Why I’m Not Signing the Letter Calling for Paige Patterson’s Resignation by Carmen Fowler Laberge

One of the lessons I hope we’re all learning this week is that Christians must consider what we say before we say it, remembering that we represent Christ with every word. That includes the remarks we planned to make and those we said in jest, or our joking, sarcastic, “you know I didn’t mean that” side comments. If you are in Christ then everything you say bears witness either authentically to or against Him. That’s one take away from the controversy now roiling the Southern Baptist Convention.

And while I understand the motivation of thousands of women in the denomination to call for the resignation of Paige Patterson, I am not signing the letter. I do not know him, I’m not in a position to follow the Matthew 18 mandate, and I do not believe that the resignation of one individual gets to the root of the issue. What we need is a national, faith-wide conversation about God’s image-bearers and relations among us. While removing one prominent pastor might create a sense of empowerment, it will not change a culture rife with jesting about women’s appearances, awkwardness at leadership levels when women are in the room, and gross misunderstandings about Biblical submission.

Men and women who know how to engage in civil conversation at the leadership level need to model how to talk about the household rules of Galatians 3 and Ephesians 5, the treatment of people within the household of faith and the treatment of people within our own households. Yes, we need sermons on the subject, but we need conversational apologetics and credible witnesses in redeemed marriages to bear public witness. We need to talk about how we talk about one another and marriage and sex. We need to deal with objectification and pornography. We need to deal with issues of authority and submission and we need to talk about the things we all talk about all the time just NOT in the company of one another.

I resonate with much of what Beth Moore articulated in her open letter to our brothers. I also appreciate that there are times I prefer to process through things with women and not men. I believe we stand at a moment in time when the Church has the opportunity to lead in the cultural conversations of the day related to reconciliation and #MeToo but in order to do so, we’ll have to get our own house in order.

Three things must be said here:

1. Abuse is always wrong. Abuse of all forms is always contrary to the character and witness of Christ. All abuse: domestic, spousal and physical abuse, verbal abuse which objectifies another or robs them of their dignity as a fellow image-bearer of God, and, yes, the abuse of positional power, have no place among God’s household. Church leaders bear an obligation for the people whom God has entrusted to their care and church leaders are legally obligated to report abuse to law enforcement. There’s really no room for debate about these things.

2. Biblical submission is an issue of authority and neither of those words is popular in the culture today. God’s authority over all of life, including marriage, is important for us to redeem in the cultural conversations of our day. But biblical authority and biblical submission in marriage are badly misunderstood because they have been so poorly represented by the church. Let’s be crystal clear: Biblical submission is not all women to all men nor all children to all adults. Biblical submission is also never forced submission. Part of the calling of Christians today is to redeem marriage and to do that we’ll need to resubmit ourselves to God’s authority and His revealed will.

3. This is a critical moment for the ministry and witness of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination and we should all pray for the moment to be one of redemption and not fracture.

While I’m not signing the letter, I am seeking to make a contribution to the conversation.

Whenever a church body leads the headline news, Christians must be prepared to enter into those conversations, bringing the mind of Christ to bear on the matters of our day. So, as you read these articles, ask yourself, “What has God said about these things? What do I know about God and God’s Word that could be brought to bear in this conversation? Where’s the opportunity for redemptive witness?”

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Source: Christian Post

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