When the SBC CAN Overthrow Autonomy

In my various research wanderings online, I just came across a reference to the fact that the SBC convention has expelled churches who have accepted gays on staff.  How interesting!  I thought local church autonomy was supposed to prevent the convention from being able to do anything about the staffing choices in local churches (tongue in cheek here)!  I do believe this proves my point that the SBC CAN do something about the issue of clergy sex abuse — they just don’t think it’s important enough.  In fact, this demonstrates very clearly that the SBC believes clergy sex abuse and pedophilia is less wrong than homosexuality.  Yet, pedophilia and statutory rape are crimes while homosexuality is not (overlooking the fact that most Baptists I know believe homosexuality should be a crime; that’s not the point I’m making).  This attitude is a profound injustice and nothing less than appalling.

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Another Wee Issue re: Patterson Interview

OK, there’s another little statement in Paige Patterson’s interview with the Southern Baptist Texan that has been nagging at me ever since I read it yesterday. It is completely off the topic of yesterday’s post (well, mostly) so I was going to leave it alone, but I changed my mind. 😉

Patterson said of Gilyard, “…on the basis of his behavior, as well as his divorce, he has no business serving as pastor of a local church.” I’m just wondering — are sexual abuse and divorce equal? It seems so strange to me to lump the two together into one statement.

Even more curious, is Patterson saying Gilyard is disqualified to serve as a pastor because he is divorced, but Dr. Charles Stanley is not? Or is Dr. Stanley exempt from this standard because he is the pastor of the largest SBC church in the country? Of course, we must remember autonomy here. An SBC church can supposedly hire whomever they want to be their pastor. But it still strikes me as a very odd thing for Patterson to drop into this interview regarding clergy sexual abuse.

I am well aware of the justification behind Patterson’s statement that divorce disqualifies an individual from serving as pastor of a local church. I believe a blanket statement to the effect that divorce absolutely disqualifies someone from pastoral leadership is a short-sighted policy that does not consider the whole of the Word on the issue, but it is certainly a mainline Baptist tenet. And the way Patterson lumped divorce and sexual abuse into one package struck me as very strange. I want to make clear that I’m not making a judgment of Patterson, because the statement by itself is not detailed enough to know what he meant by it. It’s just been niggling at me ever since I read it, so I decided to comment on the subject, not intending Patterson himself as a target.