The Southern Baptist Convention said Thursday that apart from being a member of a church adhering to denominational standards, there is no barrier to a woman becoming the face of America's largest Protestant denomination.
"Other than being a member of a church that cooperates with the Convention, I am aware of no SBC constitution or bylaw statement that would prohibit the election of a woman as SBC president," Roger 'Sing' Oldham, vice president for convention communications and relations, told The Christian Post in a statement Thursday.
The declaration from the SBC comes as leading conservative voice for civil rights and pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, Dwight McKissic, suggested on Saturday that electing a woman to the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention like prominent evangelical founder of Living Proof Ministries, Beth Moore, could go a long way in healing the wounds of sexism in the denomination where women constitute 51 percent of the population.
McKissic said promoting a woman like Moore would send a well-needed message to Southern Baptist women.
"To elect Beth Moore would do more to heal our Convention, seal women within our convention who have lost hope and right historic patterns of wrong toward women, without compromising qualifications, integrity, competency, or Scripture. The questions are, 'Are we there yet?' or do we have to wait 100 more years and experience more of God's judgment? SEBTS recently elected a woman as chairman of their Trustee Board. Progress is being made. Serving as an ex-officio officer of SBC entity trustee boards is one of the duties of an SBC president. By already permitting women trustees and a woman chairperson, the precedence is already set," McKissic in a recent blog post.
Explaining why he thinks it would not be a violation of biblical standards to allow a woman to serve in the post, McKissic noted that the position is "largely symbolic, not authoritative."
"The SBC is a parachurch organization — not a church. Therefore, there is absolutely not one Bible verse, or SBC constitutional bylaws prohibitions, nor any BF&M 2000 prohibitions against a woman serving as SBC president. Tradition, sexism, fear and other non-biblical factors would probably prevent any woman, including Deborah, Mary the Mother of Jesus, Lydia, Junia or Priscilla, or Lottie Moon from being elected president of the SBC; but, I repeat ... there is not one Bible verse or SBC constitutional prohibition," he explained.
He said that even though he has already committed to supporting North Carolina Pastor J.D. Greear for the presidency this year: "If I thought Beth Moore would accept the nomination or be agreeable to being nominated, because of her qualifications and the current context the SBC finds herself in ... I would nominate her for SBC president."
Two weeks ago in a Facebook Live address, Greear, who withdrew his SBC presidential candidacy in 2016 to allow the election of current SBC President Steve Gaines, argued that while the doctrine and the mission of the SBC is "solid. I think we need a new culture."
He cited a number of things in SBC culture that grieves the Holy Spirit, including sexism and racism, and called for a more enlightened view of complementarianism.
"Complementarianism teaches that there are roles, distinct roles that God gives to men and women in the home and in the church and that is biblical, and we need to honor that and we need to be faithful to that. But at the same time recognize that God has gifted women with spiritual gifts and lead her in positions of honor and we need to be as committed to raising them up in leadership and ministry as we are to our sons," he said.
"Our failure to listen to and honor women and racial minorities and our failure to include them in proportionate measures at top leadership roles have hindered our ability to see sin and injustice and call it out.
"We have been neglectful and lax and have guarded our institutions and our positions of leadership at our detriment and I think God is showing us that we need to repent for that posture and include our brothers and sisters of color and women in leadership and that culture needs to change," he added.