Get ready: A #MeToo tidal wave is headed for church

Published 1:45 am Saturday, June 9, 2018

By R.A. Mathews

Paige Patterson isn’t alone; there are many like him. This disgraced Southern Baptist seminary president’s actions promise to unleash a wave of voices. A tidal wave—#MeToo4Christians. 

Allegedly, in a 2000 audio recording, Patterson tells a battered woman to “be submissive in every way” to her violent husband. Patterson uses words from the Apostle Paul, forgetting a few. I’ll get to that.

There are also the rape incidents he allegedly mishandled terribly. Not to mention repeatedly demeaning women.

I attended a Southern Baptist seminary and have been a Baptist theologian for decades. Do I have stories? I wouldn’t know where to begin. 

This scandal raises a theology that most conservative Christians don’t want examined—their view of women. Paul wrote passages that have led countless Christians to deny women the right to be ordained or to even teach men.

Ask these same Christians about Deborah. Who?

She appears in the 4th Chapter of Judges. By now, God’s people have left slavery in Egypt, wandered the desert, and invaded Canaan—the Promised Land. This is before Israel had kings; God is their king.

And God chooses one person to be both Billy Graham and Donald Trump, preacher and national leader for him. That’s Deborah.

But she’s even bigger. When Deborah speaks for God, her words are His—what I call the red letters of the Old Testament.

So the Hebrews climb into the hill country and stand in line, waiting to see her every day.

I’d have been there.

On this particular day, Deborah knows one in the crowd is missing—Barak, Israel’s commander. She sends for him.

Understand that at this time in history God’s people are in trouble—they’ve invaded Canaan, but the Canaanites are fighting back.

The commander arrives and Deborah confronts him. She’s commander-in-chief, and she wants to know why Barak hasn’t confronted the Canaanite general, Sisera.

Well, Sisera has 900 chariots of iron, and no one has defeated the Canaanites for decades.

“If you go with me,” Barak says to Deborah, “I’ll go.”

She agrees. Remember, Deborah speaks for God, so she can see into the future. Here’s what she tells Barak. The Canaanite general Sisera will come out to fight against the Hebrews. But it’s the Lord who will chase Sisera and all his chariots and men. Sisera will quickly climb from his chariot and flee on foot to an ally, where he’ll die.

Indeed, that’s how it goes.

Under Deborah, God’s people have 40 years of peace. She’s one of the most successful leaders of Israel—in all respects. Guiding the country, speaking for God.

But over a thousand years later, Paul’s words for women to remain silent will lead countless Christians to deny women ordination, preaching roles, and even teaching opportunities.

As I said, ask those same Christians about Deborah and they’ll look at you blankly.

Worse yet, Paul’s words are used to demean women with disastrous advice like that allegedly coming from Paige Patterson. Here’s what the reverend left out:  Paul tells husbands to adore their wives, loving them as Christ loved the church. Ephesians 5:25

God chose women throughout the Bible:  A Samaritan woman to preach to the Gentiles; a prophetess to thumb her nose at Herod and proclaim Jesus the Messiah; Mary Magdalene, who announces that Christ has risen. The disciples call Mary’s words an “idle tale.”  John 4:39, Luke 2:38, 24:11

The Apostle Paul would have never told God He was wrong. Paul says: “…there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal. 3:28

It’s time for all Christians to believe this.

© 2016, 2018 R.A. Mathews  The Rev. Mathews is an attorney, columnist, and the author of “Reaching to God: Great Truths from the Bible.”