Thursday, September 27, 2007

What Christ Says About Christians and Lawsuits

At the most recent chapel service at Southern Theological Seminary, as part of the annual Mullin's Lectures, the President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Forth Worth, Texas, made the following statement during his message:

“I am unalterably convinced that a significant percent of those who listen on any given Sunday to your message, though they are church members, are in fact lost. I judge that based much on the behavior of the church member. I cannot imagine a situation occurring among saved people where this one is taking that one to lawsuit (sic) in front of the, uh, pagan world. We are expressly forbidden that.”

One may listen to a recording of the entire chapel message here.

I think it is clear from Scripture that it is always best for Christians to settle their differences quickly, privately and justly. However, there are a few things one should consider before one assigns reprobation or eternal damnation to a brother or sister in Christ who takes a fellow Christian to civil or criminal court. It is a preacher's right to say what he feels from the pulpit, but it is the people's prerogative to judge whether or not the words are simply man's word, or in truth God's Word. God's Word seems to indicate something totally different from the preacher's quotation above.

(1). The courts of the land have been appointed by God for the purpose of justice.

When Christians follow Matthew 18 and the offending party shuns or refuses to listen to the offense, or where there is not a church (or church court) to sit in judgment, then it seems that I Peter 2:12-17 comes into play:

"Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right."

(2). There is Biblical precedent to appeal to secular authorities when a religious people or religious institution is poorly treating a Christian.

When the Jews sought to have Paul executed, the Roman commander resisted the desires of the religious Jews and ordered that Paul be flogged (whipped), but not executed. We read of Paul's reaction to the decision to have him whipped in Acts 22:25:

"Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn't even been found guilty?"

The Apostle Paul did not appeal to the Sanhedrin. The Apostle Paul did not appeal to the High Priest of the Jews. The Apostle Paul appealed to the secular Roman government on the basis of law.

Ray Steadman makes an interesting statement regarding appealing to the secular courts in his commentary on I Corinthians 6:

"I do not think he means that Christians are never to go to law; sometimes that is impossible to avoid . . . In certain cases, at least, this may be the only way that justice can be brought out."

(3). In an ideal situation, as was the case in the first few centuries of Christianity, a church court would listen to the grievances between brothers and rule justly. But except in a few, rare situations in certain denominations, all church courts have since been abolished. This leaves only secular civil courts as the final appeal.

I Corinthians 6:1-8 is used by some Christians as the final authority for a direct and eternal prohibition that Christians sue. This section of Corinthians calls attention to a long lost social function of the church — church courts. The following is taken from an exposition of I Corinthians 6:1-8 entitled Ordinary Christianity for the World"

Before Rome fell it was choked with a backlog of civil disputes in the Roman legal system. It could take years before a particular case came before a judge. The Roman legal system was choking on the rampant immorality and illegality that contributes to the rot of empires by generating social conflict. Great nations are more often destroyed from within by moral decay long before they fall victim to invading armies. And Rome had been rotting for hundreds of years before it was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 a.d.

At the same time, Christianity had inherited the elder rule system from the Old Testament, in which the local court overlapped the ecclesiastical court. We must remember that, while Rome had a great and powerful legal system, it pales in comparison to the Modern Western legal system in terms of its effectiveness and bureaucratization. Yet, even on the Western Frontier in early American history, civil courts were often few and far between. And in that context necessity required another way to solve disputes between people.

The structure of the Christian church, until the Modern era, had a system of courts to adjudicate matters between Christians — precisely because of Paul's admonition to avoid civil courts run by unbelievers. In the Modern era these church courts have, for the most part, fallen into neglect . . .

And yet, there is a contemporary movement to reestablish church courts in our time.

I believe it may be time that a church court be established for the Southern Baptist Convention - composed of godly men and women elected by the convention to handle matters of dispute involving state conventions and her agencies, national SBC agencies and entities and her employees, and other areas of SBC polity where there is no local church authority.

(4). Jesus Christ gives specific instructions regarding lawsuits and He says that those sued should make things right quickly IF they have done wrong. Notice, Jesus pronounces judgment upon the wrongdoer - but He makes no moral judgment regarding the person who sues the wrongdoer.

"If someone brings a lawsuit against you and takes you to court, settle the dispute with him while there is time, before you get to court. Once you are there, he will turn you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, and you will be put in jail. There you will stay, I tell you, until you pay the last penny of your fine." (Jesus Christ, quoted by the Apostle Matthew in Matthew 5:25,26)

I have recently received an email from a Southern Baptist who attended a forum entitled "How Submission Works in Practice: A Panel Discussion." I have asked for the audio of this forum, and have not yet received it, but the following is the account of a Southern Baptist who was present at the symposium and heard one of our Southern Baptist well-known speakers answer a question on how he counsels women who are abused by their husbands. I am not naming the speaker until I have heard the tape myself and verify the accuracy of first hand account sent to me - but this is the first hand account of what was said . . .

"At about fifty-five minutes into the message he is asked about how he handles wife abuse. He explained that he never recommends divorce, and only in the most serious of cases does he recommend a separation. He said he advises women who are being abused less seriously to do three things: pray, submit, and elevate their husbands. As an example of why he is right in counseling in this way, he gave an example of one of his counseling situations. A woman came to him and said she was being abused by her husband. He advised her that every night she should kneel down by the side of the bed and pray for her husband even if it made him mad and may cause him to beat her again. She did that, and she did get beaten. When she came back to church, she approached (the speaker) with her bruises and angrily told him, 'I hope you're happy,' to which he replied, 'Yes, ma'am, I am.' He went on to explain that he was happy because what the wife didn't know at that point was that the husband felt so bad about beating his wife again that he had come in earlier and repented and became a Christian and from that time on was a man of God. The moral of the story was that if a Godly woman stays in the situation and takes his advice (pray, submit, elevate), then she can trust God to move in the situation."

I can understand why some Southern Baptists, carrying the above mentality about succombing quietly and patiently to abuse, would argue that anyone who sues another cannot be a Christian. But as I look at all the teaching of the word of God, and the words of Christ himself, it would seem to me that the people who should be most worried about the court system are the abusers. God has established courts to punish the wrongdoer. In the above story, the wife could NEVER be considered the wrongdoer -even if she takes her husband to court. The abuser is the wrongdoer: period. End of story. If the courts stop the abuser from his abuse, then the courts have done their job - as appointed by God.

The federal judge in the Sheri Klouda vs. Southwestern lawsuit has denied all of Southwestern's motions to dismiss, and granted Dr. Klouda's second petition. Further, Judge McBryde has ordered a pre-trial settlement hearing between the parties and their primary counsel by mid-October. Dr. Klouda and her attorneys and SWBTS and their attorneys have to physically meet face-to-face in Fort Worth in a couple of weeks. This meeting was requested several times before any suit was filed, but there was no response from SWBTS. Now, they must respond.

Anyone who says Dr. Klouda is not saved because she has gone to the only court available to her to correct a wrong either does not believe in the sufficiency of Scripture and its clear teaching on these matters - which places Dr. Klouda well within the Biblical parameters of settling disputes over matters of law - or, is concerned that the judge may very well stop a form of abuse that some Southern Baptists find acceptable. Removing Southern Baptist educated, wonderfully competent, and justly hired women from Southern Baptist academia because it is the view of some narrow ideologists that it is solely the role of men to teach men in the classroom is, in my mind, abuse. It is a mistreatment of the women who were educated and hired for that very purpose, and simply stating their initial hiring was a mistake that needed to be corrected is not justification for the wrongful termination.

It would be prudent to abstain from making pronouncements on the condition of the soul of a Christian woman who, as a last resort, appeals to those government officials appointed by God to uphold justice.

It would also be prudent, as Jesus said, to "settle the dispute while there is still time."

In His Grace,



Dave Miller said...

Paul says clearly in 1 Corinthians 6:7 that it would be better to suffer an injustice than to take a personal dispute before a secular court.

But the assumption is, in verese 2-5 that the church would have a means of reconciling the brothers.

I wonder if SWBTS has some sort of appeal/binding arbitration board or process that Dr. Klouda could have gone to.

I hate to join in the Paige-bashing that goes on today among so many bloggers, but if he did not provide a forum for arbitration to Dr. Klouda, he loses the right to complain when she goes to the civil authorities.

I am not sure her lawsuit is biblically correct, but he loses the moral high ground if he refuses to offer another means of arbiting the dispute.

Does anyone know if there was such an arbitration offered? said...


I, too, do not wish anyone to bash Dr. Patterson, and would encourage everyone who comments to refrain from doing so.

There is a difference, however, between dealing with problems directly and openly and attacking a person. I hope the former is always done on this blog and not the latter.

There was no arbitration offered.

Anonymous said...

Wade, I love you, and I pray for you often so don't see my comments as critical. But an awful lot of what I have seen in these discussions seems to have one goal in mind: Winning. As Christian people, part of giving up our rights includes our love of being right. Does a court have to declare us right for us to be right?

OK, so an injustice has been done. You would obviously say that part of the mission of the church is to then do justice. I agree, but perhaps a better way to do justice is to heal injustice, rather than trying to obliterate it (ie. lawsuits, threats, character attacks, etc...). Perhaps, tt is to reconcile through meekness, and not strength, to live by the words of Paul that tell us not to avenge oursleves, but leave that to the Lord, and to live closely to the teaching of Christ who informs that it is the meek that will inherit the earth, not the mighty.

When and if Klouda comes out on top of this is that really going to be enough?

I have to think that the love of the body that has surrounded her and absorbed the pain with her is where the real healing will come from. Not from standing atop a mound of vanguished seminary trustees in some form of sanctified victory. If she wins in the courts, but the powers that removed her remain unrepentant will there really be victory?

I guess what I am talking about is Romans 12:14-20.

For What It is Worth,
Jay R.

david b mclaughlin said...

I think it is ridiculous to say that one christian who sues another is not saved. By that measure, anyone who gossips is not saved either.

I agree there are times that we may have no other recourse and that is likely the case with Dr. Klouda.

I am fascinated, however, with Paul's appeal that it would be better to suffer injustice than to drag these matters before secular courts. It is a high standard indeed and I am not saying that I would always be able to do so myself. But it is something we should strongly consider.

I think your idea of the SBC starting a christian court is an excellent one. It would be both biblical and practical. said...

Jay R.

Thanks for you comment. I do, like you, believe that the manner in which the church has rallied around Sheri and Pinky Klouda is a testimony to the goodness of God. Sheri herself told me their daughter has had her faith restored in organized Christianity through the kindness and generosity of Southern Baptists around the nation.

You say, "perhaps a better way to do justice is to heal injustice, rather than trying to obliterate it."

Maybe. Maybe not.

When Christ sought to heal the injustices taking place in the Temple market - where vendors were extorting worshippers from their hard earned dollars by charging exhorbitant prices for sacrifical animals needed to enter the Temple grounds - Jesus took a whip.

A whip is not necessarily seen as an instrument of healing. It is an instrument of punishment. But yet, in the end, the injustices at the Temple WERE healed.

Wisdom is knowing when to use the whip to cause wounds that lead to ultimate healing - or when to use a balm to bind up wounds in order to bring ultimate healing.

People may disagree with Jesus' use of a whip - believing He was too harsh in moving out the Temple vendors - but in the end, it would seem to me, Jesus knew exactly what was needed and did the very thing that would bring ultimate healing. I realize the decisions that Sheri Klouda makes on how to address the injustice at Southwestern cannot be compared to the decision Jesus made in cleansing the Temple.

My point is that you can't categorically say a whip, or a court, is not an instrument of ultimate healing in the correcting of injustice.

In His Grace,


Anonymous said...

A "Christian court" for Southern Baptists? Yes, it sounds Biblical, and has some appeal. But (1) given the current trust level (or rather lack thereof), even within the ranks of inerrantists and fundamentalists, not to mention between fundamentalists and conservatives (or between conservatives and moderates, if you prefer), what judge would be seen as sufficiently neutral to hear cases? And (2) given the heralded autonomy of our churches that (supposedly) keeps us from policing child abusers and/or churches who call them to ministry positions (whether in ignorance or otherwise), how could we ever get to any sort of "church court" situation? There are plenty of people with whom I have engaged in blogs like this one that I would never let judge me, and probably they would say the same thing about me. How then do we ratchet down this level of mistrust? When I have asked that question before, I either get assaulted by those who insist they are right and everybody else must toe their line (some even going as far as to say "repent," implying that to disagree with their reasoning is sinful), or I get ignored. Don't misunderstand me: I am an early adapter, sometimes even an innovator, but right now I am disheartened about the situation in our SBC.

John Fariss said...


If I understand you right, you are saying that you feel the secular courts would give a more impartial and fair hearing to one's concerns than a SBC church court?


Pastor Mike said...

What gives you the right to think that this blog is the place to deal with these issues in the first place. According to Scripture, the place for discipline is through the local church, not the local blog.

If Dr. Patterson were out of line in dealing with this issue at SWBTS, according to Scripture, shouldn't those DIRECTLY involved be the ones to deal with the problem, not any and everyone with a computer and the internet. I'm sure Jesus is proud.

Serving Him,
Pastor Mike said...

Pastor Mike,

Which local church would you suggest deal with this issue?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I would go quite that far. However, at least in a court of law, there are judicial and legal standards, which are theoritically driven by black-letter law and precident, and are not agenda driven. My perception is that much that goes in in today's SBC, at the "higher" levels of administration--much of the opposition that you receive--most definitely is agenda driven, under the guise of theology and/or orthodoxy. Plus, in the legal system, there is an appeals process that gives protection against agenda-driven judges at a lower level. Maybe a baptist court systen could institute some such system of checks and balences, I don't know. But the first hoop to jump through would involve church autonomy.

John Fariss said...

I see your point John and appreciate the well stated, balanced presentation of your concerns.

Alyce Faulkner said...

I would like a copy of that as well, Wade.
Does that surprise me? Unfortunately no.
I've heard it time and time again.
Obviously a few hours in psychology classes does not a counselor make.
No wonder people listen to Dr. Phil.
At least he doesn't tolerate abuse of any kind.

Anonymous said...

I have to wonder about the psychological make-up of one who would encourage any person to remain in an abusive relationship.


Emily Hunter McGowin said...


With respect to you and Dr. Klouda, I am far more enraged by the story of the prominant pastor's counsel to an abused woman than I am of the "swipes" taken at Klouda from the SWBTS chapel. Thankfully, Klouda has people to support and care for her in her need. The woman in the story, and who knows how many countless others, clearly have no one. As a woman and a shepherd of hurting women, I am horrified and ashamed.

Grace and peace,


Alyce Faulkner said...

Emily and Monte,
Thank you and it will be interesting to see who speaks of this outrage.

Anonymous said...


When you get the actual tape of the speaker, it needs to be made public, in my opinion. I am glad that God worked all things together for good in that situation, but to not protect the weak and the vulnerable and to send a woman into a situation where was going to get beaten is not being a good shepherd, in my opinion. I draw the line at physical and sexual abuse.

Re: Dr. Patterson's statements on lawsuits, if he was referring to the Klouda situation and questioning her salvation, I think that is deplorable and is abusive in and of itself. Wade, you make a very good case here and it is one that should be listened to, in my opinion.

Yes, we need arbitration in the SBC. Those in power should be far more concerned about exhibiting justice and caring for the weak than they should be concerned about enforcing rules against lawsuits so they can do whatever they want. This smacks of being self serving, in my opinion.

kehrsam said...

Where the problem that the SBC currently faces is an excess of legalism, I'm not sure establishing a Court is really the proper response. Not to say that the idea isn't worth thinking about, but such an organ could become yet another area of contention.

Along similar lines, but perhaps better adapted to current needs might be an SBC Office of Mediation. It would not be binding upon parties to a dispute, but presumably everyone could agree to no go to civil court until mediation had been attempted.

Pamela said...

At the church I attend (non-SBC) I asked this question. During a Bible study the teacher asked us to submit questions that we would like Bible answers to. Some of the verses stated in this blog I mentioned in my question. I had several real situations in mind that friends of mine had experienced.

One was a situation where a female friend of mine was working at a Christian organization where her boss threatened her with losing her job unless she had sex with him. She left her job quietly because of 1 Corinthians 6. I'm sure that she felt that the men at this Christian ministry would have made her to look like a slut so she kept quiet and left. She suffered greatly for this decision.

Another situation where a Christian woman who has no skills is married to a Christian man. They have children during the marriage. He leaves her and refuses to pay child support. She has no way to pay her bills because she has no marketable skills. The only way for her to get assistance from the government nowadays is to declare who the father of her children is. When she does that a claim against her ex-husband is filed for child support. That law just passed a few years ago. She has no other recourse unless her church helps her out. Way too many churches do not give that much help to people from their benevolence funds, sad to say.

The third situation is where a Christian friend of mine fonud out that his Christian father was molesting his half brother. I will never forget when he came to my apartment in tears wondering what to do. I did not hesitate in my answer. I told him that if the authorities found out that he knew this was going on and did not report it that would be in serious trouble. He reported his Dad and he spent only two years in prison.

The Bible teacher submitted my question to the pastor. He pretty much answered it like it is stated here. Try your best to handle it amongst yourselves as followers of Christ. If they refuse to submit to God's word then go to the authorities. The context was in serious situations like I mentioned. He also studied the context of 1 Cor 6 and determined that 1 Cor 6 was addressing situations where baby, carnal Christians were bringing lawsuits against each other for very minor infractions. This was not dealing with matters where a person was wronged where they lost their livelihood like my friend did for not sleeping with her 'Christian' boss or a situation where someone reports sexual abuse on another Christian. I doubt very seriously that situation would be handled very well within the church, especially if the guilty party was a minister. Way too many will try and cover it up to make things look like they are okay. The only real solution until there is more purity in the body of Christ is to go to the secular courts. Pretty sad but otherwise it would be covered up OR worse yet it might be used to get rid of a leader that people are upset with.

The pastor is one that was sued unjustly by another minister. The plaintiff lost the 'evidence' of his lawsuit in a fire. Most would have rejoiced at the fact that 'God intervened on their behalf'. The pastor and the church administrator made copies of any supporting evidence and sent it to them to finish the lawsuit. The plaintiff lost. I just want to point out that this man is not right ready to sue. His motivation is his witness to the lost and backslidden. At the same time he would not condemn someone in certain cases for going to the courts for a resolution. I humbly feel Pastor Wade made some good points here from the letter and the spirit of God's word.

Anonymous said...

For the sake of argument, let's concede that Dr. Patterson's interpretation of 1 Cor. 6, i.e. it is always wrong for any saved person to ever be involved in a lawsuit with another saved person, is correct.

His comments at SBTS (as well as the comments of numerous of his defenders in the blogosphere) indicate that he believes the plaintiff (the one filing the lawsuit) is always 100% responsible for the lawsuit's existence. This is a naive view that comes from ignorance of how the justice system works.

It is extremely rare for any person to file a lawsuit as a first attempt to resolve a disagreement with another party. Lawsuits are filed as a last resort. Wade has documented that Dr. Klouda and her attorneys attempted to resolve these issues with Dr. Patterson and SWBTS without going to court. Assuming that what Wade has reported is accurate, I find it highly ironic that Dr. Patterson was unwilling to meet with a sister in Christ (granted, his comments at SBTS are most naturally interpreted as saying that he thinks Dr. Klouda is lost) for the purpose of settling their differences, but now he will have to meet with her because of an order from a judge from the "pagan world."

When the plantiff has attempted to resolve disagreements before filing a lawsuit, then the lawsuit's subsequent existence is just as much due to the defendant's actions/omissions as it is to the plaintiff's act of filing.

Let's apply this idea to the current situation under the assumption that Dr. Patterson's 1 Cor. 6 interpretation is correct. It would seem that Dr. Patterson believes it is better to be willing to be wronged than to be involved in a lawsuit with another believer (1 Cor. 6:7). But this principle cuts both ways!

Dr. Klouda could have said, "I would rather be wronged than be involved in a lawsuit with another believer. Therefore I will not file the suit." Such an action would have resulted in no suit existing.

Dr. Patterson could have said, "I would rather be wronged than be involved in a lawsuit with another believer. Therefore I will accept Dr. Klouda's proposal to meet and if necessary pay her whatever she thinks I should pay. I believe she's wrong, but I'd rather be wronged myself than have to go before the 'pagan world' in a lawsuit." If he had done this, no lawsuit would now exist.

BOTH PARTIES believe they are right and the other person is wrong. Either party could have prevented the filing of this lawsuit. So if Dr. Patterson's interpretation of 1 Cor. 6 is correct, then he is just as much in violation of it as is Dr. Klouda.

Lin said...

"So if Dr. Patterson's interpretation of 1 Cor. 6 is correct, then he is just as much in violation of it as is Dr. Klouda."

Amen! Well said, Matt.

I have to wonder in such cases as these...of spouse abuse and Dr. Klouda: At what point are we enabling sin if we do not act?

Anonymous said...

I was there when Patterson preached. I did not get the impression he was referring to to Klouda. If you listen to the sermon, the context was that many people in the church where we preach will in fact be lost. He encouraged the student body to keep this in mind when we preach and minister. The lecture series was on preaching, he was making a point and drawing an implication from his text.

This diatribe is an example of Wade reading something into Patterson's comments that are not there. It really appears to be yet another effort to undermine Dr. Patterson's ministry.

Wade, if the issue has made it to court and the judge has ordered the parties to meet, why don't you just leave the issue alone? It will obviously be resolved shortly. If the court decides against Klouda will you leave the issue alone? You seem to place a great deal of emphasis on your contention that they are God's instrument to resolve this issue. Will you continue to hold this position if you don't agree with their conclusion?

C in Ind said...


Be courageous and sign your entire name. I believe a fair and balanced reading of my post will not cause a person to see it as a diatribe, but as an honest attempt to present a biblical view of justice and the appointment by God of judges.

Bob Cleveland said...

Someone once said that a person's position on most of these things depends on which inerrant scripture he chooses to ignore. I think it was said in jest but I think there's a lot of truth in it.

Since scripture is infinite, we'll never be able to get our heads around all of it, so there'll always be differences. When Jesus ran into rules vs people, though, He seems to have always gone with love and compassion. As with the woman caught in adultery.

kehrsam said...

Anonymous: What makes you think that Wade's post is about Dr. Klouda? He only refers to that controversy in the final four paragraphs. He was merely, "[M]aking a point and drawing an implication from his text." It is an important topic, and one which bears consideration for anyone who takes interest in how large organizations handle disagreement within their ranks.

The burden of the post is about effective conflict resolution between Christian brothers and sisters. The case of Dr. Klouda is an example, a data-point informing the larger discussion. Don't you feel better now?

Anonymous said...

C in Ind,

Dr. Patterson was trying to make a point about preaching to unregenerate church members. Yet the FIRST ILLUSTRATION that he gave was bringing a lawsuit against a believer. If asked to name an activity that might indicate lostness, how many people would first think "filing lawsuits"?

I've heard thousands of descriptions of lost people in sermons in my lifetime, and this was the first time I've ever heard a preacher mention lawsuits as a characteristic of the lost. (That's not to say it can't be; it's just usually very far down on the list of things we would think of.) And I'm supposed to believe the reference to suing is coincidental when Dr. Patterson is currently involved in a lawsuit?

Anonymous said...

This post is one of the best examples of eisegesis that I have seen in a long time. :)

Ron P.

Pastor Mike said...

I would suggest that the the church Dr. Patterson be a start, as well as the church Dr. Klouda is a member of. Who knows, it may have been/still be the same church.

My question is: "How is what is and has been taking place in blogdom concerning the SBC benefical to the Kingsdom of God?" The cry seems to be from one side of the mouth "UNITY" while out of the other personal conflict that is broadcast to the world for all to see/read.

The cry for "spreading the tent" is heard from Oklahoma and Texas and the rest of the US, while at the same time speaking harshly of and condemning of men whom God has used to honor Himself.

I believe David said of Saul, "I will not touch the Lord's annointed." Even though he had been annointed King of Israel by Samuel, he refused to do something many around him encouraged him to do. All the while trusting God that in His time, he would sit on the throne.

Even if everything you have said and continue to say is true, "Who can handle it and them better, God or man?"

Serving Him,
Pastor Mike

Anonymous said...

Dr. Patterson is a member of Birchman Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth. Bob Pearle is pastor. Dr. Klouda is now a member of a church in Upland, Indiana. I think you would find it difficult both logistically, ideologically and practically for the churches to put together a court for this matter.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'speaking harshly' or 'condemning men' whom God has used to honor Himself. May I ask that you cite the specific sentence that you feel has done this. I intentionally attempt to deal with the issues and avoid personal attacks on character, but I'm more than happy to correct any sentence that I may have overlooked.

As regarding 'touching not the Lord's anointed,' I have no plans to touch anyone.



Paul/Mary Burleson said...


Reading this post reminded me of something that happened several years ago. A woman drove two hours to our house for counseling. Situation: Her husband was physically abusing her, and they were both active members of a Southern Baptist church. She had gone to the pastor for counseling. His advice to her was to pray and believe and take her suffering for the sake of Christ.

The abuse continued and when she argued with the pastor’s advice, he told her, “Jesus died for you, can you do less?” (Her understanding of what he meant was that she should take the abuse and die, if necessary, to show her love for Christ.) That’s when she came to see me. A few years later this woman did die from complications resulting from the injuries she had suffered from the abuse.

That same pastor allowed a staff member, who was guilty of multiple sexual molestations of young men within the church, to remain on staff until the local newspapers released the story.

Both situations are unbelievable to me, but these are true stories.

Thank goodness the law of the land provides a recourse for those who are not protected within their own church and who are ill-advised by church staff. In fact, these days the law of the land demands that we report abuse or we are also held responsible.

It’s a sad day when “suffering for Christ” gets so distorted as to include abuse situations. Somehow I thought that teaching meant when we spread the gospel, we may suffer for our caring for the lost, our honesty, and our zeal for Christ.

Sometimes it’s amazing to me how mankind can take the pure and honest gospel of the love of Christ and make it into self-serving and ridiculous teachings.

I guess you can tell this is “one of my buttons.” Thanks for your excellent post.
Mary B. aka Mom

irreverend fox said...

it would be better to suffer an injustice...

it's easier said then done...but I see no wiggle room.

the example of Paul was not a dispute between Christian brothers.

Anonymous said...


Christ followers will always be victimized. Jesus pretty much promised us that. There are always injustices, including, unfortunately, those initiated by professing Christ followers. How many times have we all seen pastors raked over the coals and thrown out of churches due to their being a threat to others who want to maintain control. We think injustice to Christians is bad now, just wait a little while until the Great Trib hits!

But your proposal to have a church court is frightening to me. I can imagine how this could easily get out of control and become a threat to the autonomy of the church and even a threat to the priesthood of the believer. We can't even de-politicize the position of President of the SBC much less have an unbiased, objective SBC Court! I can imagine the power struggle that would originate by those seeking to control the judges sitting on such a court. No thank you.

But it's okay if you disagree. I still like you.


Pamela said...

The perversion of the suffering message says that everything that comes our way came from Him. The Bible clearly says otherwise. There is nowhere that states that we are to condone sin in any context. There are verses that state what a person should do if there is a conflict. They are to go to the person, go with the person and take 2-3 others, then take it to the church. If the church gives advice that goes against Scripture NO ONE has to abide by it. To tell a woman to allow her husband to suffer at his hands is telling that women to tolerate sinful behavior. The Bible says that he is to love her as Christ loves the church, not physically abuse her. Proverbs also advise us to not be around angry people because we will learn their ways. Christ is getting no glory in her 'suffering'. This is NEVER God's will. The description of marriage makes that clear.

There is nowhere in the word that we are to pay the price for another person's sin. That is the perversion of the suffering message. We only have one perfect ONE that paid the price for ALL SIN. His name is Jesus, the Christ.

There is plenty of wiggle room. If we silently do nothing about another person's sin we are enabling them to continue. If the church wimps out on this issue the secular courts are there for lawbreakers. It is a sad day when the church will facilite sin. That is what people suggest when the church tells people to suck it up when that advice totally goes against God's word.

Aaron New said...

I'd like to echo the sentiments of others that found the pastor's counsel particularly disturbing.

Wade, please report back to us if/when you receive the audio of the symposium (or other confirmation).


greg.w.h said...

My concern regarding a religious court is that it will gradually come to resemble sharia courts.

I'll allow everyone who reads this to reach their own conclusions as to why this would concern me.

Greg Harvey

Anonymous said...

It seems that many want to respect the letter of the law but not the spirit. I think too often verses in the Bible become laws when they are meant to give us wisdom when we are in different situations.

for instance some want to say that because 1 Cor. says to not take another believer into a secular court then we should NEVER do so. But I think that is just a bad hermeneutic. The scripture is meant to give us wisdom on how to deal with hard situations not a law that we must obey every time and in every situation.

Now there are parts of scripture that we must always do. One might even call them laws. We are to worship and love God with all our being and we are to love others as we love ourselves.

But so many passages in scripture are not to be taken as a law in all situations. I think that this is one of the unfortunate problems of the doctrine of sola scriptura. In its proper form it does not cause this to occur but people are people.


Emily Hunter McGowin said...


Very good word. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

The OT Prophets were quick to chastise God's people for not being a people that spoke out/fought against injustice of all kinds.

The underlying principle in the OT seems to be that God has a special concern in his heart for those without a voice/recourse in their situations (ie...widow,orphan, alien...)so much that He says to His people...They have no one to fight for them...So I WILL fight for them though you. But this did not happen

This along with empty worship, dishonest business practices, and idolatry...led to God to use PAGAN nations to bring judgement against His own people.

Many of the messages of the OT prophets were presented in "legal" lanquage. In essence, God took his own people to court and found them guilty of covenant breaking and misrepresentation of His Name...

Maybe we should not be as worried about how or when believers should/if ever take one another to court when believers turn a blind eye to injustice and abuse in many different situations

Maybe we should worry about whether or not God takes us to court!


Dave Miller said...

The church that Paul wrote to was so different from churches today that it is hard to transpose the teaching to the modern day.

In the apostolic age, there were no denominations. There was not First Church on one corner, then Second Church on the next.

At the risk of Bapto-heresy, I am pretty sure that the local gatherings of believers did not see themselves as autonomous, but under the authority of the apostles.

There was a concept that there was one church of Christ that met in different locations. Apostolic authority was recognized by almost everyone.

So, in the case of a dispute like that in Acts 15, the apostles met with the Jerusalem elders and figured it all out.

Today, we have autonomous churches (and I am glad of that) and we have no apostolic authority (except the scriptures) and so we have trouble resolving disputes like this.

The church court idea is theoretically a good one, but it will never work in the modern church world.

Kerygma said...

I once heard Bill Gothard tell a woman who'd been abused that "God would turn her bruises into beauty marks."


Anonymous said...

If I understand the comment from Paige Patterson's chapel meeting correctly (with the caveat I do not have the full context available to me at the moment) it would seem Patterson would not agree with the Missouri Baptist Convention's lawsuit against the agencies seeking independence from the convention. This would put him at odds with the conservative faction in Missouri.

Of course personal circumstances sometimes affect the way people think...whether it is one individual in the Klouda case or tens of millions of dollars worth of property in the Missouri case.

An Occasional reader
Max in MO

Anonymous said...

Whoa. Just read the post and the abuse part. Crazy. I'm known to never suggest divorce as an option but the illustration was crazy. That pastor should have followed Matthew 18 with that punk (sorry, the thought of someone abusing a wife does that to me). The church confronting wife abusers may be scary but think about the fear SHE lives in. It must be done. Also, he should have followed Romans 13 and utilized the legal options out there to protect her if necessary. Separation is always a danger to any marriage (it is often an excuse and usually leads to divorce), BUT safety is important and she should be protected. There is grace for separation (1 Cor. 7:11) as an option (although the goal is healing and restoration).

I preach Matthew 18 all the time but with the issue of going to secular courts let's not forget Romans 13 and wedding that with 1 Cor. 5-7

Lindon said...

What scares me most about these situations is that there are too many in Christendom who are willing to allow those with power, position and strength to lord it over those who don't.

Remember, we are talking WITHIN Christendom as indicated by some commenters here. The lack of basic compassion within Christian circles astounds me.

Tom Parker said...

Dr. Patterson says:
“I am unalterably convinced that a significant percent of those who listen on any given Sunday to your message, though they are church members, are in fact lost. I judge that based much on the behavior of the church member. I cannot imagine a situation occurring among saved people where this one is taking that one to lawsuit (sic) in front of the, uh, pagan world. We are expressly forbidden that.”

I find this an incredible statement coming from Dr. Patterson. It seems as if he has made himself the judge of whether people are saved or not based upon their behavior. I do not believe it is that simple.

Anonymous said...

Before we throw all of the jurist of today under the bus can we tap the brakes for just a minute and consider what we are saying. The rationale of equating the pagan (Roman) courts that Christ and Paul refer to with those of today is absurd. Who was the jurist that is spoken of in the Bible? Let's see, there was Festus, King Agrippa i.e. Caesar's court. Are we assuming that in today's courts there are NO believers. Are they all pagans?

Am I reading this correctly and there is not one pastor writing here that has even one believer in your congregation that is a judge? I can only imagine being a jurist in one of your congregations and having to endure being repeatedly labeled a pagan.

Don't get me wrong here, I'm as aware as you are of some of rulings that some of our courts hand down. But I haven't seen anyone free a Barnabas in place of letting the Innocent Lamb go free.

The argument that equates our court system with that of Rome's is absurb.

At least that's the way it looks from this pew.

Mike Marshall

Bob Cleveland said...

I think Barnabas did get freed by someone, as he traveled with Paul. Maybe that's the difference .. Barabbas didn't...

Anonymous said...

Mr. fox-

Which example of Paul's was "not a dispute b/w Christian brothers?"

Debi L. Maestri
Bella Vista, Ar

Anonymous said...

If your post is to be read to suggest that Christians suing Christians in civil courts is wise or something to approve of generally, I disagree. I don't believe you are saying that as you start your third paragraph by saying that it is clear from Scripture that it is always best for Christians to settle thieir differences quickly, privately and justly.

I also think the issue is moot to the extent the lawsuit is an individual versus an entity and it seems like this is a long post with a lot of red herrings.

Although I am somewhat critical here, it is meant to be constructrive, and, as always, I appreciate your heart and your ministry, Wade. One thing is for sure - a lot of what we would like to make be black and white and clear is still dim in that mirror.

Anonymous said...

irreverend fox,

I want to say that I appreciate how you said what you said. You were straightforward, yet showed humility. And you did not add any unnecessary wording that might strain relations with those who differ from you.

I think that if those who differed from you were around you, they would not mind praying with you because of your humble and self-controlled disposition.

Thank you for your example brother.

God Bless


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your courage,Wade.

If the thinking of PP and those of like mind are still considered conservative, then I can no longer consider myself the same.

The SBC has become something I don't recognize or relate to any more.

Steve said...

Non-Baptists already see us as narrow, judgemental, & intolerant. The entirety of the lecture series will not be read by half a percent of the number of people who will hear of Dr. P's remark judging those who bring suits to court against other Christians. Thanks for confirming many people's worst fears about us, Dr. P.
We need to pray for this man and the seminary.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Mike, You asked, "How is what is and has been taking place in blogdom concerning the SBC benefical to the Kingsdom of God?"

"He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8.

The answer to your question? What is taking place in blogdom is speaking truth to power and promoting the Kingdom values of justice, mercy, and humility. Keeping quiet and letting the powerless suffer (again, as we did when many dedicated missionaries were fired or forced out) simply seems unacceptable to many of us.

A final thought on the 1 Corinthians 6 passage. Doesn't the passage refer to lawsuits about small matters? I would suggest that Dr. Klouda's experience was not a small matter. If you think it was, perhaps you could try quitting your dream job for which you worked years to qualify and taking a major pay cut at a time when your family depended solely on your income to pay substantial medical expenses for a disabled spouse? I have worked only for secular employers for my whole career and I have never seen one that would even think of treating someone this way. The Kingdom is advanced when we establish the SBC as an example of justice and mercy.

Anonymous said...

Do those Christians (I will not doubt their status, just their understanding of how to live it) in positions of power who treat others badly or refuse to help those who come to them for help from abusive situations ever consider the effect on non-Christians of their actions? Would an unbeliever treated in the ways described ever have an interest in becoming a Christian if they were told by the person mistreating them that it was God's will? What about the unbelieving friends of the Christian treated this way by a fellow Christian?

Apparently part of the justification is that the persons mistreated in some examples mentioned are women, who seem to be considered lesser creatures. Sort of like: you can do some things to animals that you don't do to humans because they are lesser creatures; likewise it is ok for men to mistreat women for the same reason.

It took the civil authorities to convince Southern Baptists that slavery was wrong. Looks like it may take other civil authorities to deal with other issues as well.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for being willing to talk openly about this although it will be misunderstood by many. This is an area where many of our churches MUST recover some very important functions of a biblical church that have been lost!

Several have questioned how such a court would ever work in the SBC. It seems to me the way this should work is at the local church level, since that is where authority lies. I'd love to hear Ken Sande's (Peacemaker Ministries) thoughts on the matter. Just imagine if so many SBC churches had REAL ELDERS or at least trustees or deacons who were trained to the point they were insistant on their church disciplining its members biblically. I can't speak as a pastor who has done it perfectly. But we have determined to reclaim what has been lost and restore discipline and justice seeking to our church. This whole matter would have been ended a long time ago if there had been churches in the mix prepared to do it.

Thus Paul's smack in the face, 1 Cor 6:5, applies to us/SBC, "I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren?"

I long for the day when our churches reclaim the biblical practices which have been lost!!

Johnathan Newman
Church planter in Ohio

Debbie Kaufman said...

And we can't figure out why people are leaving the church. I too hope you get this tape.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Bryan: While I appreciate what you are saying, I would disagree with you. We are to follow the law, Romans gives the government the power by God to do certain things. I think by saying we should never take another Christian to court is going beyond what scripture mandates, especially when everything else has been tried. We are not to be anti-government or anti-court. God has instituted those as well. In this case Paige Patterson did something that was not morally wrong, but legally wrong. Every avenue was used and failed. This has been going on far too long in our Christian institution and as a proponate of justice, I like to see justice served.

Rex Ray said...

Here we go again…open mouth—insert foot. No wonder Patterson doesn’t respond very much; he gets in enough trouble on his own.

His words implied if a Christian was being sued then the plaintiff was not a Christian.

Wow! Everyone knows he was referring to himself as being an innocent victim.
That’s a classic splinter/beam/eye if I ever heard one.

If there has to be a saved/lost person in a lawsuit, I would judge it to be the one that broke the law.

As Max in MO brought out; where is Patterson’s consistency about the lawsuit by the conservatives against the agencies seeking independence from the Missouri Baptist Convention?

I believe RMS hit the nail on the head when he wrote, “We should worry about whether or not God takes us to court.”

BTW, the latest I heard on the Jerry Sutton Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville Tennessee is 52 people are suing the church to make them release their financial records.

It used to be: “What is the world coming to?”, but I see Baptists are waking up to the ‘fundamentalists takeover’ to “What have we done?”

GeneMBridges said...

Dr. Patterson is a member of Birchman Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth. Bob Pearle is pastor. Dr. Klouda is now a member of a church in Upland, Indiana. I think you would find it difficult both logistically, ideologically and practically for the churches to put together a court for this matter.

Before addressing this comment, I'd like to raise a point with reference to 1 Cor. 6, as I am in agreement with Debbie.

The point of 1 Cor. 6 is not to prohibit all lawsuits between Christians in secular courts. Rather, it is a correction of the failure to use the local church's own disciplinary process outlined by Christ Himself and taught by the Apostles. Let's not forget what was going on in that church at the time.

The disputes in 1 Corinthians were dealing with different types of property cases. He issues not a command, but an admonishment for Christians to go before qualified Christians. He does allow for the possibility of going to the secular courts.

Roman law allowed Jews to apply their own law to property matters, and Christians (not at this time a separate class under Roman law), are accorded this same provision here by Apostolic authority. The rabbinic tradition itself did not allow cases before Gentile judges; rather a committee of three was used. You'll find this same tradition at work today in the rabbinic courts in NYC, and, yes, they do work in concert with the secular authorities at times.

If appeal was made to Romans law for the right of Jews and Christians to try their own property cases, certainly it would be right to take some cases before the civil courts, just as Paul himself did.

Paul's concern here is that the Corinthians were failing to exercise their perogative in their own congregation themselves and turning to Rome without doing this first.

In the case of members of two differing local churches, we have little in Scripture at all. Typically, I have gone by the rule that if one party makes a move invoking the authority of the other's eldership then the named eldership gets to adjudicate that decision. In other words, if you have a problem with me and threaten to go to my elders, then you're telling me that you will submit to their authority. I had to do this once in my time, and the elders ruled that I, not the other person, was the offended party, and my offender then refused correction. That was ugly, but that's the way the ball bounces.

I would say, absent such a statement by one party, then Baptist tradition does provide for the settling of a dispute between members of two different churches. That would be, as in the Charleston Book of Discipline, a "presbytery" of qualified persons from the Association or from both churches. If they are from two different associations, the same rule applies.

A problem can arise here when the eldership of one party's local church is perceived to be "in cahoots" with the other party or one party refuses correction when this is done. SBC tradition does include the use of a "church court."

For example:

R.B.C. Howell was one of the greatest leaders of the early SBC. Howell helped found the Convention. He founded The Baptist, today known as The Tennessee Baptist and Reflector, Tennessee’s state Baptist newspaper. He was SBC President from 1851 – 1859, serving also as president of the FMB, the Bible Board, and the First Sunday School Board. He was, like the other Founders, a “Five-Point” Calvinist, affirming simple worship, the providence of God, church discipline, and the universal preaching of the gospel. Howell also believed the unity of the Convention was necessary if it was going to survive. In 1857, after pastoring in Virginia, First Baptist Nashville urged Howell to return.

Howell had first come to First Baptist Nashiville after the church had been ravaged by the Campbellites. Under his leadership, they rebuilt their church and even found a new building, for the old one had been lost. When Howell returned, he and Graves butted heads almost immediately. This time, the controversy was over the Southern Baptist Publication Society.

Graves had been using his own company, the rival Southern Baptist Sunday School Union to compete with the Publication Society. Howell openly opposed Graves efforts. This led to high drama, for the two men were in the same church!

On September 28, 1858, two members of First Baptist Nashville called for Graves to be tried in a church court for slandering the pastor, for sowing division, for libeling Southern Baptist leaders in his newspaper, and for uttering falsehoods in nine different specifications. On October 12, Graves demanded the charges be dropped. The church voted 91 to 48 to proceed with the trial. In nine meetings in which Graves was not present and not represented, he was found guilty and excluded from the church.

Graves refused the discipline of his local church (contrary to his own ecclesiology) and 46 of his followers declared that First Baptist Nashville was not a valid church and they were the one true First Baptist Church. Later, they took the name State Street Baptist. Graves then proceeded to use his influence in Tennessee Convention to exclude First Baptist Nashville from having its messengers seated. His bid was successful. He further called a meeting of Concord Association in March 1858 to overthrow the actions of First Baptist Nashville. In so doing, he violated his own ecclesiology which affirmed absolute local church autonomy.

Now obviously quite proud of himself, he decided he would repeat his victories at the next Southern Baptist Convention in Richmond. He also decided he would confront Howell.

The Richmond Convention of 1859, however, had different ideas. They seated the messengers of Graves’ church and those from First Baptist Nashville. The Convention messengers then elected Howell SBC President on the first ballot. Furthermore, after a full day of debate over whether or not to close the FMB, in which Graves spoke at length, the Convention refused to close it. Graves attempted to take the power to choose, appoint, direct, support, and examine missionaries from the FMB based on the notion that only churches or associations should engage in these activities. The Convention’s vote was unanimous.

The Convention is, when all is said and done, a big association. It should have a mechanism in place for this sort of thing - but it doesn't, and that is, IMO, sad.

Brothers and Sisters, the SBC's leadership - all of them, no matter who and where they are - need to examine themselves. They need to sit down like adult Christians and take inventory.

I also lay some of this at the feet of the eldership of local churches at which many are members. No Baptist leader - even Paige Patterson and Al Mohler - nor Jerry Rankin or Ed Stetzer, or (insert name here) is above church discipline. Some of this wouldn't be happening if certain pastors in certain churches (I'd name them if I knew them but I don't, that is why none are specifically listed) would take "neutral" status on demominational issues and if they can't would set up what our Baptist forebears called a "presbytery" (there, I said the p-word, but that's what it's called in the Charleston Association's book of discipline) to keep tabs on these men and exercise strict discipline if they start acting the way some have acted.

It just strikes me that cowardice takes more than one form - and that can include having a seminary president or committee chair, etc. in your church and not taking action if required or if they are, at a minimum, drawing an inordinate amount of fire from others. For example, Paige Patterson has been accused of much in his day - some false, some true, but what should have happened, and I have never, ever seen, is a report from a local church of which he was a member or a truly impartial "presbytery" of local churches' elders in his association publish statements that they have examined the matter to their satisfaction and found him innocent. Dare I say that if that was consistently done, some of the things he has done would not have been done at all in some cases - Dr. Klouda comes to mind - because that sort of scrutiny demands absolute transparency. These sorts of issues should not be sorted out on blogs or the Baptist media or even on the floor of the SBC, the local church must do this. If this denomination is going to have an honest talk about local church discipline, it must include the whole of the denomination. Denominational executives should be required to submit rigorously to regular examination of their activities by the elders of their local churches. This is what, in our ecclesiology, and dare I say Scripture itself, is the only thing that will maintain the level of transparency required to keep their activities "above board," such that only what must be hidden (as in the case of security @ the IMB) is what is hidden. Then, nobody will be able to rise up like Dr. Mohler (or even Brother Wade) to say that men have been caricatured and misrepresented - not without incurring an intervention by the elders of another local church. Likewise, it will keep a lot of the hugger-mugger goings on from happening.

Anonymous said...

Debbie, just to make it clear I never said it should never happen. I was actually trying to make Wade's post even more clear as to what he was not saying. Somewhat of a Rehnquist (former Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court) dissent.

What we cannot do, as Christians, is ignore Kingdom principles because something else appears to be reasonable. When we start following that trail we end up following the world's ways rather than God's and leaning on our own understanding rather than trusting in the Lord with all my heart. I pray people will not read Wade's words to say that Christians can sue Christians period. He isn't saying that. Just as I wasn't saying it should never happen.

Rex Ray said...

Gene Bridges,
Thanks for the interesting history of the SBC, but I don’t think your solution of keeping leaders in line with a “truly impartial presbytery of local churches” or the person’s own church would ever work.

Did you read John Fariss’ comment on 27 September 15:21?

If you could solve the problems he mentioned, you’d be a genius.

Wade, thanks for removing you-know-who’s comment without any mention of it.

Unknown said...

It seems that only #4 addresses the title of your post, what Christ says about Christians and lawsuits.

#1 In context, Peter says the world is watching, so silence them by your impeccable behavior- i.e. it is about submission, not appeal.

#2 But is there a biblical precedent to appeal to secular authorities when a Christian person is poorly treating a Christian? No.

#3 Absence of a "church court" does not nullify obedience to Scripture nor the mediation function of elders.

#4 This is hardly "specific instrucion regarding lawsuits," but rather specific instructions regarding reconciliation, as evidenced in the surrounding text.

In 1 Cor 6, Paul appealed to Daniel 7, not to church courts. In other words, Paul was wondered why they would ignore the Scriptures and allow matters to be judged outside the church. His appeal, therefore, was to the OT, not to church courts. John Sailhamer writes the following regarding living out God's principles: "that often means being mistreated and cheated. But that is far better than violating God's will."

I recommend the rest of his commentary on 1 Cor 6 as well as all passages mentioned above in his NIV Compact Bible Commentary.

Lin said...

Colin, What about Paul appealing to Caesar? And using his Roman citizenship?

Unknown said...

What about it?

Anonymous said...

Wade, is there a reason why you did not identify the "well-known speaker" who counseled a battered wife to return to her husband to be beaten further? His name and the endorsers of his position--for they did publish his "position" on abused wives--are well-known; they make no secret of that particular article on their site.

Both the speaker and the publishing organization went public with this horrible travesty of "pastoral counseling." I believe people need to know the identify of both, if for no other reason than to better inform themselves of the blatantly unchristlike character that would consider such a position acceptable.

If you don't want to blow their cover, just say the word--I will.

Katherine said...

Wade, if any of this is more specific than you care to be divulged, feel free to delete it.

I was not at "How Submission Works: A Panel Discussion" in person, but I heard with my own ears the audio record of the event, and could easily verify the speaker. It was archived on the CBMW website. The description of what this speaker said in relation to abuse is entirely accurate. Though actually some of the meaning is lost in print. In reporting the story, where the abused woman comes to the prominent Southern Baptist leader after receiving his intruction to return to abuse and "pray, submit, and elevate her husband" and received more beating for her trouble, she reportedly said to the prominent Southern Baptist "I hope you're happy". However, what struck me was that in retelling the story he changed his tone of voice so that the woman sounds vicious, bitter, and resentful. This is immediately followed with a glowing report of the abusive husband's "conversion". All of this is meant, rhetorically, to incline us to look favorably on the recently converted abuser and disfavorably on the resentful questioning woman of little faith. Never mind that abusers rarely ever stop abusing, are expert manipulators who can put on a good show, and that this prominent Southern Baptist failed to intervene in a situation of violence and sin being perpetrated against a fellow sister in Christ.

It appalls me. Strange how it's almost always women who are counseled to accept abuse, silence their voices, and not attempt to stop the sin and evil being perpetrated against them. Would the men doling out this advice be so ready to suffer the same kind of violence at the hand of another?

Unfortunately, the CBMW site has revamped recently, and they no longer have the audio for this session, even though all traces of its existence have not been erased. You can still search for it and there are still links to it, but the links don't work. Have they become aware of the atrocious nature of things said in the discussion? Are they trying to pretend it never happened? I don't know, but I will never forget it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Katherine. I think the right thing would be for CBMW to go public and admit they've removed it, preferably along with a denouncement of "the prominent leader" for his unconscionable abuse of pastoral authorith--to say nothing of disregard for the law. "Yes, I'm happy" (because the woman's husband supposedly got saved as a result of his remorse after beating her AGAIN) just blows my mind. That he was PROUD of what he did! He could look his parishioner in her blackened eye and say such a thing! That he considered this "less serious abuse." Less serious than what--murder???

(Why ARE we not naming this guy?)

CBMW raked CBE over the coals for not entering into a joint statement on spousal abuse. Gee, with endorsed attitudes like that, I wonder why an egalitarian organization would decline an invitation to be linked with theirs? said...


Thank you for the helpful information.

I am seeking to obtain a copy of this tape, and your help would be greatly appreciated. You have been specific in your information, but respectful.

In His Grace,


. said...


In the counsel of two witnesses something is confirmed. Katherine is now the fourth person who has verified the audio of this panel discussion. I have called the CBMW in Loisville and requested a copy of the tape.

The speaker was Paige Patterson.

Anonymous said...

I'd say 'wow' but that would imply surprise. I've heard him preach on marriage before. Men are to be the leaders of the household, except when it comes to putting a marriage back into the right framework. All of a sudden the woman is to take the lead and without fail, the man will come around.
Really? Of all the times he has likely offered this advice, he shares one success story. I wonder how many did NOT become Christians.
It is the same train of thought that suggests a wife did something wrong if her husband commits adultry. "If she was the right kind of wife, he wouldn't have strayed."
I have heard that all too many times. Sickening.
Why do we NEVER say "if he is the right kind of husband, she will be the right kind of wife?"

Rex Ray said...

It seems the outlook Patterson has of women would indicate Eve was from a toe-bone of Adam.

Has anyone on his ‘small hand-picked’ 2000 BFM committee told if HIS influence was pushed on them for women not to be pastors?

“It takes only one wrong person among you to infect all the others.” (Galatians 5:9 New Living)

The whole thing makes me sick.

Just A Berean said...

Lindon said...
“ What scares me most about these situations is that there are too many in Christendom who are willing to allow those with power, position and strength to lord it over those who don't.
Remember, we are talking WITHIN Christendom as indicated by some commenters here. The lack of basic compassion within Christian circles astounds me.”

Well said. It is the corrupted aroma of absolute power. Our churches foundations are supposed to be laid in the manner of Christ, sacrificing self in order to serve the best interests of the people. Instead we have copied the corporate structures of the world and taken privileges and prestige to our benefit at the expense of the people we “serve”. This is why there can be no “court” systems for our modern churches.

Anonymous said...

I would like to ask three questions. They are simple.

1. Is this the CMBW conference panel discussion with Elisabeth Elliot?

2. If so when did this panel discussion occur?

3. If the answer to #1 is yes, then the answer to #2 must be at least prior to 2004 as Elisabeth Elliot stopped speaking in public around 2003, if so why bring it up now?

I am not excusing the statement by Dr. Patterson. I disagree with it. However, what purpose is being done in bringing up something as current if it is was stated several years ago?

Genuine questions. No malice. Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Who said it was current?

However, until very recently (as in, only in the past month or so), CBMW had it available, tacitly endorsing it. It has been there since whenever it was actually recorded. And since the link isn't functional (dud link), it doesn't show exactly when it was recorded.

So maybe the crucial question is, is something no longer sinful if it happened three or four years ago? If it's quietly been declared "good" by not being discussed much in all that time, does that paper over the injustice?

Anonymous said...

When all is said and done, the real issue is that Dr. Patterson stole the livelihood, home equity, and the home place from Dr. Klouda with no regard for her, her family or the sad consequences of his actions. Whether it is biblically correct is not for me to say but his actions were immoral, illegal and without regard for another Christian. Does that fact make him not saved? What is it that says you cannot right a wrong that you have done? More people would respect Dr. Patterson for admitting he acted without thinking and restoring to the Klouda family what was rightly theirs than respect him for what he has done to this Christian family.