Welcome to G3 Weekly—a summary of this week’s top news stories on Christianity and the public square.
This week, attendees of the Southern Baptist Convention voted to disfellowship two churches that ordained females as pastors. Pro-life entities backed a federal resolution that would prohibit the criminalization of abortion. Meanwhile, several thousand congregations have left the United Methodist Church over the last two years over the issue of homosexuality.
Southern Baptists Spar over Women as Pastors
“I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (1 Timothy 2:12).
Southern Baptists decided overwhelmingly to remove Saddleback Church, the megachurch in California which recently appointed multiple female pastors under the leadership of Rick Warren, and Fern Creek Baptist Church, a congregation in Kentucky which has a female pastor, from “friendly cooperation” with the denomination.
Attendees representing thousands of churches at the denomination’s annual meeting voted to approve the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee’s earlier decisions to disfellowship both churches: some 88% affirmed the decision to remove Saddleback, while some 92% affirmed the decision to remove Fern Creek.
Mike Law, a pastor at Arlington Baptist Church in Arlington, Virginia, proposed an amendment to the Southern Baptist Convention constitution to make clear that churches should appoint “only men as any kind of pastor or elder as qualified by Scripture” to stay in “friendly cooperation” status. On the other hand, attendees voted for a separate motion to create a “task force” to study the process of considering congregations outside of “friendly cooperation.”
The Baptist Faith and Message, the statement to which churches in the denomination broadly adhere, likewise confesses that “while both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” Many pastors noted the importance of enforcing the moves against female ordination since several hundred Southern Baptist churches have nevertheless appointed women into such positions.
Resolution Preventing Abortion Criminalization Proposed in Congress
“Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression” (Isaiah 10:1).
Activists in the national pro-life movement backed a resolution in the House of Representatives that would prevent states from criminalizing all parties involved in an abortion.
Representative Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado, introduced a resolution that would affirm that preborn children are “legal and constitutional persons who are entitled to the equal protection of the laws.” The resolution, drafted with the assistance of Live Action and other pro-life organizations, broadly centers on the humanity of preborn children and the need to recognize such realities but says that such equal protection “shall not be construed to permit the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child.”
The Foundation to Abolish Abortion commended the resolution for the “generally excellent” attempt to seek equal protection for the preborn but cautioned that the clause against penalties for women would prevent states from criminalizing abortion for all parties.
“When medical professionals are attempting to save her life and have run out of options to save both patients, no woman should be prosecuted for the unintentional death of her unborn child. And certainly, when forced into an abortion under duress by threats of violence upon her, no woman should be prosecuted for the death of her unborn child,” a statement from the entity said. “Yet this clause contains no such limitations. It merely says, ‘any woman.’ This means that it refers to any woman in any situation whatsoever, no matter how knowing, willful, and malicious her intent or how heinous her conduct.”
The resolution comes as several conservative states move to implement new restrictions on abortion after the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Though some states have rendered surgical abortions illegal, mothers are increasingly using abortion pills to kill their babies.
Thousands of Methodist Churches Leave Denomination
“I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent” (Revelation 2:5).
The United Methodist Church has seen over 5,000 congregations leave the mainline denomination in the past two years.
More than 1,500 churches departed from the denomination last year while more than 3,800 churches departed so far this year, according to data compiled from regional conferences. The United Methodist Church, which is the second-largest Protestant denomination in the nation after the Southern Baptist Convention, has faced internal battles in recent years over increased acceptance of homosexuality and so-called same-sex marriage.
The denomination, which had some 30,000 congregations as of three years ago, recently added a process which permitted churches to disaffiliate because of the “deep conflict” around “issues of human sexuality.” The process allows any disaffiliating churches to keep “real and personal, tangible and intangible property.”