We know our places

Before 1960, Southern whites and blacks knew their places.  Stepping into a bus and choosing a seat depended upon what color your skin was.  Bus drivers were known to stop and tell blacks to go further back into the back of the bus.

Blacks could cook in restaurant kitchens, work as maids and bellhops in hotels, but could not eat in the dining room.

Black women could nurse your children, but could not sleep under the same roof as a white person.

Passengers boarding trains in Illinois could sit anywhere, but before they got to Mississippi, all the blacks had to get into their places, leaving the whites in their own section.

These were laws made by white Southerners in the Bible Belt. 

The Southern Baptist Convention was born because Baptist Southerners wanted to keep their slaves and they had the scriptures that justified slavery.

After the war, the Southern Baptist Convention, and other fundamentalist Christian groups, had to admit they were wrong, but they didn’t submit graciously.  In fact, after the Civil War in which the South lost, these men were determined to force black and white segregation, and enacted the segregation laws that lasted until the 1960s.

Never mind that at one time the Christian plantation owners had slept with the black women, borne children by her, put their children to the breast of a black woman, and ate the food cooked by a black woman.

“We now look back on it as a form of social insanity, but it felt normal at the time. It felt normal to whites and to most blacks. The African Americans who fought to overthrow this were a tiny minority and really revolutionary and didn’t get the support of the general black public until it was pretty clear they were going to win.” (Diane McWorther “Carry Me Home.”)

This was the South, baby!  And we all knew our places.

Just as women know their places today. 

Standing behind the pulpit singing in the choir.  Walking to the pulpit to make an announcement.  Surrendering the pulpit to a man when it comes times to preach the gospel.  Accepting the bread and juice from a male deacon. 

We know our places.  But some of us are tired of those places.  Some of us are telling our leaders that they are wrong.  Some of us are holding them accountable for their segregationist attitude.

Will you join us?  Will you tell your pastor that men and women are created equal and that you will tolerate no other teaching in the church you attend?


About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
This entry was posted in Equality for women in Southern Baptist churches and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to We know our places

  1. Paula says:

    “In the beginning a patriot is a scarce man, hated and feared and scorned. But in time when his cause succeeds, the timid join him, because then it costs nothing to be patriot.”
    -Mark Twain

    It’s the same no matter what the topic. And it illustrates the difference between conviction and affiliation. There are many in the world and church who merely affiliate with a group, but few who are in the core of conviction.

    Jesus alluded to this in his parable of the talents. The convicted have many; the affiliated have fewer; the cowards have none.


  2. Sonnet says:

    “God made us to be separate, he must have a reason. Finally I realized… it must be because he wants each of us to know our place… and to stay in it. Otherwise, there’d be disorder. And God doesn’t want disorder.”

    That quote is NOT referring to men & women–though I’ve often heard its sentiment applied to men & women. It is from the movie *Freedom Song* which is about the Civil Right’s movement. A white woman said these lines because she was afraid of change… even if that change was about righting injustice. But I guess her character was so steeped in her cultural upbringing that she was unable to recognize the injustice even though it was “staring her right in the face!”


  3. EricW says:

    Rosa Parks refused to move or give up her seat on the bus.

    When will a Baptist woman walk up to the pulpit, open the Bible, and begin teaching from the Scriptures in the spirit of Mary Magadalene, who was the first person Jesus appeared to and commissioned to preach – to MEN – the Good News of His resurrection?


    • Paula says:

      Ha! I just mentioned Rosa Parks at the ABP blog. Hmm… you don’t suppose God is telling us something, eh?

      Brings up another good point too: for women to wait around for egal men to “step up” is exactly the attitude the comps want us to have, that we can’t help ourselves.

      Personally, I don’t even think MEN should walk up to a pulpit, since I see nothing like pulpits in the NT. I feel the same about the clergy/laity class division as I do about the male/female one.


      • EricW says:

        Just my opinion, but ISTM that Baptists, like many Evangelical Protestants, have thrown out all the so-called sacraments (or renamed them “ordinances”) and retained only the teaching/preaching of the Word of God as the means of imparting God’s grace and the knowledge of Him and union with Him to the Body.

        However, they have, whether deliberate or not, retained in the person of the pastor the Catholic/Orthodox position of “priest” (i.e., a person authorized or ordained to administer or preside over the sacraments – which in the case of Baptists means “Teaching the Word”) and the doctrine that a priest can only be a male, because he’s standing in for Jesus (in persona Christi, as the Roman Catholics say).

        The question is: When God became incarnate, did He primarily do it as a male, or as a human? Did Jesus take only male humanity upon Himself and to the Cross, or did He take all humanity, male and female, upon and into Himself and to the Cross? Did only Christ’s maleness rise from the grave on the third day, or was it a transformed and victorious human nature/being that arose from the dead? What was assumed by Jesus and saved by Jesus: male nature or human nature?

        Can only a male stand in persona Christi?

        I thought Jesus and the Church are One New Human, not one new male with subordinate female parts.


      • Paula says:

        These excellent points are what was brought out in the book The Reformers And Their Stepchildren, which I summarized Here. And if indeed Jesus’ maleness is what matters, then women not only missed out on having our sins atoned for, but also on any hope of being “Christlike” in this life or “like Him” in the next.


      • Paula says:

        Oops… just noticed that when I post links here, it thinks everything is in this site instead of an external one. I’ll try this:




    • Well, now, Eric. You are asking a lot of me! Don’t you know that I was the one who Demanded an Apology from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood! Do I have to take the Bible out of their hand and start preaching, too? (LOL) Thanks for your comments and – Encouragement?


  4. EricW says:

    That should be “Magdalene.” 🙂


  5. Kristen says:

    Eric, I know of no evangelical church that has completely done away with the Lord’s Supper, even though many or most of them relegate it to once a month or less. They wouldn’t dare completely stop doing something that Jesus and Paul both commanded. But I know a lot of churches that focus so much on “not eating or drinking in an unworthy manner” per Paul’s teaching, that they turn what is supposed to be a time of grace into a time of fear. Perhaps this is why they celebrate the Lord’s Supper so seldom; they are too worried about having the slightest unconfessed sin in their lives at the time they partake, to let the Supper minister grace to them.

    In any event, there are evangelical churches that allow women to serve the bread and wine (or juice, which is much more common). Some of these same churches would never let a woman preach. Most of them would never let a woman serve as an elder or pastor.

    I also know of no evangelical church that has done away with baptism. Some churches even let laypeople, including women, baptise. Some of these same churches would never let a woman preach, or be an elder or pastor.

    My understanding is that the Reformation named the Lord’s Supper and baptism as the only sacraments (or ordinances) for the church. What distinction do you place between a sacrament and an ordinance? In any event, preaching from the Bible is never called either one, that I know of.

    So no– I don’t think evangelical Protestants have entirely done away with the sacraments. But I agree with you that they give them far less importance in the day-to-day life of the church than preaching from the Bible has.

    I do not think most evangelical churches consciously consider their pastor to be “standing in the place of Christ,” even though they may act as if they did.


    • EricW says:

      Actually, in my understanding the Salvation Army and the Friends (Quakers) don’t have communion or baptism, though some on the Internet say that some Salvation Army churches occasionally have communion.

      As for “sacrament” versus “ordinance,” I mean what the Roman Catholic Church means by the term “sacrament” – i.e., something that imparts grace – versus the usual Evangelical Protestant idea (hence, called “ordinances” – something the Lord ordered men to do but not a transmitter of effective/effectual grace or a necessary part of one’s salvation) that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are only symbols or remembrances of things. I.e., many Protestants say that people should get baptized in obedience to the Lord or as an outward testimony, but don’t go as far as to say that this is how one is mystically joined to the spiritual and visible Church, the Body of Christ. They also wouldn’t say that one really receives Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity in the Lord’s Supper for the healing of body and soul and the forgiveness of sins, but that it’s just bread and wine/grape juice and does not change into anything. It’s a memorial meal, not an eating and drinking of Christ. I.e., they take the Lord’s Supper because the Lord commanded it, not because it’s a transmitter of grace and forgiveness of sins.


      “God is not restricted to the use of material, visible symbols in dealing with men; the sacraments are not necessary in the sense that they could not have been dispensed with. But, if it is known that God has appointed external, visible ceremonies as the means by which certain graces are to be conferred on men, then in order to obtain those graces it will be necessary for men to make use of those Divinely appointed means. This truth theologians express by saying that the sacraments are necessary, not absolutely but only hypothetically, i.e., in the supposition that if we wish to obtain a certain supernatural end we must use the supernatural means appointed for obtaining that end. In this sense the Council of Trent (Sess. VII, can. 4) declared heretical those who assert that the sacraments of the New Law are superfluous and not necessary, although all are not necessary for each individual. It is the teaching of the Catholic Church and of Christians in general that, whilst God was nowise bound to make use of external ceremonies as symbols of things spiritual and sacred, it has pleased Him to do so, and this is the ordinary and most suitable manner of dealing with men.”


  6. Lydia says:

    “The question is: When God became incarnate, did He primarily do it as a male, or as a human? Did Jesus take only male humanity upon Himself and to the Cross, or did He take all humanity, male and female, upon and into Himself and to the Cross? Did only Christ’s maleness rise from the grave on the third day, or was it a transformed and victorious human nature/being that arose from the dead? What was assumed by Jesus and saved by Jesus: male nature or human nature?”

    Well Eric, you are asking the same questions I always ask comps/pats. I usually ask how I can be Christlike since Jesus was male and there is so much focus on a “Biblical womanhood and biblical manhood” these days.

    And I agree with you about sacraments/ordinances. But I also note that in the NT, we see most preaching took place OUTSIDE the Body. So making the “pastor” the centerpiece of the Body assembling really means that those who follow his teaching will never grow past him spiritually. Is that what was intended for the Body? Of course not.


  7. Lydia says:

    And I agree with Paula that there is no clergy/laity class distinction in the Word. There is no “professional” Christian class.

    We are all ministers if we are saved. And I would encourage any woman to “pastor” others if she is gifted to do so. That does not have to take place in a building with a steeple to qualify NT style.


  8. Kristen says:


    My understanding of both baptism and the Lord’s Supper is that it is faith that transforms the physical action into a means of grace. I don’t believe in transubstantiation (that the wine and bread literally become the body and blood of Christ), but I believe that the physical action of taking the bread and wine, when done in faith, makes it much more than just a symbol. The physical elements become an aid to faith– faith that reaches out and grasps the Host as the woman with the flow of blood grasped Jesus’ garment. It wasn’t the garment that healed her; it was the power of God, but the garment was a physical point for her faith to take hold of.

    I can ask God to forgive my sins in my prayer closet– but many times I find it so much more effective to take the Lord’s Supper, to break the bread with my teeth and drain the cup, and say to myself “NOW, my sins are washed away.” I don’t believe the bread literally became Christ’s body, but by faith I have partaken of His body in that moment anyway.

    Baptism was the same for me, since I was baptized as an adult. It was a point for my faith to grasp and say, “NOW I have sealed the Covenant between God and myself. NOW I am His forever.”

    I think that when Protestants focus on the “ordinances” as just symbols and forget to partake of them in faith, that the ordinances can lose their power. If you are baptized without faith, all you did was get wet.


    • EricW says:


      I understand what you’re saying.

      It seems to me that Christians’ and churches’ beliefs and practices re: baptism and the Lord’s Supper span the spectrum from sacramentalism to mere symbolism to being optional to being not done at all. I think that for many Evangelical Protestants they no longer have any sacramental sense and are quite close to being unnecessary or relatively meaningless, and might not even be done had the Lord not told His followers to do them.

      I think that separating the partaking of the elements of the Lord’s Table from the fellowship commemorative meal in which they originally most likely played a part was a major step in both a) first elevating them to the status of something mystical and sacramental and only to be confected and overseen by a priest, and b) later turning them into a merely symbolic and then nearly superfluous action/activity far down the ladder of importance in one’s personal or corporate Christian life and worship.

      Replacing the “one loaf” of the Lord’s Supper with individual machine-made tasteless crackers has IMO destroyed what little symbolism was left in the rite. It’s no longer merely a symbol but a symbol of a symbol.

      Now we’re really off topic. 😀


      • Paula says:

        EricW, please see my comment above that mentions “The Reformers And Their Stepchildren”, esp. chapter 4. I’d say more, but you’re right that we’re off topic here. 🙂


  9. Paula says:

    A comment of mine has been in moderation all day, little help? 🙂


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