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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Why We Don't Ordain Women

The U.S. branch of the Anglican tree, the Episcopal Church - USA, has had female priests for around 30 years now. And it's been close to 20 years since they elected their first female bishop. Now a new barrier has been shattered as the EC-USA consecrates their first female head bishop. This means she will represent the EC-USA in the world Anglican communion. Here is the news article.

The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod is part of the vast majority of Christians worldwide who do not ordain women as pastors. This is not only the huge majority position but is also the practice of 99.9% of the church's history.

Why don't we ordain women? Obviously, I cannot give a thorough and finely nuanced explanation in a blog post. So let me keep it simple, at the risk of being simplistic.

First, what do the Scriptures say:
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve (1 Timothy 2:11-13).

There are a couple of other passages that discuss the woman's role in the church. But this one is sufficient. The apostle states that a woman must not teach or have authority over a man in the church. And he argues from the order of creation. Adam, then Eve.

Another argument that I personally find quite convincing is the practice of Jesus himself. He had numerous devout women as his followers and supporters. These were women of tremendous faith and courage. Yet, he chose only men to be his apostles. And one simply cannot argue that Jesus was only following the cultural norms of his time. Our Lord broke cultural norms on a number of occasions, in particular, with regard to women in society. If it is right to have female apostles, Christ would have selected some.

All I've done here is give the sparest of answers to the question in my title. Why don't we ordain women? Because it is contrary to the will of God and this has been recognized through the practice of the church for eons. Perhaps in a future post I will elaborate further, if you're interested.

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5 comments:

Darrell said...

Here's my take on it, which might be uniquely Catholic: Why in the world would women want to emulate Peter and Paul when they could, instead, emulate Mary, the first and greatest example of A Christian Saint? Some might respond that the real goal is to emulate Christ, but I think our real goal should be to follow Christ, not fool ourselves into thinking we can be like him. Asking What Would Jesus Do strikes me as downright foolish... it comes down to What Would God Do. On the other hand, there are plenty of merely human role models for both sexes in the New Testament. It's a shame that the female ones are so often neglected ... and by both sexes.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Darrell,
It's wholesome to see Mary as an image of the Church and of every Christian. Her faith, "Let it be to me as you have said," is emblematic for every Christian as he stands before God.

As I view it, the issue here is two-fold. Well, probably ten-fold, but let's just look at two things.

One is that pious women desire to serve in the church. In our circle, if a woman wants to study theology and serve her neighbor in church vocation, the avenues have been few. This is probably much less the case in the RCC.

Secondly, and most significantly, is the rise of feminist philosophy - which is a sort of gnosticism. The idea that bodies don't matter, or specifically, the sex of these bodies. Equality is taken to mean sameness.

dspeers said...

Scott,

Thanks for the post. Just picked up a book the other day by Wayne Grudem, Evangelical Feminism: A new path to liberalism? It is an excellent, concise, discussion of some of the major arguments that have been troubling the church, wrt Feminism. Grudem has been involved in discussions on this topic for years and has recently published some weighty tomes on this subject. This book, however, is great, as I said, by virtue of its pointed discussions. I will be using it to discuss this material in my church for the next couple of weeks.

The Beast said...

Interesting that dspeers mentioned Grudem's book, I have that on my amazon wishlist. I am also currently reading Grudem's Systematic Theology, which is excellent.

The contrast between egalitarianism and complementarianism is a crucial issue for the day. In reference to your post, I want to mention your point of Jesus' counter-cultural ministry. This is a common defense of egalitarians to say that Jesus was acting in the norm of His culture. I affirm your statement that Christ was typically found acting and speaking in counter-culturally ways, in fact, ways that went well beyond the offense of the roles of women. This is a good post.

Darrell said...

Pastor Scott: Secondly, and most significantly, is the rise of feminist philosophy - which is a sort of gnosticism.

I'd have NEVER made that connection. It's so obvious now, but it took having it pointed out to me to see it. See, it's stuff like that that I keep reading Burr in the Burgh for. :) (Wendy just read this comment before I hit post and was worried that it might seem like I'm being sarcastic. That is not the case at all. I'm sitting here with a big grin thinking "Wow, outstanding point!")

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