From our “Tempest in a Teapot” News Division, the SBC narrowly averted disaster today when a minuscule percentage of SBC churches decided to have women address their congregations on Mother’s Day. Some Twitter pundits opined that this would cause a chain reaction that would bring an imbalance to the force, align the SBC squarely with egalitarians, cause us to completely abandon any biblical moorings, and embrace women pastors immediately.
However, like Y2K and the 12 predictions of Snowmageddon that didn’t come to fruition in Sioux City this year, this seems to have been what Uncle Willie described as “much ado about nothing.”
We appear to have survived the 2019 Mother’s Day Homilicaust.
May I switch gears and be serious for a few moments?
1. This was among our more overblown brouhahas, among many overblown kerfuffles. Out of the 47,000 SBC churches, the number of churches that actually had a woman address the church was proportionally infinitesimal. This has been going on for many years among churches that are squarely complementarian.
(I am guessing that a majority of churches have taken to doing what I do – honor mothers and then continue my regular sermon series).
2. The match was lit because Beth Moore spoke to the issue and things went crazy. Those in the harsher districts of the Reformed/discernment/1689 neighborhood view her as a Jezebel and hate her with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns. They desire to destroy, demean, and degrade her obsessively and relentlessly. She tends not to back down.
3. Disagreeing with Beth Moore is perfectly okay. Presenting biblical arguments against women preaching is also perfectly fine. One need not agree with Owen Strachan’s article to admit that he at least attempted to make biblical and theological arguments. The problem was neither his article nor responses that dealt with the content of his article. We disagree on these issues.
4. Southern Baptists have settled themselves as a complementarian convention, but have not spelled out one type of complementarianism as the only acceptable one. This is a discussion we need to have, defining what is and is not acceptable within the boundaries of our denomination.
5. I am pretty conservative in my interpretations and viewpoints. Some of the other contributors here as a bit more open in their complementarianism than I am. Some may be a little stricter. I am content to be in a denomination with BOTH Beth Moore and Owen Strachan. We need not choose one view and eliminate the others.
Obviously, some disagree with that, viewing the presence of “soft” complementarianism as a threat to holiness and all things righteous.
6. While I think disagreeing with either Beth Moore or Owen Strachan is acceptable, LYING is not. It is sin and it is ungodly. I saw a Twitter discussion yesterday in which two men made absolute truth claims about Beth Moore – both of which I know to be false.
- One said authoritatively that Beth was seeking to step into the void left behind when Rachel Held Evans died. She is, this man said, seeking to become the leader of progressive evangelical circles. He even stated that she was doing this to make money. Beth Moore has so little in common with RHE. And how does this man know Beth’s heart? He’s strict and belligerent in his cessationism. Did he receive a word of knowledge?
- Another stated boldly that this whole thing was part of Beth’s design to become president of the SBC.
I have had limited interaction with Beth Moore, but follow her on Twitter. I will say that these are both false – either lies or ignorant falsehoods. I have seen nothing that makes me believe she has any desire to be president of the SBC and the idea that she’s angling to take RHE’s place on the evangelical left is ridiculous.
We cannot lie our way to truth.
7. Complementarianism is an issue we need to discuss, but the idea that a few churches having a woman speak on Mother’s Day is evidence of wholesale adoption of egalitarianism and the rejection of our historical position is a bit overwrought.
The SBC will not crumble because a few women address churches on mother’s day. But lying will hurt us. Division and cruelty will hurt us. Treating one another as we have does far more damage than a few women speaking on Mother’s Day.
8. Odd that many of those who consider themselves discerners and defenders of truth ignore the mountain of Scripture about love, unity, gentleness, honor, meekness, kindness- the fruit of the Spirit. Yes, the Bible calls us to contend for the faith, but the sheer weight of Scripture calling us to love, to unity, to building up the Body ought to show us how important that is to the Author of Scripture.
9. We need biblical discussions of issues like this, but if you want to know why the SBC is in trouble, just look at Twitter and see how we treat one another. We have problems way bigger than a few women speaking on Sunday. The lies, the vicious attacks, yes, the sin – I have to believe that bothers God a lot more than this limited Mother’s Day tradition.
10. Seeking doctrinal fidelity is a worthy goal, but the idea that Christianity is all about theological conformity and that verbal cruelty and personal attacks are justified when someone disagrees with our doctrinal positions is as contrary to the word of God as any false doctrine could be. To ignore calls to unity, to love, to walk in the fruit of the Spirit, while wielding our creeds and confessions like axes is not the way of Christ.
11. I admit that in discussions here and on Twitter and Facebook I have been anything but pristine and guiltless. I admire those people who can engage in discussions and keep their cool. I tend to get excited and the flesh rises, though I begin with the best of intentions. For my failures, I ask forgiveness to any I’ve offended.
12. If the SBC is going to turn around, it is going to take a spiritual renewal – far more than just enforcing doctrinal purity. We need spiritual discernment as much as we need theological discernment. We must care as much about our attitudes and behavior as we do about doctrinal issues.
- We cannot continue to sin against one another as we have and believe we will see the blessing of God.
- We cannot continue to bite and devour one another and expect God to build us up.
- We cannot walk in the flesh and expect the Spirit’s power to be displayed.
Complementarianism is a key issue and we need to discuss it – rationally, biblically, calmly, and lovingly. But what we’ve done this last week or so on Twitter is anything but what we should be doing.
I can’t wait to get to Africa where there’s no internet!