What Will Happen to the SBC if the Law Amendment Fails?

Michael Clary

Five Warnings for Baptists Who Think They Can Defy God’s Good Design for the Church

When I was a boy, I cut up a big cardboard box into the shape of a paper airplane. Then I climbed onto the roof of my house, held onto the newly constructed “plane,” and jumped. Immediately, the rush of “first flight” swept through my body. This must have been what the Wright brothers felt like! 

And then, gravity.

I wasn’t flying, of course. Like Buzz Lightyear, I was falling with style. It didn’t matter how much I wanted to fly; the laws of nature cannot be denied. Thankfully, I wasn’t injured. But the lesson I learned that day still sticks in my memory: Gravity always wins in the end.  Even the most sophisticated modern aircraft can only stay aloft for a fixed period of time. But gravity will not be denied. It always wins in the end. 

Accepting Women Pastors is a Futile Attempt to Defy Gravity in the SBC 

God created the world a certain way. When we fail to honor God’s design, there are massive consequences, though they may take time to manifest. One of the most important facts about God’s design for His creation is this: Men and women are different, designed by God to accomplish different purposes that must be honored in order to thrive. 

If we fail to honor them, it’s like jumping off the roof holding a cardboard box, hoping to take flight. Eventually, gravity wins. 

These self-evident truths are scandalous to the modern mind because androgyny is the spirit of the age. Biological sex is regarded as mere plumbing differences, easily overcome with the right medical treatment. The transgender mind virus is a social epidemic where teenage boys pumped full of hormone blockers prance around in dresses while teenage girls get double mastectomies to keep up with the latest sexual fashion trends.

This same spirit of androgyny is infecting the SBC. It manifests less obviously, but it’s the rotten root at the heart of the current debate over women pastors. The androgynous fiction that says “men can get pregnant” is the same fiction that says “women can be pastors.” “Pregnant men” and “women pastors” both assume the sexes are interchangeable, which is a fundamentally unbiblical and anti-Christian anthropology.

Biological maleness is an essential qualification for the pastoral office because God designed men, not women, to take responsibility for and exercise authority over the spiritual household of God. God is not arbitrary or capricious; he does everything for a good reason. Biological maleness is not the only qualification for pastors, but it is a necessary one. Some men may not be qualified, but no women are. 

Trying to make space for “women pastors” in the SBC is like trying to defy gravity. Sooner or later, we will crash. And when we do, the SBC as we know and love it—this powerhouse for gospel missions—will be destroyed. 

The Urgency of the Law Amendment

That’s what makes the Law amendment such an urgent matter. The Law Amendment is not some procedural maneuver or arbitrary application of obscure biblical texts. It is a matter of faithfully applying God’s word as we live in God’s world. Sexual distinctions are hard-wired into the created order ever since God said, “Let us make man in our image” (Gen 1:26). This bedrock truth of Christian anthropology undergirds many other essential truths of the Christian faith. If churches with women pastors continue in “friendly cooperation” with the SBC, we’ll be sitting on a time bomb, waiting for it to explode.

It truly amazes me to see men like J. D. Greear (and others) calling  this a “tertiary issue” and even maligning it as “fundamentalism run amok.” Pejorative scare labels like “fundamentalism” don’t scare me, but the former president of the SBC’s cavalier dismissal of the matter does. It reveals just how much our leaders have been ideologically captured by feminism.

I’m convinced that rank-and-file Southern Baptists largely agree with the complementarian position as stated in the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. This was evidenced by last year’s overwhelmingly positive vote on the Law Amendment. 

I’m convinced most messengers know just how urgent it is for the SBC to affirm that we, as Baptists, stand with the Bible on this question. If that makes us “fundamentalists,” so be it. 

But we’re not out of the woods just yet. 

Opponents are pulling out all the stops to defeat it. Last year, Rick Warren put forth a historically novel, theologically sloppy, and exegetically indefensible argument in favor of women pastors. Southern Baptists were right to send him packing. Others, however, claim to affirm a male-only pastorate personally yet oppose ratifying it in our constitution. This is Greear’s position—and many other of our “leaders.” Others dismiss it as a “tertiary” matter that should be swept aside as a distraction from the SBC’s soul-winning mission. And now we are hearing of a devious plan by some opponents to propose “an amendment to the amendment,” which would reset the two-year clock on ratification, effectively “killing it in committee.”

We must not allow these stall tactics or parliamentary tricks to prevail. Now is the time to ratify the Law Amendment in Indianapolis. This Amendment needs to pass this year. It’s the right thing to do; we must see it across the finish line.

Many have made excellent biblical arguments defending a male-only pastorate (here is my own), so I will not rehash those here. 

Rather, for the remainder of this article, I want to consider what would be the consequences if we fail to pass the Law amendment. Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” If we sow disobedience, what harvest will we reap? If the SBC jumps off this roof holding a cardboard airplane, what will it be like when gravity finally pulls us back to reality?

I am not a prophet or the son of a prophet, but I know the slope is indeed slippery, and the SBC is standing on the precipice. I do not present these as ironclad guarantees that they will happen, but I’m convinced that they are more likely than not.

The “Law” of Unintended Consequences: What Might Happen if the Law Amendment Fails

First, more women pastors will be appointed in SBC churches. Failure to ratify the Law Amendment would institutionally normalize and legitimize a disobedient practice, effectively declaring that biological sex is irrelevant to pastoral ministry. This would only encourage more to follow suit.

The Bible teaches that “A little leaven leavens the whole lump (Gal 5:9).” When you don’t correct an error, you get more of it. It may not happen overnight, but eventually, ordinary churches will feel the pressure to keep up with the times, lest the cool kids brand them as “fundamentalists.” The SBC would remain technically complementarian but be functionally egalitarian, since it will be clear that we don’t have the will to enforce it.

Further, NAMB will find denying cooperative program dollars to church plants with women pastors increasingly difficult. Once word gets out that “complementarianism” has been regarded as an unenforceable relic of a less enlightened past, NAMB will surely be flooded with egalitarian applicants who gladly wink at the “complementarian” position they’re supposed to affirm before cashing the first check and appointing women pastors anyway. What’s to stop them?

Second, doctrinal errors will further erode the integrity of our Convention. Churches with women pastors already violate Scripture, sowing confusion amongst the people and making them vulnerable to additional error. Since women are the more agreeable sex, error will likely go uncorrected because correcting it involves potentially ugly confrontations and controversies that women would rather avoid. 

Scripture says false teachers infiltrate churches by preying on feminine vulnerabilities. Predators may have an “appearance of godliness,” but they “creep into households” and “capture weak women burdened with sins and led astray by various passions” (2 Tim 3:6). Of course, men can be deceived, too, but men are also more disagreeable, thus being more likely to correct the error when they see it. 

But churches with women pastors canonize women’s preference for conflict avoidance and a spirit of “let’s just get along.” Yet the NT is filled with stories of how God uses conflict to correct errors and clarify the truth. For example, Paul confronted Peter “to his face” (Gal 2:11). He later wrote that God uses factions to bring the truth to light (1 Cor 11:19).

False teachers often present themselves in crafty ways that appeal to women, such as peacemakers and champions of unity, making necessary, truth-exposing conflict less likely. And men who still step in to correct these errors will be accused of divisiveness or not being Christlike.

Third, toxic compassion will become a bigger problem in the SBC. Too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. Rivers, for example, are an important life source for any region but can become deadly if their banks swell and turn into floods. In a similar way, virtues like compassion or mercy can turn toxic when they are unmoored from biblical truth. This is what happens when women become pastors. Virtues most common to women end up spilling the banks and becoming a harmful flood.

Compassion is not a uniquely feminine virtue, but women tend to be more compassionate than men. Their feminine compassion can greatly bless the body of Christ when properly limited and directed by scripture. But too much of a good thing ruins it. A mother’s compassion, for example, is necessary to nurture infants who are most weak and vulnerable. But it can turn toxic if she treats her 15-year-old son like an infant, preventing him from growing into mature manhood. 

Or consider how abusive, alcoholic men are often enabled by the septic compassion of enabling women who are trying to rescue them. Or consider the epidemic of transgender children driven by toxic mothers who affirm absurdities, nurturing them down the road to perdition, often over the futile objections of their rational yet helpless fathers. Compassion must be chastened by truth and governed by wisdom, discipline, and accountability.

Another example from the church world is the United Methodist Church, which now affirms LGBTQ clergy, an effort spearheaded by an army of blue-haired women clad in rainbow vestments. During the vote, images poured onto social media of tearful yet exuberant women basking in the hard-fought glow of victory for equality as they’d just marched on Selma. They were, no doubt, driven by compassion—the one emotion authorized to veto all appeals to sanity and sound doctrine.

In general, women seek safety and security for themselves and those they care about. Their motherly compassion leads them to make others feel loved and included. When they become pastors, truth is the first casualty. It is well documented that women are more likely to shield people from truths they deem “harmful” or “offensive,” typically according to emotionally subjective criteria (CBMW article).

Thus, women pastors often emphasize “inclusion” and “harmony” while seeing biblical doctrine as divisive or potentially threatening what they consider higher priorities. In this way, “unity” takes over as the church’s primary curriculum, while truth is reduced to an optional accessory. This false unity is then upheld through the bare minimum threshold of vanilla theology baked in therapeutic language and paper-thin, feel-good pop psychology.

Fourth, pastoral ministry will be increasingly feminized and domesticated in the SBC. When Scripture says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man” (1 Tim 2:12), this is like saying, “I do not permit you to put diesel fuel in a gas engine.” Of course, you could technically do it, but you’d ruin the engine. In the same way, appointing women to the pastoral office ruins the office.

Generally, men are more comfortable with risk, danger, and conflict than women. Scripture warns that these tendencies can be sinful (1 Tim 2:8), but these are the very characteristics God uses to bring truth and order where deceit and chaos reign. As such, the duty and sacrifice required of the vigorous Christian life beckons men to come and die for something greater than themselves. Godly men seek the greatness of laying down their lives for the cause of Christ.

Pastoral ministry is dangerous work. Pastors are not mere chaplains who work indoor jobs, give inspirational speeches, and visit hospitals. Rather, they are field generals in the church’s battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil (1 Tim 1:18). For example, Paul’s ministry included numerous labors, imprisonments, beatings, being stoned, and shipwrecked. He spoke of “frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor 11:23-28).

Additionally, pastors are entrusted with the grueling work of church discipline and even delivering unrepentant Christians “to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that [their] spirit[s] may be saved in the day of the Lord” (1 Cor 5:5). They are to “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Tim 6:12). They are to “guard the good deposit” of the gospel (1 Tim 6:20). They are soldiers who do not get themselves entangled in civilian pursuits (2 Tim 2:4). They are commanded to “preach the word,” and to “be ready in season and out of season,” and to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort” (2 Tim 4:2). They are to put false teachers to silence, even rebuking them sharply (Titus 1:10-14) and with all authority (Titus 2:15). They are to “keep watch” over the souls of the church, knowing they will give account to God for their leadership (Heb 13:17).

Faithful pastors who speak truth boldly will be subject to public ridicule and slander. They should expect it. This is what they signed up for. Enduring public scorn for the sake of truth aligns with a man’s God-given masculine disposition. Men read biographies of lion-hearted pastors like Spurgeon, Luther, and Calvin because they inspire greatness against great odds.

Although the pastorate is a masculine office that men need to do, in our day, it has been emasculated, bubble-wrapped, and tucked away safely in a comfortable office, far from any exposure to danger. Appointing women as pastors fundamentally changes the pastoral office by domesticating and feminizing it. It dishonors the office, the women who occupy it, and the churches who appoint them.

Fifth, many godly men—and their churches—will leave the SBC for good. Whether we want to admit it or not, America is a gynocratic nation that valorizes feminine vices while pathologizing masculine virtues. Feminized organizations alienate and frustrate good men. Why? Because men respect strength. Men get stronger when led by strength. Since women are the weaker vessels (1 Peter 3:7), they do not have the necessary strength to command the respect of men. Women compensate for this through academic credentialing, institutional power, or through other men by proxy. But deep down, men instinctively know it is shameful to be ruled by women. Scripture says, “My people—infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them” (Isa 3:12). Churches (or denominations) who vote for women pastors are also voting to weaken and alienate good men.

Many popular and likable false teachers go unconfronted, especially if they are women. Men who recognize the error of these she-wolves and want to correct them know the deck is stacked against them, especially if a woman pastor is giving her cover. In such cases, the church’s internal politics become so heavily gendered that correcting the she-wolf is seen as an attack on all women. Of course, the tired old talking points of “sexism!” and “misogyny!” are ready at hand and still effective, having already been baked into our modern, feminized social discourse. Thus, men who care about truth know there will be a heavy social cost for correcting a woman. So they get fed up and leave.

When men correct other men, there’s nothing gendered about that. “Iron sharpens iron,” the Bible says. But when a man corrects a woman, the matter at hand becomes a subtle proxy war for latent sexual tensions. If the corrected woman begins playing the victim, then the man comes off like a bully, thus rallying other women to her side in the cause for gender equality. Men will tolerate this only for so long before concluding that the church, or perhaps even the Christian faith, is no place for manly men. 

This explains why so many young men are abandoning the church and turning to secular, dissident right communities that still affirm their masculinity. Women fill the resultant leadership vacuum caused by their departure, further alienating the remaining men and continuing the cycle of masculine alienation. The few men who do remain after all this will be increasingly emasculated in their leadership. 


There is a better way. The church is God’s human household on earth. The church is most healthy and fruitful when ordered according to God’s design. And what is God’s design for the church? To be led by biblically qualified men—and only men. 

When we humbly accept this wisdom from on high, Christian men and women can mature into spiritual fathers and mothers who work together to bring forth spiritual children through evangelism and discipleship. Interdependence is how God designed the church to work. Working together, fathers and mothers bear fruit of the gospel, a harvest of souls who are welcomed into the household of God, where they can enjoy unity, belonging, edification, honor, and glory. Whether one is a man or woman, hand or foot, eye or ear, no one can rightly say, “I do not belong” or “I have no need of you.” Everyone contributes in their own way, with love as the driving virtue. 

Southern Baptists, heed these warnings. The Law Amendment is not just a “good idea.” It is a necessity. It is urgent. It is biblical. It is Baptist. We must affirm this and ratify it in Indianapolis. The need of the hour is for godly men to take the lead in the SBC by ensuring that the pastoral office is restricted to qualified men. This is how we obey scripture, honor God, and honor his design for men and women in our Southern Baptist churches.

  • Michael Clary

    Michael Clary is the Lead Pastor of Christ the King Church in Cincinnati, OH, co-founder of King’s Domain ministries, and author of God’s Good Design: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Guide to Human Sexuality. He graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2008 with a Master of Divinity.