Years ago I went to a Seminary.
Years ago I worked at a Church.
Years ago, I lived in a house with my dad.
Now I live in one with my husband.
In the latter three, I was and am comfortable in my skin. I was/am happy to be who I was created to be: a woman who loves Jesus, studies his word, and feels called and equipped to teach it to whomever listens-male or female. I have never felt less than, or not enough, or too much. So right now, thank you to all the men in my life who have been awesome and esteeming. There are SO many.
For the most part at Southwestern Seminary, I felt the same way. I had professors who were kind and generous men and women of God. Believing that saints are saints are saints-equal in the sight of God. Men and women empowered by the Holy Spirit to lead and encourage the home and the body of believers, all of it, together. Here are a few amazing professors, because I think it’s important to name names: Dr. Crutchley, Dr. Pearson, Dr. Bullock, Dr. Ross, Dr. Ashlock and more. These people are saints. I’m grateful to have studied under them.
But. One man, who not so quietly fell from grace a few weeks ago, said different things about women. Hurtful things, unkind things, unbiblical things. Things that surely break the heart of God.
I’ve always said, often through anger, and for most of my adult life, that Paige Patterson will stand before Jesus for his treatment of women. Surprisingly, he has stood before men, too, and in this lifetime. His name all over national news, now everyone knows.
Last week, while a board of trustees was deciding into the wee hours, the fate of this man, who has largely stood unchecked, for flippant and sexist beliefs and statements regarding his sisters in Christ, handcuffs went around the hands of Harvey Weinstein, for the disgusting behavior he forced on countless women.
After years and years of creating a culture of inequality at Southwestern, Paige Patterson is gone without benefits this morning because of the mishandling of sexual abuse years ago. And I found myself overwhelmed by surprise emotion.
Emotion that said-it was ok to be angry. He didn’t do the right thing. He said and taught things that were wrong and JUSTICE is served. I can’t believe it. Thank you Southwestern, for doing the right thing!
But here’s what keeps me up at night.
Who gave these men all the power to do as they chose?
The founding Fathers of our country knew that power corrupts when they created checks and balances.
Jesus knew that we needed to do faith in community.
Who closed their eyes? How many people didn’t say anything when they knew they should? In both cases, there were people who allowed this bad behavior. Some not only allowed it, but encouraged it and benefitted from it.
For YEARS, Patterson has behaved this way. How? Why? I would argue that the cause of Christ has been more gravely injured by our silence in the face of sin, than in our pointing it out.
Are we silent because of fear? Because we forgot that God holds the gavel, not the men in Christian leadership? Are we silent, because we’ve failed to open the Bible for ourselves to see if it really says what preachers say it says? Paige Patterson fell from grace first because of his OWN mistakes. But where was his community saying “you cannot speak this way,” “you are wrong,” “you are sinning.” Where were the one on one, out of love, “Brother, your view of women is skewed” conversations? Where were the advocates for the abused? Did no one do this? I’m certain some did. But so many more, let him continue in theology that forgot that JESUS LOVED WOMEN. And PAUL ESTEEMED THEM IN LEADERSHIP. So many more, young men and old men almost worshipped him and his power, using it to elevate their own careers. Shame. This is not the Gospel. They forgot that we worship one GOD, and he is not named Paige.
I can’t even begin to fathom the evil behind Weinstein, but I suspect the same elements were at play in enabling him. Fear, greed, power.
Sin and evil are rarely one man shows. Men and women, wives, husbands, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, sometimes I think we are so very afraid of being judgmental in 2018, that we in that ALLOW wrong. We allow people to behave in ways that are just not right. And in so doing, we enable evil. And when evil is enabled, we’ve wronged one another. Enough is enough. God is a gracious God, but He is also JUST.
I sincerely hope that Southwestern can move ahead with fervor after this mess. I hope the days of women feeling second class are over and the school can be restored to a place of joy and peace and sound theology. I hope I can again proudly say, “that’s MY school.”