Conservatives Come Up Short In Push To Ban Female Pastors From America’s Largest Protestant Denomination

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Jeff Charles Contributor
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Female pastors will remain in the pulpit after the Southern Baptist Convention rejected a strict ban on women clergy on Wednesday at its annual meeting.

The vote capped a two-year debate over whether women should be allowed to be pastors in America’s largest Protestant denomination, according to The Tennessean. The outcome of the vote could prompt churches that were considering leaving the denomination over the issue to remain, the outlet noted.

“Is this amendment necessary for the convention to respond when churches in our convention act in a way contrary to our complementarian doctrine?” North Carolina pastor Spence Shelton asked during a speech, referring to the theological position that men and women should play different, but complementary roles. (RELATED: ‘Over My Dead Body’: Woman Seeking To Be First Female Senior Pastor Of Flagship Church Sues Over Alleged Gender Bias)

If the proposed ban had been approved, it would have empowered denominational leaders to remove indivudal churches that flouted the ban from the SBC, according to The Tennessean.

Opinions on the matter are mixed. Pastor Anyra Cano told the Fort Worth Report that she felt God had called her to be a pastor. “I didn’t know what God was calling me to. I just knew God was calling me,” she said, calling the effort to ban women from ministry “disheartening.”

Critics contend that enabling women to serve in this role goes against biblical teachings and is a sign of the same liberal drift seen in other Protestant denominations. Pastor Mike Law told the Baptist Press that “it’s unwise to use titles that confuse or cloud the nature of the biblical offices.”

“At the end of the day, placing women in the pastoral office is fundamentally a rejection of biblical authority, and that’s why we want to encourage in the life of our convention, really a joyful submission to the sufficiency in the authority of the Bible,” Law added.

The SBC, which has nearly 13 million members, also voted Wednesday to condemn in vitro fertilization, Reuters reported.