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Sunday, October 05, 2008

How To Submit Graciously by Paige Patterson

Here's a snippet from a recent post by Wade Burleson that caught my attention:
In March of 2000 The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood hosted a Conference for people interested in the subject of Christian submission. During a Conference forum entitled "How Submission Works in Practice" Dr. Paige Patterson was asked a question about how a Christian wife should respond to spousal physical abuse. The answer Dr. Patterson gave, in my opinion, reflects the danger of a any belief system that promotes the idea that the male in the marriage possesses an inherent authority to which the Christian wife must at all times submit.
And here is the transcript of Patterson's answer to the question about how a battered and bruised Christian wife should respond to her violent husband:
I had a woman who was in a church that I served, and she was being subject to some abuse, and I told her, I said, “All right, what I want you to do is, 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, not 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 he discovers this.”

And sure enough, he did. She came to church one morning with both eyes black. And she was angry at me and at God and the world, for that matter. And she said, “I hope you’re happy.”

And I said, “Yes ma’am, I am.” And I said, “I’m sorry about that, but I’m very happy.”

And what she didn’t know when we sat down in church that morning was that her husband had come in and was standing at the back, first time he ever came. And when I gave the invitation that morning, he was the first one down to the front. And his heart was broken, he said, “My wife’s praying for me, and I can’t believe what I did to her.” And he said, “Do you think God can forgive somebody like me?” And he’s a great husband today. And it all came about because she sought God on a regular basis.

And remember, when nobody else can help, God can. And in the meantime, you have to do what you can at home to be submissive in every way that you can and to elevate him.
Unbelievable stuff.



Blogger Georgia Mountain Man said...

I'm sorry, but that answer is a piece of crap and totally irresponsible. It's a pity preachers can't be sued for malpractice. Yes, Rev. Patterson, keep on telling battered women to be submissive. When you have to look down at a battered corpse, I hope you have sense enough to get down on your knees and ask for forgiveness from the deceased and the Lord.

5:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just guessing: I think Patterson and those who listen to him would defend this by talking about the power of prayer, the general importance of enduring hardship for a greater good, and the sanctity of marriage. I think he & they would also focus specifically on the "happy" ending to the story: the husband experiences some type of epiphany. Nevertheless, his advice to the wife in this story is morally absurd. He's basically advocating submission at all cost, including a woman's emotional and physical health.

Few in number are the people who can speak publicly with absolute impunity. Who does this man answer to? How can they tolerate this? How does he keep his job?

10:21 AM

Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

All too often, the husband continues to beat his wife even after he responds to an invitation and becomes "born again." Preachers cannot be sued for malpractice, more's the pity, but I think they can be held legally responsible for not turning in a spouse abuser.

Patterson's position is extreme even for the submission folks. Several years ago, a major evangelical publisher (I forget which one) published a book called Battered Into Submission which failed to challenge the whole "male superiority" theological crap, but did say that there was ZERO excuse for spouse abuse and that preachers and other church members should confront such men rather than blaming their wives and telling them to be more submissive.

Patterson is guilty of giving aid and comfort to the "Sleeping with the Enemy" types.

11:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coming from Patterson, this response does not surprise me in the least bit. I would say poor Dorothy, but she spews a lot of the same rhetoric.

I cringe that people like Patterson tell women to submit to their husbands at all costs, but fail to remember to tell husbands to love their wives. I think its a little archaic and just plain inhumane to tell women to stay in abusive relationships. Heck, abuse was grounds for divorce by churches in America during the 17th century. Go figure...

9:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it might be well for you here to read what God says about how to behave in a marriage when married to an unbeliever. No one wants to see another person being beaten (that is if their heart is not as cold as ice), but the Bible does have guidelines about marrying an unbeliever in the first place and then there are instructions for the marriage where one is an unbeliever. If Christ had not been willing to suffer for our sins, we would all be lost. No pain, no gain is true a lot of the time. mom2

9:12 AM

Blogger Alexis said...

Regarding this particular blog post, what exactly is your point Mom2? Are you defending Paige Patterson?

9:18 AM

Blogger Joe Blackmon said...

First of all, Patterson gave stupid advice. Even if the husband did in fact get saved (for which God alone gets the glory) that doesn't change the fact that was he did was wrong. No woman should have to endure what this lady went through.

However, just because this is what Patterson calls when he says 'submit graciously" that does not mean that wives are not called to submit to their husbands and husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Submission doesn't mean take a beating from your crazy husband. Further, this does not prove that CBF'ers and e-gals are right after all. All it does is show that Patterson probably has some sort of mental illness.

9:19 AM

Blogger Alexis said...

Mom2, I would also say that abuse is not just an activity of the 'lost'. A Christian is equally capable of abuse as a non-Christian. (Unfortunately).

9:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

alexis, common sense should rule in most heads, whether a Christian or not also, so I don't think I would need to tell me when to get out of the way before someone took a swing at me. This site is always ready to take swings at SBC'ers wherever you can dig them up. This blame game seems to be a favorite thing of Democrats and then the second favorite is to run and hide when they deserve some blame. mom2
P.S. Patterson can be defended as easily as some of you can be.

12:11 PM

Blogger Alexis said...

I don't really think this is a democrat/republican issue, mom2. And I wasn't aware that republicans endorsed spousal abuse. The issue is specifically Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Seminary, and his complementarian view and interpretation of scripture to mean that a woman should submit to her husband at all times, even when he is beating her. So she is to submit, though he is not loving.

Given that Patterson guides a school of future pastors, I have to wonder whether this advice is given to these pastors in pastoral care/counseling courses.

You seem to agree with Patterson that wives should be submissive at all costs- even blaming the wife b/c she married a non-Christian (your interpretation). That battered Christian wives should stay in a relationship, and if they get hit they aren't moving fast enough??? I just want to know if that is what you are saying.

1:25 PM

Blogger Joe Blackmon said...


Now I'm about as much of a "right-wing, bible thumpin' fundy" as you can get. I'm glad the Conservative Resurgence happened and get positively giddy when I think how much it pains CBF'ers to see conservative after conservative elected to be SBC president. That having been said, there is no way anyone with a conscience could possibly defend Patterson for what he advised this woman to do.

I'm just sayin'....

1:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess you all know this woman personally, so that your judgment against Patterson is justified?
I just threw in the Democrat thing because as a former Democrat myself, I can see through so much of the topics on this site. mom2

1:54 PM

Blogger Joe Blackmon said...


I heard the words come out of Patterson's mouth in a recording. I don't have to know the woman to know that Patterson was wrong. And you will not that I am most definitely very conservative but man when someone's wrong they're wrong. Patterson was wrong. Period.

1:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I will concede that the Scripture does require ,Christian husbands to love their wives. I also do concede that scripture does tell wives if their husband is an unbeleiver to pray for them.

Regardless, this it is ridiculous that this is even a matter of discussion. It shouldn't matter if you or a complementarian, or egalitarian. Republican or Democrat. Spousal abuse should not be tolerated. That is ridiculous, and irresponsible. Paul instructs women to pray for their husbands, that doesn't mean she has to do it in the home of the open hand.

6:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

spousal abuse is probably something that can be recognized even before marriage if the abused wants to recognize it, so to blame anyone other than themselves is a bit off base. Bad judgment happens to a lot of people, not just preachers. mom2

8:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"spousal abuse is probably something that can be recognized even before marriage if the abused wants to recognize it, so to blame anyone other than themselves is a bit off base. Bad judgment happens to a lot of people, not just preachers."

HOLY COW. The *VICTIM* of spousal abuse is to blamed for not recognizing the fact she would be abused before she was married.

" . . . to blame ANYONE OTHER THAN THEMSELVES . . ." (emphasis mine) These are probably the most unbelievable words I've yet read o this topic.

Mom2, you are a moral idiot.

8:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you! dunningrb. After 69 years, this is what I have been waiting to hear. mom2
So good to see such Christian unity as is displayed here.

7:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mom2, I would hope that Christians could be united on several core issues and agree to some basic moral principles. Such as the following:

When a husband punches his wife in the face, it's his fault, not hers.

I'm very sorry that you and I cannot be united on this point.

7:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

dunningrb, I believe this situation described is the result of the fallen nature of man (or woman) and usually marriage does not happen one day after the first date. Marriage should come about because two people have come to know each other and if society would recognize that God knows what He is talking about, believe His Word and live according to His Word instead of worshiping the culture of the day, we would see that what He says in the Bible works. mom2

8:43 AM

Blogger The Whited Sepulchre said...

The difficulty here is that most of the parties to the discussion seem obligated to force the 21st century into a primitive tribal worldview.

200 years ago, it was legal to beat your wife, as long as you used a rod that was no thicker than your finger.

The Complementarian View? Rather than debate it seriously, why not look at it as a succesful wedge issue that was invented to takeover the SBC? Baptists were on track to rejoin humanity until Patterson, Powell, and Company discovered how to use it.

Joe Blackmon,
How's the Disney Boycott working out?

7:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Complementarian View? Rather than debate it seriously, why not look at it as a succesful wedge issue that was invented to takeover the SBC? Baptists were on track to rejoin humanity until Patterson, Powell, and Company discovered how to use it. from Joe Blockmon's post.

This kind of comment is evidence of why the liberals did not need to take the SBC over. The pot is calling the kettle black. mom2

5:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


You're right that one should exercise judgment in choosing a marriage partner. But must the price of a mistake in that judgment be years of abuse?

And sometimes people change--for the worse. None of us can see the future. Phineas Gage's wife certainly couldn't have seen that one coming.

Your argument about the fallen nature of man is so general as to apply to almost any situation--enduring a tyrannical dictator's rule, for example.

9:17 PM

Blogger roy said...

I'll bet he wouldn't have told the story if the husband had eaten her to death...

nor would he have felt any guilt for his complicity

7:26 PM


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