When I first started blogging in 2005 I was told that the most effective blogs are those that focus on one predominant theme. I focused like a laser beam those first couple of years on the unethical attempt by International Mission Board trustees to subvert the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole and impose a doctrinal standard on IMB missionaries that that not only exceeded the Baptist Faith and Message, but by its very existence, breached the ethical boundaries of trusteeship and violated the constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention. It was during 2005-2008 (the years I served as an IMB trustee) that I began to see the problems we had in the Southern Baptist Convention went far beyond the International Mission Board. Convention leadership (trustee boards) had left their sola Scriptura convictions, and out of the fear of "liberalism," became Fundamentalists--demanding conformity and agreement on tertiary doctrines that had nothing to do with evangelical cooperation on the mission field. One of those third-stage doctrines is the role and authority of women. I saw with my own eyes the unethical, unbiblical, and godless treatment of women in the Southern Baptist Convention and I vowed to do something about it. Do I consider the equality of men and women a first-tier evangelical doctrine? No; but because the Fundamentalists among us have elevated "the female subordination of women to men" as a litmus test for evangelical orthodoxy, I now focus on their dysfunctional views of male authority and female subordination to help my fellow Bible-believing, conservative, evangelical friends realize the errors being promulgated. Female subordination to male authority is promoted by organizations such as The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Together for the Gospel, and The Elephant Room. I only recently heard that Mark Driscoll has identified "the subordination of women to men" as one of the four key building blocks of his Resurgence Movement. I have addressed the doctrinal fallacies of the Gender Gospel elsewhere, fallacies that plague both liberal feminism and Fundamentalism. In this post, I want to give a few examples of how Bible-believing Christian families, churches, and groups move into dysfunctional, even cultish behavior, if female subordination is allowed to be taught and practiced as biblical orthodoxy.
Most people are familiar with the removal of Sheri Klouda as Hebrew professor from Southwestern Theological Seminary by men who hold to female subordination and cringe at the thought of a woman teaching men Hebrew. What many men and women in conservative, evangelical churches don't realize is that there are Sheri Kloudas everywhere--gifted women who are removed from responsible Christian leadership positions and/or forbidden from speaking publicly, teaching others the Word of God, or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to men because they are women. This absurd position is totally contrary to the Gospel, anti-Christian in nature, and opposite of the teachings of Christ and His apostles. If not stopped, it will plague Christian people with a disease of the soul that is worse than leprosy of the skin. It leads to power-hungry men seeking positions of authority and control, and an almost cultish like god complex. "I am in the image of God. My word is Law. You submit to what I say, and don't dare try to tell me what I should do." This anti-Christ doctrine fleshes itself out in conservative Christian homes and churches in various ways. I will give you three examples.
(1). A well-known Southern Baptist pastor recently told his congregation that he decided to move his family to a new house this year. The price of the pastor's old home ($375,000) and the price of the pastor's new home ($500,000) were appropriately not revealed to the congregation. However, they are relevant to this story because the pastor previously told his congregation that they were not to buy more expensive homes, but rather God desired them to set aside that extra money and give it to kingdom causes (i.e. the church). Please don't misunderstand me. I advocate freedom for all pastors and all congregations to do as the Spirit leads; even the purchase of million-dollar-homes if that is what the Spirit leads them to do. What I find incongruous is the promotion of a so-called "radical Christianity" by those are actually averse to living radically themselves. People should realize one of the prominent New Testament principles is freedom and Spirit-led living. The problem is when pastors place themselves as an authority over the lives of others to tell them how they are to live, while at the same time doing the opposite of that they advocate. It's much better to be silent on issues the Bible is silent about. Anyway, back to the main point. What most people in this pastor's church are not aware of is that the pastor's new home is within ten miles of his old home. Before the move the pastor's wife insisted that the family should not move. She had several very good and valid reasons. However, the pastor informed his wife, that as the man in the home--"the one with authority"--he would make the decision to move and overrule any objections he heard. He said moving was "the right thing" to do, and submission to his authority was "the right thing" for her to do. So the pastor's family moved. I have withheld names, but I do hope the pastor reads this blog and realizes the dysfunctional nature of the argument he had with his wife. Multiply this by hundreds of times in conservative, evangelical homes and you get a picture of the problems created when Christian men have a warped view of their authority.
(2). Lamar Wadsworth recently wrote to me and told me about his mother's funeral. He wrote:
"When my mother died, we were not allowed to have her funeral at the Southern Baptist church where she was an active member for over FIFTY years because I had asked two women to read Scripture at the service. So the funeral had to be held at my home church, the Heritage Baptist Church in Cartersville GA. My church honored my Mother like she was one of their own and gave her the homegoing celebration she deserved. The following November, on All Saints Day--without explanation or comment, my Mother's name was included on the list of members of Heritage Baptist Church who had died in the past year. Bill Leonard said we pulled off the first posthumous transfer of church membership in Baptist history."
Can you believe it? A Southern Baptist Church refuses to allow the funeral of one of the members of their church, a member who faithfully attended and gave to the church for over fifty years, because the son of the woman who died wanted two women to read Scripture at his mother's funeral. Again, the church is not being named in this post, but for our purposes we will call it Ichabod Baptist Church for the glory of God is truly gone from it.
(3). There is now a commentary on the Bible "just for women." Dorothy Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley, professors of "Women's Studies" and "Women's Ministry" at Southwestern Theological Seminary and New Orleans Theological Seminary respectively, are the two women who wrote the Bible commentary "for women." On the back cover, the purpose of the commentary is revealed: "The Women's Evangelical Commentary is designed to equip women to face cultural issues regarding femininity and gender." This is Christianese lingo for "it will help convince all you women that you should teach only women, work only in the home, and find your identity in the man God has given you." I had dinner with Paige and Dorothy Patterson in their home in Fort Worth a few months ago. I have never written the details about our conversation, nor will I, but what that dinner did for me was reinforce my decision to focus on calling out the bizarre and unbiblical views of women that are being taught by our seminary Presidents, their wives, and other 'leaders' in the SBC. If the Spirit of God leads you women to never work outside the home and to focus on having as many children as possible while creating a safe environment in your home for your husband and kids, then go for it! If you are led to the seminary to learn the skills of sewing clothes and folding knapkins for a proper Southern home, then more power to you! If you live your life submitting to what you perceive as "the authority" of men, particularly the husband God has given you, then fine! Just don't dare call it biblical. Call it your cultural preference. Why? Because one day when you die you will not have a man you will call your husband. One day when you die you will exercise your gifts in God-given creative work. One day when you die your entire identity will be in Christ and no other man. One day when you die you will be given a new name, a new place to live and a new purpose for eternity--all based upon who you are as a person-- equal to any man God created. While you are on earth, I hope you find that the teachings of grace and equality in the Bible prepare you for eternity. But if your cultural preference is to find your identity in a man, then just be honest that you feel safer and more secure in the shadow of man's identity, and if equate your submission to God to that of a visible, physical man, then just be honest about what you are doing. Don't call it biblical Christianity. In fact, it's so unbiblical to the Christianity portrayed in the New Testament that it may be people who are as comfortable as you in your cultural preferences will write a Bible just for you. Oh, wait, that's what this post is about.
May I suggest that the Bible you have from God is sufficient?
Well, that's my rant for the day. My oatmeal is getting cold (I should quit writing at breakfast on Saturday morning). Blessings to all my friends, and even my Fundamentalist friends. :) Just remember that since you elevated the gender gospel to a primary test of Christian orthodoxy, you have forced me to focus my laser on you to help end the dysfunctional churches and homes you are creating.