Sunday morning confession. I am angry, and I am broken-hearted, and I truly believe this is a word for the Church today…and I’ll make it as simple as possible. Slavery was wrong. Sexism is equally wrong.

And while the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) only recently denounced their support of the former, they (along with other denominations), still totally and unequivocally continue to support the latter. Although SBC churches are supposedly free to manage their own affairs individually, the implicit view that women, “are of equal value before God, but have specific roles imparted by scripture,” harkens to their former horrific understanding of slavery as also being supported by scripture, therefore, acceptable before God. Churches that choose to step outside of prescribed boundaries, by doing such things as ordaining women, or calling a woman as lead pastor, suffer the wrath of the powerful denomination and the condemnation of pastors who wrongly believe they “rightly divide the word of truth.”

Our church is in the process of seeking its next pastor. We are somewhat “dually aligned” with both the SBC and the CBF (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which is inclusive in terms of women in ministry), and our church has many folks who believe in the CBF manner, that God calls and equips whomever God chooses, being “no respecter of persons.” During our interim of waiting for whomever (read, “male”) our next pastor will be, our Pastor Search Committee has also been tasked with “filling the pulpit” each Sunday – that is, they find someone to preach each week. When I prayerfully and hopefully suggested a fairly local and incredible woman who is the lead pastor of a nearby church (and has been a senior pastor for many years, I might add), I was quickly informed that some of our folks wouldn’t like that, and so, to date, there have been no females in the pulpit. There have been men, some of whom provided sound, exegetical preaching/teaching – and there have been a few who were so poor in their presentation, that I found it excruciating to sit through their portion of the service.

Fortunately, in our service today we had an exceptional gentleman, our retired music minister, who spoke, eloquently, as always. When we were talking afterwards he jokingly inferred that we were pretty desperate if we called him to speak. But I, not so jokingly, responded that he met our most important criterion – he was male…to which he readily agreed.

I call sexism within the church the other side of the same evil coin of racism – the sin that claims that an individual is not allowed to speak God’s word – called “preaching” – because of her gender. Christ did not divide salvation into the pink kind and the blue kind – but the red kind, in which He covered all our sins in His own blood.

It took many years for the SBC to repent for their role in the evils of slavery. After all, scripture was used to support the institution of slavery for many years, and the SBC itself came into existence because of their support of it. Finally realizing that this did not represent God’s heart – that the verse which exhorted folks to be kind to their servants, wasn’t after all, a condoning of the cultural institution of slavery – they offered public repentance. But, thus far, they have failed to do the same for sexism. “In Christ there is no male or female,” is overshadowed by Paul’s other words, “I do not permit a woman to have authority over a man.” And the Biblical support for equality – as well as Christ’s attitude and demeanor toward women – is overwhelmingly trans-cultural and inclusive. (But that’s an article for another time.)

Ever since I was a little girl I have had an overwhelmingly great love for going to church (and yes, I know that “we are the church”). I love sitting in the sanctuary, hearing sacred scripture read, singing beautiful music, playing an instrument, praying, listening to the sermon, etc., worshiping God “in Spirit and in Truth,” as Christ admonished. But today, during the excellent sermon, I was overwhelmed with grief for Christ’s Church – for God’s daughters in particular. But also, for everyone, male and female, because when the Church believes women are left out of God’s calling simply by virtue of their gender, there is a price to pay for all of God’s people – male, and female. And we miss out on God’s message to us, through them. I also wonder if God hears our prayers when we pray, “God, speak to us!” And He responds, “I want to – but you won’t allow the messenger whom I chose, to step behind your pulpit, because I chose to speak through my daughter, whom I called and equipped!”

As Christ often said, “For those who have ears to hear…”

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Kim Chafee

I am a lover of the God who sings! I am a Christ-follower and an ordained minister married to the other Rev. Chafee (Scott), with two grown children and a multitude of pets. And, I love chocolate. Read more about me and the reason for this blog on my ABOUT page.

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  1. We have not been honest on this one.

    Hi, Kim! My name is Collins Chilongoshi from Zambia. I know you and your husband from Kitwe where you served before you moved to Kasama. Your husband will remember me from Ndeke Baptist Church. I’m now living in Lusaka and i’m studying at the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zambia.
    First of all i want to say God in His own sovereignty can call any one and use them at any particular given time. For a long time i have struggled with this issue of sexism in the Baptist Church. I have heard and enjoy sermons from women who are some how better than us the men.Most of the Baptist churches in Zambia are choosing women to serve as Deacons and they are being ordained by the Baptist Pastors so why cant they preach? God help us to realize this important aspect. May we repent and ask for forgivness for this oppression agaist our dear women.

    1. Muli shani mukwai! Ndemiposha mwishina ilya kwa katula Jesu Christu! So good to hear from a Zambian brother! And it sounds as though you are learning well! Thank you for your comment. May God bless you as you continue your studies and ministry! Blessings, Kim

  2. Amen,Kim! I’m very upset about this too. As Daryl Foster quoted a mentor/friend of his as saying when Thalia Lynn was voting to allow women as Deacons, do you think Jesus would say to a woman, you cannot serve me in that way. I truly doubt Jesus would turn down anyone wanting to serve him in any capacity!! I thought our church was further along than this!! Pam Eley

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