Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type




First Reader

Dr. Amy Sonheim

Second Reader

Dr. Kevin C. Motl

Third Reader

Dr. Barbara Pemberton


Christian women have been marginalized, suppressed, and forgotten by Christian men for centuries. In many cases, these actions are polite when compared to the horrors which self-proclaimed Christ-followers have afflicted on women. Countless sexual abuse cases have been discovered within the walls of the Southern Baptist Church, and the headlines have not stopped printing. Articles from major news outlets such as the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News have revealed that Southern Baptist pastors, youth leaders, and deacons have assaulted hundreds of women over the past twenty years—and those numbers only include the women who are confident enough to bring light to their trauma (National Catholic Reporter). Not only is sexual harassment occurring to women within local churches, but it has been found among church leaders on the national scale. Church patriarchs such as Paige Patterson, a former president of Southwestern Baptist Seminary; Bill Hybels, a former pastor of one of the biggest congregations in America; and Andy Savage, another former megachurch pastor; have three things in common: their extensive knowledge of the Bible, their national respect as a follower of Christ, and the fact that all three of these men have faced sexual assault allegations from women who trusted them as spiritual advisers (See Roach, Goodstein, and Mass).

How is it that these influential Southern Baptist leaders have completely suspended their biblical convictions when it comes to the treatment and respect of women? It seems, based on the Bible’s basic teaching of unconditional love, respect, and appreciation for the Image of God in every human being, as well as their biblical training and national Christian leadership, that these men would support women instead of exploiting them— but this hasn’t been the case for centuries.



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