One of America’s largest church organizations, Rick Warren’s massive California-based Saddleback Church, was “disfellowshipped” by the Southern Baptist Convention over concerns about Saddleback’s inclusion and use of female pastors.
The final vote came less than a year after Warren stepped aside from delivering sermon at the church and introduced the duo of his new lead pastor and his wife, a teaching pastor. In 2021, Warren also ordained three female pastors, which first prompted the discussion by the SBC to part ways from Saddleback.
New lead pastor Andy Wood, who joined Rick Warren on stage with his wife Stacie last year, said in an interview with the Associated Press that the Bible “teaches that men and women were given spiritual gifts by God.”
“The church should be a place where both men and women can exercise those spiritual gifts. My wife has the spiritual gift of teaching and she is really good. People often tell me she’s better than me when it comes to preaching, and I’m really glad to hear that,” he continued.
Certainly, no one is making the claim that women can’t perform the work ably and comparably – or even better. Instead, the counterargument is scriptural.
The SBC cited Article VI in the Baptist Faith and Message, which states: “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of the pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”
In the modern era, it is almost impossible for the secular mind to conceive of a reason as to why females should not be able to serve as a pastor. They might even throw out Biblical reasoning to curry favor, arguing that men and women are equal and that’s that.
Of course, for traditional conservatives, the issue goes much deeper than pointing out the obvious fact that men and women were created to have equal worth under God. Having equal worth doesn’t just translate into having equal roles in life or deserving of equal outcomes.
“Traditional Christians believe the Bible makes it clear from a Complementarian viewpoint that women have a place in ministry under a male leader’s authority,” the Daily Wire wrote, “arguing that primary leadership roles for females are unhealthy, counter to biblical standards, and place the congregation on a slippery slope away from fundamental scripture teachings and on a path toward more liberalism.”
Writing at Ratio Christi, compelling theological evidence presents an additional case for the SBC’s position.
“The prohibition is not due to any inferiority of female reason or rhetoric – it is grounded in Creation. Paul reminds us the fairer sex was created second and fell first,” one contributor suggested. “Time and culture cannot change those high-heel busting facts. Submission to Paul’s directive does not negate the value of women in the church; rather, it proclaims the truth of Creation and the Fall. Further objections melt beneath the heat of this Genesitic seal.”
The argument continues to point out that the New Testament never revealed a time when a female was the spiritual leader of men, and as one associate professor of theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary noted, “If we take the Bible at its word, then we recognize that there is no way for a woman to instruct the gathered church, whether in an authoritative or a non-authoritative way.”
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