The incoming head of a Baptist ethics agency says church teaching that subordinates women is partly to blame for the rash of allegations of sexual abuse by powerful men in media, business and politics making headlines in the last two months.
Mitch Randall, executive director-elect of the Baptist Center for Ethics, denounced “complementarianism” — the view that God creates men and women for different and complementary roles — as “theological malpractice” in a Nov. 22 article on EthicsDaily.com, the BCE website.
Randall, who takes the helm of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship partner ministry Jan. 1, said while growing up in churches that taught husbands were head of the home and wives were “helpers” to serve in submission, he didn’t think about “what we now know as a theological culpability for sexual abuse.”
Randall, pastor of NorthHaven Church in Norman, Okla., since 2006, said a church that teaches girls to be subservient “fosters the idea that women are less important than men” and “empowers men to believe they have a distorted right to treat women in a lesser role.”
“When the church denies women the same rights as men when it comes to marriage, parenting, home and the church, then the church is giving society permission to treat women as a sub-class of humanity,” Randall said.
Randall said those teachings are wrong and need to be called out, but simply condemning them is not enough. He urged churches “to fervently promote an egalitarian theology that empowers women to fulfill their divine callings.”
“Equality will never be achieved as long as the church continues to turn the other way,” Randall said. “We must strive to do better for the young women growing up in our churches, for God’s mercy may be withheld if they grow up in a church that remains silent while predators are lurking in the shadows — or in plain sight.”
Randall, 47, was hired in October as second executive director of the independent agency formed in 1991 to counter the rise of the Religious Right, specifically within the Southern Baptist Convention. The founder, Robert Parham, died in March.