Christian women, Church, Southern Baptist/SBC

Is the SBC’s Tent Big Enough for ALL Marginalized Christian Women?

It started with Paige Patterson’s gobsmackingly horrible and unbiblical advice to an abused to wife to return to her husband. Then it was the lurid remarks he made about a teenage girl, with which he regaled a congregation during a sermon. Next came the allegations of his mishandling of two separate sexual assault cases at two different seminaries.

In response to all this turmoil, Beth Moore added to the conversation some vague stories of various unnamed men in Christian circles who had, in her perception, condescended to her or otherwise not treated her as an equal, leaving the impression that there is widespread, systemic misogyny within modern evangelicalism. Jen Wilkin, from a more biblical – yet, troublingly, similarly vague – perspective, joined the chorus, and has been afforded a wider audience for the “they can’t be pastors, natch, but we need more women in church leadership” platform she has been advancing for the past several years. (Which leadership positions or roles? We’re still waiting for Jen to specify.)

And the icing on the cake was SBC pastor, Dwight McKissic, publicly declaring that the way to “heal” all of these woes against Christian women and “right historic patterns of wrong against women” is to elect Beth Moore as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

So this nebulous idea has been introduced that Christian women are getting the short end of the stick across the board in evangelicalism (specifically in the SBC) and that the way to fix things – all the way from genuine abuse and rape on one end of the spectrum to women whose feelings have been hurt because they’re not seen as equal to pastors on the other end – is to make sure, somehow, that women’s voices are heard and validated.

That’s a pretty “big tent” idea. And if it’s going to be a big tent, there’s room under there for everybody, right? To be consistent, compassionate, and fair, wouldn’t these folks have to make space for the voices of, and give influential positions to, any Christian woman who feels she’s been diminished? Let’s find out.

Allow me to introduce you to a group of Christian women who have been silenced and brushed aside for years, often by the very same people who are now hypocritically crying out that women need to be heard in order to keep them from being marginalized.

I give you discerning, doctrinally sound, often Reformed, Christian women.

We are women who have been subjected to insults, and accusations of heresy and hatred of the lost, because we hold to the doctrines of grace. We are women who have been attacked by pastors, pastors’ wives, women’s ministry leaders, and fellow church members for pointing out the false doctrine of popular women’s “Bible” study materials and merely asking to properly be taught the Word of God in our own churches. We are women who have been shouted down or ruled “out of order” at denominational meetings for asking that our Christian retailers stop selling materials containing false teaching. We are women who have been forced out of our own churches for taking a biblical stand against women preaching to, teaching, or exercising authority over men in the church. We are women who have been called haters, legalistic, divisive, threats to unity, jealous, and all other manner of slander simply for holding to Scripture and refusing to budge from it.

All this mistreatment of women at the hands of Christian celebrities, denominational leaders, pastors and other church leadership, and fellow church members.

Do we qualify as marginalized? We’ve been hurt, and in many cases, sinned against outright. No church discipline. No redress or recourse. Nobody wants to make sure we have a voice or a place of power – quite the opposite, in fact. A lot of us saw our own pastors hand-wringingly share Beth Moore’s detailing of her grievances against Christian men even as they pushed us and our biblical concerns aside.

Everybody feels sorry for Beth Moore. Who will cry for us?

We don’t want much, just a return to what’s biblical.

We want sound doctrine in the church and solid preaching in the pulpit.

We want this nonsense about a female SBC President – especially a false teacher like Beth Moore – to stop. Not only is it not biblical, it’s a patronizing toss of a trinket or pat on the head attempting to dry the tears of fussy little girls, and it won’t work to solve any of the real problems that are going on.

We want false doctrine off the shelves of LifeWay, and for LifeWay, the ERLC, and others in leadership to stop organizing and promoting conferences and other events headlined by people they have already been informed (yea, as seminary trained pastors and leaders, should know without having to be told) are false teachers. Among the many things Jen Wilkin has rightly said is that we need to promote biblical and theological literacy among Christian women. When you go on a diet, the first thing you do is go through your kitchen and throw out all the junk food. You’ll never start eating healthy if you have an endless supply of candy bars in the pantry. The only way to begin to properly train women in Scripture and theology  is by “putting off” false doctrine in order to “put on” sound doctrine.

We want LifeWay to demonstrate that it actually cares about the spiritual health of women by putting its money where its mouth is. Ridding the shelves of false doctrine and the event docket of false teachers is going to cost LifeWay a lot of revenue. Women who want their itching ears scratched will quickly find another source of false teaching to pour their cash into. There’s not a lot of money to be made in encouraging women to study straight from their Bibles, sit faithfully under the teaching of a doctrinally sound pastor, and humbly serve the local church. Are Christian women worth it to you, LifeWay?

We want a strong doctrine of sin and church discipline to be understood and taught by our pastors and denominational leaders. The fact of the matter is that a woman who has been genuinely sinned against by a man who has abused her is in a different category from a woman whose feelings are hurt because she’s been told she can’t teach a co-ed adult Sunday School class. The first woman needs compassionate brothers and sisters in Christ to come alongside her and walk with her as God begins to heal her body and her heart. The abuser needs to be prosecuted to the full and appropriate extent of the law as well as to be placed under church discipline. The second woman is either in sin and rebellion (in which case she may need to be placed under church discipline) or she just hasn’t been taught God’s Word properly and someone needs to disciple her in that area. To put these two women underneath the same “big tent” just because they’ve both experienced some sort of hurt diminishes and confuses their situations and the solutions that would be biblically appropriate for each.

We want pastors and leaders to herald, praise, and validate the biblical role of women in the church. Women should not be taught only the things we cannot do in the church, we must also be taught what we must do in the church – what only women are uniquely and ontologically gifted by God to do. Women need to hear – particularly from the mouths of pastors and denominational leaders – the vital necessity of women discipling other women, women training the church’s children in the Scriptures, women serving in hospitality and mercy ministries, women properly using their administrative gifts, and so much more. Train us to teach. Equip us to serve. Encourage us to use our gifts in obedience to Scripture and for the glory of God.

We want men – from the heads of our denominations to the newly saved sinner in the pew – to step up and be godly men. We desperately need you to biblically and fearlessly lead the church. Don’t be afraid to stand up and put your foot down squarely on Scripture. Even if it makes you unpopular. Even if it rocks the boat at church. Even if people leave and never come back. As godly women, we can’t do our job if you’re not doing yours.

So how about it, brothers and sisters who are crying out for Christian women to be heard? Do doctrinally sound women get a seat at the table? Do we get to be heard? Will anything be done to correct the mistreatment we’ve received?

Or are there only certain women you want to hear from? Women who fit the popular social narrative. Women the world and most of the church will applaud you for listening to. Solutions that do more to glorify people than to glorify God.

Just how big is that tent…really?

25 thoughts on “Is the SBC’s Tent Big Enough for ALL Marginalized Christian Women?”

  1. Thanks for writing that. I’m not in the SBC, but the SBC is pretty much the only actual denomination where the Bible is actually taught.

    Those leading this new charge of “inclusion” are the problem. They made a bunch of vague, unspecific accusations, particularly against one specific person (the president), who happens to be at odds on church politics with those making the allegations and their allies. However, we see by their demands that the Bible is of no interest to them. They are simply fulfilling the curse of genesis 1.


  2. Bless you dear heart for this post. Saying many of the things our sisters, myself included think and feel. To God be the glory!


  3. You certainly hit the nail on the head with this one, Michelle. Your concerns apply far beyond the borders of the SBC. Thanks for bringing to dear what the REAL problems are in the midst of petty distractions.


  4. Amen!!! Beautifully said and spot on. May God use this post to bring truth and light into an ever darkening world. Blessings to you Michellle!


  5. And in His sovereignty, He uses a woman (who He’s allowed to live and understand these issues) to say it BEST. Thank you for this encouragement! He is still on the throne while much of the SBC is headed in unbiblical directions…


  6. Thank you for speaking out for godly, biblical women in all denominations. Women need to know that there are women in the evangelical world that still believe and stand by the truth.


  7. I’m at the LCMS. I believe we’re doctrinally sound; only men are ordained to be pastors here, and I never have to hear about the supposed greatness of Beth Moore like I did when I went to non-denom Protestant churches (Lutherans stay with Lutherans, and avoid making celebrities/idols of their fellow Lutherans anyway). Yet women still have various and organized roles in other church areas, including some of the most historically well-established, rigorous schooling and teaching programs of children of any of the denominations. The LCMS isn’t perfect, but again the doctrine is good and conservative, it’s quite scandal-free compared to many other denominations (no Doug Phillips/Vision Forum weirdness, like in some Reformed camps — and our doctrine is unified, so we don’t have Rushdoony theonomy, racial kinism, or other various splintered and odd ideological factions, as the Reformed do), and there are plenty of edifying and constructive things for women to do.


  8. This is exactly how I feel. There is a discouragement that comes from other Christians and it’s sad. It’s good to know there are like minded Christian women who still want to learn and study the bible instead of promoting worldly philosophies. Thanks for encouraging us to be godly women .


  9. Reblogged this on New Creations Ministries and commented:
    What a powerful post linking the correlation between sound Christian doctrine and sound nutritional teaching. Michelle Lesley is a powerful Christian writer. I respect her for she stands courageously for Truth and so do I. I praise God for her strong testimony for the Lord.

    As a Christian nutritional counselor I profess physiological truth when it comes to health. Sadly there are many more in this world who will follow what their “itching ears want to hear” than will follow Spiritual and physiological Truth.

    Case in point: I’m not sure if you noticed the headline advertising “hot dog water” recently on the news lately? This hot dog water was being sold for $38 a tube – hopefully as a joke, but touted for weight loss. I’m not sure how many people actually bought it but in the mid 1990s, 41 signed up for Oprah’s fake hot dog and ice cream diet in two days! “itchy ears” again.

    If I sold and promoted junk food as a weight loss program, I’d be rich by now. I continually battle false diet teachers who have a celebrity name or have a doctorate who profess unhealthy , unrealistic, quick weight loss, eliminating food groups and outright untruths to sell product. But professing the truth of Genesis 1:29, Genesis 9:3 and 1 Corinthains 10:23 as a legitimate health plan, doesn’t make one wealthy. I will continue to write and stand for mental, physical and spiritual interity, truth, praying you wil never become a sheep following blindly. Seek and hunger after the Word of God always, blessings,


  10. This was one of your most powerful posts Michelle. Thank you. It is a topic my pastor husband battles weekly for several women in the church believe these false teachers. Praise God he has integrity and if Beth Moore was ever voted in as president, I know we would leave the SBC one way or another. I reblogged this post on my New Creation Ministries which correlates our mental, physical and spiritual relationship to food. (I’ll probably lose followers but like you, I believe Truth is more important than tickling someone’s itchy ears.) Blessings back, ❤


  11. Amen to all the above. I vote with you.
    Even though I go to a Baptist church, I have not been following the events of SBC. It’s a shame if/ that they are following the ways of the secular world.
    Sometimes I think the world has gone slap raving crazy. How sad that the SBC is following suit. Our pastor and his wife has just returned but as of yet, I have not heard a report concerning these things. But then again, maybe I’ve been occupied with what’s on my plate and I wasn’t listening.
    I will have to ask more questions and read more about this.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us,


  12. I want to share this article, but some of Bitcoin’s ads on it are inappropriate (woman with a revealing bra on). Can it be removed?


  13. So well said, Michelle! Our strength is in believing, trusting, and obeying God’s word. Thank you for your ministry that helps reveal what this means to us women.


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