Southern Baptist Leader To Abused Women – Don’t Leave, Just Pray

Feature Image via Pixabay

If you think that shame is enough to make some “Christian” leaders revise their opinions, think again. Recently, it came to light that a Southern Baptist leader urged abused women to stay with their abuser, and merely pray on it to make their lives better.

Once what he said came out, Paige Patterson could have done the right thing. However, instead of correcting his egregious error, he simply doubled down.


Paige Patterson is the president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. That is a school in Fort Worth that claims to be one of the largest seminaries in the world. Currently, about 15 million people are members in Southern Baptist churches, which is the largest group of Protestants in the United States.

The tapes from the interview mentioned above were uncovered again only recently. The interviewer asked Patterson what his recommendations are for women:

“…Who are undergoing genuine physical harm from their husbands, and the husband says they should submit.”

Patterson answered that:

“It depends on the level of abuse, to some degree. have never in my ministry counseled anyone to seek a divorce and that’s always the wrong counsel.”

He said that there were only one or two instances in his entire career where the level of abuse was “serious enough, dangerous enough, immoral enough” that it warranted a “temporary separation.”


In the interview, Patterson went on to tell a story. He said he had a parishioner come to him and her husband was abusing her. Patterson told her to merely pray at night “beside her bed, quietly, for God to intervene.”

She came back a few days later with two black eyes.

When the woman confronted Patterson, she said, “I hope you’re happy.” He responded that he was, in fact, “Very happy.” Patterson said he was delighted because the husband came to church the next day, so God heard the woman’s prayer.

Between 2001 and 2012, over 11,000 women were killed by their partners, that’s nearly double as many soldiers that lost their lives in the Middle East for the same period. In America, three women die every single day from domestic abuse. One in four women will experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetimes.

And Patterson, and those like him, simply think they need to pray about it.


The Southern Baptist Convention has grappled with its archaic and ineffective preaching that divorce is wrong no matter what. As it stands, it isn’t working anyway.

Evangelicals have a higher than average divorce rate, according to research from Baylor University.

For his part, people confronted Patterson about his horrifying statements. He did not deny that he said those things, and he just doubled down on the rhetoric.

“To all those who love me and have supported me across the years and to those who have been wounded by these accusations, I express my deepest regret. I do not apologize for my stand for the family and for seeking to mend a marriage through forgiveness rather than divorce.”

Sadly, for a man that can look a woman in her black eyes and tell her he is happy about it, Patterson’s lack of response isn’t all that shocking.

That doesn’t make it any less disgusting, however.

Suffice it to say that while not all Christians think women should stay in an abusive relationship, there are enough of them out there to be concerning in the extreme.

As long as churches and the people who lead them refuse to see the light, everyone should stay on high alert for these well-meaning “Christians.”

Feature Image via Pixabay/Public Domain.