Perspective: The Challenges of Africa and the Ordination of Women


(Spectrumbot) #1

The question of ordaining women to pastoral ministry (or even as local church elders) is deeply embedded in how we view the broader issue of women in society and in Christian ministry. In which church ministries are women “permitted” to engage, and which ministries are reserved only for men? The answer to this crucial question is often based on one’s understanding of the God-assigned genders roles and whether one can perform the roles presumed to be assigned to the opposite gender. However, it is a fact that no one approaches such questions from an absolutely neutral perspective i.e. we do not approach it “tabula rasa," i.e. as clean slates. We are often tainted by our own culture and socialisation.

Caleb Rosado deals with this issue in his paper “How Culture Influences Our Reading of Scripture,” [first published in Spectrum, Vol. 25:2, Dec. 1995, revised and published in the Journal of Southern African Adventism (JOSA Vol.1 No.2) in Oct. 2012]. Rosado says,

While we may come to God’s Word as sincere seekers, we do not come alone. We come with all the sociocultural baggage that imperceptibly is ours. Within this baggage are the various cultural influences or social maps in our lives that give direction to our beliefs and guide our behaviour. These include our culture, our gender, our race/ethnicity, our socioeconomic status, and most importantly, the way we have been socialized to see the world, each other, the opposite gender, and even the Word of God."

These “social maps” influence the spiritual and social routes we take, the heavenly and human “sights” we see along the way in our life course. These maps or “value systems” shape all our attitudes and actions, for they serve as “a pre-theoretical framework for the development of a worldview, a set of priorities, a paradigm, and a mind-set. They serve as a ‘structural scaffold’ for deep-level thinking at the bottom-line— the threshold of no negotiation. In fact, we cannot act with integrity outside of these value systems as they shape the way we see. We cannot maintain wholeness if we talk and walk differently than we see and our level of consciousness. And our attitude about others and our behaviour toward them has to be congruent with this level of consciousness and the way we see others, and the way we view life, God and His Word.”

African Society and the Role of Women It follows that Africans' understanding of the role of women in ministry cannot be developed outside their sociocultural understanding and beliefs on the role distinctions between the genders. Before this is discussed further, it is important to highlight two important issues.

First, there is no single or uniform African culture just as there is no single or uniform European culture. There are indeed some common and similar traits evident across Africa but there are some vast differences between the different cultural groups as to be expected in a continent made up of 54 independent countries, with a population of about 1 billion people, with over 3,000 ethnic groups and speaking over 2,000 different languages.

Second, the fact that we bring sociocultural baggage as we approach Scripture does not minimize or trivialise in any way the work of the Holy Spirit to illuminate our minds and reveal truth to us. Neither does this diminish our sincerity in seeking to understand and obey God’s truth concerning this or any other matter. It is however still generally true that men and boys in Africa tend to play the public and more visible leadership roles both in the family and the community at large. Girls and women generally tend fill less visible roles, or roles of a less public, leadership nature. This is not just an African phenomenon because it exists, to an extent, in almost every culture of the world. The United States, for example, has never had a female president or vice president since its independence in 1776, and Switzerland, lying in the heart of Europe, only introduced women's suffrage at the federal level for the first time in February 1971.

In general, girls have only recently begun to have equal opportunities to boys in terms of access to education and the professions or careers they can pursue.

When I began my university studies in Africa in the mid-1980s, I was shocked to find that there was a female student in the School of Engineering. She was the only female out of about 400 engineering students. I had grown up believing that Engineering was a domain only for men. With times, things have been changing and we have seen many young African females entering areas previously considered male domains. I work for a global organisation involved in mining operations, and we are seeing more and more women in mining (even in Africa). We have women working in underground mining and some of them even drive and operate huge mining equipment.

Principle, Policy and Practice There are three broad categories into which an issue in the Seventh-day Adventist church can be located. I consider these the 3 Ps, namely: Principle, Policy or Practice.

An issue of principle is one which is directly connected to the theology or fundamental belief of the community of faith, for example, the true and biblical Sabbath. This matter is settled directly from the Bible, which is God’s revelation to humanity and there is no compromise on the church’s position on such a matter.

Policy is a deliberate system of principles to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes. Policies are there to ensure the smooth and effective functioning of the church in its mission. Policy however should not compromise principle. An example would be the fact that the church needs money for evangelism, but the fundraising methods should not compromise principle (e.g. we can’t run liquor stores to raise money since that would go against our principle).

Practice is often a matter of pragmatism and sometimes just convenience. An example would be the origin of 9.30am as starting time for Sabbath School, which is common in many Adventist congregations. It is neither a biblical principle nor a policy matter. Since it is a matter of practice there are some places where Sabbath School starts at 8.30am or 10am, depending on the local and prevailing conditions.

The world-wide Seventh-day Adventist church considers a General Conference Session or a General Conference Executive Committee meeting as the forum where decisions are made on whether an issue is Principle, Policy or Practice. The lower level structures (i.e. Union Conference, Local Conference or Local Church) have no authority to make a determination under which “P” a matter falls. Although the differences between matters of principle or policy or practice might appear simple and straightforward on the surface, they can be complex and be reason for controversy among church members. Since Adventists believe in a holistic view of life, a matter that might appear to be simply an issue of practice can often be viewed by some through the theological (principle) lenses and sometimes these “theological lenses” are not appropriately used.

A matter such wether or not a man must wear a coat and a tie when preaching on Sabbath could be seen as a matter of practice. But there are Adventist churches where one cannot preach without wearing a jacket and a tie. This has been elevated by some to a matter of principle and they try to argue from Scripture (rightly or wrongly) why it is so. Therefore some matters that would clearly be questions of practice get elevated and viewed as matters of principle without a solid biblical foundation. In the same vein there are some aspects around the roles women can play in ministry and in the life of a church which become issues of controversy because different people place them in different categories. These fundamental disagreements reflect themselves in the conversations around the ordination of female elders and pastors.

Women in the Adventist Church in Africa The question of what roles women can perform in the church was rarely debated in African congregations a few decades ago. It was often assumed that the answers were very clear and biblical. Even the majority of African women themselves never asked the questions. Asking the questions would have been seen as challenging the status quo and the biblically defined order. The classical roles of women in the African church have usually been in the Dorcas Society (and Adventist Women’s Ministries), as Sabbath School superintendents, in Children’s Ministries or as Deaconesses. There were hardly any females, for example, teaching adult Sabbath School classes made up of male and female participants since the teaching function would have been perceived a male responsibility. And some attempted to justify this by using 1 Timothy 2:12 “And I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over man . . .”

Women rarely, if at all, formed part of the platform or pulpit team during the Sabbath 11 o’clock worship (divine service). In general they were not requested to offer the “pastoral prayer” from the pulpit on Sabbath or lead out in the offertory section of the service or preach the Sabbath sermon. The entire party on the pulpit during the Sabbath 11 o’clock service was, and is still in many places, always made up of men. This is often still the case, in spite of the fact that, on average females comprise over 60% of those in attendance on Sabbath. Again, this is not unique to Africa, but was and still is also prevalent in many other cultural settings of the world.

Female Pastors and Elders in the Southern Africa Indian Ocean Division The Southern Africa Indian Ocean Division (SID) is made up of 9 Union Conferences and has an Adventist population of about 3.1 million baptised members worshipping in approximately 9,200 local congregations. The total population of the geographical territory of the SID is about 176 million. That is a ratio of about 1 Adventist for every 57 non-Adventists. It is one of the fastest growing of all 13 world divisions of the Adventist church. The SID administration has the detailed breakdown on the total number and distributions of ministers serving in the division as a well as number of female ministers. It is however evident that the number of females serving as frontline ministers or church administrators (e.g. conference departmental leaders) is very small. There are also some women who have gone through theology or pastoral training in the Adventist institutions (e.g. at Helderberg College, South Africa or Solusi University, Zimbabwe) but for various reasons never served as pastors or served briefly and then left. The reasons for their departure from pastoral ministry are varied but the most obvious one would be the general challenges a female would face e.g. no path to ordination, not getting the full respect of some congregations and members etc. According to the General Conference Yearbook, one of the Union Conferences in the SID is the Southern Africa Union Conference (SAUC). The SAUC has 7 Local Conferences and in 2012 it had 181 ordained ministers and 119 licensed ministers (i.e. a total of 300 ministers). It is very likely that this number has not changed significantly in the last three years.

A recent (2015) survey indicates that there is a combined total of about 10 female ministers and 3 female officials (mostly chief financial officers) in all the local conferences of the SAUC. In addition to that, those conferences that have a stand-alone AWM department would of course have females as departmental directors (and these are not necessarily ministers). Although these are estimates, they reflect accurately the orders of magnitude in the SAUC, indicating that of all ministers in the Union Conference only about 3% are female. Without having to determine the exact figures from the other 8 Union Conferences of the SID, it is evident that this picture is similar across the SID. The GC Annual Council in 1974 resolved that women may be ordained as elders, and in November 1993 the SAUC Executive Committee voted to affirm the accepted practice that lay female elders may be ordained but church boards and business meetings be consulted in the process. There are indeed some local churches that have been appointing and ordaining female elders, while there are others which do not. It is estimated that females form between 10-15% of all ordained elders currently serving in the churches of the SID.

The Ordination of Female Church Officers Historically the Adventist church has only ordained males as pastors, elders or deacons. Female church officers were not ordained although there is evidence that there were some ordination of deaconesses in the Adventist church around 1895. As already indicated, the GC Executive Committee took a decision in 1974 that female local elders may be ordained. Although the question of the ordination of female pastors appears to have first come up at the General Conference 1881 Session, the GC 1990 Session resolved that female pastors not be ordained. The GC 1995 Session rejected the request from the NAD to allow individual divisions to decide on the matter. Although the NAD proposal was specifically about permitting each division to decide (and not for session to vote to ordain female pastors), many saw its rejection as a general rejection of the ordination of female pastors. However the General Conference Session in 2010 resolved to establish the Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC) and requested the world divisions to conduct studies on the matter and feed into the TOSC process. This was a golden opportunity presented to the world church family to make a contribution to the process which in the past had often been viewed as a North American and European process.

It would have been of great benefit and more value would have been derived from the process if each Division’s Biblical Research Council (BRC) had called on all its Union Conference to also conduct their own studies to feed into the Divisions’ BRC. Union Conferences would have called on Local Conferences and they in turn would have called on Local Churches to do the same. Of course not all local churches would have participated, but those who wanted to would have had an opportunity to do so.

In the SID, a conservative estimate could probably have resulted in 2 000 of the 9 200 churches actively participating in the study and this input would have been considered for the final SID report to TOSC. Although not every submission would have been an academic output par excellence based on a solid theological and scholarly footing, the process of conducting a study in the local church would have been immensely valuable. This study might not have resolved the initial question on the ordination of female pastors, but it would have inevitably dealt with the many underlying issues such as: What is ordination? What do we believe to be the roles women can perform in the church? What is the basis of our position? Why don’t we ordain women? Should we ordain deaconesses? If the Adventist church permits ordained female elders, why don’t we have any in our local church? Why don’t we have females preaching in our church on Sabbath at 11 O’clock?

The local churches would have had a platform and opportunity to interrogate their own beliefs, assumptions, traditions and practices on the roles of women in the church and in ministry.

Since the process leading up to the SID position at the TOSC did not, in my opinion, include a wide representation or broad spectrum of the division constituency, it is difficult to determine how representative that opinion is. Although some aspects of the SID position would indeed correlate with that of the majority of the 3.1 million members, it is very likely that there is a considerable section of the membership that has a different view on other aspects of the SID submission. The only way to determine this would be to take the SID position through an interrogation process by the general constituency. This would be important and necessary even after the GC 2015 Session, however the session decides on the matter.

Dealing with the Main Issue It is evident that individuals and churches which accept that some of the perceptions held and restrictions placed on what roles women can perform in the church are not biblically founded but rather come from tradition and sociocultural practice (e.g. women not permitted on the pulpit or not preaching on Sabbath) are more willing to allow women to perform a broader range of roles in the church. The question of women preaching during Sabbath divine service is contentious in some Adventist churches in Africa although the Adventist church has always had women preaching, even at camp meetings. Ellen White used to preach very often and even at General Conference sessions. The opposition to women preachers even leads to some “weird” situations where it would not be surprising to find men preaching even on Sabbaths that are dedicated to Women’s Ministries. There are even cases where men preach at Women’s Conventions, although there are definitely women that could have been identified and invited to preach.

The challenge of the Adventist church in Africa is not primarily about whether females can serve as ordained pastors or elders or not, but rather about the question of what women can and cannot do in church. There is a clear connection between this fundamental question and the position one holds concerning women ordination. Churches that allow female preachers on Sabbaths or women to perform leadership roles in the church services are more likely to accept female elders and pastors as well as their ordination. But those churches that believe that when women do any presentation in church on Sabbath, they should only do it during Sabbath school and from the table or podium that is physically placed at a lower level than the pulpit used for the 11 o’clock service are less likely to appoint female elders or accept female pastors. That is the issue that needs to be dealt with in Africa and that is what the recent world-wide ordination conversation would have helped resolve if there had been a broader consultation within the Adventist churches in Africa.

As the Church Goes to GC Session 2015 As we go to the General Conference Session 2015 in San Antonio it is unlikely anyone goes there tabula rasa. Most minds are likely to have been made up, but God is certainly able to change people’s understanding and minds for His purpose. My prayer and desire for the 2015 GC Session is that the church votes to allow regions (world divisions) to make decisions on the question of ordaining female pastors based on their specific context and conditions, to ensure that the church in the regions becomes more effective and relevant in mission—i.e., vote YES to the proposal from GC Annual Council 2014.

Second, I pray that no matter the vote outcome we will remain united as a church in our mission. What unites us is much bigger and more important than what separates us.

Third, I wish that we still come back and encourage churches and members to engage in ongoing studies on many issues facing the church. Adventists have always made decisions based on biblical grounds and it is unfortunate if some might have made up their minds on the question of women ordination without looking at the biblical evidence or by only considering the evidence that suits their pre-conceptions.

Fourth, I pray that we have learnt from this process, that there might be some issues we face as a church where there is not necessarily a right or wrong, correct or incorrect, black or white answer. It would therefore serve us well if we were to heed the advice from one of our pioneers, James White, who in the 1860s said “All means which, according to sound judgement, will advance the cause of truth, and are not forbidden by plain scripture declarations, should be employed.”

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Alvin Masarira PhD, is originally from Zimbabwe and is a Senior Structural Engineer for a global mining company based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since attending the 1995 General Conference Session in Utrecht, he has been an active participant in the conversations within the world-wide Adventist church on the ordination of female pastors and elders. He has also completed the Global Partnerships “Tent Makers” training on cross-cultural ministry at the Institute of World Missions, Andrews University (USA) and currently serves as an ordained elder in his local Adventist congregation in South Africa.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6694

(Kade Wilkinson) #2

Sound advice. So the pertinent questions are:

  1. Will, according to sound judgement, ordaining women advance the cause of truth?
  2. Is ordaining women forbidden by “plain scripture declarations”?

On question one, the answer depends on to whom one looks to for sound judgement. It seems, from what I have read, that the majority of SDA theologians–particularly in North America and the West–feel and testify that such action would advance the cause of truth. On the other side, it appears that the majority of respected church leaders throughout history felt and testified that such action would not advance the cause of truth. Which group is more likely to offer sound judgement?

On question two, it depends on what one considers a “plain scripture declaration.” For example, Mr. Masarira writes:

Clearly, his language indicates that Mr. Masarira does not consider this a “plain scripture declaration,” which raises the question of what he would consider a “plain scripture declaration.” In other words, what would it take for this verse to be a “plain scripture declaration” against women teaching men in a church setting? Until he tells us what must be added to make this a “plain scripture declaration,” we cannot be sure of what–in his definition–a “plain scripture declaration” is. And if we cannot define a “plain scripture declaration” how can we tell whether or not a plan of action is “forbidden by plain scripture declaration?”


(Elaine Nelson) #3

The structure of the Adventist organization appears to be very centralized. All decisions affecting the three “P’s” nearly always originate with the G.C. Certainly, policy and principle, but also largely, practices. This leaves the local church subject to “grave consequences” if it veers from what has not been previously approved by the G.C. This hampers innovation that should be decided locally because of the extreme disparity in the world’s congregations as well as customs.

Until there is less stringent central control, the congregations will be deterred from implementing what is best needed for the locality as will as members


(Kim Green) #4

Thank-you for such a concise and clear article on this topic! Very balanced in its approach and explained in detail why we all come with our own “baggage”.


(jeremy) #5

great article, alvin…very thorough…


(k_Lutz) #6

“Bill C., we have missed you!”


(Marianne Faust) #7

Kade, in our church, this text has never been interpreted the way you seem to suggest, since EGW was a women. Reading something out of context doesn’t equal “plain scripture declaration”.


(Tongkam) #8

It occurs to me that if Mrs. White somehow breaks scripture, we must not have understood her correctly, for certainly scripture is reliable.

It occurs to me that perhaps, just perhaps, being asked by God to share messages with His people is not the same as being ordained by the church elders to a position of eldership, and perhaps being a messenger is not the same as being the Authority or Teacher behind the message.


(Alvin Masarira) #9

The Adventist church in session or at GC Excom never voted that we won’t ordain women (as pastors) because it is against Scripture. The reason has always been “we have never done it before” or “it will cause disunity in the church”. There is no “thus saith the Lord” to back up the current situation. Even the TOSC report to GC 2015 acknowledges that there is no clear biblical prohibition. What do we don in such a situation?


(Peter Marks) #10

Alvin,

Thanks for an excellent contribution to ongoing discussion about ordination. It’s a great thing to begin hearing voices from the global south concerning this issue.

I particularly like your idea that the TOSC process could have been conducted at Union, Conference and local congregational levels. I like your list of questions to which local churches could have given their attention.

  1. What is ordination?
  2. What do we believe are the roles women can perform in the congregation?
  3. What is the basis for our position?
  4. Why don’t we ordain women?
  5. Should we ordain deaconesses?
  6. If the Adventist church permits ordained female elders, why don’t we have any in our local church?
  7. Why don’t we have females preaching in our church on Sabbath morning at 11 oçlock.

As you say,

In the South Pacific Division, there is an agreement in place directing that there will be no public discussion of issues of ordination. Even coverage of the issues has been severely curtailed in our Division news magazine.

As you have said, it is time for Adventists on a global scale to have an input into such issues!

You assert that

How much truth is there in the thought that many African delegates to the GC Session will vote the way the Union and Division leadership indicate?


(Shining) #11

…Priscilla,


(Shining) #12

teacher 1. a person who teaches or instructs

the authority or teacher behind all messages from God is God, whether the conduit was Paul or Ellen. Both were authoritative teachers because both were given messages from God which they shared, If a preacher isn’t teaching, whatever are they doing?

As to AUTHORITATIVE teaching i never saw that phrase in the plain teaching of the Bible. Unless some interpretation of that text is done not only is Ellen n the SDA church in trouble but so was Paul an the Christian church. who accepted their writings,

If you take the passage about women not teaching just exactly as it reads, you might as well remove the voice box of women, for they are also to be silent, Of course that gives you trouble with Joel 2/Acts 2 n Titus 2:4 – but hey, we need to be literal.

Then there is Phoebe. People spend so much time talking about the Bible calling her a deacon, I will let their remarks suffice. But there is more to the verse. I have not heard it discussed about her being called a succourer, which is according to Strongs:

4368 prosta,tij prostatis {pros-tat’-is}
Meaning: 1) a woman set over others 2) a female guardian, protectress, patroness

Is this a description a person who is silent?

Friend, your position on this subject not only negates all the work of Ellen and the SDA church, it makes the Bible itself contradict itself. If you try to explain how all the verses can peacefully co-exist you have gone beyond the plain text. Therefore you are reasoning and explaining and we are reasoning and explaining, just in different ways. Now friend, go back and re-read the article with this understanding. Maybe it can help us all to understand, honor and support each other, even while disagreeing on conclusions.


(Kade Wilkinson) #13

If you are trying to imply that I am someone else, I can assure you I am not.


#14

My brother Musarara,I appreciate the effort you have made to speak on the issue concerned. I am also a Zimbabwean and fervent SDA and would like to contribute on the issues raised.

I thankfully agree to how you separated the principles, policies and practices of the SDA church and believe members must always note those separations of function. I also appreciate how you have highlighted the PRACTICES (not principles or policies) of some (many?) SDA churches in Africa with regards to female participation in many church worship services.

This then leads me to my argument where I would differ with you on your premise that Africans are limited to theological discourses based on their backgrounds or upbringings.

It is not accurate to assume that all people’s, let alone Africans are myopic in their influences and outputs of religious persuasion and exercises. Such a belief may then mean your views and comments on this subject follow suit? It could also mean that your structural engineering practices are carried out through an African lens, to which I don’t believe to be so…

Bona fide African SDA’s (some or most?) have accepted the Bible as their only creed of faith and belief, and the SOP as the lesser light. They fully understand the ramifications of such beliefs. Africans are not blind followers or illiterate with regards Bible beliefs simply because they don’t have degrees in education etc…Ellen White, an American was a mere grade 3 by our standards, but is one of the most fluent and influential authors to date. Africans do not troubleshoot religious debates through the lenses of their heritage and upbringings, but are also capable of intelligent thought processes influenced by the Holy Spirit.

It would be unfortunate and unChristian to then assume that the present day Caucasian man is a bully or coloniser simply because of their ancestral heritage and deeds of their fore fathers. Whilst cultural upbringing is influential to one’s life and views, it is not definite they have no freedom of choice to do otherwise e.g. Jesus was a Jew but always referred to the law and the prophets (the Bible) and not traditions of the elders or customs which He always spoke against.

Preaching, reading, praying or participation in divine service of women IS NOT the same as ordination or Biblical recognition to certain offices not previously practiced nor permitted by the Bible or SOP. In my church, many women participate in all services and offices PERMITTED by the Bible and SOP without and patriarchal chauvinism. Yes, some rural (country) churches may practice the systems you are describing, but I repeat that these are local church practices and not policies or principles of the SDA church.

It is incumbent upon all Adventists not to appeal to personal wisdom or preference, but to simply quote what the Bible AND SOP say on this matter. Yes, you would prefer ordination, and you are entitled to that desire, but is your view biblical or politically correct?

These are the fundamentals that we need to address as a church.

God bless us all as we seek to grow into His likeness and remain united under His care…


(Kade Wilkinson) #15

So, what would this verse have to have that it currently does not to make it a plain scripture declaration?


(Alvin Masarira) #16

Denford:
Thanks for your comments. I would however want to bring you back to the article. I did not say that Africans have a position based on culture. I said “ALL poepl”. I quoted Rosado because he put it so well. I have lived in different cultures and have indeed observed that we differ in our we veiw things. This is not just an African matter. But it is also true that in many African churches women don’t preach. I live in Johannesburg, a big metropolitan city, and I know of some big Adventist churches where women are not allowed on the pulpit. It is not church policy, but it is the reality on the ground. A church like that (which doesn’t allow women on the pulpit) will definitely not want a female pastor. They won’t nominate female elders. That is the “direct link” I am talking about. That is why I said “Dealing with the main issue” at the end. Before we even debate ordaining female pastors, let’s sort out the “un - Adventist” practices in our churches where men preach at Women Conventions although there are women who could do so. I might have been too hard on Africa because it is the continent I know best and was not keen to try and disect European or American culture.


(Shining) #17

Of course. Preaching is what they do. Ordination is our recognition of what they do. Ordination, BTW is not an office. It does not insure one of a job. Of all the positions mentioned in the Bible, the only ones we have had are prophets, teachers, and evangelists. In the Bible there were a number of women prophets (Miriam, Deborah, Huldah and Anna: Priscilla taught and Phillip’s daughters were evangelists.)

In the SDA church Ellen is generally accepted as having been a prophet and more then a prophet. Many many women have been preachers and teachers.

The evangelist situation is most interesting. We have many ordained men who are evangelists. Why do we give them such a job? If it is ok for ordained men to do that job, why not ordained women?

•Just so we understand why ordination by the church is important to those God has called and sent to us let me share this from Sister White:

•"The apostles who had been appointed to lead out in this work would be exposed to suspicion, prejudice, and jealousy. Their teachings concerning the breaking down of “the middle wall of partition” (Ephesians 2:14) that had so long separated the Jewish and the Gentile world, would naturally subject them to the charge of heresy, and their authority as ministers of the gospel would be questioned by many zealous, believing Jews. God foresaw the difficulties that His servants would be called to meet, and, in order that their work should be above challenge, He instructed the church by revelation to set them apart publicly to the work of the ministry. Their ordination was a public recognition of their divine appointment to bear to the Gentiles the glad tidings of the gospel. {AA 161.1}


#18

My good friend shining, the same EGW test you are quoting is referring to men who were in the office of the apostles…same when the deacons came to the fore. Evem when you look at verses in Timothy and Titus, they clearly differentiate gender roles and even further on say how a man must be able to rule his household well before running the church; a clear indication and affirmation of gender distinct roles set up even in Eden.

Women can lead out in technical departments like stewardship, treasury etc, or participate in acts of service or evangelism e.g. deaconesses or personal ministries, but where the Bible and SOP are silent on further actions, why do we 21st century SDA’s believe that we are more enlightened to introduce new practices? I have analysed the SOP quotations some quarters use to claim EGW said women must be ordained to be a deaconess, but these are flawed…why? For one, she never ever brought up the word ‘deaconess’ in the same passage to laying on of hands for women committing acts of community service. Yes, Phobe etc were servants of the church, and the Greek rendering may also use ‘diakonos’, but that does not remove or dispute the fact that the same author, Paul, still spoke of bishops and deacons being husbands of one wife.

The clamor for recognition has never stopped nor stiffled any sincere and genuine sister who has wanted to serve the church or the gospel cause of spreading the gospel. We are dabbling more in political correctness and acceptance by secular influences blowing too and fro.


(Shining) #19

@Denford I have never seen where anyone said women MUST be ordained to anything tho some may have.

The Bible itself does not speak of ordaining anyone for anything.

The Bible itself does not speak of Presidents or treasurers or Sabbath Schools or hospitals or conferences or unions. Ellen does not speak of Pathfinders or Net evangelism. This does not mean it is never to be so.

The clamor has not stopped women from serving but men have. At a time my church had assigned me the job of prayer ministries, I was asked to leave during an anointing because I was not an elder and I could not be an elder, in their opinion, because I am a woman. There used to be a group of women who prayed for the speaker every Sabbath but then we got new elders who thought that we should not come to the elders’ room because they wanted the time for themselves. (Often the speaker would come there directly on arriving as directed.) One of my pastors refused to train me in giving Bible studies because it would not look good for him to be spending a lot of time with a woman. When I suggested he bring his wife also, he said that would not be good because it would look like we were ganging up on the person. When we were doing fundraising for a SDA tv station I was told that the fundraising should only be done by men (This was just 3 years ago). When I would start to give Bible studies on my own, when the person started coming to church, the Bible worker would start visiting the person and then suggest that he could better study with them. Then he would report this to the conference in his studies given and baptisms that he was responsible for. In places I have preached I have had people tell me that they had felt the HS speaking to them during my talk (PTL) but that they felt it was wrong for me to preach during the worship hour. I never felt called to be a pastor but make no mistake I have been stiffled and at times stopped by the church many times.

Many would have women to cook, clean, and care for the children, do the paper work and give their money - but preach and participate in church governance? Horrors!

I realize that women are allowed to do a lot more in many places, but you said NEVER stifled and unfortunately that is many times in many places just not true.


(k_Lutz) #20

No implication inferred. Your uniquity is unsullied.
I merely referenced a person in American political history that sought to distract us from reality with a “It all depends on what you think is is.” I see some astute observers recognised that.