Three black women leveled with two black men about the challenges they experience in conservative Christian spaces that marginalize women — and a white man’s response was to try to destroy them.
The enlightening discussion, titled “Gender Apartheid” from the “Truth’s Table” podcast, centered on the damage of “extrabiblical confinement of gender roles” in the church. The hosts were St. Louis worship director and activist Michelle Higgins; Christina Edmondson, a dean at Calvin College; and Ekemini Uwan, a Westminster Theological Seminary alumna.
Amid “amens” from listeners who agree that more opportunities need to be made for women to use their gifts in the church, was one very noisy critic, Todd Pruitt, lead pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Harrisonburg, Va. Pruitt is also a blogger at Mortification of Spin, hosted by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.
Launched in February, “Truth’s Table” has gotten its biggest lift thanks to Pruitt’s bizarre attack on the women and his mischaracterization of their “Gender Apartheid” conversation with Tyler Burns and Jemar Tisby of the Reformed African American Network. Burns and Tisby assumed a listening posture in the episode but were also frank about their questions, blind spots, and disagreements. Most of the podcast participants belong to conservative Presbyterian denominations, such as the Presbyterian Church in America, an 80 percent white Reformed body that ordains only men.
In his effort “to keep these unbiblical ideas from spreading any further in the PCA and corrupting our Lord’s church,” Pruitt cranked out a shallow 368-word one-sided “discussion.” In it, he railed against the “shocking” episode — in which black women revealed ways in which they feel sidelined in ministry by their Christian brothers’ restricting believers to supposed “feminine” or “masculine” work or spaces. Pruitt rallied the troops to immediately report the women and their male guests to the respective presbyteries for allegedly “dismiss(ing) the biblical pattern of male leadership within the church as nothing more than a man-made rule” and “mock(ing) those who uphold that biblical pattern.” The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals reportedly also emailed followers with the same instructions. I don’t know the size of the ACE’s mailing list, but the 23-year-old organization has more than 24,000 online followers.
There is such a thing as a good fire — when, for example, firefighters do safe, controlled burns for the benefit of an ecosystem. Then, there are wildfires, sometimes caused by arson, that rage without reason, destroying humans and homes.
Pruitt’s unsupported attack on his PCA brothers and sisters’ “Gender Apartheid” discussion was an act of arson. Without first directly engaging the “women and men with leadership responsibilities” about their intentions with the episode, as Jesus instructs believers to do (Matthew 18:15-20), Pruitt publicly disparaged them and called for their destruction. He threw a lit match and walked away. All under the pretense of wanting to protect the Lord’s church.
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SOURCE: Religion News Service – Nicola Menzie