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.

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