Published March 1, 2007
Am I the only one who feels increasingly more anxious about the growing trend in the SBC to exclude women from service? Several events have disturbed me recently. One is that a life-long close friend, a 40-year contributing member of one of our formerly strongest churches, has shared with me the devastation in her church caused by their pastor’s teaching.
Leading the congregation to bypass traditional Baptist congregational rule and institute an “advisory board of elders” (of which he was one of the five), the church fired all women Bible teachers who had male students in the class, deeming that it was not their role to teach men. Also, the youth teachers were removed since only the youth pastor was allowed to teach the youth. The pastor eventually resigned, leaving a broken, struggling congregation.
Then I read in Feb. 14’s edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s @issue page a column by a Baptist pastor in Texas entitled “Blessed are those who serve – even women.” If you haven’t read it, you should. I don’t know the writer or the facts of the article. But if true, they are most disturbing. He states that Southwestern Seminary has dismissed its last woman instructor, except for the president’s wife, saying that “Southwestern noted that biblically women aren’t allowed to teach men.”
So since our pastors traditionally come to our churches from seminary, does this mean that this teaching will become the norm in our churches? If so, given the abundance of New Testament teaching regarding the invaluable service of women at that time, how in the world did we ever come to this conclusion?
Are we going to be required to literally and legalistically observe all cultural practices of New Testament times? If so, I need to buy some new hats since 1 Cor. 12 instructs that if a woman does not cover her head when she prays, her head should then be shaved.
I have been a pastor’s wife for more than 40 years. I cannot imagine what would have gone undone if not for the incredible service of the women in our churches. (And not just in the kitchen, though the writer of the AJC article did note that Southwestern’s “newest degree plan tailored exclusively for women allows for a concentration in ‘homemaking.’”)
Editor’s note: The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message simply states in Article VI on The Church: “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” While the 2000 BF&M along with this statement was adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention on June 14, 2000 in Orlando, each church is autonomous and can develop whatever church polity and policies it desires.
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