get us out of the house during the summer. The first time someone asked it I was saved, I told the story of falling out of a whitewater raft and the guide pulling me to safety. This was clearly not my scene

SBC

The practices and habits of Paige Patterson regarding the counsel he gave women are alarming. However, if we are surprised it’s only because we haven’t been paying attention. After all, he and other leaders of the SBC have been making similar proclamations in sermons for years. I’ve had several people come into my office, fleeing their Southern Baptist tradition because they were told either not to get divorced for any reason or that they were unworthy of God’s love because they were divorced. I’ve seen the revelation on a person’s face when they discover that women can be in leadership in our tradition and in fact, many of our churches have more women in leadership than men. I’m amazed that so many are just now becoming aware of this abuse of the scriptures and people’s lives so that the privileged males remain in power. After all, Patterson leads a school where women are not allowed to teach men and they must take homemaking classes, all in the name of following the teachings of Jesus. It’s not about Jesus, because these ethics are opposite the teachings of Jesus it’s about control and holding power over another, specifically women. It’s marginalization of one gender so that another may be lifted. “Women can’t preach or teach” is a gateway ethic that promotes the abusive ethic of toxic masculinity running rampant through the SBC.

Beth Moore writes, “I accepted the peculiarities accompanying female leadership in a conservative Christian world, because I choose to believe that, whether or not some of the actions and attitudes seemed godly to me.” There are countless others that have felt the same way. Let me be clear; there is nothing godly about the disregard, disrespect, or abuse of women or any other human being. The central themes of the Scriptures are the exact opposite. The Scriptures proclaim that all people are children of a loving God and all people have enormous value. We are equals, partners with God in the ongoing creation of the world.

I’m confronted by two realizations, First, we in the mainline church have got to learn to tell our stories and share our vision of the Gospel in a more effective, compelling way. If we are upset over how other faith traditions treat others, we cannot be bystanders. We have stood by while others have created a narrative of Christianity that is not faithful to the love of God. Inclusive churches where are all are valued are not a new phenomenon. We cannot be passive about sharing the good news.

Second, we must continue to examine our lives and our institutions. I know in my tradition it is often an advantage to be a male clergyperson when it comes to our call system. I imagine on average my male colleagues are paid more than female colleagues. I suspect many of our congregations do not have adequate family leave policies in place. You see where I’m going here; we shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back while we are even the least bit complicit in implying that all people aren’t equally loved by God. Mainliners have work to do too and the urgency should be even greater now.

I do not know if leaders of the SBC are taking a longer look in the proverbial mirror. The God I know calls me to do so. It seems if you aren’t willing to be a part of the solution, you become complicit in perpetuating the problem.

One Pastor’s Prayer for National Day of Prayer

What are you praying for today? It is, of course, the National Day of Prayer. This day was signed into being by Harry S. Truman, originally as a Spring counterpart to Thanksgiving. The idea was that Americans, from all faith backgrounds, would take a day to give thanks and to offer prayers for the United States and her leaders.

 

 

Today I’m struck by how this interfaith and ecumenical celebration has been dominated by more fundamentalist Christian messages. To be fair, those of that ilk of Christianity are great promoters and unashamed about talking about their faith, something others streams of Christianity and other religions don’t do quite as well. It’s not a bad thing that a nation as diverse as the United States comes together to pray to their own understanding of the holy. So what might you pray for today for our nation. Here is my prayer list on this National Day of Prayer

That our nation might honestly deal with both individual and systemic racism. This will require each of us to do honest self-reflection on our complicity in acts of racism.

That the church may be a place where people find the fullness of life. The church holds such promise for being a powerful community in people’s lives. The opportunity is present for us.

That we might pay more attention to those who are marginalized and vulnerable in our midst. I pray that we see the gifts and graces they have to offer and that we might see our collective responsibility to care for those on the margins. 

That we truly follow God’s command to care for creation. Many our actions and policies reflect God’s call to care for creation.  

That people of differing faiths come find common ground so that we can work together to bring God’s shalom to this nation and the world. 

That people of faith be allies to and advocates for those in the LGBTQ community. 

Remembering that Jesus healed those on the margins, let us not forget those on the margins when talking about healthcare. 

May we reclaim what it means to be a neighbor.

Lord, in your mercy, hear your prayer