Tag Archives: SheriKlouda

Fundamentalism versus common sense: women teaching in seminaries

You know the saying “common sense isn’t so common.”

The Associated Press reports (in this article):

Leaders of a prominent Southern Baptist seminary who believe women are biblically forbidden from teaching men were within their rights when they told a female professor to leave, a federal judge has ruled.

Sheri Klouda was the only female professor teaching at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s School of Theology when officials decided not to renew her contract in 2006. Klouda claimed seminary officials breached an oral contract guaranteeing she would remain employed if her performance was favorable.

Seminary officials maintain Klouda was not dismissed but was told she would not be granted tenure. They said their actions were based on ecclesiastical decisions protected under the First Amendment’s religion clauses. U.S. District Judge John McBryde agreed, dismissing Klouda’s claims Wednesday….

Seminary President Paige Patterson issued a statement saying he is thankful for the decision….

According to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, the denomination’s most recent statement of beliefs, both men and women can serve the church but the office of pastor is limited to men. The statement is based on a verse in 1st Timothy in which the Apostle Paul says, “I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man.”

After he was elected seminary president, Patterson told officials he believed all those teaching future ministers at the school of theology should be qualified to serve as pastors themselves….

Here’s the kicker:

Klouda, who now teaches at Taylor University in Upland, Ind., points out she taught Hebrew and Aramaic at the seminary.

“The biggest contradiction is that Dr. Patterson and Southwestern and … all of us agree that I am not a minister or pastor,” Klouda said.

While the First Amendment was properly upheld in this case, Patterson has shown that he was a poor thinker about these issues when he was establishing his policies.

Did the Apostle Paul have a specific context for his use of the word teach? Perhaps he was referring to doctrinal or theological or expository matters? 

Is it necessary to have men “qualified to serve as pastors themselves” to teach languages in a seminary? 

Do you want to keep women (like Klouda) from exercising their gifts of teaching languages? Do you want to limit the reach of those gifts?

As to the matter of authority, Dr. Patterson, if you’re on the operating table in an emergency room, and your doctor is a female — who will ostensibly have to exercise her authority over some male hospital staffers in the process of saving your life —  should she wait until a male doctor is available? (God keep you, Dr. Patterson, but some feminists would have an ironic answer.)

In regards to the sex of a teacher, is receiving Red Cross training from a woman any different than receiving Hebrew and Aramaic training from a woman?

Just a few questions for a man who, in his zeal to be biblical, has applied a verse far more broadly than the Bible warrants.

-Colin Foote Burch

Recommended reading: Growing Up Fundamentalist: Journeys in Legalism & Grace

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