Female Sunday School Teacher Fired

Check out this story on CNN. Apparently, the First Baptist Church of Watertown, NY has a little media crisis on their hands.

I've said for a long time that one of these days I'm going to write a book of stories including some of the things I've experienced in ministry in just my short number of years serving full-time as a pastor. I've hesitated to begin the manuscript because nobody would believe it. But the more I read the news, the more I realize there are some pretty crazy things that happen in churches.

To make a long story short, the Watertown FBC sent Mary Lambert a letter in the mail from the pastor's wife telling her she would no longer be allowed to teach her Sunday School class based on 1 Timothy 1:43, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." She's now gone to local and national news sources with her story.

There are so many things wrong with this story that it's not even funny. Here are the top three:

1. The deacons/elders/pastors at this church handled the situation very poorly. Even if the lady is an old bag, you owe her the honor of a face-to-face conversation prior to a letter delivered by the postal carrier. The issue for me isn't the application of 1 Timothy 1:43, but the failure to apply wisdom in their delivery. It's one thing to deliver truth and another thing to do it with love. If the deacons/elders/pastors had elected to have the hard conversation with this lady, and to do it in love, the issue never gets wings.

2. A lot has been said against the pastor and elders in this situation, but this "sweet elderly lady" certainly isn't innocent. Surely after teaching Sunday School for 54 years she ran across a passage or two concerning how to deal with disputes inside the church. 1 Corinthians 6 comes to mind, Matthew 18... In every case, the dispute is to be handled within the church, not in the court of public opinion. When this lady called her local news to gripe, she demonstrated spiritual immaturity that should disqualify her from teaching even if her gender does not.

3. The pastor is also a city council member. That always makes me cringe. For one, I'm not sure how he finds time to shepherd his flock and lead a city at the same time. My golf game would take a serious boost from that type of ministry schedule. Additionally, I'm not sure the best place for clergy is in dictating public polity. I'm all for Christians in secular politics, don't get me wrong, but can't imagine how it would be a great thing for paid clergy to occupy those positions. I'm not worried about his Christianity infiltrating his politics, but have serious doubts about whether or not he would be able to keep his politics out of the pulpit. And that's a problem.

The Church is supposed to be salt and light in the world. That would be a lot easier if we stopped doing stupid things.


SB said...

Good Post one of the most balanced evaluations I've seen on this issue