Mail Call

Mail Call August 4, 2006

The following appeared in my email in-box just last week.

As you will read, the author (from here on known as “pen pal”) was concerned about my privacy and wanted my permission before going public. I appreciate his concern, but I thought his email was too notable not to share, as, whatever your opinion on the issue might be, this email provides an excellent introduction to the in-box of this (and I’m certain many other) woman pastors.

Consider this blog entry not only a follow up to my recent post about my summer pastoral intern (who is, as you know if you saw her pictures, a woman); this entry is also my official permission for pen pal to take his thoughts public. I’ve copied and pasted his email here, so all the grammatical choices (and opinions) belong solely to my pen pal.

In the hope that perhaps my pen pal’s directly contacting me rather than posting on the blog indicates he’s actually giving some serious thought to the issue at hand, I’ll go ahead and leave his name off this blog entry–to protect his privacy.

(Let me say, however, that I thought it quite chivalrous that he included his name on his email, even though he clearly held an opinion different from my own. It seems that very often when someone disagrees with me on the blog they use a pseudonym. This is an option one can take, of course. A word of caution, though, to those posting under assumed names: Sitetracker provides detailed reports of blog traffic. Did you really think using the Internet was an anonymous activity?)

So, let’s get the conversational ball rolling here. The email I am posting below raises for me two very important questions:

1. In what other line of work do you get such interesting emails?

AND

2. What the heck is a Zoroastrian?

“Pastor Butler,

[While you did not directly solicit my opinion, I happened upon you blog which did invite comment, as they all do. I did not wish to publish these words to anyone but you out of respect for your privacy. I did not feel they were appropriate for general consumption without your approval].

All rhetorical questions, food for thought only:

Would you have any comment, if asked, to a happily married woman who has known the Lord from her single years, whose husband (though not a believer) is a good provider and faithful partner, whose kids are well behaved and progressing in their lives, whose finances are in good order and who is a useful member of society, but who–as a single, saved young lady– chose to marry a man (her present husband) she knew was unsaved? Would you say that, despite her apparent success and happiness today, she departed from the Lord’s express will by marrying a man she knew was not “of like precious faith”? Although you would never call for her to divorce him, nor would I, would you not also see that she stepped outside God’s clear will on her wedding day? To ask the question is to answer it.

I’m sure you are a wonderful person, clearly an attractive and personable lady, and have accomplished much for the Kingdom in your various ministries. I give you all that.

But the undeniable fact is you also purposed to become, and eventually were approved to be, the senior pastor of a church that I would assume claims to be led by the Spirit of God and His Word. So there you are, a woman pastor of this church, leading and teaching both men and women in matters of spiritual import. Scripture is not silent on this subject, just as it is not silent on the question of an unequal “yolking together” in a marriage, however compatible the prospective partners seem to be.

I’m confident that if a member of Calvary came to you for premarital counseling, intending to marry a Muslim, Jew, Hindu, atheist or Zoroastrian, you would have some words of Godly caution for him or her, would you not? And it would not be biased advice, just biblical. There are clear directives on that matter.

Your track record, like the fictional woman’s above, is undeniably commendable as seen by men. But is it biblically based? Is there scriptural authority for your holding the office you have, and therefore is God being glorified in it? Can we truly accomplish God’s will apart from God’s methods?

I wish you well in your endeavors, I truly do. I’m sure many souls will be in Heaven for having met you and the others in your congregation. But I am reminded that Saul, thinking he was pleasing God in 1Samuel 15 by preparing what he truly believed to be a necessary sacrifice, was actually in direct violation of God’s will in doing so since he was not a Levitical priest, therefore not authorized to offer it. Obedience trumps sacrifice, both then and now.

Could it be that a modern day version of that story is in play at Calvary Baptist? I leave it to you to decide. That’s why I’m writing you; you needn’t take the time for a response to me. I don’t seek one, and am not owed one. You have better uses of your time.

All the best to you, your family, and all the good folks at Calvary.”

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