Perspective: Is Women's Ordination Satanic Deception or God's Plan A?


(system) #1

I’m going to stick my neck out regarding a polarizing issue in the church: women’s ordination.

It’s become especially crucial to speak about this now with an important vote to be taken at the upcoming General Conference Session in 2015. Ever since I started researching the issue a few years ago, I’ve become increasingly drawn to one side. I’d like to share my thought process.

First, a few points I believe should be kept in mind. Whenever we are discussing contentious issues like this, it is beneficial to:

  • Learn how to discuss the issues without anger/excessive emotion
  • Accept the fact that we approach Scripture with differing presuppositions
  • Recognize that none of us has all the answers

That said, here is how I think about this issue.

Since early in Scripture, God has had a priesthood.

Historically, priests were those whose office it was to perform religious rites, and especially to make sacrificial offerings. In Christianity, that function takes one of two forms:

  • Person ordained to the sacerdotal or pastoral office; a member of the clergy; minister.
  • (In hierarchical churches) A member of the clergy of the order next below that of bishop, authorized to carry out the Christian ministry.

The earliest mentions of priests in Scripture were Melchizediek (Genesis 14:17-19) and Jethro (Exodus 2:15-17). The two priests came from vastly different backgrounds. The first was a mysterious king who also served Abram as a priest. The other was a farmer who became Moses’ father-in-law and also served as a priest.

There are a few characteristics I note about these two priests:

  • They served full-time but also had side jobs.
  • They were at opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum
  • Both served God’s leaders before they (God’s leaders, i.e. Abram and Moses) fully realized their own calling.
  • They were priests before the establishment of the covenant at Sinai.

God’s original plan to reach the world was to have a Nation of Priests.

Oftentimes, the Levitical priesthood (The first, established priestly lineage in Israel) has been referenced as the pattern for how pastoral ministry began and should operate today. But, many people overlook the fact that the Levites were, in fact, not God’s plan A. Exodus 19:5-6 indicates God’s first intention: “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”God’s Plan A was for everyone to be a priest--man, woman, and child. Everyone was called to know the Lord and to minister. The only problem with this plan, as with all of God’s plans, is people.

Because of the people’s rebellion, instead of a Nation of Priests, God had to settle for priests in a nation. Plan B.

Though the assembly promised to do as God required (Exodus 19:7-8), and even though God gave the people instructions for the Sinai theophany (later part of Exodus 19), The people refused to go near to God. They remained at a distance, afraid, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. The people insisted on a mediator between themselves and God.

The same problem manifested itself in Exodus 34, when the people wanted to make an idol because they thought a god they could see was better than a God they could not see. When Moses came down and called the people to arms, only the Levites responded (Exodus 32:25-29).

So again, instead of a Nation of Priests, God had to settle for priests in a nation (and not even all the Levites; the priesthood was relegated primarily to the Aaronic lineage). The very model that people point to as a basis for the non-ordination of women is a faulty model based on the human rejection of God’s plan; it was the byproduct of a rebellion, not a mandate from God.

So the Old Testament priesthood is not the ideal model for ministry in today’s world (especially because we believe in the priesthood of all believers). To which plan was the Apostle Peter referring in 1 Peter 2:9: God’s plan A or God’s plan B?

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

The formalities and perks that come with ordination--my being called “Elder Fernandez” instead of “Pastor Nelson,” as I’m currently called; salary increases; the perception that I am somehow closer to God--are found nowhere in Scripture. They are man-made perks that make people feel good about having a select group doing “the work of ministry,” instead of everyone’s direct engagement in ministry, allowing the Holy Spirit decide who gets what gift. Spiritual gifts include the gift of pastoring and neither the gifts nor the fruits of the Spirit are gender-specific. Furthermore, I cannot accept the idea that because Jesus didn’t explicitly have female disciples that it means only men can be prominent leaders in His church. If we follow that logic, we should also exclude slaves, freed slaves, Gentiles, or people of color.

Perceptions of women throughout history

The recent action at Annual Council that asks the World Church to vote on whether divisions should be allowed to decide the ordination issue locally has elicited some hard campaigning against this idea. This campaigning has led to some spectacular facepalm comments like this:

“Oh the deception! Can you imagine what will happen next? Our Church is wasting God’s money with women’s ordination. Common sense alone will tell you that God did not ordain women. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a professor of theology to know that God has a standard. Think! What will happen when someone has to be baptized and the woman pastor is on her period. Think! Next they will have to accept gays as ministers.”

That quote speaks for itself. I’m not sure where people come up with these things, but I can say that it’s not from Scripture. However, there is a precedent for this type of put-down of women throughout the centuries by church leaders.

The comment above sounds closer to early Catholicism than early Adventism. Consider the following pronouncements:

Synod of Paris (829 AD)

“In some provinces it happens that women press around the altar, touch the holy vessels, hand the clerics the priestly vestments, indeed even dispense the body and blood of the Lord to the people. This is shameful and must not take place. . . No doubt such customs have arisen because of the carelessness and negligence of the bishops.”

But it gets worse. Here is a sprinkling of some of the best of the worst comments about women from Church leaders throughout history:

Tertullian (3rd century)

“And do you not know that you are each an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil’s gateway; you are the unsealer of that forbidden tree; you are the first deserter of the divine law; you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert – that is, death – even the Son of God had to die. And do you think about adorning yourself over and above your tunics of skins.”

Aphrahat (4th century)

“From the beginning it was through woman that the adversary had access unto males. . . . for she is the weapon of Satan. . . For because of her the curse of the

Law was established.”

Basil of Cesarea (4th century)

“However hard, however fierce a husband may be, the wife ought to bear with him. . . . He strikes you, but he is your husband. . . . He is brutal and cross, but he is henceforth one of your members, and the most precious of all.”

Augustine (4th century)

Male – the mind

Female – the sexual nature

Papal decretum (1140 AD)

“The image of God is in man in such a way that there is only one Lord, the origin of all others, having the power of God as God’s vicar, for everything is in God’s image; and thus woman is not made in God’s image.”

Compare those statements with the following quote from Patriarchs and Prophets (by a prominent woman leader of the early Adventist Church):

“Eve was created from a rib taken from the side of Adam, signifying that she was not to control him as the head, nor to be trampled under his feet as an inferior, but to stand by his side as an equal, to be loved and protected by him” (46).

I believe that all people, men and women, may receive ordination as an affirmation of the call of God.

There are intelligent people on both sides of the debate and I don’t doubt their sincerity. What troubles me is that currently, I’ve seen fear mongering, conspiracy theories, and incredible leaps in logic to argue against ordaining women to pastoral ministry. If everyone is called to be a priest (instead of only a select few who have the gift of pastoring), then the importance we give ordination today is really a moot point, anyway.

On a cultural note, many of the divisions around the world that speak most strongly against women clergy tend to view and/or treat women less favorably. I’m Hispanic, so I’ll pick on myself as an example.

A recent Gallup Poll found that Latin Americans (where a large chunk of the world church resides) were “least likely in the world in 2012 and 2013 to say women in their countries are treated with respect and dignity.” I wonder how many votes will be cast based on what some prominent preachers say, backed up by the cultural “machista” perception?

If another part of the world isn’t ready for women pastors yet, I can understand. However, I also contend that it’s wrong for another culture to impose its expectations or norms on the rest, any more than those in North America would expect other parts of the world to start wearing wedding bands just because we do. Contextualized ministry for the sake of the Gospel is what it’s all about.

I don’t know what to expect from now until the official vote next year. What I do believe is that God is still in control of His church. Every day, I am convicted even more that we need to go back to God’s “plan A” where we will be a NATION of priests and not leave the decision of who should or shouldn’t be in pastoral ministry to gender, but rather, the Holy Spirit. The decision of who to call into ministry is after all, as my friend Kessia says, not our right, but God’s.

Nelson Fernandez Jr. serves as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor in a bilingual and multicultural church district in the Carolina Conference. A longer version of this article originally appeared on pastornelsonsblog.com. It is reprinted here by permission.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6354

(Phillip Brantley) #2

Seventh-day Adventist male headship theorists assert that they believe that women are created in the image of God. But if you ask those same male headship theorists to provide their interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve, this is what they say: Women are assigned a sphere that exists between the sphere of men and the sphere of animals. Women are endowed by God with characteristics so inferior to the characteristics placed in men that women are incapable of differentiating between right and wrong without the leadership and protection of men. The reason Eve was deceived is because she aspired to a higher sphere (the sphere of Adam), wandered from her husband’s side, and thought she could match wits with the serpent without the leadership and protection of Adam. The story of Adam and Eve teaches that the only way women can do what is right and attain eternal salvation is if men exercise headship authority. Because ordination functions as a gatekeeping mechanism to protect the church from false teachings, women cannot be ordained because they cannot, without the mediation of men, differentiate right from wrong. As Eve without the leadership and protection of Adam imperiled the human race, ordained women would imperil the church.

Given the detailed, intricate, and paradigmatic interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve offered by Seventh-day Adventist male headship theorists, we cannot accept at face value bald and self-serving assertions to the contrary. We do the writings of Clinton Wahlen, Edwin Reynolds, Doug Batchelor, Stephen Bohr, C. Raymond Holmes, P. Gerard Damsteegt, John W. Peters, and the late Samuele Bacchiocchi a serious injustice if we avert our eyes and ignore what those writings in all their comprehensiveness teach: women are not created in the image of God.


(Tim Teichman) #3

It’s an odd argument for the headship people to make.

If you actually read Genesis 1 (I know it can be a lot to ask), it says:

26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number."

So, a plural God, “us” and “our”, created a similarly plural humankind, male and female, and then his first following act was to address “them” and tell them to procreate.

This seems rather inclusive to me.

And I still want to know who Eve’s sons married, and if the state recognized that marriage. LOL.


(jeremy) #4

somehow i knew any article on wo on spectrum would be pro-wo…it was just a random hunch when i started reading this article :wink:


#5

Yep! Depends where you go to do your reading up. One side will (always) argue one way, while the other, the other way. And no holding back punches either :facepunch:


(Elmer Cupino) #6

Should any of you decide to have lunch out of home, I would suggest going to Chipotle. They have this “two-minute” stories on their bags and cups. Today was my “golf-day” (I don’t play golf), so after rounds my wife took me to Chipotle on our way to Barnes & Nobles. Lunch was good but the story on my cup was better. Let me share you the story.

TWO-MINUTE BARN-RAISING by MALCOLM GLADWELL

I grew up in Canada, in an area of Ontario where there is a large community of Old-Order Mennonites. “Old Orders,” as they are known, are a religious group who live as if the 20th century never happened. They avoid electricity, drive horses and buggies, leave school at 16, and bale hay by hand. They dress in plain black and white, with straw hats over clean-shaven faces, and when a neighbor’s barn burns down, they gather as a community to put it back up. When I was little, not long after we moved to Ontario, my father heard about a barn-raising down the road. He decided to join in.

If people of different colors and creeds are to get along, we think we need to practice approval and agreement and acceptance.

My father is an Englishman, a mathematician with a long bushy beard. He drove an imported Peugeot station wagon. He wore a tie — always. We were skinny book-worms, in knee-socks and ironed short-sleeved shirts. You can imagine what I thought, on the way to the barn-raising: How on earth would a group of Old Orders accept us? This is what we always worry about, of course. If people of different colors and creeds are to get along, we think we need to practice approval and agreement and acceptance. But my father didn’t accept the Mennonite way of life that day. Nor did the Old Orders come to some kind of epiphany about the virtues of European cars, and electricity and advanced degrees in mathematics. There was a barn to raise, and so long as there was work to be done, it didn’t much matter that reading Narnia books in the car, belonged to one century and the rest of the crew to another.

The world could use more of that attitude, couldn’t it? My father joined the line of men passing lumber to the workers on the roof. Midway through the day, they fed us all bologna sandwiches and mounds of sauerkraut. And in the evening, when the last nail was hammered in, we got into our Peugeot and drove away.


(Jared Wright) #7

Vandieman, we accept submissions. If you want to make the case, the inbox is always open. :slight_smile:


(Steve Mga) #8

Tony!
Great Pic!!!
Thanks for posting!!


(jeremy) #9

maybe on another subject, lol…i wouldn’t be a good advocate for male headship since i don’t believe in it…


(jeremy) #10

great cartoon, tony…


(Steve Mga) #11

In SA2015 there will be 10,800,000 women, 60% percent of the 18,000,000 members, who will be told that because they were born with the wrong hormones [Estrogen instead of Testosterone — all babies start out as female presentation] they are Rejects by God, and not fit to be Ambassadors for God to the World.

Just a handful of MEN control the Eternal Destinies of 10,800,000 Women the world over.


(Elmer Cupino) #12

You know why men act the way they do? Research now have isolated the “active ingredients” of testosterone: 30% viagra, 30% PCP, 40% Miller Lite (or at least the effects are consistent with this potion).

60% of our church are females?
@GeorgeTichy


(Elmer Cupino) #13

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother[a] will be liable to judgment; whoever insults[b] his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell[c] of fire." - Matthew 5:21-22

Sibling rivalry is cloaked in different shades but nothing as dangerous as when is it is disguised in religious terms.

@potsy4u
@GeorgeTichy


#14

lol I was trying to fugue out why you sent me this post. But then it occurred to me. Must of been my picture.

And how true it is what you say. For some reason, where able to hurt those that are closest to us the most, sometimes without even trying. Maybe its because we know so much about each other, it makes it easier to do so. I heard this lawyer once say that the most viscous trials his had to deal with, are those between family, especially divorces. People will send themselves into bankruptcy if need be, just to get back at their ex wife/husband.

And by the way, I dont think its anything like that, not even in the same ballpark when it comes to Spectrum and ADvindicate. Healthy and challenging arguments are good. Plus I like going to all sorts of places for my information. Christian or not :sunny:


(Tom Loop) #15

For years i have ignored this subject. I sort of went from neutral, toward opposed, then back to neutral, then wobbled, but no more. It took reading this link to push me over to come down solidly for the ordination fo woman.

http://www.alaskaconference.org/assets/193199

Think about it for a minute. God passed over two reluctant men to chose a woman to be His messenger to Adventism, over 70 years before women even had the right to vote in this country. Read some of Ellen White’s comments on this link about the need for women pastors. Also note how fundamentalism highjacked the Adventist church.

At one time the SDA church was a pioneer. Now we are foot draggers.
TW should prepare to meet his Waterloo at the Alamo in SA next year. Perhaps ity is time to make a woman GC Prez on the 100 anniversary of the death of EGW. Certainly a woman could do a better job than the current crew. but that might be too much too soon. How about 2020, on the hundredth anniversary of women’s sufferage. How’s this for a slogan,
“the hand that rocks the cradle can run the church.”


(John Wallace) #16

GOLF = Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden
We forget it’s St Andrews origins.
Perhaps golf is just like women’s ordination . . .


#17

Or perhaps men just like to hang out with men sometimes and women with women.


(Djmush1000) #18

I think that is a dishonest and unfair characterization of male headship proponents. All of them believe in ontological equality and not interchangeability of functions or roles. I respect your view but if your are going to argue against at least get your facts right.


(John Wallace) #19

I think women’s ordination is a satanic distraction for the General Conference Session next year. There is a much more fundamental issue plaguing our beloved SDA Church: Sunday-keeping by Church members in several Pacific Island nations right under the noses of General Conference leaders who refuse to discuss it. Sadly, Seventh-day Adventists have always officially kept Sunday in Tonga, because of a misunderstanding by our pioneer missionaries, but the practice has spread to Samoa, Tokelau, Wallis & Futuna, and the Phoenix & Line Islands of Kiribati.

An attempt was made earlier this year by a Church in New Zealand to have the issue clarified at GC Session 2015. The local Conference supported the submission going forward to Union and GC Session but the Union executive stopped it going further by claiming that the correct place to address it is the Biblical Research Committee of the South Pacific Division (so much for due process).

The BRC consists of theologians who, after much study, recommended Sunday-keeping to the Samoas-Tokelau Mission Church members in 2011 because their government realigned the nation’s position in relation to the international dateline. So are these scholars really qualified to make a recommendation on the question of women’s ordination? The Sabbath is a fundamental doctrine which directly affects the mission of the Church. Will anyone be converted to the SDA faith by women’s ordination? If so its the wrong reason. Will Seventh-day Adventists keeping Sunday affect anyone’s conversion to our faith? Definitely, our evangelism has been neutered!

Sadly the “big” issue at GC Session (a perceived injustice against women) is a perfect distraction from a genuine injustice (Saturday Sabbath-keepers in Samoa have been marginalized and threatened with ex-communication for keeping Saturday) which won’t be discussed there unless perhaps SPD arrive asking for a dispensation in the new Church Manual to allow for Sunday-keeping in its region.

I have never seen anything that so clearly fulfills our depiction as Laodicea. We officially keep both Saturday and Sunday, depending where you live. Now, I predict, we are officially going to ordain women or not, depending where you live.

God help us!


(Tom Loop) #20

A Satanic deception huh? I think you are still caught in what I call the Sunday Law syndrome. Like too many SDA you remain perched atop a pole, with binoculars, scanning the horizon looking for that dreaded Sunday Law.
Come on down friend and read this:

http://www.alaskaconference.org/assets/193199

(Please do not link to this anymore. Discourse has alerted us because it thinks you are a spammer. - website editor)

Me thinks your dog has caught the wrong scent and is barking up the wrong tree.