The Southern Baptist Convention voted at its annual meeting Tuesday to denounce all forms of abuse, called for sexual purity among its leaders, and affirmed women’s roles within the church, The Baptist Press reported.
The resolutions passed almost unanimously during a time when many of the 15-million-member conservative evangelical movement has faced divisions over the ousting of former leader Paige Patterson at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The 75-year-old former leader allegedly mishandled the reported rape of a female student and advised women to stay in abusive marriages.
Sixteen resolutions were passed by the 9,000-member voting delegates at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas.
A decision on women highlighted “their distinctive God-assigned roles,” which also confirmed that women could not be ordained ministers by calling them “to encourage, cultivate, and celebrate the diverse gifts, callings, and contributions of women in biblically appropriate ways,” the Baptist Press reported.
The resolution called modern culture “increasingly confused in matters of gender and sexuality,” citing scriptures, including “wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.”
A measure on abuse condemned all forms of abuse “unquestionably sinful” and called for women to separate from the abuser and contact law enforcement authorities. The action, prompted by the scandal around Patterson who advised a woman to return to her abusive husband, avoided the confirmation of abuse as a grounds for divorce.
Recent headlines of alleged sexual abuse and admissions of sexual encounters by prominent leaders brought forth another resolution that called for Christian leaders to abstain from extramarital affairs and urged on them “to exercise appropriate redemptive church discipline.”
In March, prominent Tennessee pastor Andy Savage resigned after he admitted to sexual misconduct with a teenager 20 years ago.
Also, two men have come forward with accusations of sexual assault dating back to the 1970s against longtime Baptist leader and former Texas judge Paul Pressler of Houston, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Southern Baptists elected J.D. Greear, 45, as president of the denomination.
The North Carolina pastor has gained recognition for inspiring younger members to plant churches and do mission work.
“He’s a new face for a traditional theology,” Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, told the Washington Post. “Think about how Pope Francis, depending who you ask, hasn’t really changed Catholic doctrine — but he has put a different face on that. Greear is sort of a new generational face.”
Greear won his place over Ken Hemphill, 70, a former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president, in a vote of 5,410 to 2,459.