(1). HOWARD: What a ride, to be married to Paige. How has the conservative resurgence of the SBC tested your marriage? What do you like most about your husband?
PATTERSON: Actually our marriage became stronger through the conservative resurgence because we discovered that other than God Himself, we could depend upon one another more than any other human being. All of our family ties were strengthened as we leaned on one another for human encouragement. It did add a public dimension that has proved challenging through the years, especially the virtual loss of privacy as a family. However, God is faithful and has provided a contentment to all of us so that even this intrusion into our private world became an avenue for family ministry.
His godly character and courage, which have never wavered. He remains my very favorite preacher as well; and, of course, he is my best friend.
(2). HOWARD: Tell me about your hats? How many do you have and what's your philosophy behind wearing them? Does the church need to talk more about the 1 Corinthians 11 passage regarding women covering their heads?
PATTERSON: I have never counted my hats. Most of them were given to me, usually as those abandoned by women who no longer wanted to wear hats but had invested so much in the hat that they could not bear to send it to the Good Will or throw it away! I began my affinity to hats more than four decades ago--long before I went to seminary. Honestly, my love for a perfectly accessorized hat has more to do with my sense of fashion and style than a biblical mandate. However, I have sometimes remarked that the Lord Himself may have placed in my heart a love for such special head coverings, knowing that my husband and I would be in a very public ministry and perhaps that desire to have the perfect hat would eliminate a stumbling block for some. For example, when we travel in eastern Europe, I do not have to go to any special lengths in packing for church. I will have a hat with me! So far as I know, however, I have never just grabbed a hat to be wearing a hat. Some are more perfectly matched than others, but I try to give attention to finishing out an outfit just because that is my personal style and preference.
In my opinion, the scrutiny of 1 Corinthians 11 should be more in the underlying principle found in the text, i.e., the model of the husband's headship in the home, which Paul there and elsewhere ties theologically to the creation order and God's plan for the man and woman as equally in His image but with different and complementary assignments in the divine economy.
(3). HOWARD: How has feminism helped or hindered evangelicalism?
PATTERSON: Feminism with its emphasis on experience and personal happiness and individual rights has provided a fertile ground for the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no better contrast to the life of Christ and thus no better way to point to the deficiency in our humanness that draws us to wanting to do everything our own way. Those who look back over the decades influenced by this self-centered ideology would certainly find that it has not produced answers and a better world!
On the other hand, while showing clearly the need for Christ, this movement has also hindered the spread of the gospel with its consciousness raising, revisionism of history and reinterpretation of Scripture, which have made it very difficult for women to have a clear understanding the God's plan for their lives. Yes, we want to help hurting women and lift up those who are down-trodden, but we also need to point them to Christ and His selfless life as our model for living.
(4). HOWARD: Who has been your mentor through the years?
PATTERSON: Both my mother Doris Kelley and my mother-in-love Honey Patterson were the greatest influence on my life. They loved their families and devoted their energies and creativity to their homes and refused to be distracted by the pull of the world to selfish pursuits.
Also Sarah Eddleman, whose husband was president of New Orleans Baptist Seminary when I was a student, and Mrs. Ruth Hunt of Dallas, TX, were great role models in hospitality and adding a gracious flourish to opening my home to those God would send.
In honing my ministries to women with the pen and through the public platform, I was encouraged by my friendship with Elisabeth Elliot and Edith Schaeffer.
(5). HOWARD: Are you discussing the issue of immodesty and provocative clothing among women as you tour? If so, what are you hearing? Are Christian women concerned?
PATTERSON: Modesty is a critically important topic in today's world, and I am developing a series of messages on that topic even now--not for a particular event but because I think they will be relevant. No one was more surprised than I when in November several years ago, I was asked to speak to the pastors' wives in a state convention on that very topic! Then a few weeks later I was asked to use the same topic in addressing a gathering of pastors' wives from all across the SBC! I am hearing that we are desperately in need of a clear Word from God on this topic in our churches and in gatherings of women across the land. I think many Christian women are concerned, but just as many have no clue to the importance of this topic.
(6). HOWARD: What projects are you working on now? How many classes do you teach per semester at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary?
PATTERSON: I am completing the editorial work on the Women's Evangelical Commentary on the Old Testament and beginning the final work on the accompanying Study Bible. The first volume in this trilogy (NT Commentary) is already in the marketplace. I am also under contract for a Biblical Theology of Womanhood. I am also typing a Christmas novel for our son, who is an excellent writer in his own right. I have many responsibilities with various departments within the seminary. I do not accept salary from the seminary but enjoy being their first volunteer for a myriad of things in process. I teach three classes this semester: Introduction to Women's Studies, Wife of the Equipping Minister, Biblical Model for the Home and Family.
(7). HOWARD: Do you have a couple of favorite websites you'd like to plug here?
PATTERSON: The only two I monitor with some regularity is my own and that of Southwestern. I am sure there are some great ones out there, but I am technologically challenged and time-starved!
Some Women Call it Fashion
How About a Modesty 101 Class?
The Deception of Feminism
Open Letter to My Daughter on Modesty
In Honor of Pastors: Learning How to Follow Your Leader