Home Christian News Former SBC President J.D. Greear Shares Why He Does Not Support Amendment...

Former SBC President J.D. Greear Shares Why He Does Not Support Amendment Banning Women Pastors of ‘Any Kind’

Greear is complementarian in his views on gender roles, but said that using the the SBC constitution to ban women from being pastors of “any kind” elevates an issue that is “secondary.” He outlined a difference between a church rejecting complementarianism wholesale and a church having a “nomenclature problem,” that is, being complementarian in practice while using the title “pastor.” There are in fact many SBC churches that have confusion over their nomenclature, said Greear. 

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“We Baptists have a history of ecclesiastical office confusion that we should be honest about,” Greear said. He went on to give some examples. One is that Baptist churches typically see the office of elder as reserved for men, and many churches see the roles of deacon and elder as interchangeable. Yet many Baptist churches also believe women can be deacons. “Their confusion of offices is, in my view, an error—but is it a disfellowshippable one?” asked Greear.

Another example is that of the role of youth pastor, a position that obviously has the title “pastor” in it. “If we counted the number of unordained youth pastors serving in Southern Baptist churches that are not thought of as elders in those churches,” said Greear, “I’m guessing that number would be in the thousands. This is an error, as it has effectively separated the office of pastor from that of elder. But is it a disfellowshippable one?”

“If we are willing to remove a church that is clearly complementarian for wrongly calling someone ‘pastor’ who is not a 1 Timothy 2-3 elder, wouldn’t consistency demand we remove all these other churches, too?” Greear asked. “If the rationale for removing churches is that ‘we all know what pastors are,’ won’t we have to remove these other churches, too, since they obviously do not?”

Greear made a case for why Law’s amendment should not be added to the constitution, even though amendments on racism and abuse have been. Moreover, he believes that making this constitutional change will be so binding that it will not allow any flexibility for dealing with churches who simply have a titling problem instead of actually being egalitarian. 

Another consequence from the amendment Greear fears is that it would lead to an in-depth evaluation of the actions of women serving in particular churches in the interest of making sure those women are not stepping outside the bounds of biblical authority. “Personally, I’m horrified at the idea of a committee making an inquiry of our church to decide if we have women acting in ways they deem improper,” Greear said. “No thank you.” 

Greear believes the amendment is overstepping the principle of local church autonomy and said the SBC is already able to address the problem of egalitarian churches, as shown by the situations with Saddleback and Fern Creek.

“And here is something else which I can’t say often enough,” said Greear. “Many of our sisters are deeply discouraged in this conversation. Some of our most engaged women in the SBC, who are all firmly complementarian and not seeking to be pastors, listen in to this conversation and struggle to understand why we seem to be so concerned that they are trying to take over our pulpits. They are not. And they don’t understand why we have turned them into a battleground.”