The Southern Baptist Convention passed two resolutions at their 2018 annual meeting affirming the value of women and their contributions and denouncing abuse.
The resolutions, entitled On The Dignity And Worth Of Women On The Occasion Of The One Hundredth Anniversary Of Women As Messengers Of The Southern Baptist Convention and On Abuse, directly addressed elements of culture within the denomination that the convention’s newly elected president, J.D. Greear, called to be changed. At issue was the interpretation of a doctrine known as complementarianism and the denomination’s official stance on abuse and how to confront it. Greear issued the call for cultural change in light of a series of scandals that recently rocked the convention regarding infidelity and harmful counsel to abused women. (RELATED: New Southern Baptist Convention President Urges Cultural Change, Supports Women In Leadership)
Complementarianism is the doctrinal belief that God created men and women with distinct roles, and that men are to be servant leaders in the church and in the home while women are to submit to the leadership of their husbands or other male leaders. Some leaders within the SBC took what has been seen as an extreme interpretation of that doctrine. Paige Patterson, for example, espoused the belief that women should never hold positions of authority over men and should therefore not hold teaching positions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. (RELATED: The Fall Of The Southern Baptist Convention’s Paige Patterson Part 2: We Shall Make Them In Our Image)
The SBC’s resolution on the subject affirmed much the opposite.
“RESOLVED, That we thank God for women who have contributed in biblically appropriate ways through discipleship, missions, education, evangelism, service, leadership, and working for advocacy and justice; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we affirm the gifts of women in their distinctive God-assigned roles, even as we continue to witness to Scripture’s teaching (Genesis 2:18, 21–24; Ephesians 5:22–33; Colossians 3:18–19; 1 Timothy 2:9–14; Titus 2:3–5; 1 Peter 3:1–7) in a culture increasingly confused in matters of gender and sexuality; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call upon women to serve in diverse capacities to advance the gospel in their homes, local churches, communities, the marketplace, and within our denomination,” the resolution reads in part.
The SBC’s new resolution on abuse also addressed recent uproar over former SBC leader Patterson’s advice to a physically abused woman to stay with her husband, forgive him, and pray for him. Alabama pastor Rick Patrick also mired himself in the controversy by publishing a social media post making fun of gang-rape to satirize those who criticized Patterson. Patrick subsequently resigned as the leader of Connect316, a ministry that promotes a “traditionalist” interpretation of salvation that rejects the concept of predestination but does not totally adhere to Arminian theology.
The SBC unequivocally denounced all forms of abuse, decried spousal abuse as blasphemy, and urged abuse victims to openly report their abuse to the authorities and to seek help.
“RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas, Texas, June 12–13, 2018, condemn all forms of abuse and repudiate with a unified voice all abusive behavior as unquestionably sinful and under the just condemnation of our Holy God; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we acknowledge that spousal abuse dishonors the marriage covenant and fundamentally blasphemes the relationship between Christ and the church; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we strongly urge abuse victims to contact civil authorities, separate from their abusers, and seek protection, care, and support from fellow Christians and civil authorities; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we extend compassion and support to all persons encountering the injustice of abuse, being careful to remind the abused that such injustice is undeserved and not a result of personal guilt or fault; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on all persons perpetrating and enabling abuse to repent and to confess their sin to Jesus Christ and to church authorities and to confess their crimes to civil authorities; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we implore all persons to act decisively on matters of abuse, to intervene on behalf of the abused, to ensure their safety, to report allegations of abuse to civil authorities according to the laws of their state, and to pursue church discipline against impenitent abusers,” the resolution reads in part.
The resolution directly refuted Patterson’s practice of advising women who were abused or raped not to report their situations to the police, urging them to leave those matters solely in the hands of church leadership, as well as an instance in which he did not report an allegation of rape to the police.
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