Snapshot: Can a Woman Baptize a Man?

A particularly embarrassing snapshot from our tradition...

The following excerpts are taken from the weekly column "Questions and Answers" in the Gospel Advocate . This particular article can be found in the January 24, 1980 issue on pages 35 and 52. This column is written by Guy N. Woods who in this issue serves as Associate Editor and would later serve as the Editor of the GA.   

Guy N. Woods.jpg

The question submitted to this column reads as follows: 

May a non-Christian baptize another into Christ? If a non-Christian may perform baptisms, would it also be proper for women to baptize men? 

Woods begins his response with what looks like a helpful and thoughtful reflection on the issue... 

One will search the Scriptures in vain in seeking qualifications for those who baptize. Does it not then logically follow that since no qualifications are given that none are required?  

Woods continues to survey biblical examples, such as the fact that it was Jesus' disciples and not Jesus himself who baptized. He recognized that this possibly suggested that only believers could baptize, but then engages in an exploration of the implications of those who were baptized by Judas. He continues his response...

Among those who baptized for Jesus was Judas Iscariot, eventually his betrayer. Were all those, by him immersed, without valid baptism? Were those Judas baptized re-immersed by some faithful disciple. Of course not. Here is indisputable proof of the fact that the validity of one's baptism does not depend on the character, or lack of it as the case may be, of the baptizer. How very thankful all of us should be that such is true.  

After a couple of other examples (someone who lives in Iran and can only be baptized by an unbeliever, and the baptisms of Thomas and Alexander Campbell by the Baptist preacher, Matthias Luce), Woods circles back to the original question and things goes terribly wrong...

May a woman scripturally immerse one into Christ? The question is both moot and impractical; moot, because it is purely an academic question, and impractical because seldom indeed woud [sic] there be an occasion for such today. Were I without Scriptural baptism and knowing such to be my duty, I would prefer that my Christian brother, known and loved by me, should immerse me; were he not available, my next choice would be a faithful godly man though unknown; were neither of the foregoing available, I would want to be baptized by any  man who would agree to do so in harmony with New Testament teaching. As a final alternative I would ask a woman to immerse me. Such a course I have not the least doubt the Lord would approve.

 This is pure and utter nonsense. It is offensive and is an example of theological presumption taking precedence over theological reflection. Scripture "can't" say (or allow or approve) ______ because then (insert theory, doctrine, or practice here) wouldn't be true.