The past few days have been deeply concerning to me. Some leaders in the SBC right now are losing their minds over women exercising the spiritual gift of preaching (not pastoring, simply preaching). They see this as a threat to complementarianism and have begun attacking faithful sisters in Christ only weeks before their convention deals with the revelation of a massive sexual abuse cover-up scandal. Personally, it is sad & tragic to watch. These men have even resorted to attacking women who are on the front lines of advocacy for abuse victims rather than actually engage with the scandal of abuse within the denomination. For those of you who are not Southern Baptist but know I have been in that world for quite some time; I want to be abundantly clear where I stand on this issue.
It is not prophetic to stand at an entry way that is not being stormed and speak words of warning boldly. That can actually be a form of cowardice. Being prophetic means you stand on the front lines of a real battle and at real cost you speak truth to power. Even if that cost is offending your own camp and losing power, privilege, and esteem by your peers.
With that said, women simply preaching (not as pastors) is not a threat to the conservative resurgence in the SBC. The greatest threat to the SBC is the kind of Conservatism that it has embraced. The kind of conservatism that would turn its convention into a Trump rally (See last year’s convention and VP Pence’s speech). The kind of conservativism that consistently alienates and marginalizes women and people of color (especially black) who are in their fellowship. The threat is conservatism that would attack faithful sister abuse advocates over the internet and incite social media mobs to hurl vitriolic rhetoric at them. The toxicity of hyper-complementarianism is a much greater threat to the future of the SBC than egalitarianism. The truth is, the hyper-complementarianism and hyper-masculinity that is prevalent within SBC spaces has led to not only an influx of abuse; both domestic and in the church, but also an exodus. Women are leaving the SBC and it’s not because of the infiltration of egalitarianism, it is because of the rotten fruit of hyper-complementarianism alongside hyper-masculinity. Both of these things have been on full display over the past few days and watching it unfold has been an ordeal.
The SBC needs to fix the hyper-masculinity, the hyper-complementarianism, and the power dynamics present regarding how it protects men with authority. Specifically, white men with authority because how they use it doesn’t just impact women, but people of color who are in SBC churches under them as well. If the SBC falls, it will not be happen by SBC women usurping authority. It will happen because the male prophets in the SBC, leaders and pastors, were too distracted with trivialities to notice how they are pushing away their sisters. It will be because these men were too busy attacking their sister allies to partner with them. Theological liberalism wins people over not through intrigue but through an appeal of empathy. It lures wounded sheep to it with promises of, “we will treat you better”. If men in the SBC actually abounded in love, a bold love, that both lifted women up as well as protected them, there would be no appeal in liberalism. If the SBC wants to protect itself from an exodus of sisters, it needs to look beyond the Conservative Resurgence where it fought & won its mind. It needs to look forward to the battle for its heart. Right now, that is a battle it is losing. It will continue to lose this battle as long as the SBC is a place where white supremacy can reside without fear of being challenged or excommunicated. As long as SBC pastors can continue trolling Christians of color online and publicly slander them in articles & conferences without convention recourse, the battle won’t be won. The SBC will continue to lose this battle so long as its leaders do not treat older women as spiritual mothers and younger women as sisters, in all purity (I Timothy 5:2). The Battle will be lost as long as the SBC continues not holding sexual predators accountable and seeking only to apply the baseline legal requirements to protect women and children.
The SBC can DO better. It can BE better. However, it first needs to truly own the fact that it needs a Reformation. It needs to find its heart. It needs not to fight battles over non-essential issues, and it needs to stop taking shots at allies in the faith. It also needs humility to be self-reflective and see its own problems rather than being pre-occupied with the issues of others.
I am praying for the SBC. I have benefitted greatly from it. I owe my education to the generosity of SBC churches and I speak not from a position of hate, but out of genuine love for the SBC and a desire to see it flourish.