Is the General Conference Out of Compliance with Its Own Policies?

During the last two years the General Conference has produced a number of articles lifting up the importance of unity and abiding by the decisions of the GC Annual Council and particularly the GC Working Policy. One perspective seems to have been left out, however, or at least not focused upon:

Is there any possibility that the decisions of the GC Annual Council, and even decisions by the GC Session, are not in line with the basic principles that the Church has voted or agreed to follow? Could it be that parts of the GC Working Policy are not in harmony with the biblical message or the Fundamental Beliefs of the Church? If that should be the case, what are the means to rectify this?

Building Blocks of a Democracy

Three separate and independent building blocks are required in a true democracy: the legislative (making the rules/laws), the executive (applying the rules/laws) and the judicial (checking the rules and how they are applied).

In the United States:

They are the Executive, (President and about 5,000,000 workers), Legislative (Senate and House of Representatives), and Judicial (Supreme Court and lower Courts)…The Judicial part of our federal government includes the Supreme Court and nine Justices. They are special judges who interpret laws according to the Constitution. [i]

In democracies throughout the world it happens quite often that decisions made by the executive levels of the state/counties/municipalities, as well as the legislative levels, are challenged. If it can be proven that a law or decision is out of harmony with the Constitution, a decision or a law passed at any level can be set aside by a court.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church – Compliance to the “Constitution”

Do we in the Seventh-day Adventist Church have a satisfactory independent system to check on the compliance of the GC Working Policy to the “constitution”? Or do we have a system that does not see the possibility for any discrepancy to ever happen?

What would be the equivalent of the “constitution” in an Adventist setting? The following saying of Jesus to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law might be helpful to guide us in our thinking:

“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, `Honor your father and your mother,` and, `Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.` But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: `Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban` (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." [ii]

Traditions that nullify the word of God are the problem Jesus addressed.

Another statement from Jesus in his meeting with the Pharisees might be relevant in this line of thought:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[iii]

An even more pointed saying from Jesus might also be helpful:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. [iv]

Is this basic rule of loving your neighbor as yourself applicable when it comes to the way female pastors are treated in the Adventist Church? And further, do we have any voted principle in the Adventist Church that can guide us in applying this basic principle in our dealing with our female pastors?

Basic Principle against Discrimination

In the GC Working Policy we find the following basic principle:

“The Church rejects any system or philosophy which discriminates against anyone on the basis of race, color, or gender.” [v]

This principle has a solid foundation in loving your neighbor as yourself in the Bible, as well as in Fundamental Belief number 14:

“… distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ …”

Is this our “constitution”? Should our laws and regulations be in harmony with the basic principle of not discriminating against anyone “on the basis of race, color, or gender”? Where is the Adventist judicial system to check if we are in line with our basic principles, our “constitution”?

More than Forty Years of Struggle

After more than forty years of struggling with the issue of not discriminating against women, and in particular female pastors, we face the situation that a growing number of thinking men and women in the church challenge both the logic and the current practice that is in place: female pastors do not have the same rights as their male colleagues, solely on the basis of gender.

2/3 Majority in TOSC (Theology of Ordination Study Committee)

In a democratic society, the validity of a law or practice that is challenged is not decided by a referendum or vote in the parliament. The decision is left to specialists in law interpretation based upon the available evidence. These judges are expected to put aside any additional input that is not part of the constitution and the base documents of the constitution. No cultural considerations that are not already reflected in the constitution should influence the outcome of their judgment. The closest we can come to such a system in an Adventist context with the issue of nondiscrimination toward female pastors is the Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC). With a two-thirds majority, TOSC voted in favor of leaving the matter of ordination to the Divisions.

The 2014 GC Annual Council decided to let the question be voted by the delegates at the 2015 GC Session in San Antonio. The question to be answered by yes or no vote was:

Is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry? Yes or No. [vi]

Was it traditions that had the day in San Antonio? Remember Jesus’ warning of letting traditions nullify “the commands of God.” In San Antonio there was no attempt to find out whether a “no” vote would be in conflict with the voted general principles of the Church. Instead the decision was left to the feelings and thinking of each delegate and what each felt was acceptable.

(For more information on the problematic way this was dealt with in San Antonio, see my article: Ten Reasons Why I Believe the San Antonio Vote Was Not “The Voice of God.) [vii]

The 2017 GC Annual Council

The 2017 GC Annual Council has a difficult task ahead of it when they meet this October. The Church is faced with a discrepancy between the voted basic guiding principles of the Church and the way female pastors are treated differently from their male colleagues. Jesus’ summarization of our duty toward our fellow human beings to love your neighbor as yourself is at stake. Fundamental Beliefs 14 and 17 have not been guiding the Church in its voted actions concerning female pastors. The basic principle of GC WP BA 60 05 is set aside: “The Church rejects any system or philosophy which discriminates against anyone on the basis of race, color, or gender.”

Is it possible to see the 2017 GC Annual Council vote an honest statement and admit that with the way GC Working Policy is worded, unions who employ female pastors are expected to discriminate purely on the basis of gender? Can we expect a statement admitting that the Church has not been faithful to the basic voted statements in Fundamental Beliefs 14 and 17, and Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself?

In 1936, a Norwegian poet wrote these words in a poem when he saw the dangers of the upcoming Nazism:

“You must not tolerate so well the injustice that doesn't affect you yourself!” [viii]

It is often risky to get involved when someone else is treated badly. We often hope and think that time will solve the issue. But that is often not the case. By telling the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus challenges us to get involved to defend the rights of others. The Church has voted a bold statement on non-discrimination. Is the Church willing to comply with this bold statement?

GC Annual Council 2017, defend the basic principle of non-discrimination and show that you are promoting Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself”!

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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I was unaware that the SDA denomination was a Democracy. I should also note that the 3 branches mentioned in the article are related to the American system which is not a Democracy but a Representative Republic…and yes there is a big difference. None of America’s founding fathers wanted a democracy. In fact today many socialist countries with not many of the freedoms of the USA say they are democracies. And of course even Lenin called his brand of Communism “Democratic Socialism”. In any case yes the SDA church does have a Constitution here is a link to it.

i think progress on this subject would be enhanced if more people in our church agreed that gender discrimination with respect to ordination is in fact gender discrimination…but sadly, this isn’t the case…some headship advocates point to the fact that there weren’t gender considerations when males outside of aaron weren’t allowed to serve as priests, and that excluding women from the ordained ministry somehow derives from this divinely instituted non-egalitarian guideline…others adamantly believe paul: eve was created after adam, and deceived by satan, which means all women must therefore take a back seat in everything from the home to the church to the workplace…still others hold that the gender allusions in the biblical descriptors of bishop suitability exclude women, and that ignoring these allusions opens up a hermeneutic that will eventually nullify all our core doctrines…

but the real obstacle WO advocates should probably grapple with is the fact that all headship advocates conflate male headship with husband headship, and teach some form of gender binary to sustain it…inevitably, of course, this leads to the contention that not only is WO associated with homosexuality - headship advocates tend to stress the fact that all gay advocates advocate WO - but this association exists because there is a causal relationship between ordaining women and the kind of gender confusion that is believed to be the bedrock of all things LGBT…from what i’ve seen, LGBT concerns may not be explicitly on the table when WO is being discussed, but there is little doubt that it is in the minds of those opposed to WO…i think there’s even the suspicion now that the real agenda for WO advocates is LGBT…

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Hey, GC! What part of the following verse don’t you understand?

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, There is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:28)


Would it make a difference if we understood that the command to “love your neighbour as yourself” fulfilled the old covenant law? Also, if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the Law.

Christ gave us a new commandment that puts the new covenant on a divine basis. In Christ we love one another as Christ loved us. Calvary and the resurrection of Jesus changed everything, even the law to love our neighbour as ourselves.

To love others as we love ourselves can be very self-centred and in my opinion this is the case with the male headship doctrine and the related question of the ordination of women. Should our love come from how we love ourselves or from the love that God in Christ pours into our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit? Christ laid down His life for every one of us. No exceptions and no conditions.

There is no discrimination in the way Christ loved us. Nowhere does Christ’s commission to preach the gospel discriminate on any basis.


In the Youth’s Instructor published August 18, 1886, Ellen G. White wrote words that challenge the actions that some of our political and church leaders have taken in following God’s direction for our church. She wrote it in simple and clear language without any disclaimer or qualification:
"The Bible contains the principles that lie at the foundation of all true greatness, all true prosperity, whether for the individual or the nation, The nation that gives free room for the circulation of the Scriptures opens the way for the minds of the people to develop and expand. The reading of the Scriptures causes light to shine into the darkness."
Harry Elliott, spoke for most of us when he wrote"
_Hey, GC! What part of the following verse can’t you understand? _
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, There is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:28)"

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Let’s just call it what it is on the part of male headship advocacy proponents. Strip away all of the arguments opposing WO and the real driving factor is fear. Fear of loss of power. Fear of change. Fear of whatever, but fear. Fear that exhibits not only a real inner self-hatred, but also demonstrates a real lack of faith in the Creator.

And, I guess, a fear of homosexuality. Really?

“a causal relationship between ordaining women and the kind of gender confusion that is believed to be the bedrock of all things LGBT.”

I don’t operate within the circles of male headship advocates so I’d not heard this particular nonsensical twist.

Yeah, fear.


a much more relevant question would be -“Is Adventism out of order with Scripture?”

The return to Ellen White rather than Paul is a critical move to exotic cultism. There is a critical need to return to “The Main Thing”.

Let us recall the history of Ellen White.
she got the Sabbath from Joseph Bates, but used her history in pentacostalism see the fourth commandment shining above all others. she got the Investigative ajudgement from two lads walking in a corn field, but again using her “gifts” saw Jesus move from one apartment to another. Then she use the Wesleyan Holy Club to create a lifestyle of holiness. She was quick to paraphrase leading scholars as unacknowledged source of her writings aided by a staff of editors.

now the church leadership is taking the Church back to those slight of hand theatrics.


Paul, who wrote the above also wrote:

I Cor 14:30,31 …As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission.

So does the first negate the second, and if so, how? Was Paul a discriminator? Did he favor WO in Galatia, but not in Corinth?

I think that Gal 3:28 does not really mean that all gender distinctions have been abolished, or even that fixed roles are out.

Perhaps being all “one in Christ” does not do away with all differences.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, There is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:28)

If this verse is to be used as support for having female pastors as Harry and Sam indicate above, then should we also use this verse as support for having Jewish Rabbi’s, Greek Orthodox priests, and other non-Adventist clergy such as Muslim clerics…we wouldn’t want to discriminate on the basis of religion would we? Instead the verses surrounding this verse indicate that we are all one in Christ when it comes to our eternal salvation…

But Jesus DID discriminate…he chose 12 men to be his disciples.

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Whether we call it discrimination or not the Bible does make it plain that there are levels within the church structure.the Bible tells us that the male has headship over the female that the female is subordinate to the male just as the church is subordinate to Christ and Christ is subordinate to God

Where it not for the heresy of Trinitariswm this confusion of roles would not exist.When you have three separate Gods all equal you are bound to get confusion

If SDA had not strayed from the Arianism of its founders you would not have the confusion of today

I appreciate your comment, because it provides further evidence that opposition to women’s ordination is inextricably linked to anti-Trinitarianism. If you are an opponent of women’s ordination, you are consciously or more probably subconsciously and unwittingly an anti-Trinitarian. No one should be surprised that we have witnessed an escalation of anti-Trinitarianism in the Seventh-day Adventist Church during Ted Wilson’s presidency.

This passage of Jesus used above should not be used for justifying support for WO; instead it should be a clear passage against the practice:

"You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, Honor your father and your mother, and, Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death. But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

All through the Bible, NT and OT, at least I believe so, only men were ordained to preach: Jesus ordained 12 men and Paul explicitly speaks against WO. Although the Bible says we are all priests, it also suggests that only men should be ordained. As reflected in the last big vote, the World body agrees. Therefore, it is my understanding that Jesus’ words above about the Pharisees when compared to this current WO debate should not be twisted to apply to those in non-support of WO, but instead they should be pointed toward those in support of it, since ordaining women for these positions is becoming the common tradition of modern secularized churches and clearly sets aside the commandments of God. This does not mean we don’t love our church women as we love our church men. It just means we ordain our leaders as instructed. And heaven help us if we soon begin to follow most of the main-line Sunday churches by allowing gay clergy to lead our fold. Don’t twist Christ’s words or I for one will leave this fold for another group. You see for me, as an agriculture professional, it’s simple: you can have unity as long as the branch and vine are compatible. The Branch (who is the species called Truth) never changes, the vines that are of the same species can be grafted successfully to the Branch but those vines not of Truth will be cast in the fire. Please don’t allow our church to begin to teach that right is wrong and wrong is right. Jesus also speaks clearly against this practice too.

The problem of Women’s Ordination is not a problem with non-compliance with the policy of non-discrimination.

It is far simpler. In fact, there is no Women’s Ordination problem per se.

Directly and straightforwardly, the problem is the Decalogue is not understood and followed. In addition, many Adventist leaders are in direct violation of The Decalogue. I will not name names, but you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to make your own list.

There is a great deal more than this to the Decalogue that is not understood. However, understanding this is the first step.

From The Decalogue, respect is mandatory. No deviance allowed. No passes given to anyone. This is God’s character.

God’s character is not up for vote. If someone quotes or makes reference to the 3 votes taken by the General Conference in session, I simply say - blasphemy. God is the I AM. God does not tolerate blasphemy. NOT UP FOR VOTE.

If you are tempted to say I am wrong, you have not read my article on respect is mandatory from The Law. Maybe I will publish it. Maybe not. Almost all who have read it are in full agreement. It is simple to read. The logic is flawless. The conclusions are almost always accepted by the readers. The exceptions are those that see they are being called sinners.

What can I say? Facts are facts. Physics is physics. You never break the law of gravity. You validate it when you jump from the Empire State building by the grease spot on the New York sidewalk that used to be you.

Is possible that God’s Law the same way? Is it possible that God’s Law is like physics, gravity?