The Southern Baptist Convention has just tightened their reins, circled their proverbial wagons, created rules about who can and who cannot be a pastor or preacher or leader in their churches.
Who can? A man.
Who cannot? A woman.
No statements about who is most gifted, most educated, most experienced, most called to the task, most emotionally fit, most psychologically stable, most spiritually grounded, most unlikely to have an affair or cause spiritual harm to another person.
Just gender. That's it.
Now, I can talk for days about "what the Bible says." But to be honest, for me, that discussion is old news. OLD NEWS.
In the New Testament, women led. They led churches, they shared the Gospel, they funded Jesus' ministry, they were the first to the empty tomb and first to carry the message of the Resurrection to the disciples, they carried some of Paul's important letters to newly founded churches and read them aloud. They were pastors and apostles and leaders and preachers.
I am not shocked at what the SBC just did. This is par for the course.
But I am sick to my stomach.
What a waste. What a loss. What a terrible witness to a watching world. What a damaging decision to the reputation of Jesus and the church.
To exclude competent, gifted, powerful, educated, called women from the role God has created them to fill is a travesty.
To tell little girls they are designed to grow up only to follow a man is devastating. To only ever get to listen to a man preach and tell them about Jesus is harmful. To only see a man in the pulpit and never be allowed to imagine that God might call them there is destructive.
To deny the gifts of a powerhouse of a female preacher to the people of her congregation is tragic. To make 50% or more of a congregation ONLY listen to the Gospel of Jesus as expounded by a preacher who has never shared their life experience is beyond short-sighted. It is a hindrance to the faith.
I have been a preacher for the past 23 years. I knew the hurdles I would face, but because I felt called by God, I persisted. I had male friends and colleagues who pushed me forward, protected me from haters, challenged me, help me grow. I had detractors, but many of them came to be my friends and biggest fans as we moved forward together.
I am called to preach. I was put on this earth by my Creator to do so. It is the greatest joy of my life. And dare I say, lives have been changed because I preached. Lives are still being changed because I still preach. This is the power of God working through me. Who has the authority to shut that down?
Shame, shame, shame on the Southern Baptists for denying other human beings that joy. For denying congregations that kind of gift. For denying the Spirit of God room to do what the Spirit of God does - blow where it will, through whom it will.
"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy ..." (Acts 2:17)
Women, if you are called to preach and lead, get yourself to a church where you can do just that.
To the Southern Baptist Convention I say, your loss. Your loss.
You will answer to God for this one.