"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

'Tie an Animal to a Tether and It Will Know the End of the Rope by Morning'- The SBC and Its Women

The "tie an animal to a tether" quote in this blog's title comes from Cotton Mather, but it was used by a strict complementarian pastor last week to justify tethering Christian women so they aren't allowed to lead, instruct, guide, or 'imitate the authority' of a male.

To tie a tether to women so they don't "imitate the authority of a male," according to this strict complementarian pastor, is the only way to prevent women from sinning against God for doing things they shouldn't be doing (see his quote at the 1 minute and 25 second mark of this video),

It seems Beth Moore and other gifted SBC women have become dangerously untethered in the eyes of some SBC men.

And now,  the issue of what women can and can't do for Christ has sadly risen to the level of Gospel heresy in the minds of some of these SBC complementarians.

The 2019 Southern Baptist Convention convenes in Birmingham, Alabama, Tuesday, June 11, 2019.

The SBC has faced two huge crises this year.

First, the sexual abuse scandal uncovered by the reporters of The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News showed that many men in the Southern Baptist Convention used their "authority" to sexually prey on victims, and other men "in authority" (pastors) covered for the predators, refusing to involve law enforcement or in some instances, even assist the victims.

Second, and more recently, a social media uproar occurred when some men who deem themselves doctrinally authoritative on all things in the Southern Baptist Convention let it be known that Beth Moore's preaching on "The Lord's Day" (2019 Mother's Day) at an SBC church was a violation of biblical guidelines for women.

According to these men, the Southern Baptist Convention "(has) reached a critical moment...for there are now open calls to retreat from our biblical convictions on complementarianism" (Al Mohler).

Interestingly, complementarianism is a word that is not found in the Bible. That alone doesn't make it false doctrine, but it does cause men like me to scratch my head in wonderment as to how complementarianism can be turned into a Gospel issue.
"Complementarianism is a systematized doctrinal system that promotes the belief that women are eternally subordinate to men in the same manner that Jesus is eternally subordinate to God."
Complementarians believe an unbiblical, illogical, and some say heretical theology of manhood and womanhood. I don't call it heretical because I reserve that word exclusively for Gospel error regarding the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the theme of the Bible. 

The roles of women in the church are never Gospel issues.

But some in the SBC (not all) who believe in complementarianism are making their systematized theology on manhood and womanhood a matter of primary importance and a standard of fellowship in the Southern Baptist Convention. They are trifling with subtleties while ignoring certainties.

"But," you may ask, "What do the authoritative Scriptures actually teach about men and women?
  1. Read Marg Mowczko for a biblical and scholarly understanding of gifted Christian leadership.
  2. Read Christians for Biblical Equality to find out what the Bible teaches about gender equality.
  3. Find some scholarly works on biblical equality that are written by those who believe in Scriptural inerrancy and biblical authority.
  4. Read Fraudulent Authority (shameless self-promotion).
  5. And most of all, read your Bible.
In the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C., there is a Bible on display called The Slave Bible. It was published in 1807 and distributed on behalf of The Society for the Conversion of Negro Slaves.
"The Slave Bible publishers deliberately removed portions of the biblical text, such as the exodus story, that could inspire hope for liberation. Instead, the publishers emphasized portions that justified and fortified the system of slavery that was so vital to the British Empire."
It's almost as if some Southern Baptist leaders in 2019 are trying to write and publish a new Bible called The Complementarian Bible.

In this truncated SBC Bible, all references to New Covenant oneness between the genders, all the texts that speak of women teaching or preaching or leading in Christ's Kingdom based on their character and giftedness, and all statements of our Lord Jesus Christ about Christian leaders having "no office of authority, no control over anyone, and being servants to all" (Matthew 20:25-28) have been cut out.

I have no hesitation calling complementarianism unbiblical because it is.

Yet I also have no problem cooperating in the SBC with my complementarian friends for some worthy causes like missions, disaster relief, and other things we do in the SBC.

The Southern Baptist Convention is supposed to be built around Gospel cooperation. Sadly, some men in the SBC are making complementarianism a Gospel issue of cooperation within the SBC.

Tom Ascol, the head of the Founders' Conference, the organization that is sponsoring a rival 2019 SBC Pastors' Conference on manhood, wrote an article the week the SBC sexual abuse story broke in The Houston Chronicle.

Tom's article is entitled Southern Baptists, Sexual Abuse, and a Far More Serious Problem.

Read Tom's article carefully and comprehend what he is saying. I call Tom a friend (so this isn't personal), but what Tom and other complementarians are advocating is dangerous for the SBC. Tom writes:
1. "The real problem (in the SBC) is spiritual... Southern Baptists have a problem with God... They trumpet their affirmation of the inerrancy of Scripture and unhesitatingly call it the written Word of God...yet they blatantly defy the God of that Word."
2. "How else can we explain the loud trumpeting of Southern Baptists’ commitment to inerrancy while at the same time blatantly refusing to do what the inerrant Scriptures say to do?"
3. "If a pastor is satisfied to neglect clear biblical commands and allow members to go to hell unhindered, it should not surprise us if he looks the other way when they suffer hell on earth at the hands of abusers."
Though Tom's article is primarily concerned with a lack of "church discipline" and "regenerative membership," the principles he advocates about 'authority over others" is the basis for his and other complementarians demand for complementarian conformation across the Convention. SBC complementarians think with this logic:
  1. What we (complementarians) believe about men and women is from God and His inerrant Word.
  2. If you don't believe or do what we tell you God clearly says about the roles of women in the church and home, then your defiance is against God.
  3. We are only doing our job as "men with spiritual authority" when we correct you and shun you because of your unbiblical beliefs and practices regarding men and women. 
Sorry complementarians, but only the Word of God is inerrant, not your interpretations of it.

Southern Baptists must learn to understand and appreciate the differences of biblical interpretation and seek to persuade others we believe to be in error by our charm, intellect, humility, and grace. Never are we called to use any so-called "spiritual authority" over anybody else in the Kingdom.
No creed but Christ. No lord but the LORD. No demand for submission by anyone, but delight in service from everyone.
You may think you are being biblical, and I do admire your perceived adherence to the authoritative Scriptures, but guys like me are pointing out your serious error of you believing in your own authority rather than Christ's authority.

The demand that others submit to your interpretation of the sacred text is a major problem in the SBC. Jesus is the Chief Shepherd, and His Spirit rules well in the hearts of His people.

Nobody needs tethering except those wishing to tether.
"You shall know the Truth, and He shall set you Free."
We are a Convention of cooperation, not conformity. The SBC should cooperate around who Jesus is and what God has done for sinners. 


As mentioned above, the Founders' Ministries has set up what they call a "micro-conference" for SBC pastors this Monday, June 10, 2019, but it is, in reality, a rival Pastors' Conference (the subject is "Mature Manhood in an Immature Age").

I've called them out on this attempt to divide the SBC over the role of women.

Yesterday, Founders published an article entitled "Will the SBC Do The Wade Burleson?"

The major mistake in the article is that they think I'm attacking Tom Ascol, Al Mohler, Owen Strachan, and other complementarians personally.

Nope, I like these men. I'm not even going after their unbiblical principles as much as I am their demands that Southern Baptists acquiesce and submit to their views on complementarianism to be in SBC fellowship or leadership.

I'll not stand by as these SBC men bully Spirit-gifted, Christ-honoring, God-called women who minister in churches and in Christ's Kingdom at large.
The man tethering a Christian woman to keep her from imitating a male's spiritual authority thinks he's being biblical. The gifted-Christian woman of character who is trying to serve others in churches and the Kingdom while SBC men are attempting to tether her thinks she's being bullied.
#DoTheWade
The Founders' article closes by asserting Wade Burleson is making false assertions and accusations of good and honorable SBC with "a long track record" of biblical fidelity.

The author calls this "doing the Wade." He challenges the 2019 SBC not to "Do The Wade."

I laughed out loud at that one.

15 years ago I warned the SBC of child abuse in our midst. It's taken 15 years and outside reporters to do what we should have been doing ourselves

For many years I have also been warning the SBC about another major problem in our midst: The tethering of Christian women while at the same time turning differences over gender issues into a Gospel issue.

Both problems in the SBC have the same root: "An unbiblical concept of male authority over others."

I call on all Southern Baptists to not ignore this warning like you did the last one and #DoTheWade

24 comments:

Jeannette Altes said...

Hmm...what jumped out at me in Mr. Ascol's premis is this: he seems to be claiming that by allowing women to be 'untethered,' the SBC opened the door to abuse. But if that premis is true, why is the bulk of the abuse happening in complementarian, male authority churches?

Anonymous said...

Thank you,Wade for standing up to these men. Many have tried only to get bullied, thrown to the curb or verbally abused. I Applaud you for taking a stand.

Christiane said...

a person cannot 'tether' a woman called by God to 'tell The Story' anymore than he can tether the Holy Spirit

I believe that when someone is 'called' by God, something at the core of their being is changed forever and they KNOW this

It would be a colossal waste of time for anyone to try to hold back a faithful God-called minister. I mean how do you control 'grace', that gift God gives to those who are humble enough to have room for it? You can't. You can't take it away from them. You can't steal it from them, no. Just get out of their way and let them 'be' as they were meant to be in this world. Are some men fearful of losing 'their authority'? That, if true, is pitiful. God chooses those whom He wishes to serve Him. This is a holy thing, best not to attempt to interfere with it, and for goodness sake, not to quote the sacred Scriptures to thwart the work of the Holy Spirit in this world. That would not be wise, no.

Anonymous said...

I submitted this comment after Mr. Longshore's article. So far, Founders.org hasn't posted it. It will be interesting to see if they do. Initial quotation is directly from Mr. Longshore. I'm praying for the entire SBC conference this upcoming week.


["When you forsake biblical definitions of abuse and hostility, then you make it harder to stop abuse and hostility. And this is no time for the SBC to be doing such a thing."

Exactly.

But, the irony is that this is one of the points I feel Wade Burleson is trying to highlight. The positions of authority some people believe they hold, also make them the sole possessors of "biblical" definitions. If that isn't a hopeless trap of circular logic, I don't know what is. ]

-Hupomone

Sunnie said...

It is frightening to realize that this form of foolishness still exists in today's world!
My sweet Mother was my first, and most lasting, teacher to me of Christianity. Too, the majority of my early learning of Christianity was from females, friends, the older sisters, etc.of my own friends and Women's Missionary Groups. All females!
So even though I learned from my father and the deacons and former preachers. I still took more "home" with me from lessons and examples from women.

RB Kuter said...

I don't mean to imply that these issues are not worthy of addressing and indeed, they must be. But it is so sad that Satan is allowed to undermine the light of the church and savor of its salt by escalating these issues at the expense of diminishing our priority mandate to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Him being the only hope for a hurting and dying world that's on its way to hell.

Of course, those instigating the immoral sexual behavior reported in the news and those distorting Biblical models for the involvement of women in Kingdom work are responsible for the damage done to our effectiveness in serving the Lord. But they count on the threat of elevating their perversion by exposure of it as a means to inhibit those who would call them out for their offenses.

They would have you believe that "doing the Wade" is the problem because he is involved in exposing and escalating the issues of misbehavior. This is a classic defense mechanism of those who are wreaking havoc in the church through their cover-ups, their shame for disregarding sexual predatory elements within our ranks, and their cronyism, and favoritism in Convention politics.

How typical of those caught with their hand in the cookie jar to scream at their accusers saying, "You dirty snitch! You're doing the Wade!"

(Kind of reminds me of being accused of "Tebowing" when kneeling to pray in the end zone. Not a bad thing of which to be accused.)

Forhim922 said...

My wife grew up in an SBC church, served as Journeyman for 2 years and has a Masters Degree from an SBC seminary and yet she was never given the opportunity to be ordained within the SBC. I on the other hand grew up outside of church, was saved in college and was ordained in the first church I served in after seminary. On paper she should have been ordained long before me but she was not because she is a woman. This leads me to believe that many in the SBC have no problems with allowing woman to do the work of the ministry but without the recognition they deserve.

Also, I am not sure most men truly understand the emotional toll this takes on many women. On the one hand they are told to follow God and do whatever He tells you to do. Yet when they do this they are treated as some type of unbiblical second class citizens. It isnt right and it isnt fair.

I have read and reread the Bible concerning women and the roles God has for them. My conclusion is that I do not see any prohibition on what roles women can fulfill in the church.

Donald Johnson said...

Wade, you Ain't doing the Wade, you doing the Jesus! Please keep at it.

Marg Mowczko said...

Thanks for recommending my work, Wade.

Victorious said...

When I saw the title of this post using the word "tethered", it reminded me of a dream I had many years ago. I emailed you of this dream Wade, but I'd like to post it here since it was definitely freed me from such oppressive teachings about women.

I had this dream about 40 yrs. ago (give or take a few :) I had been a Christian for about 2 years and had just been introduced to the strange teachings about women.

I dreamed I was looking up at a very large domed ceiling; one like I imagine might be in a basilica in Rome. The domed ceiling was completely covered with white lattice work. Inside each of the lattice "squares" was a white dove. Hundreds of white doves sitting quietly, each in their square; none flying about. I immediately was filled with sorrow because I thought they were tethered there (as some birds are to their perch to keep them from flying away) since they were so docile and complacent. I began to cry as I said aloud (in my dream) "Oh, they're not free! They can't fly." And I heard a voice say to me, "Yes, they are free - they just don't know it." You see, they weren't tethered, but they thought they were so they made no effort to fly, but sat complacently in their place. End of dream. The Lord showed me the doves represented the plight of Christian women and the successful efforts by Christians to keep them from ministering in the church and seeing them as subservient in the home. Hence, their passivity, complacency and inactivity. They didn't know they were free.

End of dream.

Because the Lord made me know that women were indeed free to "fly", but they didn't know it (because of misinformation and poor interpretations of the word), it's important to refute those teachings that "tether/fetter women by showing scripturally that "positional" hierarchy is unscriptural and that Christians are called to be subject one to another. And last but not least, that women's subjection is not of a different type than that of the "one to another" subjection.

Jesus said, "...you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." 

Unknown said...

Yes Wade be like Paul to everyone with Jesus working through you to everyone.Not Wade Burleson doing it but Jesus showing the face of Grace.

Unknown said...

Yes Wade be like Paul to everyone with Jesus working through you to everyone.Not Wade Burleson doing it but Jesus showing the face of Grace.

Anonymous said...

The real motivation does eventually slip out. "Keep them tethered." By the way, Cotton was a leader in the Salem Witch Trials, putting women to death at the stake. Interesting that Ascol takes this obscure example from one in history who burned women at the stake. Very revealing.

By the way, Forhim922, I used to think there was no way the authoritarian-crazed men in the SBC realized how their views crushed the zeal of gifted women. Now I realize - that was/is EXACTLY the intended objective.

Blind guides - cannot even see that it is the curse in FULL operation, "and he will rule over you." So, Satan is having his way, for the moment, in a lame attempt to subvert the work and will God, through men who are blindly bent on living out the curse of "ruling over."

Important Reminder: The Christian has been freed from the curse, it was nailed to the tree.

... pawns in Satan's hands.

Scott Shaver said...

After 30 years of retrospect on all things "SBC", I can't help but chuckle over this back and forth between Wade and "The Founders".

At one time, 25-30 years ago, both sides of the argument were ALLIES under the banner of "defending biblical innerrancy" and resisting the onslaught of "liberalism" within the SBC under the cue of Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler.

Now that Patterson and Pressler have been "called into accounting"...

They are defending what's left of a Byzantine denomination from one another.

They should make a Netflix comedy series out of some of this stuff.

Rex Ray said...

Somehow I read the story about the dream without seeing who wrote it. I thought I’d reply about a true story where birds didn’t know they could fly. I copy-paste as I usually do in replying to a comment. It was then I noticed it was you, Victorious and that made me more glad.

Two ducks were given to us that were born in a small pen and were now grown. We placed them on the water of our lake and they swam away. Many times, I wished I’d thrown them in the air from a 14 foot tower that’s on our deck. I think they would have discovered they could fly. As it was they did nothing but swim. Months went by with us feeding our pet ducks cheerios. It didn’t matter how far away they were on this ten acre lake, when we honked the horn, they came fast as they could swim. They’d even eat from our hands.

Once, a dog tried to get them but he couldn’t swim fast enough. Several times wild ducks landed with them but they never flew when they left.

We didn’t know it was against the law to use tame ducks to lure wild ducks during duck hunting season. The first day of duck season a guy that paid us to shoot ducks killed them to avoid any possibility of him or us getting a fine.

Anonymous said...

The saying 'the Bible says', when used to justify extreme patriarchy, is nothing less than weaponized misogyny.

Callie M said...

Wow Wade! I don't know how you find all of this ugly stuff. I looked up Doug Wilson to see who this man is, and learned that he has very strange views on slavery as well. There seems to be a reoccurring theme here, where people who are strict complimentarians/ christian patriachists also have strange views on race. That's something I first started putting together from your blog, because of the link to the woman's teaching on Doug Philips and Bill Gothard being influenced by the civil war era theologian, and also the roots of the SBC. I wonder if Wilson also believes in eternal subordination within the Trinity? And also he's reformed. There's something about that movement that can produce a mean spirit toward anyone different as well - perhaps passed down from Luther's gross antisemitism. I'm seriously dumbfounded how to men like this can go on with such prominent leadership positions. I'm assuming he's a Presby, and not SBC as this is the first I've heard of him, but in any case, with creepers like this in places of influence, the SBC would be well suited to "Do the Wade". And it sounds like a dance move... so double trouble!! haha Ok! I have to get caught up on your other recent posts! I'm a bit behind from a busy spring. We are expecting earthly baby no. 4 and I had a few very sick months, for which I am thankful. :)

RB Kuter said...

All the SBC's controversial issues dealing with sex predators and their cover-up by leaders along with women's right to serve as pastors in SBC churches was on the front page of the Atlanta Journal today. Man, we've never got such premium space in the paper!

Coincidentally, my daily Bible reading included Luke 8:1-3 this morning. It portrayed to me what "complementarianism" is really about, in my opinion. Interesting that a person cannot win no matter what their position is on this issue. When I proposed that Scripture does say that husbands and wives are to submit to one another in their perspective roles Ephesians 5:21) another who identified himself as a more radical complementarian commented saying I was not a complementarian, as I propose that I am!

I believe that we have a clue as to what Jesus thought about all this controversy about women's roles in ministry as portrayed in this Luke 8 passage as recorded by Luke. It says that "the twelve were with Him" and then immediately adds, "and also some women". Jesus did not choose a woman to be one of "the twelve". But women were there throughout His ministry filling critical roles in ministry.

There were no indications that those women close to Jesus felt slighted or overlooked by Jesus. It seems that He elevated the status of women by the significant roles in which He involved them. At the same time, there appears to be a recognition of the distinctive differences between the assignments, not so much the "tasks" assigned, but the "positions" in which they were identified. So was Jesus functioning as a "complementarian" or not? Depends on who you ask.

Jo G. said...

I read all your blogs, and thanks especially for this one (and those with similar themes). After 20+ years of being Baptist (but not for the last 25+ years--do the math! ha), I get it. You're nailing it. Thank you! To add to the SBC determination to follow the Scriptures, I'd challenge every last one to follow the Scriptures that say, 5 TIMES, to "greet one another with a holy kiss". Why don't Baptists do this? I say this because I grew up in a denom (from European heritage long ago) where church members literally greeted each other with a kiss on the lips (men/men and women/women), and do so even today in the U.S. Of course, now I recognize that the point is to greet with, for example, a 'holy handshake.'

Anonymous said...

June 2019 Atlantic Monthly issue “To save the Church, dismantle the Priesthood” by James Carroll. This article’s possible parallels and futurure implications for the current SBC climate is worth pondering!!

Ken said...

Thanks, Wade!

Unknown said...

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. HEB 13:17 The Word and Spirit do not destroy God ordained authority for the sake of equality nor equality for the sake of God ordained authority. They balance one another to provide order and check abuse. Women must be in submission is the clear teaching of the Scripture just as Christ submitted himself to the Father.

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Rex Ray said...

Unknown,

You quoted Hebrews 13:17 for your thinking why you said: “Women must be in submission is the clear teaching of Scripture just as Christ submitted himself to the Father.”

Let’s see, that would make women ‘Jesus’ and men ‘God’. In my not humble opinion is CRAZY.

There’s many untruths in the Bible but Hebrews 13:17 wins the prize as written in the NLT:

“Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.”

In the first place, our ONLY spiritual leader is the Holy Spirit and not like the former pastor, Criswell, of First Baptist Church, in Dallas saying “The pastor is the ruler of the church.”

Paige Patterson’s wife used this verse to say, “I obey my husband even when he’s wrong.” DUH