Much of the Christian religion has largely become “holding on” instead of letting go. But God, it seems to me, does the holding on (to us!), and we must learn the letting go (of everything else). Richard Rohr
It is plain as day now, women have been abused in church. The SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) is revealing a very large problem that is not isolated to them. “Wives submit to your husbands” is a verse that has been controversial ever since I can remember. It has been misused to the detriment of women. We made a gender hierarchy, and we are still holding on to it even though the fruit of this theology has not been good fruit. “Wives submit to your husbands” is often preceded and proceeded by “Slaves obey your master” – we have said one is cultural and the other is universal. I am calling it what it is “Slave holding theology”. Jesus never embodied the theology that women were to be controlled by men, or be second class to men.
SBC and several other Baptist organizations will disassociate from LGBT affirming churches, but will maintain silence and financial support from churches with domestic abusers. Paige Patterson is the latest Pastor who did not stand by women who were abused, and it is disgusting. Nothing was done initially by the SBC or Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he resides as President, when he had counseled a woman to go back to her abusive husband and bring him to Christ. When she returned to church with two black eyes, Paige Patterson was happy because her husband came to church and they were going to make amends. He also made creepy remarks about a 16 year old girl. He has finally been removed because enough women wrote letters complaining, and it was revealed he encouraged a woman not to report rape to the police and to forgive her assailant! They had to do something. It took them 13 hours and they still awarded him Emeritus Status and Housing for Life! The good ole’ boy system were still singing his praises despite the abusive comments and counsel. They thought they could pray enough discipline into him. Just like our thoughts and prayers after every tragedy. ENOUGH!
Update: Paige Patterson finally lost all of his post removal benefits, but this is a reckoning that the SBC and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary took way too long on. And they did it too begrudgingly. This is why our gender roles don’t work! It’s sexist and not safe for women. There is NO getting around it – even with the best intentions. It creates hierarchy and power. That’s the fruit. Women can be called and have always been called. It’s in the Bible.
The church has hung on too long to their patriarchal ideas. Misogyny, racism, LGBTQ bigotry, greed, etc are some of the horrid symptoms coming from this toxic structure. Our theology affects human lives. That is why Jesus said the top 2 commandments are Love God and Love People- Mark 12:30-31. If there is no life coming from what we are doing, then the Spirit is saying no! We are to keep in step with the Spirit (Paul said that! Galations 5 – Considering so many use Paul as the justification for this mess). Jesus promised the Spirit would live in us– the Spirit of Truth–John 14. The truth is the White Evangelical Church is under judgement. What really concerns me is how many people are not paying attention, or they are- but even now will not budge on tradition. Tradition, in the sense we use the word, keeps people comfortable and in the pews. Our churches do not like to lose people and their money. When something new has been revealed that most likely won’t be accepted initially, we play it safe versus preaching fire. While we need to be civil and listen to different perspectives, there is such thing as truth. We cannot agree to disagree on Racism, misogyny, LGBTQ abuse, greed, etc. The revolution is bold and tender. In the words of Brene Brown, “Speak truth to bullshit….but be civil”.
I hear more outcry from the white church over not standing for the flag and guns. Today I read the NFL will fine teams if they don’t stand. (Peaceful protests are not even allowed for people of color!). People are dying. Racism is rampant, Misogyny is everywhere. But yes, lets make guns (that are killing children and our police, black lives and many others) and not standing for the flag our outcry. Our President is calling people animals and not a hint of worry that is how dehumanization happens. It is wrong headed on every level. We support the powerful over the victims. I am tired of hearing “it takes time” or “Hang in there” – that is the language of the privileged. We tell people progress has happened so people will just be content. If we really want biblical tradition, then we move forward. We do not cling to what isn’t anymore. And we certainly cry for justice. They did not stay with old ways and old ideas that no longer worked. They protested! The Bible is full of civil disobedience. The Bible is a minority report. These were people with the Empire on their necks. Jesus was killed by the church and state. What we are doing has been done before. Learn our history!
I want to address Paul another time. But he is recognized as an apostle even though he never met Jesus. Mary Magdalene did meet Jesus. She walked closely with him, and was chosen to proclaim his resurrection. She is an apostle too.
For the Love – Love God and Love People. Keep in step with the Spirit. Love is on the bottom. Stop holding on to what you cannot hold onto anymore. Let go.
You have to lose your life to gain it. Mathew 16:25 I can testify to this!