Southern Baptist Leader Tells Abused Wives Not To Divorce, Pray Instead

Audio has surfaced of Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, advising abused women not to divorce their abusers in 2000, notes The Baptist Blogger.

Patterson also made no mention of abuse being a criminal act or that the police should be called.

Patterson said that a “temporary separation” should only “happen only in the most serious of case,” notes the Friendly Atheist:

An excellent question, and let me respond that it depends on the level of abuse to some degree. I had never in my ministry counseled that anybody seek a divorce. And I do think that’s always wrong counsel.

There have been, however, an occasion or two when the level of the abuse was serious enough, dangerous enough, immoral enough that I have counseled temporary separation and the seeking of help. I would urge you to understand that that should happen only in the most serious of cases…

First of all, I say to them that you must not forget the power of prayer… Get on your face before God and ask Him to intervene and He is a good and a dear Heavenly Father. And at some point he will intervene.

Patterson recalled how an abused woman was abused again after taking his advice:

I’ll just give you one brief example of it. I had a woman who was in a church that I served in. She was being subject to some abuse, and I told her, I said, “Alright, I want you to do this, every evening, I want you to get down by your bed just as he goes to sleep.

Get down by the bed, and when you think he’s just about asleep, you just pray and ask God to intervene. Out loud, quietly.” But I said, “You just pray there,” and I said, “Get ready because he may get a little more violent, you know, when when he discovers this.”

After being quoted correctly by journalists, Patterson released a statement on April 29 in which he claimed to be subjected to “rigorous misrepresentation.”

Patterson played a star man argument by claiming he had never abused women, which he was never accused of:

For the record, I have never been abusive to any woman. I have never counseled or condoned abuse of any kind. I will never be a party to any position other than that of the defense of any weaker party when subjected to the threat of a stronger party. This certainly includes women and children. Any physical or sexual abuse of anyone should be reported immediately to the appropriate authorities, as I have always done.

Patterson went on to say they he has never advised divorce, even though divorce is permissible in the Bible in certain circumstances:

I have also said that I have never recommended or prescribed divorce. How could I as a minister of the Gospel? The Bible makes clear the way in which God views divorce. I have on more than one occasion counseled and aided women in leaving an abusive husband.

After claiming he was misrepresented, Patterson regretted how he expressed his “conviction” about abused women: 

I do not apologize for my stand for the family and for seeking to mend a marriage through forgiveness rather than divorce. But I do greatly regret that the way I expressed that conviction has brought hurt. I also regret for my own family this deliberate misrepresentation of my position as well as the hatred that lies behind much of it.

Oddly, Patterson made no mention of using the power of prayer against the supposed attacks against his family, the same power of prayer he told abused women to use.

After claiming his own victimhood, Patterson bravely refused questions about his comments from The Washington Post:

75 years of experience teaches me (though a slow learner) that no one’s life is made materially better by entering these discussions. I have said enough.

(Sources: The Washington Post, Friendly Atheist, The Baptist BloggerSouthwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)

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