Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Some Questions for Jimmy Carter

The headline in AOL News reads, "Jimmy Carter Leaves Church Over Treatment of Women" Carter has finally decided to leave the Southern Baptist Church because, as he put it, "...church leaders prohibited women from being ordained and insisted women be 'subservient to their husbands.'" The former president had been a member of the denomination for 60 years.

The Southern Baptists' policy of having men only in positions of ministerial authority, and of recognizing husbands as heads of families is nothing new. Nor is it unscriptural. So why has the former president chosen this time to make this departure? In an essay, Carter went on to say this:

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had -- and still have -- an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world.

Carter has traveled all over the world engaged in many humanitarian projects, and no doubt has seen this type of abuse first hand. However, how he sees this as connected to the Southern Baptists' stand on the ordaination of it's ministers , and male headship in families, baffles me. His choice of the word, "subjugation" is also interesting. One of the Bible's proof texts that support the teaching of the husband as head of the household is:

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.
But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;
for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.
This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

(Ephesians 5:22-32)

Notice that the Bible says, "...be subject to your own husbands...", whereas Mr. Carter uses the word "subjugation", suggesting the image of an enemy that has been crushed and captured. In the verse immediately preceeding the text quoted above, the apostle commands the members of the church to "...be subject to one another in the fear of Christ." Clearly, the apostle Paul is not instructing all of the believers to submit to abuse from each another.


Does Jimmy Carter really believe that the Southern Baptists' doctrine will lead to "...slavery, violence, forced prostitutiion, and genital mutilation?"

Does he really believe that faithful Baptists will vote to legalize rape?

Does he really believe that Baptists will use their interpretation of the Bible to deny millions of girls and women fair access to education, health and employment?

Does he really believe that the leaders in the Southern Baptist Church have, "for their own selfish ends", chosen to "subjugate women, providing the foundation or justification for persecution and abuse of women..."?

Does Jimmy Carter even know what he is talking about?

1 comment:

Mark Morrison said...

Wow Craig you have been busy !

The Southern Baptist have had the same policy for a very long time. So one would have to look deeper to find the real reason Mr.Carter choose now to leave.