Lifeway Says No To Magazine Featuring Women Pastors

Posted: September 27, 2008 in Christianity
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Lifeway Christian Resources, an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, has decided not to display the current issue of Gospel Today magazine in it’s bookstores. The issue features a cover story on female pastors, which is contrary to the beliefs of the SBC. Lifeway and the SBC have come under fire because of this decision. The condemnation has come from both the secular and christian ranks. I want to take a look at some of the things that have been written.

Roland Martin at has a major problem with it. He basically skewers Lifeway and the SBC from all angles. Before we look at what he says, lets look at a look at his family background. Mr. Martin’s wife is the Rev. Jacquie Hood Martin. His wife is a former teacher for Lifeway, who severed ties when the SBC decided not to allow women pastors. So it would appear from the article that Mr. Martin has a personal axe to grind. With that being said, He says that what is happening is a “lack of respect for the freedom of the press”. How can someone in this position really not understand the freedom of the press? No one has stopped them from producing or selling their magazine. It is not a mandate that every bookstore must carry every book and magazine. Is he complaining about the secular bookstores who carry no christian magazines? Each bookstore has a right to display whatever it chooses.

Now, to some of the biblical issues that have been raised. The verse I have seen most used is Galatians 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus,”. This verse has nothing to do with ministry at all. This verse in context is speaking about salvation. It is saying when it comes to salvation we are all one in Christ Jesus. Those using this verse to approve of women pastors, also use it to promote egalitarianism. Egalitarianism is basically the position of gender equality in every area of service, including pastor. Those who hold the view that is not about ministry are usually complimentarian. Complimentarianism is the position that there could be gifts that are shared by both genders, but that there are biblical roles and gifts that are gender specific.

They also don’t like the application of 1Timothy 3:2 – An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,. This verse clearly teaches the husband of one wife. Their meaning of this verse is all over the place, as is their interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12 – But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. I have seen it said that this is cultural and doesn’t apply today. And also that this teaches women shouldn’t take control by force. That all seems to be grasping at straws to explain away what the text teaches. This is definitely not a politically correct response, but I don’t recall Jesus being pc.

This issue has also been an avenue to attack endorsements of Sarah Palin and Beth Moore by Southern Baptists. They will point back to 1 Timothy 3:2 when talking about Mrs. Palin. How can a woman be vice-president and not a pastor? For starters, this verse when taken in context is talking solely on qualifications for church leaders. This is referring to church ministry only. Secondly, in my opinion, pastor is a loftier position that VP of the US. Pastors are held to a higher standard, because they are called to help shepherd Christ’s sheep. The other question I saw was about Beth Moore. How can she be featured on the Lifeway website? She is not a pastor to begin with. She is not trying to be Joyce Meyer. Her ministry is to serve and teach other women. Her ministry is not one of teaching men.

I agree with the SBC’s view on female pastors. This is one of many reasons that I am a member of an SBC church. Unfortunately, male leaders are in short supply in churches today. As a result, many churches have sacrificed biblical teaching for pragmatism. The Bible is the same today as it was when it was written. We can’t change the meaning to meet our needs.

  1. TOM SPANGLER says:

    Certainly Lifeway (a for profit) outstanding publisher of Chritian material and owners of Christan Bookstores across the Country has the right here in America to say what they will or will not display in its bookstores. There are many other Christan bookstores that will and are selling the magizine.

    My spin is that Mr. Martin having the knowledge of the “reach” and distribution of Lifeway / SBC is using this platform to bring notice to his magizine and to get people to buy it. Certainly a tried and proven sales and mechandising techique. The more “discussion” you can create on something and making it apear that there is limited acess the more people will rush out to buy the magizine.

    I believe Pastors, Deacons and church leaders should be men. First of all it is Bibical but also it is another way that we are to serve our God and our wives / family. However, as we all know that there has been times in church history (especially small churches) that outstanding Godly woman have had to step up and fill the leadership positions in churches to keep some Adult Sunday school classes going because there was a shortage (men off to war & etc) and or no man was willing or qualified to serve, teach, or lead. Promise Keepers have had a major impact in helping turn this around. To drop an adult Sunday school class because you don’t have a male teacher, but you have a Godly qualified woman I personally feel would not cause hurt or being out of step with our God. It would be everyones prayer in that class that eventually a qualified man would surrender to the Holy Spirit’s tugging and step into teach.

    To take it a step further, we currently have godly women serving on many church committee’s that are involved in the selection process of Pastors and other church leaders. If we hold tight to a position that there are many leadership positions in the church that woman should not serve, however, it is OK for them to serve to help search for the Male Pastor or teachers or to lead and direct choirs that have Male members, are we sending a dual message?

    I Timothy 2:12, as you stated gives very good instruction to us. Should women be in silence in the church? Should they not speak in business meetings? I have heard it explained that the background to this scripture was the fact that women back then was talking and doing a lot of gossiping and doing some “leading”. Has that changed today?

    I am sorry to say if we did not have Godly women today that were not willing to step up, give advice and accept responsibilty you would probably see vacation Bible School come to an end at many churches. This also holds true for many other area’s of church work that qualified men will not step up and take responsibility.

    The Sarah Palin selection was certainly political and demonstrated John McCain’s poor decision making abilities. As the election campaign progresses we can clearly see why John McCain selected Sarah Palin. It was not on her faith, abilitiy or knowledge of World issues, but rather on the fact that she was an Evangelical woman that would allow him to use her to try and pull the Woman and Evangelical voting block. There was certainly more qualified woman that John could have selected to possibly serve as the Vice President. If Sarah is as strong about her faith and position on pro-life, then now is the time that she needs to make it known in her daily speeches, not accepting what she is being told to do in speading lies and smut about Obama. She is “in the world, but does not have to be OF the world”.

    God Bless
    Tom Spangler

  2. Jason Taber says:


    I agree with much of what you said, but I am completely confused by your last paragraph. It has nothing to do with the topic of this post. The question was not if Gov. Palin is qualified, but if it is biblical for a woman to be VP. Mudslinging goes both directions in politics unfortunately. Obama is no different in that regard.

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