Just recently, more than 100 bookstores controlled by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) removed the recent issue of Gospel Today-an issue whose cover highlighted the gospel-work of women. Have you ever wondered if the SBC might be "kicking against the goads" in their tireless efforts to censor the obvious fact that God, throughout history, has and continues to gift, call, and bless the gospel-service of women? Removing copies of Gospel Today, as it celebrates women leading the world to Jesus, is like trying to suppress the early apostles! It is a futile effort because it opposes the will of God.
Removing Gospel Today from 100 bookstores no more suppresses God's power in women than throwing Peter in jail stopped the growth of the early church. Though the SBC works to restrain the gospel-work of female pastors, missionaries, professors, and those who support them, God's favor rests upon women, and evidence of this keeps popping everywhere! It is hard to ignore the parallels between SBC efforts to rein in women and the story of the apostles in Acts 5.
As the apostles performed many "signs and wonders" (Acts 5:12), "more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number" (5:14). God's favor and power was impossible to ignore. Thus, because of their jealousy, the religious leaders arrested the apostles (5:18). But the angels released them from prison, putting them back on the streets to preach. Finally, the religious leaders asked Peter why he had disobeyed them by preaching the gospel. Peter said, "We must obey God rather than men" (5:29)! Peter's words enraged the Sanhedrin, who wanted to put him to death. But Gamaliel, a Pharisee honored for his wisdom and learning, offered this important warning:
Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God (Acts 5:35-39).
As Gamaliel predicted, Peter and the other believers continued to preach, and their neighbors and communities came to faith in Christ. Enraged by their efforts, Saul of Tarsus, a formidable opponent, devoted his talent to punish and silence believers-both men and women. But even Saul had to face the truth. Knocked off of his horse and blinded by a bright light, Saul heard a voice amid these astonishing events asking him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads" (Acts 26:14).
Women have been called to gospel-leadership since the empty tomb, and their God-given abilities have and will draw many to Christ. This is a historic reality. In fact, in the largest expanse of Christian faith in all of history, women outnumbered men on mission fields two to one. Their prominence is hard to ignore and impossible to suppress because their power is not of human origins, but is from God!
Mimi Haddad is the president of Christians for Biblical Equality.