I am saddened, shocked, disappointed, and disturbed by the actions of the Southern Baptist Convention yesterday, voting by an 89%-11% margin to adopt the so-called Mike Law Amendment and expel all SBC congregations who “affirm, appoint, or employ a woman as a pastor of any kind.” This includes youth pastors and children’s pastors, outreach and missions pastors. The amendment must pass by a two-thirds vote one more time, at next year’s convention, before it becomes binding. But, according to my friend Darin Wood, the senior pastor at First Baptist here in Midland, he’s already been handed an official list of 176 Baptist churches who would be affected. First Baptist Midland is one of them.
In many ways, all of us are affected. This is not just a black eye for Baptists, this is a terrible blow to all Christian churches, an insult to the Gospel of Christ Jesus, and a setback to the Kingdom of God. To legislate in God’s Church that the “office of pastor is limited to men” is to mandate restrictions the Bible never does and to fly directly in the face of our Lord and his will.
Our God came here in the flesh and blood of Jesus to reverse the curse of Genesis 3, not to enforce it on his people. God poured out his Spirit on the Day of Pentecost “on all people,” on all our “sons and daughters,” and “both men and women.” By the cross of Christ, all the barriers between people and God and between people and one another have been destroyed. In Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.”
To restrict our sisters from sharing their God-given gifts with his Church is to deny the Body of Christ the fullness of everything our Lord intends. It’s to deprive God’s people of half the blessings, half the encouragement, half the service, half the prayers, half the teachings he’s designed for us to have.
It also reinforces to the world and to our own people that the Church employs absurd inconsistencies, uses transparent loopholes, and jumps through mammoth hoops to squash the Holy Spirit in our sisters and keep the men in control. We behave as if the women in the church are uniquely qualified to serve meals – we expect to be served by women at every meal – yet we deny them the opportunity to pass a tray of crackers and juice during the Lord’s meal. Unless they pass those trays side to side while seated; they are only prohibited from passing them front to back while standing. We expect and encourage women to read and interpret Scripture during Bible class, we urge women to pray from the couches in our living rooms, but they’re not allowed to do any of that during a Sunday morning worship assembly. A Christian sister can read the Bible out loud at 9:45 downstairs in the classroom, but she can’t do it at 10:20 upstairs in the worship center. It’s the law of the low ceiling: the lower the ceiling, the more the women can do. And the world and our young people see right through it.
A couple of the Baptist pastors I know are really struggling with the events of the past two days. They have some very difficult conversations ahead and tough decisions to make. I invite you to join me in praying for them.
I think about our children’s ministers here at GCR, Kristin and Ashlee; our new youth minister, Jadyn; and our summer ministry intern, Callie. I invite you to join me in encouraging them and thanking them for so eagerly using their God-given gifts of leadership to serve our Lord and his people.
I pray for the female pastors in all our Christian churches, all our women youth and children’s ministers, all our women teachers and worship leaders and church planters, that their spirits will not be crushed by the vote and the news and the harsh attitudes and language coming from the SBC. I invite you to think about them before and as you post and/or comment on social media, and as you engage in conversations with your friends about the news.
I pray that we in the Churches of Christ will keep moving toward more Gospel-oriented views and practices, that we will be more and more blessed by expressing and experiencing all our Holy Spirits gifts for the “strengthening, encouragement, and comfort” of the Church.
Lord, have mercy.