Egalitarian pastor Wade Burleson anticipates that the SBC will capitulate on the topic of women preaching:
Within a decade or two, what I say the authoritative Scriptures teach about gender equality will be considered biblical, normal, and eternal by the majority of Southern Baptists, and what I heard today will have gone away, just as the former racism of Southern Baptists went away 100 years ago.
Complementarians have been looking for a way to cave on this issue since the founding of the movement. As Drs. John Piper and Wayne Grudem explained in their 1991 book introducing the complementarian perspective, they chose to reject the traditional reading on women preaching and invent a new one that better fit their modern sensibilities. From Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism:
28. Do you think women are more gullible than men?
First Timothy 2:14 says, “Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” Paul gives this as one of the reasons why he does not permit women “to teach or have authority over a man.” Historically this has usually been taken to mean that women are more gullible or deceivable than men and therefore less fit for the doctrinal oversight of the church. This may be true (see question 29). However, we are attracted to another understanding of Paul’s argument. We think that Satan’s main target was not Eve’s peculiar gullibility (if she had one), but rather Adam’s headship as the one ordained by God to be responsible for the life of the garden. Satan’s subtlety is that he knew the created order God had ordained for the good of the family, and he deliberately defied it by ignoring the man and taking up his dealings with the woman. Satan put her in the position of spokesman, leader, and defender. At that moment both the man and the woman slipped from their innocence and let themselves be drawn into a pattern of relating that to this day has proved destructive.
If this is the proper understanding, then what Paul meant in 1 Timothy 2:14 was this: “Adam was not deceived (that is, Adam was not approached by the deceiver and did not carry on direct dealings with the deceiver), but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor (that is, she was the one who took up dealings with the deceiver and was led through her direct interaction with him into deception and transgression).”
In this case, the main point is not that the man is undeceivable or that the woman is more deceivable; the point is that when God’s order of leadership is repudiated it brings damage and ruin. Men and women are both more vulnerable to error and sin when they forsake the order that God has intended.
This created a designated role for women like Beth Moore to preach to women, so long as the women preaching weren’t “in authority” over men. Keep in mind that this feminist friendly rationalization is perceived in complementarian circles as taking the ultimate hard line against feminism. This is the most “traditional” perspective complementarians consider acceptable. And of course as time has passed, the urge to further reinterpret Scripture on the issue has only grown stronger. John Piper has already modified his teaching on the subject to permit women to preach to men, so long as no one involved compromises their maleness and femaleness:
I’m a guy. Is it wrong for me to listen to Beth Moore?
No. Unless you begin to become dependent on her as your shepherd—your pastor.
This is the way I feel about women speaking occasionally in Sunday school. We don’t need to be picky on this. The Bible is clear that women shouldn’t teach and have authority over men. In context, I think this means that women shouldn’t be the authoritative teachers of the church—they shouldn’t be elders. That is the way Rick Warren is understanding it, and most of us understand it that way.
This doesn’t mean you can’t learn from a woman, or that she is incompetent and can’t think. It means that there is a certain dynamic between maleness and femaleness that when a woman begins to assume an authoritative teaching role in your life the manhood of a man and the womanhood of a woman is compromised.
This is of course nonsense, and classic complementarian doublespeak. But it doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to seem somewhat traditional while giving in to the same temptation Piper and Grudem tell us they succumbed to in 1991.
All of this is much less baffling when you realize that while Scripture is ostensibly the foundation of the discussion, this isn’t about Scripture. Complementarians are paying lip service to Scripture while following their true philosophy of chivalry, a parody of Christianity. Under the chivalrous view, women are more moral than men, and men should look to women for moral guidance. This is why you have complementarians teaching that pastor’s wives are light years closer to God than their husbands. It is also why Pastor Doug Wilson teaches that the wife’s role is house despot, and why Pastor Tim Bayly calls his wife “My Lord Mary Lee”.
Burleson understands this reality, at least intuitively. This is why he brilliantly charged complementarians with being unchivalrous when they said that Beth Moore shouldn’t preach in church on Sunday:
First, let me say that Dr. Tom Ascol, the head of the SBC Founder’s Conference is a very humble man of character. He and I had some good conversations face-to-face today. Everyone with the Founders treated me cordially. I could tell there were hurt feelings from some, mostly family members of the men I charged with bullying Beth Moore. But we worked through it.
It’s all over but the rationalization.
H/T Emperor Constantine
See Also: Defenseless