After Founders Ministry posted a screenshot on Instagram of an article published on their blog titled “Only Men Can Be Pastors,” Instagram deleted the post and labeled it “hate speech.”
As a way to help promote their articles, Founders Ministry utilizes their social media accounts. The accompanying caption with the Instagram screenshot said, “In spite of the fact that it seems more and more fashionable in our day to say that women may be pastors, the Bible is clear that pastoral leadership is restricted to men.”
— tom ascol (@tomascol) November 12, 2018
The article, written by Tom Hicks, goes on to exegete 1 Timothy 2:12-14 in which Paul instructs his protégé Timothy, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”
It’s a well-known passage, and I encourage you to read Hicks’ article, linked to above, for a well-written and properly exegeted handling of the verses. Reading the article reveals that what Instagram defines as “hate speech” is traditional, orthodox Christian teaching.
Speaking to Christian Daily Reporter, Founders’ social media manager Hannah Ascol said:
We posted an article from one of our Founders board members Tom Hicks titled ‘Only Men May Be Pastors’ on November 7th. The post had gotten great engagement (our second best post engagement for this year) on our Instagram account. There was good discussion and agreement in the comments. Then Sunday evening, November 11, I got the notice that the post had been reported by a viewer, reviewed by Instagram and then deleted. The reason given was that the post ‘doesn’t follow our Community Guidelines on hate speech.’ Included was a warning that if we violated the guidelines again then our account could be restricted or disabled.
The censoring of conservative Christian voices is a growing problem that runs the risk of marginalizing Christians and crafting a society that views Christians as dangerous and unwanted. A recent op-ed in the Dallas Morning News touches on this. The paper’s editorial board is correct that “Conservatives have good reason to be suspicious about how all internet giants, but particularly Facebook and Twitter, control and monitor what is said on their platforms.”
The Dallas Morning News‘ warning bell sounds for conservative Christians, too. The editorial board goes on to point out that “Social media platforms are publishers, whether they like it or not.” And that brings a responsibility to guard the free exchange of ideas and opinions. When companies like Instagram suppress the expression of beliefs by groups like Founders Ministry, our country is being reshaped into a nation that disallows free thought.
Whether you are a conservative Christian or not and whether you agree with Founders Ministry or not, the censorious actions of Instagram affect you, too. Conservative Christians may be at the front of the line of groups no longer welcome in our society, but your place in that line isn’t as far back as you probably think.
(Full disclosure: the church where I serve as a pastor financially supports Founders Ministry.)