What Charles Stanley of First Baptist Church, Atlanta, Truly Believes About the Role of Women

Oct 27, 2003 08:05 AM EST

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The views of pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Charles Stanley, on the role of women have been misunderstood by many people the Texas newspaper reporter, Jim Jones, misinterpreted the actual belief of Stanley.

Stanley feels he was deceived by the reporter who was supposed to interview him on a new book not on the issues surrounding SBC:

"Why would a reporter who has requested to give an interview about a book get off on something and only mention one statement in the whole article about the book?" he asked "... It appeared to me to be deceptive."

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Stanley disagrees with the view of BF&F on women; the role of pastor being only reserved for men and the submission of wives to the leadership of their husbands although he believes one amendment should have been clarified and another not included at all.

Stanley told Baptist Press he is "absolutely supportive" of the 2000 BF&M, and added that he cannot think of a "single theological issue" which he and other SBC presidents have disagreed.

Stanley told BP that, as stated in the BF&M, he believes Scripture reserves the role of pastor for men.

"First of all, I have not disagreed with the denomination's faith statement barring women pastors," Stanley told BP. "He asked me specifically, which he did not include in his article, 'Would you vote for a lady to be the pastor of a church, a woman?' I said, 'No, I would not.' I said, 'That's my personal opinion, and I certainly respect other people's opinions, but I would not vote for a woman to be the pastor of a church.' But he never put that in the article."

But Stanley said he believes the language about female pastors would have been best left out of the BF&M. He said he believes the change has created controversy with people misinterpreting what Southern Baptists mean.

"That's my personal conviction, that's my personal opinion, and everybody has a right to their own opinion," Stanley said. "... In other words, if we are having a major problem in the Southern Baptist Convention with a lot of women wanting to be pastors, that's one thing. But I've not heard that."

Stanley believes women can hold the position as “preacher.” He distinguihed between "pastor" and "preacher,"

"There are a number of women who are preachers who are preaching the Gospel today, teaching the Gospel today, and they are being very successful at it and they are meeting people's needs," Stanley said. "You can't tell a woman who is called by God to teach that she cannot teach the Word of God. ... So I think the distinction is that there's a difference between the authority of a pastor and a Bible teacher."

Stanley said he has no problem with the BF&M's family amendment stating that husbands and wives "are of equal worth before God" and that wives are to "submit" themselves "graciously to the servant leadership" of their husbands. But he feels the amendment should have recognized Paul’s teaching in Ephesians about “submit to one another.”

"I believe that is absolutely a biblical principle," Stanley said of the subject of wives submitting to husbands. "I've never questioned that. I've simply said that to balance that out as far as people who are not Baptists -- who hear us talking about that -- we need to also emphasize the fact that Paul said we should be honoring and submissive to one another. You have to balance that out or the people who are not Christians and the people who are not Baptists don't understand our viewpoint."

Mohler said the issues of male and female roles in the church and the home "continue to be areas of great confusion and controversy in some denominations." He said that Southern Baptists "have spoken decisively to these vital issues through the Baptist Faith and Message, and this will serve us well."

One portion of the Star-Telegram that received a lot of attention quoted Stanley as saying, "You know what, if a woman is going to be submissive, she's not going to be submissive because of the Southern Baptist Convention. It's just ridiculous."

Stanley told Baptist Press the quote was misunderstood.

"I simply said that the Bible teaches that a woman is to be submissive to her husband, and a woman is not going to be submissive to her husband simply because the Southern Baptist Convention votes in a certain way -- that 'that's' ridiculous," he told BP. "That's what 'that's' all about."

Stanley said when he was first asked about the BF&M vote at the 2000 annual meeting, he said, "I wasn't there so I don't even know what happened."

Jones, in an e-mailed statement to Baptist Press, said, "I respect Dr. Stanley very much and think he has a valuable ministry. We had a congenial interview on subjects ranging from his books, the state of the church and what he thought about the family amendments that have been added to the faith statement.

"I'm sorry he thinks I was deceptive," Jones said. "I simply took an opportunity given to me to interview him about his new book and I mentioned the book, but I also talked to him about a lot of other matters. I have no recollection of him saying he did not want to be quoted on Southern Baptist issues."

Jones told BP he has "no recollection of me asking him if he would vote for a woman pastor of the church and that he said he would not vote for a woman pastor. If he said that [and] I failed to quote him on that in a story like this, that would be a gross omission.

"I wish I had asked it. It might have cleared up any misconceptions."

In his telephone comments, Jones added, "Also, I don't recall him specifically saying to me that wives submitting to their husbands is biblical. I'm sorry for the misunderstanding."


he article reflecting on what Jim Jones wrote can be found at: