Recently Jimmy Carter made the news when he decided it was time to remind the world again that he had resigned from the Southern Baptist Convention. It was his way of trying to distance himself from conservative Christians who stand on the Scriptural teaching that men should be leaders at home and in the pulpit.
Former president Carter, unfortunately, seems confused at several points. First, one cannot resign from the SBC, because one cannot join it. It is simply a vehicle used by churches to cooperate in doing the work of missions, ministry, and preparation for ministry. Second, Carter actually “resigned” several years ago (October, 2000). He just seems to enjoy bringing it up again and again… hoping, perhaps, that it will keep embarrassing conservatives.
The main point Carter seems to be trying to make is that by insisting on male leadership in the home and in the pulpit, conservative Christians are acting like Muslims who relegate women to an inferior status or class. He claims to perceive that the conservative Biblical position denigrates women and is basically a form of discrimination against them.
Now anyone who is willing to read the Bible carefully to try to understand the position of the SBC will realize how much ignorance Carter’s position betrays. (Well, either ignorance or, perhaps, a belief that he can win points with the elite secular humanists from whom he curries favor by constructing a straw man to rail against.)
But why does his tactic seem to work?
Partly it’s because there really are husbands (who aren’t Christians, but who claim to be) who try to use Scripture to bolster their position as petty, selfish, self-centered dictators!
When husbands take seriously what Scripture teaches about marriage, Christian wives are ecstatically happy!
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Eph 5:25-32)
All the Christian wives I know really like that passage! And so should their husbands!
Wives are definitely not inferior to their husbands. I personally know of no Christian who believes or teaches that. Wives are definitely not less intelligent than their husbands. Most Christian husbands are quick to admit that they lean heavily on their wives for wisdom and would be in a royal mess without it!
The issue has nothing to do with equality. It has everything to do with role. God has designated different roles for husbands and wives. When we both lovingly fulfill our God-given roles, the marriage is like an incredibly beautiful dance that brings glory to God and joy to both husband and wife. It’s a wonderful thing to behold!
But when either husband or wife steps out of their God-given roles, it’s like throwing mud into the gears of a finely tuned machine. It quickly stops serving the purpose for which it was designed, and crashes.
You may be interested in reading more on this concept from a woman’s perspective. My wonderful wife, Vickie, wrote a post on the subject some time ago. You can read it here.
So what about the jerks who call themselves Christians and who treat their wives like dirt? What about the cowardly male dictators who give Christ a bad name and Jimmy Carter more ammo?
The answer is Biblical love. Biblical love means confronting such men, admonishing them, warning them of their sin, holding them accountable, and if necessary removing them from church membership. We call that church discipline. (Go here if you want to read a series of posts about church discipline. It is one of the great failings of many so-called churches in our day.)
So here’s my counsel.
Ignore Jimmy Carter. Listen to Scripture. God knows what He’s talking about. Jimmy Carter doesn’t.
Stay in the battle!
More on Marriage: