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Department of History
University of Mississippi

“The Southern Baptist Convention’s Case Against Female Pastors is Centuries Old”


The convention is reprising arguments made by the clerical establishment to oppose influential female spiritual leaders centuries ago

By Frances C. Kneupper

On June 13, the Southern Baptist Convention reaffirmed its rejection of women pastors. It upheld the expulsion of Saddleback Church, which has some women pastors, and passed an amendment to its Constitution prohibiting women from holding any pastoral role. The convention cited a position taken in 2000 that the office of pastor could only be held by men.
Those opposed to female pastors used the apostle Paul’s first letter to Timothy (2:11-14) to justify their position. It reads: “A woman is to learn quietly with full submission. I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; instead, she is to remain quiet.” Paul cited the greater culpability of Eve as a rationale for banning women from serving as spiritual leaders.
Perhaps unknowingly, by citing this Bible verse, the opponents of female pastors in the SBC repeated the argument that clerical men intent on suppressing the public voices of women within the medieval Christian church had made in the 1300s. Their revival of these old arguments suggests that the SBC is aligning itself with the patriarchal structure of the medieval world and repeating earlier attempts to suppress female leadership.

Read the full article here.