I believe that God created marriage to be a wonderful, intimate relationship between a husband and a wife.

I believe that marriage is to reflect the relationship that God wants to have with us–that sexuality is not just physical, but is about an intimate “knowing” of each other. For that to be realized in a marriage, both spouses need to feel respected, cherished, and valued.

Unfortunately, there are too many elements of the Christian church which work directly against this kind of relationship by devaluing women, and by protecting predatory pastors at the expense of women and children.

While this is not limited to one particular denomination, today I want to dedicate my blog to stand in solidarity with the #ForSuchaTimeasThisRally happening in Dallas right now outside the SBC Annual Meeting. Again, as I said yesterday, I am so thankful that I am not in a church that behaves like this, and I am aware that many of you are not, either. If none of this applies to you, then don’t worry–regular programming will resume tomorrow!

But I feel that I need to speak up today. Over the last month, the news has been full of stories of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s president Paige Patterson, who failed to report sexual assaults to the police, bragged about sending abused women back to their husbands, spoke really creepily about a 16-year-old’s breasts from the pulpit, and belittled women who reported sexual assault.

After a prolonged fight with the board and in the national press, he was finally fired late last month. Despite reports that his attitude towards women was well-known over his long tenure, no one ever did anything about him until recently, leaving so many wounded and bruised people in his wake.

All of this has caused an internal evaluation within the SBC, with people jumping on board saying, “Yes! We value women!” Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says that judgment has come to the SBC.

I am glad that SBC leaders say that they see a problem now. However, many of us have been seeing problems for years, and these leaders did not speak up then.

And so, I would like to ask Al Mohler, and other SBC leaders who are meeting now in Dallas, why did you not see this earlier?

SBC and their Treatment of Women: How the Southern Baptist Convention needs to care about abuse and sexism.

When Paige Patterson bragged in a sermon all the way back in 2000 that he told an abused woman with two black eyes that he was “glad” that she went back to her husband and that she had been beaten, because now her husband had repented,

When he called a 16-year-old girl “built” from the pulpit,

Why did you not see it then? Why is it only awful now, when the national press has brought it to light?

When pastor after pastor after pastor was accused of abusing children and teens in their care, including Paul Pressler, while the church elders did nothing,

Why did you not see it then?

When pastors and SBC officials  failed to report abuse to the police, and allowed abusers to move from one church to another,

Why did you not see it then?

When so many abused women came forward saying that their churches didn’t listen to them, and told that if their husbands just got more sex, the abuse would stop,

Why did you not see it then?

When Rachael denHollander, the brave survivor of Larry Nassar’s assaults who was the first to bring her case forward, said in her victim impact statement that she had lost her church because she had advocated for child sexual abuse victims,

When she elaborated that the problem was that she had challenged her SBC church leadership for trying to rehabilitate C.J. Mahaney’s reputation, when he had never been held to account for allegedly covering up child sexual abuse,

And when Christianity Today magazine joined Rachael in calling for an independent investigation of Sovereign Grace Churches, which are still listed as SBC churches on the “Find a church near you” SBC website,

Why did you not see it then?

When Matt Chandler and the elders of the Village Church implemented church discipline against Karen Hinkley, who chose to annul her marriage because her husband was a child porn addict, and instead supported the husband and allowed him to be in the church around children,

Why did you not see it then? Why did it take abuse bloggers and then the national, secular press to throw light on this incident before anything was done to support Karen and apologize to her for slandering her?

When Andy Savage of Highpoint Church in Memphis was credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor when he was a youth pastor, and the church gave him a standing ovation and said all was forgiven, rather than addressing the severity of what he had done,

Why did you not see it then? Again, why did it take the horrified reaction of the public in the national, secular press to make that church do the right thing?

When 25 different women came to Paige Patterson saying that Darrell Gilyard had sexually abused them, and he ignored each and every complaint because there weren’t 2-3 witnesses to each episode of sexual abuse, and Gilyard went on to other churches to abuse more, and was later jailed,

Why did you not see it then? 

When Beth Moore spoke up about all the misogyny that she has experienced in the denomination,

Why did you not see it then?

When Paige Patterson fired all the female professors at SWBTS, including Sheri Klouda who taught Hebrew, because it was absolutely imperative that no man ever be taught by a woman,

When seminary professors teaching preaching would leave the classroom when a female student had to give her sermon, and would send their secretaries to hear it instead so that they wouldn’t hear a woman teach (sounds like little boys yelling “Cooties!” on the playground), resulting in women receiving a diminished education,

Why did you not see it then?

When the ESV, the Bible translation recommended by leaders of the denomination, changed the words and meaning of Genesis 3:16 to insinuate that women’s desire was to dominate her husband, rather than simply desire her husband,

When noted scholars in the SBC, including Owen Strachan, said that man is made in the image of God in a direct, unmediated fashion, whereas women are only made in the image of God in an indirect, mediated fashion,

When prominent SBC scholars, including Bruce Ware, changed the doctrine of the Trinity to something called “Eternal Subordination of the Son”, saying that the Son was always subordinate to the Father, in order to justify women being eternally subordinate to men,

Why did you not see it then?

When the SBC kept saying, “we’re just a loosely organized group of churches, so we can’t expel a church” to explain that they couldn’t do anything about C.J. Mahaney still being a pastor (or any of the pastors who abused kids and teens or covered up abuse), but AT THE SAME TIME did manage to defellowship churches that ordained women,

Why did you not see it then? Doesn’t that show a strange set of priorities? (A woman preaching the gospel is worse than a man abusing children?)

When Al Mohler joked about the internet outrage regarding C.J. Mahaney’s coverup of child sex abuse when he invited Mahaney to the podium to give a keynote address to the Together 4 the Gospel conference in 2016, completely ignoring victims’ pleas to have abuse taken seriously,

Why did you not see it then?

When Paige Patterson advised Megan Lively, then a student at SWBTS who had been raped in 2003 not to report it to police, but to handle it in house, and put her on academic probation because she had been alone with her rapist,

Why did you not see it then?

No, it was only when it was incontrovertibly revealed that Paige Patterson had told the head of security that he wanted to meet alone with a rape victim in 2015 so that he could “break her down“–

It was only then that you saw it.

So now Al Mohler says that SBC is humiliated, and must treat this seriously. But, quite frankly, I don’t buy it. Al Mohler still supports C.J. Mahaney. He has not apologized for his jokes in the past. He has not called for an independent investigation.

This has to stop.

This isn’t just unacceptable. This is an affront to the gospel of Jesus.

I personally believe that the majority of SBC parishioners and pastors are actively living to serve Jesus and are trying their best to spread His love. But if you affiliate with the SBC in any way, I believe it is incumbent on you to speak out against these evils, and against the leadership that has perpetuated them.

It is only by casting light on darkness that we can expel it. It is only by SBC churches standing up and saying, “we can no longer tolerate elements of the SBC acting like this”, that we will see something happen.

And so I stand with my sisters and brothers protesting in Dallas today.

  • I call on the SBC to repent of its historic treatment of women and abuse victims.
  • I call on the SBC to examine the horrific attitudes towards women that are rampant in its denomination, especially in the more recent years under current leadership.
  • I call on the SBC to develop policies on how to handle domestic abuse that recognize that the welfare of the abuse victim is more important than the shell of the marriage.
  • I call on the SBC to ensure that all of its churches adhere to policies designed to protect the vulnerable from abuse inside its walls.
  • I call on the SBC to develop a registry of those who have abused those under their care, so they can’t keep moving from one church to another.
  • I call on the SBC to demand full and independent investigations of any pastor who is accused of abuse, or who has covered up abuse.
  • And finally, I call on the SBC to develop a policy to expel churches who do not deal appropriately with abuse in its midst.

I hope you will all stand with me, for such a time as this.

If you’re a sexual abuse survivor having trouble moving forward, or an advocate who wants to do more to end abuse, especially in the church, do check out The Courage Conference. It’s a powerful time with wonderful people who can point all to healing and wholeness in Christ, and I highly recommend it.

If you want to do something about what is happening in the SBC, the For Such a Time as This Rally has a page of info to point you in the right direction.

UPDATE: edited to say that the ESV was not actually done by the SBC.

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