I picked up a recent Newsweek magazine to examine its cover. The title on the July 17, 1995, issue read: "Bisexuality. Not straight. Not gay. A new sexual identity emerges." "That does it," I thought to myself. "The devil is attacking every basic truth of nature and Scripture."" It is bad enough for homosexuality to be portrayed by society as a healthy, normal alternate lifestyle; but now the appeal is to lure those who have a natural attraction to the opposite sex into experimenting with the same sex. The article seemed to hint, "Maybe you're a bisexual and you will never know unless you try it!"-as though bisexuals were a more noble breed of humans because they are not limited to one gender or the other but have relations with anybody regardless of gender.
Sadly, if one should dare to speak up (even within some Christian churches!) and say that this is an unnatural deviation of God's design, they take a risk of being scornfully looked upon as unloving, unaccepting, and intolerant. There is a not-so-hidden agenda in the media to normalize sexual perversion.
Jesus said that before His return, conditions in the world at large would resemble conditions in Sodom. "Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed." Luke 17:28-30.
The very survival of our society and church leans heavily upon the family unit, where a basic truth must be clear-that men are fathers and women are mothers. Men and women are equal as humans but entirely unique as creatures. They are not only distinct genders sexually, but almost every aspect of their natures is different. Men should never try to be women, and women should never try to be men. These differences should be evident, maintained, and yes, even emphasized in everything from the way we walk and talk to the way we work and dress.
God tells us how He feels when gender lines are ignored. "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God." Deuteronomy 22:5.
When distinct male and female roles are blurred, children are in danger of growing up confused about whether they are a boy or a girl or an it! Is there any wonder that homosexuality is now rampant in societies that promote unisex thinking?
Now I want you to know that I am not a male chauvinist. I wash dishes, change diapers, and make beds. In the 1970s my beautiful mother was one of the leaders of the women's lib movement (now called the feminist movement) in North America. She wrote a whole album of songs dedicated to women's rights and was very articulate and outspoken. I firmly believe with mom that men and women should get equal pay for equal work. But I must add that she left the movement because, in her words, "About half the women there are angry lesbians who want to be men." Today this same, but more refined, feminist movement is pushing its agenda into churches with a frightening degree of success. I expect these things from the world, but I am worried when they seep into the body of Christ disguised as "improvements."
With the desire to reach the world with the message of salvation, some Christians have tried to increase their influence in the world by adopting popular philosophy. But we should never substitute politically correct but Biblically inaccurate social philosophy as our guide in the place of God's Word. In an attempt to reverse the injustice against women during the recent ages, we have allowed the feminist movement to push us beyond voting rights and equal pay for equal work into the arena of unisex thinking, which seeks to erase any Biblical distinction between men and women aside from the obvious physical differences. When an organization seeks to correct some wrong policy, there is always a tendency to overcorrect. I fear this is the case today, where a valid need for more women's ministries has been translated by some into a need for women to be ordained as pastors and elders.
Perhaps I should hasten to say that I believe the blame does not lie with the liberal feminist movement in the world, but with the lazy or indifferent men in the churches who are failing to fulfill their roles as strong, loving servant-leaders. As a result, women are naturally stepping into the vacuum left by the absence of strong male leadership. As most people know, the word "husband" means "house-band." Men are to be the head of the household and bind their families together in love.
A remarkable Christian woman and author named E. G. White once wrote: "The greatest want of the world is the want of men-men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall." 1
This short article is not designed to be an exhaustive study on the subject of women's ordination; neither will it deal with every single argument and rationalization regarding the ordination of women as pastors or elders. Rather, it is a simple presentation of "thus saith the Lord" which should always be our guide in determining the truth on any issue.
Let's begin with Creation. God made creatures in the order of their value and complexity. First, the base elements of earth, water, and air; then vegetation, light, and time divisions; then birds and fish; then cattle and land creatures; then man and, as a crowning act, woman.
The first woman came out of man, and every other human came out of woman. Women are the most beautiful and complex creatures on the planet. They tend to live longer than men, and use more of their brains in concert. Yet, because of sin, God had to establish a system of authority to maintain harmony in the family and church. Generally speaking, men think in terms of absolutes and are more task oriented. Women think more in terms of relationships. Their emotions are more influenced by internal feelings and cycles, while men are more affected by external, environmental changes. The March 27, 1995, cover article of Newsweek, entitled, "Why Men and Women Think Differently," demonstrates through new technology that men and women use their brains in completely unique ways. Perhaps because God's truth is an unchanging absolute, and for other reasons, the Lord in His wisdom established that men should be the servant-leaders and priests in the home and in the church.
God did not create men and women in the same way. God made man out of dust, and He made woman out of man. "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man." Genesis 2:21, 22.
God named man, whereas man named woman. "And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living." "And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Genesis 3:20; 2:23.
Sin came into our world as a result of man neglecting and woman disregarding the husband's leadership role. "She took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat." Genesis 3:6. "And the man said, The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." Genesis 3:12.
"The angels had cautioned Eve to beware of separating herself from her husband while occupied in their daily labor in the garden; with him she would be in less danger from temptation than if she were alone. But absorbed in her pleasing task, she unconsciously wandered from his side." 2
God established that husbands should be the servant-leaders of the home. "Unto the woman he said, … thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Genesis 3:16. Now, we must not rush past this verse. Some have argued that the passages regarding man's leadership role reflect the biases of a male-dominant culture. but notice that the command in Genesis 3:16 came directly from God-not from Peter, John, or Paul. It has also been said, "We can't take these Scriptures regarding male leadership seriously because they were based on eastern traditions and don't apply today. After all, there were laws regarding slavery and polygamy in Bible times." True, but God never commanded people to have slaves or multiple wives. Rather, as Jesus said, it was because of "the hardness of your heart he [Moses] wrote you this precept." Mark 10:5.
Biblically, a husband could overrule the vow of the wife, but the wife could not overrule the oath of her husband. "Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void." Numbers 30:13.
The Bible is clear that salvation was purchased by Jesus for all of the children of Adam and Eve, regardless of race or gender or age. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, … male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28.
But this Scripture from Paul was never intended to mean, as some have hinted, that once you walk through the doors of the church you leave your sexual identity outside. It does not mean that men cease to be men and women cease to be women, or that we all become "unisex in Jesus." In fact, Paul goes to great lengths to say just the opposite. Read 1 Corinthians 11:3-16.
The fact that men and women have equal rights to salvation does not mean there is no submission to leadership in the home or in church. Jesus and the Father are equal, yet Jesus chose to submit to the authority of the Father in this world. "The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." 1 Corinthians 11:3.
In America, "equal rights" does not negate the authority or leadership of the mayor, governor, or police. Likewise, equality in salvation does not negate the God-established patriarchal system of male leadership in the home and church. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right." Ephesians 6:1. "If a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" 1 Timothy 3:5.
I also hear some say that because there are more women in the church than men, leadership roles should be evenly divided according to percentages. Using this line of reasoning, it would follow that in a family with three children, the children would be entitled to the largest share of leadership since they outnumber the mother and father! On the contrary, fathers do not receive their authority by popular vote, but rather from the Word of God.
God tells us that women should not rule over men. "I suffer [permit] not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man." 1 Timothy 2:12. The only times when women ruled over God's people were when men were too fearful and weak to lead (as in the case of Deborah and Barak) or in times of apostasy (Jezebel and Athaliah). "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12.
God's Word equates the authority of man over woman with the authority of Christ over man. "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." 1 Corinthians 11:3.
Christian wives should willingly acknowledge the headship of their husbands. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." Ephesians 5:23, 24. "Teach the young women to be … discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." Titus 2:4, 5. "Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement." 1 Peter 3:6.
Marriage is not a dictatorship, but a partnership where the husband fills the role as a senior partner. Husbands are to be servant-leaders in the home in the same way Jesus came to love, serve, and lead His church. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." Ephesians 5:25.
It is very important to note that God's plan for male leadership is in no way an open license for tyranny. Unfortunately, there have been some sick men who have used these clear passages regarding the authority of husbands as an excuse for abuse. God does not expect a wife to remain in a house with a man who is physically abusing her or the children. Neither is a wife ever obligated to submit to a cruel husband's oppression. God will judge those cowardly men as He did Nabal (1 Samuel 25:38).
Elders were to be husbands (men). "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…." 1 Timothy 3:2. "If any be blameless, the husband of one wife…." Titus 1:6. (Note: The terms for bishops and elders were interchangeable.) A recent magazine article points out the fact that the bible gives a long list of requirements for an ordained elder. "[Paul] did not say that just any man could be a bishop, even as in the Old Testament not just any son of Aaron could be a priest. The office has always been limited. The Christian leader Paul spoke of must be 'blameless' and married, 'vigilant, sober, of good behavior,' etc. There is a long list of requirements that eventually eliminates almost all men and leaves only a very few eligible."3 Women aren't the only ones who are ineligible; so are most of the men.
Every Christian is called to minister in some capacity, but not in every capacity. "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." Ephesians 4:11, 12.
Even though the Lord has chosen many women to serve as prophets through the ages, He never once hinted that a woman should be ordained as a pastor or priest. Women can minister as prophets, teachers, or even evangelists, but not as priests. Pastors and elders are the closest New Testament equivalent to the Old Testament priests. They lead in Holy Communion, which is the New Testament equivalent of offering a sacrifice. This was a role that was consistently performed by a man. While many priests were prophets, no women prophets were priests.
At the heart of this issue are at least three very subtle dangers: <0l>
Loss of confidence in the clear statements of Scripture. It undermines the authority of Scripture to say, "You can't take Bible statements about the relationship between men and women as inspired because they were influenced by a male-dominant culture." Christians who sweep aside plain statements of Scripture as outdated traditions or local customs are building on a fatal foundation of shifting sand. Soon every other Bible truth will be in danger of sliding away. They will soon say that the Lord's Supper, baptism, and marriage were all ancient traditions that no longer apply. Blurring sexual distinctions undermines the family and normalizes homosexuality. The more we attack the unique biblical roles of men and women as sexist traditions, the more we promote unisex thinking, the more confused our children become about their own sexual identity, and eventually all of society erodes. It remains a fact that every Protestant denomination that now openly ordains gays and lesbians as priests or pastors began by first ordaining women to these positions. Unisex thinking promotes the theory of evolution and undermines Creation. That's right, the existence of male and female differences is a tremendous problem for evolutionists to explain. Evolution teaches that life began by single cells reproducing, without the need for male and female. To multiply, each cell would simply split in two. If that theory were true, there would be no need for two separate genders that could not reproduce except by an act of love and cooperation. The more the evolutionists can downplay the differences between male and female as some "minor mutation in the plumbing," the more believable is their nonsense. But the Bible accounts for a separate creation for man and woman, unique creatures of the same species.
Finally, there is not a single example of a woman being ordained as a priest, apostle, pastor, or elder in Scripture. Jesus was following His own Word by ordaining only men. Of course, some will argue that He was merely conforming to popular customs and traditions of the day. But this is a dishonest smokescreen of feminists. The truth is that, in Christ's time, most of the pagan religions had women priests. God's people were the exception.
The notion that Jesus confined Himself to following the traditions of His day is completely opposite of His teaching. Jesus said, "Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" Matthew 15:3. Indeed, Jesus died because His teaching flew in the face of popular traditions. Jesus laid down His life in defense of truth irrespective of passing trends or popular customs. We should always be willing to do the same. _______________________
- E. G. White, Education, p. 57.
- E. G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 53, 54.
- S. Lawrence Maxwell, "One Chilling Word," Adventists Affirm, Spring 1995, Vol. 9, No. 1, p. 41.