Largest Christian Denomination Denounces IVF but Supports ‘Women Pastors’

The Southern Baptist Convention met this week in Indianapolis to vote on many important issues. The SBC is the largest protestant denomination in America and has traditionally been staunchly opposed to female pastors. However, in recent years many Southern Baptist churches have allowed women to fill these positions despite it being clearly unacceptable according to their statement of faith and conventional constitution.

The Convention voted on the issues of IVF and females in pastoral roles in their churches. The SBC voted to reject a new amendment that would more easily allow them to oust churches that allow females to be pastors. The motion to adopt this amendment received just over 61% of the votes, but a supermajority of 66% was required for the motion to pass.

The SBC statement of faith explicitly states that the office of pastor is limited to males: “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor/elder/overseer is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

Many claimed that this new amendment would be unnecessary because the SBC already has rejected female pastors in their constitution and they have ways to expel churches that do not follow this directive. However, this has become a pervasive issue in the SBC. Data suggests that there are upwards of 1,800 female pastors in SBC churches, with estimates of 1,200 churches out of over 47,000 churches employing female ‘pastors.’ This practice is clearly a minority, but they are in clear violation of the SBC’s statement of faith.

The proposed motion, the Law Amendment, would have made it more straightforward to remove churches from the SBC that do not follow the denomination’s beliefs. It stated that any church affiliated with the SBC must only employ males in any pastoral positions. Despite this amendment’s rejection, the SBC overwhelmingly ousted a church over this issue this past week. They also have rejected appeals to take back some churches that were previously ousted and refuse to cooperate with their statement of faith.

Despite the SBC’s less conservative vote on the issue of female pastors, they voted to oppose the use of IVF reproductive technologies. They have joined the Catholic church in explicit rejection of IVF procedures that often result in many embryos being thrown away or frozen indefinitely.

IVF is a disaster for conservatives politically, as the main objection to abortion is that life begins at conception. Despite consensus on this among conservatives, many do not condemn the destruction of multiple embryos through typical IVF use. This contradiction is a divisive issue for the right, as most conservatives are pro-life and against abortion, but do not follow the concept of life beginning at conception by supporting IVF that often results in the death of countless embryos.

Many conservatives also have concern over the way IVF is used to support LBGT couples having children. In these cases, there needs to be regulation preventing these children from being bought and sold. The cheapening of a woman’s body when it is rented to carry a child that was specifically bought and customized to be given away right after birth to the purchasing ‘parent(s)’ is another major moral concern that IVF introduces.

Many infertile couples have been able to have children through IVF, which is amazing. However, the destruction of embryos is morally unacceptable and often the result of IVF. The right is contending with this issue in light of Roe v. Wade’s overturn which has allowed some states to begin to increase regulation of IVF. We may begin to see a change in the general right’s stance on this issue as now the largest Protestant denomination has joined 20% of the population in America, Catholics, in denouncing the practice of IVF.

Erin Weeks is a Staff Writer for Turley Talks.

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