Allowing women to serve in churches with the title “pastor” is a slippery slope that will lead to acceptance of gay, lesbian and transgender pastors next, according to a Virginia pastor calling for an amendment to the Southern Baptist Convention’s constitution.
Mike Law, pastor of Arlington Baptist Church in Arlington, Va., has released a series of video vignettes addressing his proposed amendment to exclude from the SBC any church with a woman serving as “pastor.”
While the SBC already is not a safe haven for women as senior pastors, Law and other ultraconservatives want to enforce their view that the “office of pastor” is a specific title given by God only to men. Law recently published a list of 170 women serving in SBC churches in Virginia and Texas who have “pastor” in their titles or who have what he believes to be improper authority in the church.
“God’s word and the Baptist Faith and Message limit this office to qualified men,” Law says in the video opening. “In a culture that is seeking to undermine the good and God-given distinctions between men and women, this kind of mindset has made major inroads in our convention.”
“History shows that once a denomination allows female pastors it’s usually just a matter of time until they affirm practicing homosexuals as pastors.”
This is a dangerous path, he insists, that will lead the SBC to become like other declining mainline denominations.
“This issue has been a canary in the coal mine for many denominations and maybe for ours if we do not stand with conviction and clarity,” he declares. “Generally speaking, history shows that once a denomination allows female pastors it’s usually just a matter of time until they affirm practicing homosexuals as pastors.”
He then cites the years female pastors were allowed in the American Baptist Churches in the USA, the Episcopal Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Methodist Church and links those decisions to later acceptance of gay and lesbian clergy.
“The United Methodist Church allowed female pastors in 1956,” he says. “They are now hemorrhaging over homosexual ordination, and it’s the conservatives who are leaving.”
Currently, The United Methodist Church does not sanction gay and lesbian ordinations or same-sex marriages.
If the SBC doesn’t act to stop acceptance of female pastors, it won’t be long until SBC churches “start openly supporting homosexual clergy, same-sex marriage and eventually transgenderism,” he warns. “The issue of female pastors was the first domino to fall for each of those denominations I mentioned just a moment ago, and that domino is falling in our convention.”
Adopting a constitutional amendment against women serving as pastors would glorify God and would be biblically faithful, he says.
He acknowledges his proposed amendment has become “surprisingly controversial” but shouldn’t be controversial.
From his perspective, the amendment doesn’t say anything more than the Baptist Faith and Message — the SBC’s doctrinal statement — already says. But while adherence to the Baptist Faith and Message is not rigidly enforced, this is an issue that must be enforced, he believes.
“The goal in offering this amendment was to encourage Southern Baptists to keep in step with the Spirit and the Scriptures on the subject of the pastoral office. The Baptist Faith and Message announces our belief that the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture, and this amendment would clarify that our cooperation as churches is in accord with this particular belief.”
“If we won’t stand on this issue and be unapologetically biblical, then we won’t stand on anything.”
Law cites passages from the New Testament books of First Timothy and Titus to say limiting the pastoral office to men “is how our Heavenly Father has decided to order his household of faith. And it is not only beautiful, but it is best for his church and her witness in the world.”
He warns that “some people are actively advocating for female pastors while myself and others are trying to be faithful to our doctrinal commitments. That means if something doesn’t change, there’s going to be a tear in the fabric of our cooperation as Southern Baptists.”
Maintaining unity and cooperation requires adherence to his view of Scripture, the pastor of a 100-member church implies. “If we are to keep going cooperating in the advance of the gospel, then we’re going to have to constantly reaffirm the doctrine that binds us together.”
Further, he sees this as a test issue, he says. “If we won’t stand on this issue and be unapologetically biblical, then we won’t stand on anything. Southern Baptists are facing a decisive moment concerning gender roles. … If we cannot agree on what a pastor is and who a pastor is, then that means we can’t agree on who should be leading our churches.”
If you’re going to quote 1 Timothy 3:2, be sure to read Exodus 20:17 | Opinion by Brad Bull
A response to ‘The List’ | Opinion by Alice Cates Clarke
I’m one of the female pastors on the SBC’s hit list | Opinion by Carlisle Davidhizar
What Mike Law got right | Opinion by Jennifer Hawk
How dare they publish that list | Opinion by Arthur Wright Jr.