Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Woman For Vice President, But Not As Your Pastor

I wrote last year about being in the audience at Renaissance Weekend and hearing Rev. Richard Land, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention, talk about why women can't be ministers. Although there were women ministers on the panel with him, he without any hesitation or even apology, said in no uncertain terms that he would never support women as senior clergy nor did he think rites performed by women could be considered valid. To say I was offended is an understatement.

At least according to an interview in Christianity Today, he has no such hesitation about a woman as Vice President, reporting indeed that he had recommended Sarah Palin as a candidate.

But, let's not think that this means that the Southern Baptists think that women can lead churches. According to a report by Religious News Service, the current issue of Gospel Today is being kept off the shelves at the SBC's Lifeway Christian Bookstores. Why? Because there are five women ministers on the cover. Read more at:


So, what am I not getting? Apparently Mr. Land has said that the Bible only speaks out against women ministers not women Vice Presidents. But, I'm not sure what verses he could be referring to. Of course, there are those very few verses in Ephesians that say that women must be submissive to their husbands, and by inference, that no man should be submissive to a woman. But, correct me if I am wrong, I don't think there is any verse that says we can't be pastors. And then there are those Genesis and Galatian texts that say that we are all equally created in God's image.

So, a few questions are in order here. If Ms. Palin wins, might the Southern Baptists finally change their minds on women senior ministers? Or do they know if Ms. Palin has her husband's permission to run for office? And what happens if she becomes the Commander in Chief of all of the armed services, and all those military men have to report to her?

Can you really support a woman for the second highest office in the land and yet not want another woman to baptise, marry, or bury you?

I don't get it.


homba said...

As someone who grew up Southern Baptist, I can tell you that the rules change based upon what is convenient. Democrats are unacceptable - a *black* democrat even more so. Scriptures get re-interpreted when necessary to support their position.

Extreme Hypocrisy? You betcha!

We used to have the old joke that you always bring 2 Southern Baptists fishing ... if you only bring one, he'll drink all your beer.

My apologies to anyone who is a reasonable Southern Baptist, but here in the Bible Belt, such a person is very rare - at least I haven't seen one.

David Pyle said...

Please post this one, it has a spelling correction... please delete this note and the other one... thanks!


You asked about the specific bible verse that is most often used to support preventing women from entering the clergy. That verse is 1 Timothy, Chapter 2, vs. 11-15.

11Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

12But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

13For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

14And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

I believe that this is one of the "Sins of Scripture" that Bishop Spong wrote about in his book of the same name. While I disagree with the Southern Baptist stance (I better, I'm a UU Seminarian!), it is biblical for those who hold to a conservative, literalist, "Word of God" understanding. The author of 1 Timothy (Probably not Paul, but someone writing in Paul's name)did believe in it...

Much of the early theology that Paul added to the teachings of Jesus can be understood through the lens of limiting the entrance to and enforcing the power of the priests of the early church... at least those in "communion" with Paul.

I too was shocked by Rev. Land's statements... but I run into it from time to time among my fellow Chaplains/Chaplain Candidates who beleive that the military should not allow female chaplains. Thank goodness the military has not listened to them yet.

Yours in Faith,


treehugger said...

I share your frustration. My suspicion is that Rev. Land only endorses a female VP because she represents a preferable alternative, in his opinion, to Obama and Biden. Regarding the female pastor issue, the Western Christian traditional view that men are closer to God than are women--a view shared by such Christian saints as Thomas Aquinas--persists still today in some denominations and congregations. I wonder if he recognizes the limit this places on God, this assumption that one group of people is more godly than another on the basis of their anatomy?

Imez said...

I always choked on the bible verses in the new Testament, more Paulisms, I think, that women weren't allowed to talk in church, but were to remain silent. But, there it is, black and white.

Of course, if your boy there is going to abide it, he's going to need to start washing his plate 7 times before he eats and pooping outside the village.

Rules is Rules.

Debra W. Haffner said...

2nd Lt Pyle -- Welcome to my blog as a first time commenter. I was thinking Ephesians myself...but using 1st Timothy doesn't really apply...it speaks most directly to not having women teach men -- so much for all the boys in elementary school through high school who have predominately women teachers...no less those of you who had women professors in college or seminary. Of course, it also looks like we're not supposed to talk in school either...I don't believe that even if one is a literalist that this speaks to women as clergy, and surely Jesus never said that women couldn't spread his message. Remember the woman at the well with the multiple husbands and lovers who he asks to spread the Word?

I think Verne has it partly right -- that people pick and choose and interpret as it suits them...as people have always done.

But, Verne we have a few brave Southern Baptist ministers in our network, and there are more than a few women in those congregations working to change things! I'm lucky to know them.

David Pyle said...


Thank you so much... and please call me David.

Remember that at the time 1st Timothy was written, there were no schools for the overwhelming majority of people... the teaching that is being discussed in 1st Timothy is religious teachings... the verse is talking about church, not school. The author is giving direction to a fellow preacher of the Gospel on how to "do church"... that is the purpose of the letter/book.

I brought up that verse because it is the one that most often is used by my colleagues on this issue. I agree with you that Jesus never said any such thing, and by my understanding of his actions he distinctly implied the opposite of what the author of 1st Timothy is stating.

My point is that in order to discuss this issue with Christian Conservatives, we have to begin on their playing field, with their understanding. I believe the author of 1st Timothy had intentionally misunderstood the message of Jesus on this issue, because doing so reinforced the power and position of the preisthood in the early church...

You have inspired me to a sermon... perhaps one I preach for my recruits this weekend. Thank you!

Oh, and please call me David... it says 2LT Pyle on the login just because it has to for an "official" blog I am on. I may not have posted before, but I am a long time reader.

Yours in Faith,


Anonymous said...

If Mrs. Palin did not have her husband's permission to run for office, she would not be running. In fact, she consulted all of her family members about whether she should run, except for Track, who has moved out to serve in the military. My guess is that Todd Palin doesn't make a major life decision without discussing it with his wife in advance.