As a denominational body that has capitulated to fundamentalist power, the Southern Baptist Convention is at times a curiosity to me, but not a matter of real interest. I moved on long ago.
Primarily, it revels in irrelevancy — passionately debating issues resolved long ago by most of civilized society and thoughtful, attentive Christian communities. Yet the time lag continues.
For example, former SBC president and Atlanta area pastor James Merritt’s comments this week that the New Testament doesn’t forbid a woman from serving as the convention’s president is treated as bold and radical.
Dear, Lord, what a painful pace! Whatever rises to the top of their agenda looks as though it was stamped “1964.”
To many aging SBC leaders, that’s exactly how the kingdom of God appears to them: reinstating a romanticized, white male dominated social culture in which everyone knew their rightful place. They can’t imagine a future that doesn’t look like some version of the past when they felt more secure and influential.
Their only challenges come from younger Southern Baptists who seek a cooler, looser version of sexism — holding tightly to the doctrinal framework that sustains male dominance.
It took a century and a half to get a resolution passed that apologized for the role of Southern Baptists in the support of enslaving Africans for the financial and social benefits of white Americans. At their annual meeting last year, the representative Southern Baptists struggled mightily to condemn the Alt-Right and the roots of white supremacy.
So it will likely take more than seven Rip Van Winkle naps to see these latecomers admit their role in the mistreatment of women and start changing the doctrinal structures in which sexism and even abuse flourish.
And their out-sized hostilities toward LGBTQ persons…, well, God only knows.
Recently, someone on Twitter noted that the three slowest creatures on earth are a sloth, a tortoise and a child told to put on your shoes. When it comes to justice, the SBC sets a similar pace.