Patterson counseled rightly and apologized wrongly

Dalrock mentions the full transcript of the Patterson story here, though mentions some concerns. This post is assuming his story is truthful.

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.

The crux of the issue is not “abuse” but a worldly way of thinking over Christ-like.

The Scripture mentions several times that attitude that Christians should have when they are unjustly suffering. Christ suffered an unjust death on cross for us.

Phil 2:3 Do nothing [c]from [d]selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude [e]in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be [f]grasped, 7 but [g]emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death [h]on a cross.

1 Peter councils servants and wives to respectfully submit under unjust masters or unbelieving husbands:

1 Peter 2:18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are [t]unreasonable. 19 For this finds [u]favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds [v]favor with God.

21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 [w]and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself [x]bore our sins in His body on the [y]cross, so that we might die to [z]sin and live to righteousness; for by His [aa]wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and [ab]Guardian of your souls.

1 Pet 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and [a]respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right [b]without being frightened by any fear.

There are also several more examples throughout the Scripture such as Esther who was under the threat of death multiple times:

  • Edict to kill the Jews, which they didn’t know she was one but could have found out and she would be killed
  • She was not allowed to walk into the king’s presence unless summoned

She chose to pray and fast along with her people and trust that God would act in her hopeless situation, and God came through just like He did for this wife who was being beaten.

Patterson counseled rightly according to the Scriptures and the wife was able to have the faith in God to follow the Scriptures and God came through. The lesser alternative in 1 Cor 7 was to separate (not divorce, not remarry).

The most you could accuse Patterson of is a bit of poor wording of his story making it seem like he was “ok” with the abuse, even though he wasn’t and not discussing the alternative which is separation. Neither of these are errors but slightly lack wisdom. However, after he apologized wrongly to feminists instead of sticking with the Scripture over their false accusations, that’s on his head.

Ultimately, the issue is not “are you scared for your life” but “can God use me in this situation.” This shows the faith or lack thereof of Christians in Scripture’s counsel and the power of God to turn the situation around. No one should be abused, but that doesn’t mean staying in an abusive situation is not the right course of action for a Christian.

To those Christians who supported the “MeToo” or have been abused before, this is an area where you can grow in faith by admitting that Patterson chose to counsel the better way and the wife chose to trust God fully in her situation. Or you can continue to be immature in your faith and admit your fear is bigger than God’s ability to use the situation for good. God came through for this wife and turned her situation around. It’s up to you, but obviously I hope you take the former.

We each have our own choices to make as Christians, and the goal is to be able to grow more Christ-like, which may mean suffering and persecution. If I had to make the choice to profess Christ and die or deny Christ and live, I don’t know which choice I would make now, but I hope that God would give me the faith in that situation to profess Christ. However, I want my faith to grow to the point where there is no question that I will profess Christ and don’t fear death because that is how God can use my life in any situation whether abuse, torture, or the like. I am getting there slowly but surely. I hope it does not come to that, but I want to be prepared just like Paul suffered many times through stonings, whippings, shipwrecks, beatings, and so on.

And yes, I would council a husband that is being physically and emotionally abused and possible under the threat of death by his wife to stay and try to win her to Christ. I fully expect that most husbands would take the separation route too, but it does display a lack of faith. Even if he were to die, it is not necessarily in vain; God uses deaths all the time to win souls to himself in the case of missionaries.

We don’t know how God uses each situation, but He always honors our faith in Him. See: Hebrews 11.

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26 Responses to Patterson counseled rightly and apologized wrongly

  1. Ame says:

    i agree with what you’ve written.

    i think the line might be drawn tighter when children are involved – separating to keep children safe rather than staying and let them be abused. i also think that being legally divorced is okay in these situations if one’s state does not allow legal separation, and there is a need to be legally separated from an abusive spouse. i also believe that if a woman finds herself in this kind of situation, where she must leave and legally separate herself for protection, that she needs to remain single or be reunited to her husband if he proves safe for her and their children. given this, i think there are very few situations where this would apply. i also think it should be done with objective help and guidance.

    author D.I. Telbat ( writes novels about the persecuted church that put a lot of things in perspective. i just finished his latest book (but they’re best if read in order … and in it he addresses counting the cost for Christ. in this latest novel, before a group were to leave for a dangerous mission where many were not expected to come back alive, they were asked to state out loud in front of each other that they had counted the cost and were willing to die, if the Lord willed.

    i found that interesting for a couple reasons – one being that i had just read those verses in Luke, so it gave me pause to consider in my own life. but i also wondered if we shouldn’t have tha ast part of marriage counseling and then wedding vows in some way … that we have counted the cost and are willing to sacrifice ourselves, to carry our own cross, so that Jesus can be glorified. i haven’t pondered it all the way through, yet, and thought to write a post on it when i read this post.

    Luke 14:25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

    28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

    31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

    34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

    “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

  2. Don Quixote says:

    Good analysis of the events DS.
    This #MeToo thing coming into churches is typical of the cross-less christianity that has permeated most churches. And as others [Dalrock] have pointed out that women should not be teaching. Period. This madness won’t go until we get back to the clear instructions in the NT regarding who wears the pants.

  3. Pingback: Count the Cost: Marriage – BlendingAme

  4. Ame says:

    i would be remiss if i did not come back and comment to the wife praying for her husband. sometimes this ‘works,’ sometimes it doesn’t. yes, our prayers move God. yes, our prayers change us and sometimes others. but people, individually, still get to choose.

    i prayed fervently for my first husband for many, many, many years. on my knees. as i walked through every day. praying scripture so my prayers weren’t just about me. one of the very few who knew how much i prayed for him said that if any wife could pray her husband to repentance and God, it was me. but he didn’t turn back to God. he did not repent. he continued in his unfaithfulness and his addictions, and he eventually left and divorced me.

    prayer is never a guarantee that God will force what we ask, even and especially if what we ask and desire is in God’s will. God desires and wills all to repent and turn to Him, but He never forces us to do so. we each get to choose.

    while the advice above is good and sound … it is not a guarantee that a husband or wife will repent and turn to God. it is not a guarantee that a husband or wife will stop abusing their spouse. it is only a guarantee that God will hear our prayers. it is not even a guarantee that nothing bad or hard or harmful will happen to us or our children. i wish it were, oh how i wish it were.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Just wrote a post in this same line of thought of going through rough patches and how (specifically) a wife can get through it.

    I know actual violence is something widely debated in Christian circles, but it seems like something that can be fixed, and you’re right that the biblical instructions are to submit and win them over (if possible) peacefully and without words.

  6. Dying2Live116 says:


    I sympathize with the situation you went through with your ex. That’s a horrible thing to go through.

    “while the advice above is good and sound … it is not a guarantee that a husband or wife will repent and turn to God.”

    That’s right, it’s not a guarantee. But we’re still commanded to obey God’s commands, even though they are not easy.

  7. @ Ame

    Good point about the children. That’s one of the better reasons for separation.

    And yes, we don’t know the timeline that God will act even if we obey His word perfectly. Could be a day, week, month, year or even decades.

  8. Ame says:

    Dying2Live – yes, there is no guarantee that our behavior and obedience to God’s commands will ever change the heart and behavior of another. and we are required to obey God regardless.

    i just hate the philosophy, or theory, or whatever one wants to call it – that IF we obey God, THEN He will always do what we want or think we need.

    my ex never did repent, to my knowledge, before he died. he never did apologize, and he continued to hate and blame me for everything bad in his life, and he continued to do terrible things to our children up until he died. there are some who believe that God said, “Enough,” and ended his time on this earth. i am not God, so i cannot speak for Him, but i can tell you that what he did and continued to do over many, many years will have consequences for our daughters for the rest of their lives. i’m talking permanent physical and mental and emotional consequences. things that cannot be changed short of God performing a miracle – not that He can’t, but He very well may not.

    and the perspective needs to be moved from ‘will God perform a miracle and remove these painful, debilitating things,’ to ‘God will perform the miracle of enabling us to forgive and endure and persevere despite these painful, debilitating things. and that’s where we are. God has enabled us to forgive him (and his parents and brother), and He is enabling us to endure and persevere. it is honestly much more difficult for me than our daughters because i see what could have been if. but God is still faithful and God is always good, and we trust in Him implicitly.

  9. Ame says:

    And yes, we don’t know the timeline that God will act even if we obey His word perfectly. Could be a day, week, month, year or even decades.

    what is important to know is that God is always ‘acting’ … we just need to recognize it because often it’s not exactly what we think we want or need or desire, and because God’s thoughts and God’s ways are so much higher than ours, the ways in which He acts are also often beyond our ability to comprehend completely, so we often don’t look for them. sometimes we need to ask God to show us what He’s doing rather than look without direction, hoping to view what He’s doing.

    – – –

    also … i think that in giving the safety of separation without the ability to remarry it changes the whole ballgame that this culture has adopted. a woman will often think she gets a ‘new start’ with a different guy, but God doesn’t give that option – and it’s a distorted perception anyway.

    when a Christian woman knows that her only option is to remain single though separated, however that separated needs to be defined to protect her and their children legally, or be reconciled to her husband, then her focus is on God and His will and desire for her and not what she thinks she wants and needs or her perception of the abuse or situation.

    I Corinthians 7:12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

    i think this is very important to consider. there are many who believe my ex was not a believer b/c his behavior did not show any. i do not know the heart of a man, so i cannot say. one of my daughters, maybe both – i cannot remember now – has brought this up while reading their bibles … was Daddy a christian? is he in heaven? my answer to them was and remains that only God knows the heart of a person, so we will choose to believe that he was a christian as he said he was, because when we get to heaven and find out the truth, we will be in the arms of Jesus and it won’t matter anymore. but for their sanity, and mine, we need to believe that he is in heaven. it’s HARD knowing someone you loved is in hell and you’ll never see them again. they have long lives ahead of them if God chooses to let them live that long, and they have to much other stuff to continuously overcome to wonder about things we cannot know this side of eternity.

  10. Dying2live116 says:

    @Ame “i just hate the philosophy, or theory, or whatever one wants to call it – that IF we obey God, THEN He will always do what we want or think we need.”

    I agree with you. I call that the “God the Genie” philosophy. People don’t outright say it, but I could picture them saying it in their minds and hearts.

    That is pretty rough for you and your girls. It’s why I need to vet my future wife carefully.

  11. Ame says:

    Dying2live – you are wise to vet any future potential wives well and thoroughly and carefully.

    you are wise to prepare yourself to be your wife’s ruler – learn how to rule and to rule well; learn to rule with authority and grace and mercy:
    Genesis 3:16 To the woman he said,

    “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
    with painful labor you will give birth to children.
    Your desire will be for your husband,
    and he will rule over you.”

    you are wise to take care of yourself and learn how to maintain great self-care so you are as healthy as possible to carry out whatever the Lord has for you:
    Genesis 3:17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

    “Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
    18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
    19 By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
    until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
    for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

    set your standard high and maintain it before and after marriage. expect the best from yourself and from her both before and after marriage.

    develop your mission and find a woman who is willing to support you in your mission. her role is a support role – she is not to take over your mission or to direct your mission or to change your mission.

    develop and maintain good, solid, grounded male friendships. your male friends are critical to the balance of your life. your wife does not get to take over the role of your male friends, nor does she get to dictate how you spend your time with them.

    study the Bible and know it well so you are able to draw from it wisdom, knowledge, discernment, discretion and strength. know it well so that when you seek counsel you know whether the counsel you receive is Truth or lie. i have a friend who reads proverbs in january of every year and required his wife to do the same when they married.

  12. Stephanie says:

    “develop your mission and find a woman who is willing to support you in your mission. her role is a support role – she is not to take over your mission or to direct your mission or to change your mission.”

    That entire comment is SO good, Ame. But this especially about a man’s mission!!!!
    For women out there, this is something so crucial to know hopefully before you get married, but also after to keep in line with helping your husband:

  13. One of the truly sad things about this christo#metoo movement is that it is based on a false view of following Christ. When Christ calls a person he bids them to come and die. Sometimes the death is martyrdom but it is always a mortification of the flesh with its unlawful desires. The christo#metoo movement tells women a very different message. It tells them they are princesses that are entitled to happiness and are sanctified by repenting of their submission and being all they can be as individuals. It tells them that even though God hates divorce, divorce is better than her unhappiness. It tells them that they are the arbiters of spirituality and love. There is no call for women to repent of pride, userpation of their husbands, contempt or vow breaking; no call to kill the flesh and follow Christ by suffering for the kingdom.

    If Satan ever wanted to ensnare Western women into a life of unrepentant sin, I’m not sure his scheme could be more shrewd or effective than the schemes of the christo-feminists.

  14. feeriker says:

    “If Satan ever wanted to ensnare Western women into a life of unrepentant sin, I’m not sure his scheme could be more shrewd or effective than the schemes of the christo-feminists, to include their pastoral enablers.”

    Fixed for clarification.

  15. earl says:

    Satan ensnared women (Eve) first by making her think she would be like God with the knowledge of good and evil (nothing about God is evil). There is nothing new when it comes to feminism.

  16. @feeriker

    Christo-feminists are made up of women, men who enable them and defend them and those in positions of authority who ought to know better. There are very few indeed that will try to live a biblical model of loving patriarchy or defend such from scripture. I can not think of even one pastor who will stand on scripture when doing so will offend the feminist sensibilities. Patterson was fired for some innocuous statements, (I also was deposed) who will dare proclaim thus says the Lord” to this crooked and perverse generation. And if they do will they ever have a pulpit again?

  17. Bart says:

    Patterson does seem to have given poor advice to a young woman who reported being forcibly raped while he was serving as president of Southeastern Baptist Theological seminary (15 years ago). He is reported to have recommended that she not take the matter to the police, but rather forgive the offender.

    She should have gone to the police, and also been willing to forgive. (Patterson did reportedly expel the offender, and bar him from attending any SBC seminary in the future).

    I don’t think women should attend theological seminaries (since they are not permitted to serve as elders or exercise authority over men).

    Still, I think Patterson seriously mishandled this case.

    He was generally right about the abuse/frivorce issue. He is also right to allow men to notice the beauty of woman.

  18. Bee says:

    We need to get both sides of any accusation before we decide what really happened. Here is some more information to consider:

    The woman involved wrote several Thank You letters to Paige Patterson shortly after she was disciplined.

  19. @ Bart,

    I believe you are referring to this?

    That seems false given this post in Patterson’s defense which contains actual documents (letters and e-mails) from the situation:

    Like Bee said, it’s best to get both sides of the story first. Wade’s post is probably slander at this point given the actual evidence otherwise.

  20. info says:

    Here is an insiders view on this:

    Maybe Patterson isn’t so innocent.

  21. @ info

    I don’t doubt that Patterson is guilty in some form on the various issues.

    Dalrock mentioned how he was one of the founders of CBMW which created “complementarism” which basically neuters Christian husbands like egalitarianism and feminist.

    However, from the evidence provided, I don’t think he’s guilty on:

    1. Counseling wives to stay with abusive husbands (e.g. topic of this post)
    2. Being willing to talk about sexual attractiveness (e.g. the “built” incident”)
    3. On the 2003 rape case, the evidence is in favor of him given the letters released by Colter (though it seems she likely did that unethically).

    On the 2015 rape case, the evidence is against him according to the board of trustees report.

    Anyway, the point of this post is to recognize where Patterson rightly counseled in the case of staying with the abusive husband.

    If he is guilty on other things and needs church discipline, then that is only a good thing.

    In general, I also think it is a good thing that CBMW is starting to fall. That way their deceptions about complementarism and can be clearly revealed.

  22. Bart says:

    Bee, Deepstrength, Info,
    Thank you for the addition information. I’ll take a look at the documents you linked to. I appreciate you sharing.

  23. Bee says:


    I read Wade Burleson’s post about emailing back and forth and then discussing the “rape” with this woman. I think Wade was wrong to immediately believe the accusations this woman was presenting. In addition to hearing both sides of the story, Wade did not seek two or three witnesses for each accusing detail.

  24. @ Bee

    I came to the same conclusion on Wade’s post. He did not follow the Scriptures.

  25. Pingback: Breaking the Fifth Wall – A New Protocol for Post-Truth Debate | Σ Frame

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