I have never recommended or prescribed divorce. How could I as a minister of the Gospel? The Bible makes clear the way in which God views divorce. I have on more than one occasion counseled and aided women in leaving an abusive husband. -Paige Patterson

I, too, am a Southern Baptist, and although I respect Dr. Patterson's right to disagree, I doubt that this is the presiding opinion among all SBC pastors. Patterson's refusal to acknowledge abuse as a legitimate breach of the marriage covenant convinced a battered wife to stay in an abusive home. Domestic abuse is cyclical. Even when pastors, counselors, and victim’s advocates intentionally intervene, abused women often find the fear of isolation, financial struggle, single parenting, violent retribution, and a host of other factors to be a hill too steep to climb. So they return home.

Women and children are being oppressed by their husbands and fathers across our nation. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2011 survey of more than 12,000 women, 22 percent of women in the US have experienced severe physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner. That's one in four women across our nation experiencing “severe” physical oppression. (Fourteen percent of men also experience abuse during their lifetimes.) Which is why pastors have to refuse the simple, proof-texted answer. Patterson insists, “The Bible makes clear the way in which God views divorce.” That is true.

Exhibit A: Malachi 2:16a—“‘For I hate divorce,’ says the Lord, the God of Israel ...” (NASB)

However, the Bible also makes clear the way in which God views abuse and oppression.

Exhibit B: Malachi 2:16b—“...and ...
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