Editor’s note: Each year, the Illinois Baptist team explores the trends that shaped 2018, and forecasts their effect on the coming year.
Questions surrounding women in the church came into sharp relief in 2018 on the heels of #Metoo. Southern Baptists struggled through their own version of the movement, resulting in the termination of a seminary president and public investigations of pastors and missionaries accused of sexual abuse. Amid the scandals, women leaders denounced abuse and also prescribed preventive measures for churches and pastors.
In “A Letter to My Brothers” in May, Bible teacher Beth Moore called out misogyny of any kind among believers in Christ. “One of the most demoralizing realizations of my adult life,” Moore wrote, is “Scripture was not the reason for the colossal disregard and disrespect of women” among some key Christian leaders. “It was only the excuse. Sin was the reason. Ungodliness.”
Moore and others, including Texas Bible teacher Jen Wilkin, have called both men and women to more fervent Bible literacy, and to a reexamination of how men and women are called to build the church—together.
“The women e-mailing me regularly are not worried about winning the pulpit,” Wilkin wrote in 2015. “They are looking for leadership trajectories for women in the local church and finding virtually nothing. They watch their brothers receive advocacy and wonder who will invite them and equip them to lead well.”
As the dust settles on an unsettling movement, Baptists and other evangelicals still have questions to answer about what it really means for men and women to be made in the image of God, and treat each other as such.