The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) met earlier this week in Indianapolis for its annual meeting, with one of its most controversial amendments going forth. The amendment sought to change the SBC’s constitution to make its ban against women pastors permanent. The measure, however, failed to receive its required 66 percent majority vote, earning 61 percent in favor and 38 percent opposed. Pastor Mike Law of Arlington Baptist Church had proposed the law at the last annual meeting, where it received 80 percent support at the time. According to Law, there are 1,800 churches within in the SBC with women pastors. The SBC has voted to remove churches from its fellowship due to women pastors, including Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, which was removed last year.

The group Baptist Women in Ministry celebrated the outcome. “Baptist Women in Ministry offers appreciation to all the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) who voted against the Law amendment BECAUSE of their commitment to support and affirm women serving as pastors of all kinds in the SBC. We are grateful to churches and messengers represented at the SBC who came to send the message that women have equal value to God. We know that others voted against the amendment for other reasons, but we hope the message of your support for female pastors will be amplified,” it said in a statement. Mike Law encouraged supporters of the amendment to keep on fighting on X.  “Yes, I am disappointed in the results, but I am not disheartened. Sixty-one percent of Southern Baptists voted for the Amendment; that is a majority that is encouraging, and that is something we can build upon. Realize that leaving loses the ground gained, your labors for this amendment were not in vain, therefore my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58),” he wrote, discouraging churches who are tempted to leave because of the amendment’s failure. “Now is not the time to leave, but to lean in, lead, and labor for biblical faithfulness, while believing the best about brothers and sisters who came to a different conclusion on this Amendment.”

The issue of women pastors has become one of the most divisive in recent church history. The position stems from 1 Timothy 2:12, which says, “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” Popular theologian Mike Winger released an 11-hour video affirming the position against women pastors. The Catholic church has also faced calls to permit women priests. In a recent interview with CBS’s Norah O’Donnell, Pope Francis was asked, “For a little girl growing up Catholic today, will she ever have the opportunity to be a deacon and participate as a clergy member in the church?” to which the Pope very straightly responded, “No.” Mike Law warned at last year’s annual meeting that compromising on the issue of female pastors could lead to other doctrinal compromises. “These churches are confused in thinking that embracing God’s word on this issue will lead to institutional decline. Many of these churches don’t understand that the same interpretive method that leads to female pastors also leads to practicing homosexual pastors. Generally speaking, history shows that once a denomination has female pastors, it’s usually just a matter of time until they ordain homosexual pastors,” he warned. Such examples include the ECLA, the Episcopalian church, and the Methodist Church, which recently suffered a split after it affirmed LGBTQ+ pastors. Law stated that the prohibition against women pastors is not meant to diminish the contributions of women but to set a clear line. “We gladly celebrate the myriad women who serve the church in many essential ways. Our culture may see this prohibition as harsh, but our God is all wise. And he wrote His word for the flourishing of both men and women.”

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