This week, messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in
Orlando, Fla., cemented the denomination’s commitment to biblical
authority by approving several statements of faith — most
conspicuously, one stating that women should not serve as pastors.
The SBC also condemned racism, denounced abortion and homosexuality,
and emphasized that the Bible is “totally true” and “all-powerful and
all-knowing.” The denomination also stated that “there is no salvation
apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.”
In addition, the SBC elected Dr. James G. Merritt, the 47-year-old
pastor of the 11,000-member First Baptist Church in Snellville, Ga., as
its president. He follows in the steps of “biblical inerrantists” who
have held this post consecutively since Dr. Adrian Rogers was elected
president in 1979.
“I will lift high the banner of Truth found in God’s inerrant Word,”
said Dr. Merritt, who also serves as a trustee of my Liberty University
in Lynchburg, Va. “We’re one of the few denominations to stand strong
in the sharp winds of political correctness and to call sin, sin.”
After stumbling under liberal leadership for much of the 20th
century, since 1979 (the year conservatives reclaimed leadership of the
denomination), the Southern Baptist Convention has experienced a grand
rebirth under the direction of these leaders who have recommitted the
denomination to an adherence to the faith of our fathers.
Those unfamiliar with biblical doctrine may not understand this holy
obligation to the Bible so I want to clarify what the Bible has to say
specifically on the controversy regarding women pastors.
Dr. Adrian Rogers, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis,
Tenn., and chairman of the SBC’s drafting committee, accurately stated,
“While men and women are given specific gifts and responsibilities, the
office of pastor is limited to men in Scripture.”
Liberal critics have responded by attempting to characterize the SBC
as out-of-step with contemporary culture. And, in a way, they are
Our culture is in the midst of a frenzied race to redefine the
traditional roles of men and women in our society. This politically
correct movement has no toleration for biblical tenets that contradict
these new social mandates.
Margaret Davis, a pastor’s wife from Newport News, Va., was,
according to the Associated Press, a rare voice of dissent at the SBC
meeting in Orlando. She told AP, “I believe if God calls you to pastor,
it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman.”
The problem for Mrs. Davis and those who adhere to her viewpoint, is
the fact that nowhere in the Bible can one find any evidence that women
were ever intended to serve as pastors. However, there are plenty of
verses that instruct women not to presume pastoral roles within the
church (I Corinthians 11, I Corinthians 14, I Timothy 2, Titus 2).
The Bible does make it very clear that women are to play essential
roles in local church ministry. Roles for women in the church are
myriad: In Luke 8, we see a woman who had been healed by Jesus
ministering to Him; in Acts 21, we see that women became prophetesses;
in Acts 17, we see the importance placed on women who believed after
hearing Paul preach.
In addition, following Jesus’ resurrection — the central event of
Christianity — it was Mary Magdalene who discovered that the stone from
His tomb had been rolled away. Later, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary
(James’ mother) and other unnamed women were important witnesses in
reporting that Jesus had been raised from the dead (Luke 24:10). And
Jesus’ first conversation after his glorious resurrection was with Mary
From biblical times to the dawning of the 21st century, women have
played key roles in the Church.
In my own Thomas Road Baptist Church, several women serve as key
allies in ministry roles. These women include Lisa Woods (nursery
coordinator), Jani DeSaegher (preschool coordinator), Toy Hine
(elementary coordinator) and many other wonderful women of God who serve
as teachers, song leaders and counselors in various departments. In
addition, many talented women are professors here at Liberty University.
However, as important as women have been to the Church throughout the
centuries, nowhere in the Bible do we see women leading congregations.
Scripture presents a pattern for service and therein limits the
pastorate to the service of men.
This Scripture pattern in no way implies inferiority or superiority
of either gender!
Instead, the clear message from God speaks to divinely-approved role
playing (i.e., men do not have babies nor do women play NFL football).
God, in His almighty wisdom, assigned men and women different — yet
equally important — roles to play.
I would be negligent to my calling as a minister of God if I were to
allow current social trends to redirect the biblical mandates for
I fully agree with Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist
Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., who said, “We are bound to
God’s Word … not by popularity polls.”
Outside the SBC meeting, a reported 100 or so homosexual protesters
marched with signs stating, “Stop Spiritual Violence!”
However, these individuals do not understand that by yielding control
of our lives to Jesus Christ — by actually becoming servants of
Christ — we discover true spiritual fulfillment through our
relationship with God.
That is not spiritual violence. That is experiencing the Christian
life to its fullest.