(RNS) — The Seventh-day Adventist Church has removed a New York City pastor who said in a sermon earlier this month that husbands may rape their wives.
Burnett Robinson, who served as senior pastor of Grand Concourse Seventh-day Adventist Church for nine years, is no longer a pastor in the denomination, said Kevin Lampe, a communications consultant for the SDA.
On Nov. 13, Robinson preached about wives submitting to their husband’s leadership, when he said, “Gentlemen, the best person to rape is your wife.”
A day after Religion News Service published a story, the Greater New York Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church placed Robinson on administrative leave. On Wednesday (Nov. 24), it announced Robinson had resigned. Lampe said Robinson would no longer be allowed to serve a Seventh-day Adventist church.
“The Greater New York Conference of Seventh-day Adventists recognizes many have been deeply harmed by the sentiments expressed by Robinson,” a statement said. “The views he expressed are wrong and not accepted by our church. Rape and sexual assault of women are crimes and should always be treated as such. We will continue to educate and counsel all pastors, seminary students, and staff to fully understand that this type of rhetoric is abhorrent and unequivocally unacceptable.”
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has 1.2 million members in the U.S. and Canada and more abroad.
Grand Concourse, located in the Bronx borough, is a large church with 977 members. In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, pastors are appointed by the conference, a regional group of churches. Bancroft Daughma has been assigned as interim pastor of Grand Concourse.
In Robinson’s sermon, a short portion of which is captured in a YouTube video, he appears to be preaching from a passage from the New Testament’s Letter to the Ephesians, in which the Apostle Paul says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”
In the video, Robinson says, “In this matter of submission, I want you to know upfront, ladies, that once you get married, you are no longer your own. You are your husband’s. You understand what I’m saying? I emphasize that because I saw in court the other day on TV where a lady sued her husband for rape. And I would say to you, gentlemen, the best person to rape is your wife. But then it has become legalized.”
Issues of women and gender and sexuality continue to trouble segments of the conservative evangelical movement, especially in light of the #MeToo movement, which attempted to break the silence on sexual abuse and harassment.