By Bob Allen
A Southern Baptist pastor said in a televised sermon Dec. 6 that today’s controversy over transgender rights has its roots in “feminist rebellion” against the Bible’s teaching on hierarchy within marriage.
“The mayor of Houston says that her crowning achievement as mayor will be their city ordinance of equal rights and the abolishment of men’s and women’s restrooms,” Ashley Ray, senior pastor of Ridgeway Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., said in the sermon broadcast on WHBQ-TV, also known as Fox 13.
“There is a group of people that know better than God,” Ray said in excerpts of the broadcast captured by Raw Story. “You say, well that’s terrible. I would never — but you know where all that started?”
“All that started in people saying, ‘I know what the Bible says, but that’s just for that culture, that patriarchal society back in that day, and we’ve come so far,’” he said. “Yes, we have come so far. God help us. God have mercy upon us.”
Ray said he doesn’t believe the Bible teaches “patriarchalism, per se,” in that Scripture doesn’t support things like men mistreating women or women receiving unequal pay.
But he said he also doesn’t believe it teaches “egalitarianism,” which he defined, “in the name of decrying the inequality of men and women and their treatment, people have erased all distinction and have said there is no difference in function between a man and a woman.”
Quoting Bible passages from Ephesians and First Timothy, Ray described a “divine hierarchy in marriage,” in which the wife is to submit to her husband “in everything.”
“Some people say, ‘Oh, now that we’re Christians we’re all elevated to the same level,’” Ray commented. “Well, that’s true. We’re all to be submissive to Christ and we’re all to be submissive to one another, but you see Adam’s headship was not a result of the fall. It was before the fall, and then Paul said that the woman was deceived. That’s not putting the woman down, that’s saying that the man was to lead.”
“When the lady led, the human race fell,” Ray said. “When Adam allowed his wife to lead him — and it’s his fault, not hers — but when he allowed that the human race fell.”
Ray said he disagrees with people who interpret Ephesians 5:21 as calling for mutual submission that works both ways between husband and wife.
“There is, whether you like it or not, a divine hierarchy in marriage,” he said.
“There should be a divine harmony in marriage,” he added. “Wives must submit to their husbands. That will bring harmony.”
Ordained at age 19 under the ministry of Adrian Rogers, a two-time president of the Southern Baptist Convention and longtime pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Ray holds degrees from Union University, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The Baptist Faith and Message, the official SBC confession of faith as revised in 2000, says that according to the Bible, the husband “has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family.”
“A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ,” the article on the family continues. “She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.”
An SBC resolution passed in 1984 opposing women’s ordination said God requires wifely submission “because the man was first in creation and the woman was first in the Edenic fall.”