Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson released a statement over the weekend, attempting to clarify some disturbing comments he made in recent years about domestic abuse.

In two cases that have recently surfaced, Patterson advised women who are being physically abused by their husbands to stay with them. He recounts one story in which a “woman who was in the church that I served” was being abused by her husband. He told her the right thing to do was to pray for him after he falls asleep even though “he may get a little more violent, you know, when he discovers this.” Later, she showed up to church with two black eyes. Patterson said he was “very happy” because the husband later showed up to church and asked for forgiveness and prayer.

In another case, he said, referring to cases of abuse, “I have never in my ministry counseled that anybody seek a divorce,” but, he says, “There have been, however, an occasion or two when the level of the abuse was serious enough, dangerous enough, immoral enough that I have counseled temporary separation and the seeking of help.” Though he added, “I would urge you to understand that that should happen only in the most serious of cases … More often, when you face abuse, it is of a less serious variety.”

In his statement this weekend, he said: “My life and the lives of my family have been subjected to rigorous misrepresentation.” He added, “I have never counseled or condoned abuse of any kind … Any physical or sexual abuse of anyone should be reported immediately to the appropriate authorities, as I have always done.”

Though he said he largely opposes divorces, Patterson said, “I have on more than one occasion counseled and aided women in leaving an abusive husband … I have no sympathies at all for cowardly acts of abuse toward women.”

However, after further explaining some of the context of the quotes, he said, “I do not apologize for my stand for the family and for seeking to mend a marriage through forgiveness rather than divorce.”

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