A Slippery Slope
The Mid-America Union, a conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, met on March 8th, 2012; yet, this meeting did not go as planned. While discussing a topic, someone remarked that the problem would only be solved by the ordination of women. Note, however, that the Seventh-day Adventist world church as a whole has never sanctioned women’s ordination. Despite this fact, and although the topic of women’s ordination was not even on the agenda, the Mid-America Union put it to a vote. As a result of this motion, Lemon (2012), the president of the Mid-America Union, reported, “It is voted to support the ordination of women in the Mid-America Union” (as cited by Dwyer, 2012, para. 5).
What is going to happen because of this decision? Some may feel that it is helping lead away from the twisted ideas of male chauvinism and the oppression of women, but they must not realize just what is at stake in taking this step. Taylor (1997), a delegate for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, stated the following at the annual assembly with the Christian Reformed Church: “It would be naïve for us to think the issue is women in office. The issue is also the authority of Scripture, homosexuality, and Creation and evolution” (as cited in Christianity Today, 1997, p. 55). The ordination of women can lead to women neglecting their God-given roles, to the authority of God’s Word being questioned, and the creeping in of compromise.
Ever since the beginning of time, women have been given a role in their homes and among their families. As First Timothy 2:4, 5 states, “Admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be… homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” Notice the following ideas in those verses: Loving and being obedient to their husbands, loving their children, and being homemakers. This is where a true wife and mother’s ministry lies. Perhaps some feel that a woman can lead a congregation and still devote herself to her family. However, the role of a pastor or leader in the church is one that requires much time, energy, and devotion. Likewise, the role of a wife and mother is a full-time job. Either one or the other responsibility will suffer if one woman tries to take them both on. Which role is truly more important?
Not only is the well-being of husbands and children at stake, but if women are ordained the authority of the Bible is also called into question. Agouridis (2002), a professor of New Testament, Theological Faculty, at the University of Athens wrote an article on the roles of women in the New Testament. She had an excellent viewpoint about women playing an important role in the Bible, and about how Christ loved and protected women. Her intent was to show that women were leaders of the early church, but she could produce no Biblical evidence that the women in the New Testament had positions of bishops or elders in authority over men. Indeed, Agouridis showed very accurately that women ministered to the needy—even ministering to Christ Himself—that they prophesied, and that they led other women in matters of religion; but they did not lead men.
What about Agouridis’s mention of Jezebel, though? Revelation 2:20 talks about a woman named Jezebel who was teaching the people of Thyatira. Agouridis used this verse to prove that there was a woman leader in the Biblical New Testament church. Perhaps Jezebel was a “pastor,” but this was not condoned by the true followers of Jesus. In fact, Christ, speaking through the writer of the book of Revelation, condemns the people of Thyatira for allowing a woman, Jezebel, to teach them.
According to Agouridis, however, this was not because Jezebel was teaching, but because “Jezebel's teaching and policy were of a compromising kind” (p. 514). Agouridis must have failed to read on through the rest of the letter to Thyatira. Christ was not just condemning what Jezebel was teaching; He was condemning the fact that Jezebel was teaching! At the ending of the letter to the church at Thyatira, he made the following statement:
Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—He shall rule them with a rod of iron. (Revelation 2:24-27)
In the verse above, Christ is alluding to a promise that those who overcame and did not conform to the doctrines that Jezebel taught, and undoubtedly to the fact she was teaching in the first place, would be given “power over the nations” to “rule them with a rod of iron” (verses 26 & 27). Those who were to rule were referred to in the masculine gender, not feminine. This is surely the case, as the quote “He shall rule them with a rod of iron” comes from Psalms 2:9 in actual reference to Christ, the Bridegroom, ruling over his people, the Bride. Thus we see that women leaders were never accepted by the true Christians in the Bible. Calahan (2006), a pastor at the Berean Bible Church, summed up this concept very well in the following statement: “From the time of Christ, the church has consistently affirmed the role of women to include a broad variety of ministries with the exception of pastor, elder and the public teaching of adult men” (para. 11).
If the concept of ordaining women is not Biblical, then why should professed Christians be practicing it? According to Christian Century (1993), a survey done by the Barna Research Group of Glendale, California, revealed that, “76 percent of all American adults are comfortable with women ministers, with only one category—the most conservative Christians—showing a slight majority against women pastors” (p. 1,045). The article in Christian Century went on to say the following:
“The Barna survey found the strongest supporters of women pastors to be the unchurched…. Other categories of respondents answered affirmatively at the following levels: all Americans, 76 percent; college graduates, 81 percent; Catholic, 76 percent; Protestant, 75 percent; ‘born again’ Christians, 67 percent; ‘evangelical’ Christians, 45 percent. (p. 1,045)
Why are so many people, Christians included, vying for something contrary to God’s Word? In answer to this question, Calahan (2006) remarked that the reason for the growth of supporters of women’s ordination is because “the teaching of the Word of God is being ignored. In some cases the Bible is being reinterpreted so that it accommodates our cultural perspective” (para. 13). Unfortunately, these seemingly small steps that trod down clear Biblical teachings are paving the road for more trampling of God’s principles.
When God’s Word is not upheld in the decision to ordain women, more and more compromise will creep in. Women’s ordination is just a step away from the ordination of homosexuals. God’s Word paints a clear picture of the relationship between Christ and His church: A marriage relationship. The book of Revelation depicts God’s people and His church as a bride adorned for Christ, Who is pictured as the Husband (Revelation 21:2, 9). True church leaders are to be representatives of Christ in loving and caring for their “flock.” Springer (2005) is an Associate Dean and Director of Field Education of the Rabbinical School at the Jewish Theological Seminary and an advocate of ordaining homosexuals. Yet she herself admitted that “It makes perfect sense to me that it is not enough for us just to ordain women. Ordaining women and not gays and lesbians leaves us living with the same dissonance” (p. 207 & 208). That dissonance is created when a woman takes the position of a leader or pastor, the representative of Christ—the Husband—to the church—the bride. In so doing, she is establishing a “homosexual” relationship between her and that congregation. When that step of compromise has been taken, it is really not very difficult to take the next step of ordaining homosexuals.
The man who was quoted as having said, “Today women, tomorrow homosexuals” (as cited in Springer, 2005, p. 207) was quite right! Much is at stake with women’s ordination. The wives and mothers’ ministries in their homes will be neglected, the authority of the Scriptures will be questioned, and that will lead to more and more compromise creeping in subtly. Those who support women’s ordination may not understand the dire effects of their decision. However, sooner or later they will realize that they have stepped onto a slippery slope. By then it may be too late!
Agouridis, S. (2002). Women in the work of the Church: An exegetical contribution to the New Testament. Anglican Theological Review, 84(3), 507-517.
Calahan, J. (July 2006). Rise of women pastors. Retrieved from http://www.neverthirsty.org/pp/feature-articles/200607/rise-of-women-pastors.html
Dwyer, B. (March 2012). The Mid-America Union votes to support the ordination of women. Retrieved from http://spectrummagazine.org/blog/2012/03/09/mid-america-union-votes-support-ordination-women#comment-126358
Presbyterian groups sever CRC ties. (1997, August 11th). Christianity Today, p. 55.
SBC: Ordaining women up to local churches. (1993, October 27th). The Christian Century, p. 1,045.
Springer, M. B. (2005). Courageous innovation. Judaism, 54(3), 207-211.