Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Why Baptist Families are Fracturing

Wade Burleson raised a provocative question on his blog yesterday. He asked "Do Southern Baptists Set Women Up for Abuse?" His blog called attention to a guest column by Mary Gruben in the Abilene Reporter News entitled "Southern Baptist View of Women Needs Update."

Southern Baptist leaders have been working tirelessly to subjugate their women since 1979. That was the year when both Leon McBeth's Women in Baptist Life was published and the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC began. McBeth's book revealed the remarkable advances that women were making within the ministries of the SBC. The Fundamentalists thought resubjugating their women would save their families, but all they did was to accelerate the fracturing of families and divide their denomination.

By 1999, the Bible Belt, the heartland of the Southern Baptist Convention, had the highest divorce rate in America. Only Nevada, home of the quickie-divorce, had a higher rate of divorce than Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

SBC leaders still think the solution to the problem of divorce is to tell wives to “submit” to their husbands. “Submissive” wives don’t question their husband’s directions and they hold their tongues when they know their husband is leading the family astray. In the words of Dorothy Patterson, a drafter of the SBC’s 1998 family statement, "When it comes to submitting to my husband, even when he’s wrong, I just do it. He is accountable to God." In the Fundamentalist’s world, husbands give orders and wives obey. All relationships, even families, are structures of power and servility.

Unfortunately for Fundamentalist’s, most women in the real world of twentieth century America believe that marriages are built on love and respect. They got that idea from the Bible (Eph. 5:33), not from their culture, and they expect to be equal partners in a regenerate relationship. They got that idea from the Bible too (Gal. 27-28; Eph. 5:21-33).

Fundamentalists don’t deny that love is the basis for marriage. They just define love in the terms of pagan Roman culture rather than in the terms of biblical Christianity. For Fundamentalist’s, love is a struggle for power and marriage is a relationship between a master and a slave.

Christ, on the other hand, demonstrated in word and in deed, and in life and in death, that true love is sacrificial and self-giving. Christian love concerns itself with serving others not with ruling over them. That is the only kind of love with power to reconcile fractured and broken relationships.


Bill Jones said...

Very well-said, Bruce! Amen.

I recommend to everyone the book, by Audra and Joe Trull, "Putting Women in Their Place: Moving Beyond Gender Stereotypes in Church and Home - The Baptist Debate over Female Equality."

P M Prescott said...

The Roman Pater Familias keeps rearing it's ugly head.

Bob said...

How do the roles of women in strict Southern Baptist marriages compare to those of women in Jewish orthodoxy? I would suggest that the Jewish women feel their purposes are more central to religious observance in the family, where observance itself is central to family life. What do Southern Baptists know about keeping kosher?