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Another Union Conference Takes a Stand for Ordination Without Gender Discrimination
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Submitted: May 13, 2013
By AT News Team

Update appended May 15

The Danish Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in a constituency session yesterday (May 12) voted to end gender as a consideration in the appointment of pastors. In what was evidently an attempt to avoid direct confrontation with the General Conference administration while maintaining the principle of equality, the delegates also voted to suspend all ordinations until after the 2015 GC Session, at which it is the intention of the denomination's leadership to reconcile the ongoing tensions on this topic.
 
Five other union conferences have previously voted to change the policy against the ordination of women employed by the denomination as pastors. The North German Union Conference, the Columbia Union Conference and the Pacific Union Conference in the United States, the Netherlands Union Conference and the Norwegian Union Conference have all taken similar stands. In the U.S. many women pastors have already been ordained or issued ministerial credentials, while Adventist Today has received no reports of this happening in Europe to date.
 
The statement voted at the constituency session in Denmark includes a clear and simple statement of a theology of ordination rooted in a creationist doctrine of humanity and the Adventist understanding of the sanctuary. "According to the Seventh-day Adventist Church´s belief in creation ... God has created mankind–man and woman–in His image and therefore equal," the statement begins. "Because of sin, God instituted a special priesthood reserved for men [which] with its sacrifices ... found its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. There is no longer any special priesthood. Jesus Christ is our only true priest ... in the true temple in heaven."
 
The statement continues, "All of Christ's followers–both men and women–were lifted up to be a 'chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, to declare His praises' (1 Peter 2:9). This royal priesthood has a common purpose, namely to proclaim the gospel. This ministry is based on the spiritual gifts which the Holy Spirit gives equally to men and women (1 Corinthians 12). Paul mentions some specific grace-based ministries in the Church, including apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:7-16)."
 
Based on this theology of ordination, the delegates adopted a policy that "the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Denmark will not distinguish between genders when appointing pastors, and wishes to see equality between genders in all areas of responsibility." And, it "will suspend the ordaining of any new pastors until the General Conference session in 2015."
 
The simplicity and fundamental Bible teachings about ordination in this statement "really bring into question the need for the study that the GC has underway," a retired church administrator told Adventist Today. "This document clearly shows what the biblical, Adventist theology must be on this subject."
 
Addendum on May 15

An Adventist Today reporter talked with Pastor Thomas Muller, president of the Danish Union Conference. Muller said that this topic has been discussed there for a long time. In the fall of 2012 the youth advisory council of the union conference presented a document to the union executive committee asking that a decision be made about ordination. At about the same time at least one of the pastors wrote a letter making the same request.

The union executive committee appointed a theological study committee which met four or five times and brought back a draft of the document which was eventually voted by the constituency delegates. The union executive committee was nearly unanimous in recommending the document to the constituency session. Only one or two members voted against it or turned in a blank paper ballot.

The vote at the constituency session was 104 in favor of extending ordination to women and 31 against. Most of the 31 who voted against the ordination of women pastors are against women serving in any leadership role in the church despite the fact that women have been serving as local elders, pastors and in other leadership roles in the Adventist Church in Denmark for some time.

The final paragraph suspending ordinations until after the 2015 GC Session was not part of the draft document recommended to the delegates. It was added from the floor during the discussion.

There are four or five young pastors who would normally be ordained in the next two years, and two of them went to the microphone during the discussion and volunteered to wait until their colleagues who are women can also be ordained. There are three women employed by the Danish Union Conference as ministers. Two of these lead local churches and one serves as director of famly ministries. All three are seminary graduates.

Of the 2,500 members of the Adventist Church in Denmark, Muller estimated that maybe 50 to 70, at most 100 are against women's ordination. "Especially among young people, its such an ethical issue," said Muller. "This is about equality. Women are doing the work of pastors, and this is about recognizing and supporting their work. Denmark has a culture of gender equality. The Lutheran Church in Denmark first ordained a woman for ministry in 1948."

"We come from a culture where equality is very highly respected," Muller reflected. "We're struggling as a church to defend our position among Danes." Some Adventists in Denmark don't want to wait for the GC to approve ordination for women, Muller told Adventist Today. "They want to move ahead with ordination now."

But, "we are not moving to action with this document. We are just defining our position. ... It is our intent to send a signal to the rest of the world church. ... We would be satisified if ordination for women would be opened up either on a union or divison basis. We respect that in some cultures it is not fitting for women to be pastors."

It was also important to take this step for the younger generation of Danish Adventists. "They need to know were the Church in Denmark is headed, even though the world Church may be heading in another direction. We can't afford to wait another two years [because] there are young women thinking about studying theology. We need more female pastors."

No one from the GC was present at the constituency session. The president and treasure of the Trans-European Division were at the meeting. The official news service of the GC, the Adventist News Network (ANN) reported the position paper voted by the delegates.

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Share your thoughts about this article:

Wayne Wilson
2013-05-13 7:40 PM

The article states that a retired church administrator told Adventist Today. “This document clearly shows what the biblical, Adventist theology must be on this subject."  I am not entirely sure what this retired church administrator is suggesting, but here are a few “biblical” texts regarding this matter in Church administration. 1 Timothy 3:2 “Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife.” 1 Timothy 3:12 “A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well.  1 Timothy 2:12 “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man.”

I know these passages upset some people, but Paul was pretty clear about having male leadership in the Church.
 

Stephen Ferguson
2013-05-14 7:10 AM

The text in 1 Tim 3:2 is talking about Bishops/Elders - not Apostles/Clergy.  Until the rise of the proto-Papacy, towards the end of the failed Montanist Revival in the 4th Century, the two roles were separate.  It wasn't until the proto-Papal Bishops of the largest urban Churches in the now Christian Roman Empire effectively abolished the spirit-gifted roles of Aposltes and Prophets, and where the appointed-traditional roles of Bishops subsumed the Apostolic title.  In short, you can feel free to say Church Elders must be men, but you've got nothing against Apostles/Clergy.

As for 1 Tim 2:12, obviously that does not mean women appointed by the Holy Spirit to roles of spiritual leadership.  Otherwise, the SDA Church itself, which holds Ellen White as holding the prophetic gift (amongst others) as being based on a false foundation.  Again, women may not have held the temporal authority over men in respective house-churches according to Roman legal notion of Patar Familias (even though that is disputed with women like Lydia), but women certainly held spiritual authority according to spiritual gifts.

So as to your final conclusion, it is only half correct.  At most, it holds that men in Paul's day held temporal authority as Bishops/Elders.  Paul has no condemnation against Apostles/Prophets/Clergy, who are appointed by the Holy Spirit alone.  Were it not so, Paul and Timothy, who were celibate and young respectively, would not have been able to be Church leaders according to Paul's own require, which again for the avoidance of doubt only applies to Bishops/Elders, not Apostles/Clergy.

What upset people is that their opposition to women's ordination comes for Roman Catholic tradition - not the Bible.  What upsets people is that they are unwittingly still following the Papacy.

William Noel
2013-05-14 9:02 AM

That same writer also declared in Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."  Was he contradicting himself?  No, those other verses you listed were merely reflective of the social rules of the day.

The Holy Spirit calls people into leadership positions in the church and empowers them for a single purpose: to grow the Kingdom of God.  No woman will be ordained unless their calling and empowerment by the Holy Spirit is obvious to other church leaders and their work has been effective at growing the Kingdom of God.  How effective are you at growing the Kingdom?  How many people are you bringing into the church?  If you are not being effective, why is the gender of those who are effective an issue for you?  Why are you opposing the ordination of those who are called and gifted by the Holy Spirit if it is not to slow or prevent the spreading of the Gospel?

Serge Agafonoff
2013-05-15 9:53 AM

Wayne Wilson said, with refernce to 1Tim. :  "I know these passages upset some people, but Paul was pretty clear about having male leadership in the Church."
William Noel said of Paul in Galatians 3.28 cp 1Tim., "Was he contradicting himself?  No, those other verses you listed were merely reflective of the social rules of the day."

If Paul did in fact write 1Tim, then he is indeed contradicting himself.  And how could Paul even entertain the idea of one member of CHrist's body 'assuming authority' over another?

Perhaps we shall simply have to accept the scholarship which argues quite convincingly, that Paul is not the author of 1 TImothy.  And before anyone argues that what he says in 1Timothy is similar to what he says in 1Cor 14.34,35,  be aware that the same textual analysis arguments apply.  1Cor 14,34,35 is a later interpolation.

I know this kind of talk upsets a lot of people who hold to a fundamentalist mindset that God would not allow His 'word' to suffer this kind of maltreatment at the hands of well-meaning male-dominating Roman bishops, but this is in fact the best/easiest/most convincing way to account for such profound contradictions in the mind of one so intellectually powerful as Paul.  He doesn't 'do contradiction.'
 

William Noel
2013-05-16 9:06 AM

Serge,

While I understand what you are saying, I just can't stretch so far as to accept that Paul was not the author of 1 Timothy.  Rather, I see Paul addressing specific situations where he understood the Divine view but also knew that people would not be learning to apply God's love if they were distracted by conflicts with societal norms.  This is entirely consistent with how God nurtures and teaches us.  He does not draw us suddenly into full knowledge of His teachings and will.  Rather, He draws us into greater knowledge one step at a time. More than that, he teaches us what we need to learn while deftly avoiding issues that will distract us. 

Paul demonstrates this teaching about the love and will of God while avoiding controversy in the book of Philemon.  Slavery was the law and the law allowed owners to punish escapes with severe beatings or even death.  But instead of arguing about the law and whether or not Philemon had the right to punish Onesimus, Paul appeals to Philemon to treat him as a brother in Christ. 

The entire focus of Paul's ministry is on bringing people to experience the redeeming love of Jesus.  While Paul does directly confront some issues, he does so only where the issues are bringing controversy and division into the church and discrediting the Gospel.  My wish is that we could all learn more from Paul's example and avoid meaningless and useless arguments because they distract us from experiencing God's love and sharing that love with others.  This is why I wish those who oppose the ordination of women would expend their energies in actually spreading the Gospel instead of bringing shame on the Gospel by getting lost in argument.

Ervin Taylor
2013-05-13 8:25 PM

Another Adventist Union Conference has demonstrated that, with progressive leadership and the influence of an informed laity, it is possible for parts of the Adventist church to witness to "present truth" about this important topic.  That Paul of Tarsus almost 2,000 years ago may have not approved of this vote or the votes of other progressive Union Conferences indicates that even "inspired" individuals can have their vision limited by the cultural values held in their society. This also  applies to EGW.  That she would support or not support the ordination of women as Adventist pastors should have little bearing on how we view this question today.  We should respect her opinions but determine what is "Present Truth" for our faith tradition for the 21st Century based on  contemporary conditions.. 

Elaine Nelson
2013-05-14 11:46 AM

All religions adapt in various ways to the culture and to the practices of other religions around them.  The Adventist organization hierarchy was first structured by the Romans and then by the Roman Catholic church.  Celibate priests were a late introduction into Catholicism in the 12th century; prior to that priest were married, and often fathered children though unmarried.  Celibacy was intended to avoid papal nepotism but as has been demonstrated repeatedly, frustruating the natural sexual designs that God gave man has resulted in priestly pedophilia and homosexuality.

This is another reason that the church should reconsider its stand on monogamous same sex marriage as marriage promises fidelity and avoid promiscuity--the sin mentioned in the Bible.  Demanding lifetime celibacy as a condition of acceptance for homosexuals by the Christian community is both unbiblical and unnatural.  Just the same results seen in the Roman Catholic church when sexual expression is forbidden except for marriage and divorce and remarriage forbidden.  The  Adventist church has adjusted to remarriage after divorce although once forbidden; as the culture changes, so will the church change.

Wayne Wilson
2013-05-15 1:41 PM

Elaine,
I am trying to understand what you are suggesting here.  You mention "This is another reason that the church should reconsider its stand on monogamous same sex marriage as marriage promises fidelity and avoid promiscuity--the sin mentioned in the Bible.  Demanding lifetime celibacy as a condition of acceptance for homosexuals by the Christian community is both unbiblical and unnatural." Are you saying that since celibacy is unnatural we should still allow for it it in pulpits?  I say pulpits because members soon rise to the ranks of leadership. Are we actually okay with people practicing fornication in our Church?  This is the holy body of Christ we are talking about here.  Just because dealing with sin can be difficult we by no means support it in any way.  We are to flee from such things and fight the good fight of faith.   Pauls warns against advocating sinful behavior in Romans 1:32 "Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."  It is the condoning of sexual fornication that is "unbiblical."
 

Elaine Nelson
2013-05-16 12:10 PM

Surely,

There are celibates in our pulpits today; but how would you know without asking such a very personal question?  Celibacy is not for your or me to decide who is, or is not celibate.  Both heterosexuals and homosexuals can be celibate.  Was Paul celibate?  Who said anything about fornication in connection with celibacy?

Paul recommended marriage for those who could not be celibate; this was the realization and his answer:  to marry.  Because same sex marriage was unrecognized in biblical times, all sexual relationships outside marriage was prohibited.  If that were the rule in the church today there would be a great loss of members, as premarital sex is no less practiced by Christians as non-Christians.  Why is it less sinful that same sex relationships when both are condemned in the Bible? 

There is a great deal of difference between approval and realizing that we are all sinners and God has not given us a list of the worst to least of sins, although man has formed his own list.

Wayne Wilson
2013-05-16 4:59 PM

Elaine,

 Unless I am missing the point here, I thought you were suggesting that the SDA church should not demand that homosexuals refrain from homosexual acts.  By the same reasoning, you would then be asking that the church not to condemn the act of adultery.  The Christian church has always stood against fornication in all forms.  This includes adultery, homosexuality, and premarital sex.  If we are now saying that it is okay to engage in such sins because public opinion has changed, we are engaging in relativism—which never claim absolute truth.  Look, we all struggle with various forms of sin, but we should never claim that sin is okay to practice. 

1 Corinthians 6:9-10  "Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men  nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

Elaine Nelson
2013-05-16 7:04 PM

Yes, the church condemns adultery as it condemns many things but there are many adulterers who remarry and maintain their membership.  Being married only means that the two have received state license to marry, nothing else.  What and how they live their private lives no one else need know.  Many long-lasting partnerships of opposite and same sex couples have been celibate for years; there is no law that they must have sexual relations ever, or never.

The inference that only same sex couples are wishing marriage is for sex, but would anyone say that opposite sex couples only marry for sex?  Why the double standard?  Don't heteros and homos crave love, companionship mutual pleasures and enjoyment as a reason to marry?  By placing the emphasis all and only on sex it demeans the meaning of marriage.

 

The condemnation of same sex physical expressions in the Bible never meant same sex marriage as the only reference is to the sexual practice as it was in those times:  pederasty; violent sex (as in Sodom) and male domination--an age-old practice of the victors dominating and demeaning the enemy soldiers.  Never was love mentioned--except Jonathan and David, and no one likes that mentioned as they cannot explain it other than to vociferously deny there was ever sex involved!  How can that be assured?


Dean Waterman
2013-05-13 10:14 PM

All the arguments for, or against, women's ordination have been repeated over and over by those who stand on each side of the issue.  We have committee after committee meet and debate, with the outcomes almost certain before they are completed.  Meanwhile, our young people are off to the church which doesn't debate things that seem so obvious; that is God is about equality, and if we call women to be pastors, we call them to be ordained.  The culture Paul taught in is different than the culture we minister too, and since we don't tell women to shut-up in church anymore, I think we can progress on the ordination issue as well.

Elaine Nelson
2013-05-14 12:39 AM

The church does tell women to shut up about wishing equal opportunity with men.  When women have been petitioning for more than 20 years, and the church, in effect, turns a deaf ear, it telling them to "shut up, we are tired of hearing  you."  So they appoint another of the many committees that have studied this over the two or more decades always with the same results:  "Sorry, the world church is not ready, and we must wait for them so we can be in unison."

Meanwhile, there is trouble brewing about Sabbath observance in the island of Tonga where one SDA group meets on the IDL designated Saturday and the other part of the island meets on the first day of the week--now changed by consensus.  The world church has ordered all to meet on the same day but one group has refused and the church is threatening to remove their membership and bulldoze the building where they meet.  Quite an entangling legal mess:  the church suing                 SDA members over the right day to worship!


cb25
2013-05-14 4:35 AM

I came across a fascinating news item today showing a link between ownership of TV's and declining birth rates across the world. Higher TV ownership/exposure means lower birth rates! One of the underlying, but subtle factors suggested, is the improved social standing of women, influenced by TV.

Perhaps some SDA leaders should spend more time watching TV, and they would begin to understand we do not live in a bygone century, and that things are changing. Perhaps, in the real world, and in more places than they understand, they have already changed!

Link for article: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/television-ownership-and-media-exposure-linked-to-world-wide-birth-rate-falls/story-fnet08ck-1226641858305

Elaine Nelson
2013-05-14 11:49 AM

Depressed economy also leads to lower birth rates as noted in the news this weekend.  Teen births are also down and the age of women having children has increased as more women are college educated.

Ownership of TVindicates higher income levels which has long been associated with lower birth rates.

J. David Newman
2013-05-14 11:04 AM

About a month ago I wrote two of the leading opponents of women's ordination (both with PhDs) the following question.  Since you use the phrase in 1 Tim 3 "husband of one wife" to show that elders must be male do you also follow the rest of the qualifications listed by Paul, have at least two children since the word is plural.  And further do you also teach that a single man cannot be an elder and if the elder's wife dies he can no longer be an elder?  Neither of them would respond to me.  When we use the Bible selectively we can prove anything.

Ervin Taylor
2013-05-14 12:14 PM

"When we use the Bible selectively, we can prove anything."  Inspired words to live by!

Elaine Nelson
2013-05-14 11:56 AM

The church should cease claiming to be guided by the Bible only.  As David writes, we all selectively use our favorite supporting texts, but believe we are truly representing the biblical position, and quite oblivious to how the culture shapes our religious dogmas.

J. David Newman
2013-05-14 12:36 PM

That is the challenge "culture shapes our religious dogma"  How do we decide what is cultural and what is universal?   Some truths are universal such as "do not murder" while others are local and cultural such as "wear a jacket when you preach" as happened to me in Madagascar.  Or the best local cultural absolute was told to me by a South African pastor.  In a SDA church in Soweto you must be circumcised to preach.  And when a visiting preacher comes he must drop his pants in the vestry so the elders can make sure that he is fit to preach.  That is taking culture to an extreme.

Carrol
2013-05-18 2:20 PM

As a church with a history of recognizing "present truth" we need to realize that the Holy Spirit brings new truth to light when we are culturually ready to hear and honor it. In Paul's day there were women leaders, which was straining the cultural practice of that day. Today, in many parts or the world we are more than culturally ready to hear the truth that God has ordained all of us as priests.

Stephen Ferguson
2013-05-14 8:46 PM

J. David Newman: 'Since you use the phrase in 1 Tim 3 "husband of one wife" to show that elders must be male do you also follow the rest of the qualifications listed by Paul, have at least two children since the word is plural.  And further do you also teach that a single man cannot be an elder and if the elder's wife dies he can no longer be an elder?'

Totally agree - talk about selective quoting from those against WO.

And don't forget, the text doesn't just require children, it requires obedient children:

1 Tim 3:4,5 -  'One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity.  (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)'

How did celibate Paul or young Timothy pass this test?  How many of our current ordained male SDA Pastors would pass this test?  I barely know a Church pastor who hasn't had kids who have rebelled, left the Church and hardly show 'subjection with all gravity' to their Pastor-father.

Elaine Nelson
2013-05-15 12:56 AM

Stephen,

There is selective use of texts to support whichever position is desired.  (But you already knew that ;-)

Stephen Ferguson
2013-05-15 7:16 AM

True.  That is why trying to read the Bible is often a balancing act of words, passages, context, internal aids and extrinsic aids - not the simplistic exercise many claim it to be.  Moreover, it is why it helps if we are just a little less dogmatic about things.  To paraphrase that great philosopher, Obiwon Kenobi, 'Luke, you will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view'.  One might consider whether Pilate was exploring a similar point.  Jesus seemed to suggest Truth was found in Him, the person, in a relationship, not merely in a dogmatic idea. 

Wayne Wilson
2013-05-16 4:58 PM


Unless I am missing the point here, I thought you were suggesting that the SDA church should not demand that homosexuals refrain from homosexual acts.  By the same reasoning, you would then be asking that the church not to condemn the act of adultery.  The Christian church has always stood against fornication in all forms.  This includes adultery, homosexuality, and premarital sex.  If we are now saying that it is okay to engage in such sins because public opinion has changed, we are engaging in relativism—which never claim absolute truth.  Look, we all struggle with various forms of sin, but we should never claim that sin is okay to practice. 

1 Corinthians 6:9-10  "Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men  nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."
 

Truth Seeker
2013-05-17 7:57 PM

Wayne Wilson: "I know these passages upset some people, but Paul was pretty clear about having male leadership in the Church."

You are on target Wayne. Not only Scripture is clear but from the time of the Patriarchs through the time of Christ male headship has been the norm.
It's important for the young people that WO occur?? That is unsupportable on its face; since when do we pander to a particular age group in deciding critical issues. The issue is totally unrelated to equality but concerns function. Stay with it Wayne!
 

Elaine Nelson
2013-05-18 2:49 PM

Polygamy was also practiced from the time of the patriarchs through the time of Christ.  Should we be practicing that today?

The Levitical laws were practiced from the time of Sinai and even today by Orthodox Jews.  Should we be refusing women sitting in church pews if they are menstruating?  Should women be unclean  two weeks following male births?   Why not?  It was practiced for hundreds of years just as was patriarchy.

Stephen Ferguson
2013-05-18 11:31 PM

Exactly.  Things are not so clear as WW and Truth Seeker contend.

Wayne Wilson
2013-05-19 4:26 AM

The meaning of marriage is demeaned when we define it as the union of the same thing.  Two things must be different in order for there to be a marriage.  In the same way that there is no pie unless we have a filling and a crust, there is no marriage unless we have a man and a woman.  You can join the same things together all you want but will never get a real marriage.  To have Holy Matrimony you simply must have a man and a woman.  Anything else is unholy.

If you wish to defend and promote homosexual union as something that is hallowed by God, you'll ultimately have to answer to Him for such endorsement.  While it is difficult enough for me to try and understand the reason why you make so many excuses for the sinful behavior in the church, it is much more difficult to understand why you would insinuate that godly men like David and Jonathan were engaging in sexual actitity with each other.

Stephen Ferguson
2013-05-19 5:38 AM

I agree that we shouldn't conflate the issue of homosexuality with WO.  In fact, those opposed to WO have for too long done just that, and it isn't right to do so. They are in fact two very different issues.

But I believe Elaine's wider point was one of culture.  She was making that point because Truth Seeker was trying to point to the male headship of the Patriachs as some sort of model we should follow today.  Her point, which I wholly agree, is that they were polygamists.  

The fact is, their male headship, which formed the basis of their patriarchal societies, were a perversion of God's original plan, just as homosexuality is, just as divorce is.  Pointing to their male-dominated societies is no proof for Christians under the New Covenant, who are called to live according to how it was 'in the beginning.'  Christ made this point clear in His counsel on divorce.

So how was it in the beginning?  Woman only came to be subordinate to man as the result of the curse of sin - it was not God's original plan.  

Wayne Wilson
2013-05-19 7:57 PM

The model of the New Testament church, as set forth in Scripture, is not something that we should wish to drift from. Right now Christianity is in the grips of postmodernism, struggling to make itself relevant to our culture.  But being relevant to our culture at the expense of biblical doctrine can only damage the message of the Gospel.   I have encountered many Adventists who are bothered by Christ's statement of His exclusiveness, in which He states "I am the way, the truth, and the light; no one can come to the Father except through me (John 14:6)."  Sure, this will offend the non-believer and those of other religions, but we are not to worry about the offensive of the Gospel.  We are simply commanded to preach the Gospel (the Great Commission). 

Likewise the message of the roles of men and women in the church will also offend people.  But one can only imagine how quickly Christianity could change if there is nothing steadfast.  Men and women are different, and we simply have different roles in the body of Christ which are spelled out in Scripture.  For the sake of the Gospel, we cannot minimize this clear church order that was set up by the apostles of Christ.  He was speaking through them.
 

Stephen Ferguson
2013-05-19 9:11 PM

'But being relevant to our culture at the expense of biblical doctrine can only damage the message of the Gospel.'

And that is exactly the problem with those who oppose WO - they are elevating human culture and tradition over the spirit of the Word.  The same sorts of arguments used against WO could and have been used in the world, and especially in the US (especially its South) against equality amongst the races.  All the 'God ordained it' and 'its equal but different' arguments used in the WO issue have all the hallmarks of the struggles against slavery in the 19th and civil rights struggles in the 20th centuries. 

The NT Church gave tacit endorsement to the institution of slaves - do you support that?

The NT Church was communist - do you support that?

The NT Church had people who drank alcohol, and it was only those in leadership positions who were precluded absolutely - do you support that?

The NT Church met in homes, not special Church buildings - do you support that?

The NT Church had people who were polygamous, and it was only those in leadership positions who were precluded absolutely - do you support that?

The NT Church had people who were celibate because they believe Jesus was just about to return - do you support that?

Elaine Nelson
2013-05-19 1:16 PM

Yes, Stephen. 

There is such a paradox:  Adventists proclaim vegetariansm because it was the original "Edenic diet" and in all ways we should try to emulate God's original intention for man.  Yet those opposed to WO refer to the patriarchial system that was introduced by sin, and was never God's intention prior to sin.
Even the admonitions given in the NT were following the cultural norms for that time.

Which is it?  There cannot be some positions based on those brought by sin and yet others that were as man was created in a sinless world.  And there have been many changes in culture and even tradition that were never a consideration during times the Bible was written.  Today, we are expected to use common sense and judgement based on the principles given in the Bible, not return to the cultural norms during those times which would absolutely not be workable.  Hasty judgments based on a single Bible text should never be basis for any decisions.  What was appropriate even when Adventism was founded would be totally inappropriate today, but  sadly, there are a few that would love to turn the clock back--for others; while they themselves prefer to live in today's world.

Truth Seeker
2013-05-19 8:21 PM

"The fact is, their male headship, which formed the basis of their patriarchal societies, were a perversion of God's original plan, just as homosexuality is, just as divorce is." Steve.

Proof, please. Then how do you show that Christ erred when he chose 12 men as disciples but no disciplettes? New Testament proof of the selection of males for headship positions.
Maranatha

Stephen Ferguson
2013-05-19 9:05 PM

Jesus chose 12 male circumcised Jews.  If you say it has to be one, it has to be the others.  That argument is the basis for the Roman Catholic doctrine of Apostilic Sucession.  If it is true, then all our pastors, including our male ones, are false, as they don't have an unbroken ordination chain back to the original 12 disciples.  

As to who can be an apostle-clergy, these are spiritual gifts (Eph 4:11).  There is no biblical evidence to suggest spiritual-leaders are only appointed as males.  Both the OT and NT are full of female spiritual leaders, including Deborah the prophetess who was also the Judge-Dictator of Israel.

The 'original plan' was for man and women to be equal.  That is made clear in Gen 3:16, when God notes it is only a result of the curse of sin that 'hy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee'.  Jesus made clear we are to live according to the 'original plan' as it was 'in the beginning', as Adventists have long argued to support everything from the Sabbath to Vegetarianism.

If there is any male headship in the Church, at most it only applies to appointed administrative leaders of Bishops-Elders.  It is only to them that the 'proof texts' of 1 Tim 3:2 apply.  Church history demonstrates that until about the 4th Century, the spiritual leadership roles of apostles and pastors was distinct from that of bishops-elders. 

Acts describes that the Apostles created the Bishops-Elders to 'wait on tables.'  However, by the 4th Century, the tables had turned, and the Bishops-Elders of the big urban Churches effectively destroyed the last vestiges of the Apostlic-Prophetic gift with the Montanist Revival (look it up on Wikipedia).  From then, male Bishops-Elders subsumed the title 'Apostle' even though they only stole that title.

As to children under the New Covenant, the NT makes clear we are a nation of Kings and Priests (Rev 1:6).  Not just the men - all of us.  That was Martin Luther's rediscovery - we have no priesthood because we are a 'priesthood of all believers' (1 Pet 2:9).  In the resurrection, we will all be like sexless angels - a restoration of the equality Adam and Eve originally shared (Matt 22:30).  

And if you still have doubts about what the spirit of the Gospel means, rather than just the letter, there is the key message of Gal 3:28. Funny how the Church has worked hard to reduce barriers of race (Jew or Greek) and class (slave or free), but wants to hang onto discrimination of gender (male or female).

Elaine Nelson
2013-05-19 10:19 PM

Keep rearranging the deck chairs.  While this is going on, young people who grew up in a world where equality is expected and no discrimination by law, this is absolutely revolting to accept a religion that continues to practice discrimination.

But it is not only the young.  Many older ones are silently walking away.  Check the latest attendance figures and membership gains/losses.  They speak for themselves.

Mark Bauer
2013-05-20 6:45 PM

The deck chair analogy is a good one.  People who immerse themselves in a cult can seldom see the big picture.  You can argue your fine points all the way to eternity, but miss the fact that your position has no street cred in today's society, where sadly it is the secular members who are pushing us to treat people respectfully and with equal protections and acceptance. That should jar your soul just a little, even if you are immersed in your tiny little corner of Christianity with your head in the sand. If you don't get out much you can live happily in your little corner but it will become a smaller and smaller and ever more irrelevent piece of the pie of humanity. Your knee jerk response will be: "we don't care what the world thinks, we are distinct from that and apart from it" and that will further isolate you in your little cultish corner.  Wake up and join the bright side folks. You can help make this world a better place if you want, or you can keep denying the obvious and drift further from reality as the titanic church slips below the radar.

Truth Seeker
2013-05-21 9:23 PM

See:  http://ordinationtruth.com/featured/the-devils-test-run/

Stephen Ferguson
2013-05-22 6:01 AM

Is your name Ron Woolsey and do you endorse that message?

Mark Bauer
2013-05-22 7:04 PM

The silence is deafening.  I did not think this thread was directed at the great gay debate, but since Truth Seeker pointed us to the page above I will only say this:  At what age did you decide to be strait?   If you are flummoxed by that question, maybe you can understand the gay person's difficulty in living in a hetero world that just doesn't fit?  It is never a choice just as getting multiple sclerosis is never a choice.  We are who we are by generations of genetic copying and degradation of the genome over the centuries. Accept and love those who are willing to accept and love you despite your paranoia and gaybashing tendencies. This is the real truth Mr Seeker. God loves all of us in all of our imperfection, and paid quite a high price to ransom our collective pitiful souls. So be good to your brother or your Father will not be happy with you!

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