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Southern Baptist leader offers apology after comments on abused women

By Sarah Smith/Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TNS) • May 13, 2018 at 10:00 AM

FORT WORTH, Texas — Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson offered an apology for his “failure to be as thoughtful and careful as I should have been” amid growing backlash over his comments urging women in abusive marriages to submit to their husbands rather than seek divorce and to keep marital troubles within the church.

“I wish to apologize to every woman who has been wounded by anything I have said that was inappropriate or that lacked clarity,” Patterson wrote in the statement, released Thursday, titled “An Apology to God’s People.” “I would also like to reiterate the simple truth that I utterly reject any form of abuse in demeaning or threatening talk, in physical blows, or in forced sexual acts.”

Patterson has been president of Fort Worth’s Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary since 2003 and is a luminary in the Southern Baptist world. When a recording of him in a 2000 interview saying women should submit to their husbands and pray instead of seeking divorce was circulated by the Baptist Blog on April 28, the Christian community went into an uproar.

Other recordings surfaced. A 2013 sermon showed Patterson warning Christians not to seek divorce, lest they prevent the judge from becoming a Christian. (This sermon included a warning not to take troubles before the media.) In 2014, he gave a sermon on how women are created “beautifully and artistically.”

He described a conversation in which a 16-year-old girl walked by and a boy said, “Man, is she built.” A woman they were with tried to scold the boy, but Patterson spoke up in his defense, because the boy was “being biblical.”

More than 2,500 women signed a letter denouncing Patterson and calling for decisive action by the trustees. While the seminary has not commented beyond a statement it put out on May 1 condemning abuse, it is planning a meeting of the trustees on May 22 “in light of recent events,” according to another news release.

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