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Beth Moore Calls Out Religious Teachings That Lend Themselves to Gender Violence

Beth Moore Calls Out Religious Teachings That Lend Themselves to Gender Violence

Evangelist Beth Moore is one of many criticizing Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson’s recent comments about divorce and spousal abuse. Patterson’s comments received a strong response of disapproval from many. Critics felt his comments, if applied, enable abusers to keep their victims in contexts where they would continue to suffer violence.

Amid a response thread of many tweets about sexism in the church, Moore wrote, “There is utterly no tension whatsoever in regard to women & abuse: it is wrong, it is criminal & never to be excused or submitted to.”

On Saturday, an audio clip from a 2000 Q&A interview with Patterson was circulating the internet. Patterson was asked whether or not a woman should submit to an abusive husband. Patterson answered:


It depends on the level of abuse to some degree. I have never in my ministry counseled that any seek a divorce and I thnk that’s always wrong counsel. There have been, however, an occasion or two when the level of abuse was serious enough, dangerous enough, immoral enough that I have counseled temporary separation seeking of help. I would urge you to understand that that should only happen in the most serious of cases.


Moore wrote in response: “I’m pro-marriage. Nearly 40 years of ups and downs to back that up. But when we as a church culture demonize divorce as the worst possible outcome – the sin of all sins – we truly have no clue on this ever loving earth what some people are enduring. We do not submit to abuse. NO.”

Patterson initially declined to comment on the leaked interview. “[Seventy-five] years of experience teaches me (though a slow learner) that no one’s life is made materially better by entering these discussions,” he told the Washington Post. “I have said enough.”

On Sunday, a statement was published to the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary website in which Patterson says that he and his family were being subjected to “rigorous misrepresentation.”

“The Bible makes clear the way in which God views divorce,” he writes. “I have on more than one occasion counseled and aided women in leaving an abusive husband. So much is this the case that on an occasion during my New Orleans pastorate, my own life was threatened by an abusive husband because I counseled his wife, and assisted her, in departing their home to seek protection.”

The statement goes on to offer a conflicted non-apology for causing hurt while standing by his initial statements.

Many agree that Patterson’s statement is part of a larger conversation about the tendency of many Christian communities to dangerously shame those who experience divorce and unconditionally enshrine women’s submission.

Moore calls on male church leaders to return to the scriptures and address biblical interpretations that lend themselves to gender violence.

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