I see that my thoughtful response to this story has disappeared!
While I welcome Alicia’s exercise of freedom, I believe the trajectory of Scriptures invites me to see deficiencies in her reasoning, much like Tom above!! My rejection of that reasoning is not to be seen as a personal rejection of any individual, least of all Alicia!
Firstly, the original creation order contains the mandate that humanity have the potential to be “fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” Sexuality, marriage and procreation are in this way bound together. Maleness and femaleness are complementary for a purpose. As 1 Peter reminds us husbands and wives together have received from the Lord Himself “the grace of life.” Note that the Scriptures do not anticipate that all persons will be in marriage relationships, particularly in a fallen world. And it tenderly embraces the problem of barrenness as a fact of life.
Secondly, the fall of humanity has caused sexuality, marriage and procreation to be broken and less than whole. Though it may be helpful for many reasons to sort through the origins of the full spectrum of personal sexuality - whether nature or nurture - it is really academic in the final outcome! For the gospel of Christ invites us all to a life of self-denial in a thousand different aspects of our lives. We all struggle! But all may overcome in Christ! I. with my limited number of temptations in the sexual arena of my life are no greater, in the eyes of God, than people whose lives are troubled with a greater range of temptations in this area. (Yes! I am happily married).
Several years ago I authored a book review of Dale Kuehne’s volume Sex and the iWorld: Rethinking Relationship beyond an Age of Individualism. It was published on this website. Kuehne is a ordained Protestant professor of politics and ethics in a Catholic College. The books seeks to ignite a renewed articulation about sexual morality and to promote a fresh dialogue about sexuality within our culture. Kuehne in his book rejects both the tWorld, where traditional morality reigns, and the iWorld, the post-Enlightenment world of individualism where the perceived immediate needs of the individual are paramount. Instead, he promotes the idea that we step into the rWorld, the larger web of healthy and nourishing social relationships that provides the context for a biblical understanding of individual sexuality. It is full of compassion and understanding.
This blog is well-positioned to promote discussion of this brave new rWorld, but it has rarely done so!
Further, I reject Sam Matthews call to approve both ordination without regard to gender and gender identity.Here’s why!
First, the present Adventist ordination paradigm is broken. It is used to cover a multitude of sins. In the Western world it has long invited the twin sins of clericalism and institutionalization. You will notice that in my almost constant comments on the ordination issues I repeatedly seek to plainly reject any thought that Adventists have a clergy in their midst. Also, for a number of years now, I have sought to speak of Adventists as a group of people, and not as a church or an institution. I rarely use the word ‘church’ in connection to Adventists. In other places Adventists have seen the development of ecclesiastical chiefdoms. Such a development was commented on by the East Central Africa Division BRI Committee Report to TOSC in 2013.But I am so encouraged by much thinking on this matter by Adventists in Europe. I have seen very little of this kind of thinking coming from America. Perhaps American Adventists are too deeply embedded in the ‘institution of Adventism.’
I mean to say it politely and sensitively, but the addition of women as ordained clerics and so functionaries in an authoritarian institution will do little more than add lipstick to a pug-faced institution.
Adventists need to redesign the whole appointment for leadership paradigm to promote the development of servant leadership and of an engaged and spiritually gifted discipleship. Let the leaders in the widest spheres of our global communion, both academics and organizational leaders, commit the whole of the global communion to a common biblical and theological approach to the appointment of leaders among us. (The TOSC process made a worthy beginning in articulating the beginnings of a common approach to this issue). Then let the few simple but comprehensive principles governing appointment of leaders, both salaried and voluntary, be submitted to the regional entities of the church. These entities would then be tasked to design and implement rites of appointment to specific responsibilities. The credentials that such persons carry could easily be endorsed by the global communion. The focus of such a paradigm would be on the call and invitation of every member to be totally involved in becoming a disciple of Christ and in making disciples, and thus not on the creation of a global clergy class. All are called to service and ministry, not just our leaders.
Second, the emphasis of our quest for the full participation of both genders, moves beyond the mere equality of both genders in church leadership. Eclipsing all this is the fact that God has called all, and gifted all for service in conducting the mission of God in our world, and in continuing the mission and ministry Jesus began and the Holy Spirit empowers.Especially in these last days our Lord is calling all to report for duty. God calls each individual to specific responsibilities which will change with time. The people of God have a responsibility to discern the will of God for individuals and to add their voice to the call of God.
Third, together with a growing number of individuals, many much wiser than I, I find the ‘gender identity’ paradigm more than a little inadequate as an aid in understanding the nature of human sexuality. My Lord has called me to a higher, more inclusive identity as His child. My new identity in Him far eclipses any identity I may have in the old world that is so broken.
Let it be said plainly that the coupling together of the concept of the ‘ordination’ of women with the inclusive ‘ordination’ of all comers regardless of their ‘gender identity’ is extremely unhelpful, especially at this delicate stage of the ongoing ordination saga among Adventists. It will only confirm the thinking of thousands of Adventist nay-sayers who believe that the ordination of women is indeed the beginning of a descent down a slippery slope.