No one else will say it but there are other reasons why we expel churches with women pastors. I often write humor pieces. This isn't one.
1. A church that has called a female pastor is an easy target.
As was said elsewhere, "What do you need to know besides the gender?" Right-O. I take it that the brothers in Surry Association knew enough, once the gender was known, not to believe that much else was necessary.
We Southern Baptist pastors like easy targets and simple decisions. No fuss, no muss, no bother. And it doesn't get any easier and simpler than this.
2. We savor the ability to be selective in our discipline.
And there is no safer selective decision than this one. After all, we're men, right? No one can do this to us because we have gender immunity.
I humbly acknowledge the basis for such decisions, our Baptist Faith and Message Statement, which says,
While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.Not much wiggle room there. Commenters have put it succinctly that those who believe in women pastors and those who don't cannot both be right. I can't argue with that.
Perhaps we could check the sentence that precedes the one quoted above:
[The church's] scriptural officers are pastors and deacons.Many SBC churches now have the office of Elder. This is a direct violation of the BFM. That manner of church organization is defined as unbiblical.
What shall we do with those? Expel them? Alas, Plodder isn't hearing the clamor for the same from where he sits and types. Perhaps elsewhere in the SBC hinterlands such sins are rooted out and churches dispatched for such things.
Surry Association waited less than a week to initiate discipline against Flat Rock Baptist Church. Where are those with a burning, unquenchable zeal for purity who will lead the associations in excising the sinful, unbiblical practice of Elder rule?
Lest we forget, both the BFM and Surry Association point to 1 Timothy 3 in regard to scriptural qualifications. That passage says in part that an overseer must be:
the husband of one wife...sensible...respectable...not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy...one who manages his own household competently...a good reputation among outsiders...
"Not a bully"? I know quite a few pastors who are bullies. Where is the zeal against those? I know pastors who are quarrelsome, who are greedy, who are appallingly poor managers of their households, and some who have disastrously poor reputations in the community. Where is the zeal against those?
To understand Surry Association's action you need only know one thing: They know how to spot a woman in a pulpit. The scripture about what overseers "must" be is, manifestly, just words on a page fit to be ignored.
3. Pastors know how to manage a career in this business.
I know a few pastors. I've got friends who are pastors. I hear a lot about pastors and it is the rare pastor who is not looking ahead to (a) a larger church, (b) an appointment to some committee or board, and/or (c) a future paycheck from some denominational entity. In fact, an ambitious pastor can make his bones in situations like this one. Conversely, if a pastor is on the 'wrong' side of a question like this, it can follow him forever. There is (Gasp!) ambition among us pastors. And pastors know what greases the skids for their future. They also know how to avoid the potholes.
No, I certainly do not know the state-of-mind of the brethren in Surry Association, but no pastor can say with a straight face that motives are pure for all who are involved in this.
I still would not vote to expel a church from my association if they called a female pastor. We all make our decisions. Mine is not particularly courageous, as some have labeled it. I merely see it as both reasonable and Christian.
I just wish that if we are as Southern Baptists going to follow this pattern in our associations, state conventions, and SBC, we would be honest about it.