A Southern Baptist leader who criticized moderate Baptists for not walking their talk about women’s ordination says a news story about the “stained-glass ceiling” that blocks women from advancing in larger liberal churches proves his point.
A recent New York Times carried a front-page story headlined, “Clergywomen Find Hard Path to Bigger Pulpit.” While women make up 51 percent of students at divinity schools, the article said, just 3 percent of pastors who lead churches that average 350 or more in Sunday attendance are women.
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said recently while moderate Baptist groups like the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship endorse women’s ordination in principal, they are virtually as reluctant as conservative churches to call a woman as pastor.
On the “Albert Mohler Radio Program,” he cited the Times article to validate his point.
“What I’m arguing is that in itself is something of a testimony to the fact that men are called to preach rather than women is basically held reflexively, if not vocally, by persons in the pews of so many churches,” Mohler said.
The Times explored reasons why women in mainline denominations have trouble getting appointed to influential and larger churches. But Mohler said he believes the reason is, “There is opposition to women serving in the pulpit even in these most liberal denominations.”
“When it comes to the people sitting in the pews, there is still resistance,” Mohler said.
Mohler described his own view toward women’s roles in the church and home as “complementarian.”
“That is to say I interpret the Bible in terms of what I believe are its clear teachings, to very clearly insist that men and men alone are to be pastors,” he explained. “Not all men. Only those that are specially called and equipped by God to be pastors.”
Mohler said men and woman have different roles in the church.
“That’s revolutionary and rather stunning statement for some people today, but I believe it is clearly revealed in Scripture,” he said. “And the point of raising this is to say it now looks like the people in the pews get it, even when some in the bureaucracy and elsewhere do not.”
While more women serve as Baptist pastors or co-pastors than any time in history, the study says, the vast majority of churches in four moderate groups have never called a woman as pastor.
“Never before have so many Baptist women had so many opportunities in ministry; yet women continue to struggle to find employment in churches and often women are not considered for senior-level positions, such as the pastorate and denominational leadership roles,” according to the report. “Thus, while Baptist women have made great strides, they still have far to go.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.