When it comes to the Southern Baptist Convention and how leaders should behave, the new rule seems to be “Anything goes.”
The president of the SBC, Steve Gaines, recently released a statement regarding the controversy swirling around Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson and his disturbing remarks about how women ought to stay in abusive marriages and that he found an underage girl very attractive.
Rather than condemning the comments and Patterson himself, Gaines suggested there’s “nothing he can do” about it.
In a new statement, Gaines says that he has talked with Patterson about the comments, but, essentially, because of the structure of the Southern Baptist Convention, there’s nothing he can do to punish him or have him removed.
Gaines writes (in part):
I have talked with him in person and by phone regarding his comments and told him that I disagree with the counsel he gave to a woman who was married to an abusive husband … Regarding Dr. Patterson’s more recent remarks about a teenage girl, I believe they were improper. While I love him and appreciate him, I disagree with what he said. Preachers should never refer to women in any way that could be considered demeaning. On behalf of the SBC, I ask for the forgiveness of all women who have been hurt by these comments and the issue of ill treatment of women within churches in particular. I believe we should esteem and regard women in the same way Jesus did during His earthly ministry.
Some have called for me to stop Dr. Patterson from preaching the Convention Sermon in Dallas. The SBC president does not have the authority to make that decision. Neither does the SBC Committee on Order of Business. It was the messengers of the 2017 SBC meeting that selected Dr. Patterson to preach the 2018 Convention Sermon. There are only two scenarios in which Dr. Patterson will not preach the Convention Sermon: 1) the messengers of the SBC vote at the annual meeting in Dallas for him not to do so, or 2) Dr. Patterson personally withdraws from that responsibility. In either case, the alternate preacher, Dr. Kie Bowman, would preach the Convention Sermon.
It’s amazing, really. The SBC can persuade millions of people to vote Republican, support anti-LGBTQ legislation, and condemn those who don’t identify with their theology. But for some reason, they completely lack the ability to censure a man whose remarks put women’s lives in danger.
I call bullshit.
If their rules aren’t flexible enough to remove Patterson from a speaking slot at their convention, then admit the system is broken, remove him anyway, and change the rules at the meeting. It’s religion. The rules change all the time, anyway.
(Screenshot via YouTube)