Aug 13, 2005

Women and the Southern Baptist Convention

I will preface this post by declaring that I am a Conservative Southern Baptist who holds to the Baptist Founders' Reformed theology.

However, I see a great double standard and hypocrisy with Southern Baptist circles. We will not ordain women, or let them teach or preach. However, I feel that we (collectively as the SBC) are quick to use women for our own purposes.

What in the world are you talking about Pete? I know this risks going against some of my friends' convictions, but I cannot stay silent about it.

Look at the two most popular special offerings in SBC life: Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon. Here is the North American Mission Board's story about Annie Armstrong:

The Annie of the Offering

Each year, we honor the life and work of Annie Walker Armstrong (1850-1938) when we give to the annual offering for home missions named after her. As a tireless servant of God and a contagious advocate and supporter of mission efforts throughout the world, Annie Armstrong led women to unite in mission endeavors that ultimately led to the formation of woman's Missionary Union, for which she served as the first corresponding secretary.

Annie believed in Christ with all her heart, but it was her hands that expressed that belief in tangible ways. She spent a great amount of time typing and handwriting letters in support of missions. Many of these letters were quite lengthy and all were filled with conviction that more could and should be done in our mission efforts. In 1893 alone, she wrote almost 18,000 letters! Annie also never hesitated to use her hands to reach out to hug a child or distribute food and clothing and the Word of God to those in need. Her hands held her own Bible as she studied to know how best to share Gods love with others. And, most important, Annie was a woman of prayer, folding her hands in prayer to intercede for the missionaries and for those they were helping discover Christ.

Annie rallied churches to give more, pray more, and do more for reaching people for Christ. As we continue to unite to make her vision a reality in North America today, we can be confident that her legacy will also be ours.

Was she addressing churches? Yes! How? I wonder. She sounds like someone who was driven and passionate for the Lord's work. But she was a woman! She did "share God's love with others." I hope not to a man, because we all know women should not teach a man. Paul said so. A woman is not allowed to lead. (Forget Deborah, that's OT) How can a woman witness to a man? Isn't that going against the way should things should be? She is taking spiritually authority over the man if she is teaching him about Jesus. Alas, I digress.

Lottie Moon was a missionary to China. She was relegated to a school teaching about 40 children. She was not satisfied. She fought to be able to plant churches, evangelize and teach anyone- male or female. The International Mission Board does not get into this on it's site. It has a long-winded three-part story about her, but it is minus any of the stepping over boundaries.

My final point in this post: Beth Moore. She is achieving almost a god-like status among Baptists. She has several books including at least one devotional. She is called "a leading Bible teacher." Who is her audience? Christians- and I have seen that it is male and female. Should SBC's bookstore (Lifeway) be promoting a female Bible teacher? Maybe only if she is specifically for women's ministries.

These are three examples- two from the 1800's and one from modern times, that are cherished by Southern Baptists. However they are women doing what is often forbidden by the SBC.

I want to go further here. These women were/are not feminists. Feminism is usually meant to usurp a male's role and to bring males down to meaninglessness. They were/are passionate, well-studied, driven women who are offering their gifts for the Gospel.

I have seen it in Brazil. Rosa and Rosalene, two Baptist missionaries, have had to plant churches and keep them going until the Baptist organizations would send a pastor to shepherd the work. My wife, who has been rudely rejected by some Southern Baptist preachers- even though she has done more for the Gospel than they have, and than I have, before she and I were married in 2000. She was a missionary and worked tirelessly to reach people for Jesus. I have seen some of the fruit when I have gone on missions trips to Brazil. Should she just take off her shoes, cook for me and have my babies? I think not.

This post is not meant to be a defense of women ministering. If it were that, I would refer to Scripture and show a lot more specifically regarding the defense of that position. This post is a shot at the SBC (of which I identify- and I do love being a Southern Baptist) for what I see as a blatant inconsistency. Using Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong to generate funds, but, in practice, negating their work in a sense by preventing other women from being able to follow the same drive and calling. And to accept Beth Moore as "a leading Bible teacher," I think it becomes confusing.

No comments: