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 cnn.com 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.