SBC Men Trying to Keep Beth Moore (and All Women) in Her Place

Here we go again.

The Southern Baptist Convention is after women again. Not all women, just women who think they are called to preach.

Specifically, they are after Beth Moore (again), who is not only their most successful woman preacher, but based on her popularity she is their most successful preacher period, male or female.

She doesn’t call herself a preacher; that’s long been taboo in the SBC. She’s a teacher and speaker.

But we all know what she does.

And, apparently, so do some in the SBC.

“…women should not preach or offer public teaching in the gathered worship service in local churches.” writes SBC seminary professor Owen Strachan. “For a woman to teach and preach to adult men is to defy God’s Word and God’s design.”

Public teaching in the gathered worship service. So even if she doesn’t “preach” she’s teaching in gathered worship. That last is actually an added caveat. There was a time in many Baptist churches when men forbade a woman to teach males in any setting, even boys. In some churches it still is. Men only allowed women to teach other women or girls.

But not only did sensible people realize how ridiculous that was, often they couldn’t find enough men to teach Sunday School classes and had no choice but to turn to women. In small churches there might not have been enough children in the entire church to make up separate boys and girls classes. They had to be combined, and sometimes the only teacher willing to teach the class was a woman.

(When I was growing up it was considered unmanly for a man to be an elementary school teacher. My first male teacher was in 7th grade.)

So they added the “in the gathered worship” proviso.

It’s not just this one guy. R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (my alma mater) said in a recent podcast, “If you look at the denominations where women do the preaching, they are also the denominations where people do the leaving. I think there’s just something about the order of creation that means that God intends for the preaching voice to be a male voice.”

Interesting tidbit: the Southern Baptist Convention has been declining in membership and baptisms for the last decade, and membership is at its lowest in thirty years. So, um, about that leaving thing…

That “order of creation” argument is interesting. It ignores the first creation account in Genesis 1, when God created male and female together in his own image and likeness, and focuses on the second account in Genesis 2, where God forms the female from the male.

Even then it ignores that God created them as equals. God said it was not good for the male to be alone; there was a part of him that was incomplete without a corresponding part. Once God made the female humanity was complete, and humanity, not just the male, was incomplete without her.

The subjugation of the female to the male doesn’t occur until Genesis 3, after the Fall. It is thus not part of God’s original plan but is a part of the curse of sin, a curse that God destroyed through the atoning work of Christ.

It’s true that Paul referred to the “order of creation” when he said that he didn’t permit a woman to have authority over a man in 1 Timothy 2:12, but that’s only half the story: Paul also actively undermined patriarchal norms which asserted male authority over women.

Paul wasn’t just against women’s authority in relationships, he was against authority as the basis of all relationships.

Love was to replace authority as the basis, mutual submission characterizing this love.

“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,” he tells husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:21, and adds, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

The answer to patriarchy isn’t matriarchy, Paul was saying. In the kingdom of God, we all stand as equals under the authority of Christ.

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