WHY OPPOSING WOMEN PASTORS & ORDINATION DISREGARDS GOD’S ORDER & SPIRITUAL REGENERATION

“There are no posts of honor but only of service.” William A. Spicer

Did you know that while the Bible clearly says that some laws of God are permanent (Psalms 111:7,8) it also says that in some cases old requirements/laws become obsolete when they no longer bring good to people’s lives? Several Bible writers as well as Jesus make this clear. Paul for example clearly says:
“Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless.” Hebrews 7:18

I recently watched the presentation ” Women’s Ordination and The Rebellion of Korah” by some who oppose women’s ordination.  First of all, I must say that those who made this presentation are clearly very sincere people who want to be faithful to God and His truth to the best of their ability and they have a considerable amount of talent which I hope they continue to use in the future for important truths (for those who aren’t aware, the GC vote on this issue will not require or end ordination anywhere: http://equalordination.com/actual-significance/). However throughout history, there are deceptions on both the conservative and the liberal side that result in people disobeying God in ways that cause harm.

I love the parts that honor women and quote Ellen White uplifting their work in the home as even more important than the work of kings and presidents. Great points that need to be heard much more.

While no human is infallible (and Ellen White rejected that she was), regrettably, several of the arguments made in this film are not accurate and have missed a number of crucial Bible principles. This doesn’t mean that the makers aren’t godly, just that they make mistakes and have some biases like every human does (and I’m not flawless either…be a Berean and check carefully everything I’ve said) Luther saw the great truths of righteousness by faith, but was blind to the Sabbath. Early SDAs accepted the Sabbath, but for a long time did not accept Jesus as fully equal to God the Father.

Two of the most unfortunate and very serious mistakes of the film are that:
1) While it admirably quotes Ellen White’s respect for motherhood as a sacred duty more important than being king, but it ignores many biblical and historical examples of women like Deborah, Huldah, Esther, Miriam and Ellen White herself being top spiritual leaders of nations and churches as well as being responsible mothers. It is possible to be both if God has given a calling to do that.

2) It’s argument that women’s ordination is rebellion is largely based on Korah’s rebellion and the claim that Miriam desired the priesthood. There are 2 problems with this:
A) Paul and other New Testament writers very clearly set aside the Levitical priesthood that is the basis for their argument and replaced it with the priesthood of Jesus in places like Hebrews 7:11-18.

B) There is simply no evidence that Miriam desired the priesthood. The real sin that they Miriam and Aaron committed was criticizing Moses for marrying a Cushite woman (Numbers 12:1). Basically they were prejudiced against international marriages and jealous of Zipporah’s influence on Moses and this was their sin. They did say that God had spoken through them which was true (Numbers 12:2, Micah 6:4). But they are not rebuked for saying that. A few verses later in Numbers 12:8, what God rebukes them for is for criticizing Moses (for his interracial marriage), NOT because Miriam aspired to the priesthood. There is simply no evidence that Miriam was trying to be a priestess anywhere in the Bible. It’s assumed with no evidence.

God does say quite explicitly though through the prophet Micah that Miriam was a spiritual leader of Israel along with Moses and Aaron:
“I rescued you from Egypt, where you were slaves. I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to be your leaders.” Micah 6:4

Ellen White makes it very clear that Miriam was second only to Moses and Aaron in spiritual leadership and tells the real reason for their sin and punishment, prejudice against Zipporah.

“The marriage of Moses had been displeasing to her [Miriam]. That he should choose a woman of another nation, instead of taking a wife from among the Hebrews, was an offense to her family and national pride. Zipporah was treated with ill-disguised contempt…

….Though not an Israelite, Zipporah was a worshiper of the true God. When Zipporah rejoined her husband in the wilderness, she saw that his burdens were wearing away his strength, and she made known her fears to Jethro, who suggested measures for his relief. Here was the chief reason for Miriam’s antipathy to Zipporah. Smarting under the supposed neglect shown to herself and Aaron, she regarded the wife to Moses as the cause, concluding that her influence had prevented him from taking them into his counsels as formerly. Had Aaron stood up firmly for the right, he might have checked the evil; but instead of showing Miriam the sinfulness of her conduct, he sympathized with her, listened to her words of complaint, and thus came to share her jealousy.”

Aaron and Miriam had occupied a position of high honor and leadership in Israel. Both were endowed with the prophetic gift, and both had been divinely associated with Moses in the deliverance of the Hebrews. “I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam” (Micah 6:4), are the words of the Lord by the prophet Micah.

Richly endowed with the gifts of poetry and music, Miriam had led the women of Israel in song and dance on the shore of the Red Sea. In the affections of the people and the honor of Heaven she stood second only to Moses and Aaron.” Patriarchs and Prophets p. 384-5

So Miriam’s sin was not rebelling against God’s priesthood at all. Her sin was in being prejudiced against international marriages and the influence of a woman who only wanted to serve God the best she could. Ironically, those who are against women’s ordination are going AGAINST the order that God set up in the Bible with Miriam at the 2nd highest spiritual position in the eyes of the whole nation and the eyes of heaven. Those against women at top leadership positions are in fact the ones rebelling against God’s order and crippling the Spirit working through women.

LIBERAL AND CONSERVATIVE EXTREMES ARE EQUALLY DANGEROUS
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As we will see, there is solid inspired evidence that just as restricting ordained pastors to Levites would have crippled the Christian church, so too it cripples our church now to restrict pastors to being men now since God has opened the door for all to be fully equal in following God’s calling according to the gifts He has given them. If God has called anyone, man or woman, then as many godly SDAs such as Dr. William Johnson, longtime editor of the Adventist Review and Calvin Rock, former GC VP have said, who are we to withhold recognition of that?
“If God has given His stamp of approval to women in ministry, who are we to withhold official recognition?”
equalordination.com/johnsson-we-must-vote-yes/

One of the big dangers in history is that people will see one dangerous deception and run away from that, only to go to another extreme and dangerous deception. The Bible and Ellen White for example talks about the danger of the liberal deception of anti-nomianism on the one hand and the conservative deception of legalism on the others in Steps to Christ, p. 64, 65 (see also 1 John 1:8,9, 2:1-9). The first excuses disobedience to God’s permanent laws. The second causes such depression that people give up even trying. Both end up at the same end, disobedience and rebellion against God’s authority. The same thing happened with the conservative Pharisees at Jesus time and the liberal Sadducees. Both thought they were doing right and they worked together to crucify the Messiah. Both invented man made laws that looked spiritual, but in actual fact replaced God’s actual principles.

A key issue that many conservatives fail to understand is that there are BOTH permanent and temporary laws that God gives and very few conservatives or liberals have any consistent principle to distinguish between these 2 types of laws. As we will see, basically laws that do good for all time are permanent, but laws that do good for short periods are temporary. We can see this with parents on earth and God as our divine parent operates similarly. Many parents give very young children a law not to leave the yard. It’s for their safety so they won’t get injured or killed by cars and it is very good for their protection. But that same law forced on 25 year olds will do great harm. That’s a case of a temporary law. But the parent’s instruction to be honest always is one that does great good all throughout life and so is permanent.

Similarly, there are serious dangers on the one hand of disobeying God’s permanent laws such as the 10 commandments (a great explanation of their crucial value for civilization is here: http://www.prageruniversity.com/Ten-Commandments). But serious harm and danger can also be caused by refusing to change from past laws of God that were valuable at one time, but which have become obsolete such as the command that women should not teach in 1 Timothy 2:12 which SDAs do not follow for good reason or the command in Deut. 16:16 that all male believers travel to Jerusalem 3 times a year which would cause a great deal of stress/harm to church members around the world if required.

Is women’s ordination comparable to disobedience to the 10 commandments or is it comparable to the sacrificial system which was set aside? Is keeping women out of spiritual leadership something that will promote God’s Great Commission or something that will cripple our efforts to reach over 7 billion people that need to hear the gospel? How do we know the difference?

GOD’S PRINCIPLE TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN PERMANENT AND TEMPORARY LAWS:
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In Matthew 5:18, Jesus tells us that God’s laws will be in force until their purpose is completed. What is their purpose? Many verses tell us that the purpose of obedience and godliness are to bring benefits to this life and for eternity (1 Tim. 4:8, Nehemiah 9:13, Psalms 119:45 and numerous others). This is why some laws such as sacrifices and Jewish festivals and taking shoes off feet were for specific time periods, and why Paul banned women from speaking in church in a context where women who spoke publicly were automatically considered to be liars (blog.britishmuseum.org/2014/03/24/did-women-in-greece-and-rome-speak), but why others such as the 10 commandments and the Sabbath, health laws, economic laws and more are permanent.

There are several reasons why we should seriously consider that refusing to ordain women is actually an act of rebellion against God’s Holy Spirit.

1) ORDINATION IS ONLY CONFIRMATION OF GOD’S CALLING
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When you look at Exodus 28, God chose Aaron and his descendants to be priests. Then there was an official ceremony to make everyone aware of that choice. It’s like a wedding that confirms love that already exists. If the love or the call of God already exists, who are puny human beings to block public recognition of that?

God has given his stamp on the approval of women pastors in many places both by direct inspired testimony from Ellen White and in specific cases of very effective women pastors in the time of Ellen White and beyond.

God clearly called women to be pastors of churches in Ellen White’s day. Several dozen were licensed and worked as pastors in our SDA church during her day. Just one of them was Lulu Wightman:
“The most effective pastor for years in New York was a woman pastor. Mrs. Lulu Wightman {was such an outstanding pastor} that the results from her evangelism would rank her not only as the most outstanding evangelist in New York State during her time, but among the most successful within the denomination for any time period.”
http://www.bibelschule.info/streaming/Bert-Haloviak—Route-to-the-Ordination-of-Women-
in-the-Seventh-day-Adventist-Church—Two-Paths_24040.pdf

God is working through ordained women pastors now as well. Here’s a short video about a Chinese SDA female pastor, HaoYaJie, who is the pastor of the Beiguan Seventh-day Adventist Church in Shenyang, China, the largest SDA church in the world. She left her job to start it in her living room with just 10 people after being impressed by God while reading Ellen White’s writings to do so. Now this church has ~7,000 members. The evidence strongly suggests that God is leading in the work she and many others like her are doing similar to how He opened the early church to accepting Gentile believers. Would SDAs concerned about eternity want to reject ordination which would surely significantly reduce the number of converts brought to the truth through ordained Chinese female pastors?
Example: http://vimeo.com/96839367 (see also: https://vimeo.com/51408307)

2) THE GOAL OF THE GOSPEL IS TO RESTORE FULL EQUALITY & EXPAND FREEDOM:
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Ellen White makes it quite clear that while men and women do of course have biological differences from their Creator, they were created to be equal in all things. Not all things except ordination. Not all things except being pastors. But all things if they have a calling from God to do that. To deprive them of the chance to follow God’s calling in their life is itself an act of rebellion against God’s Spirit. Ellen White writes:

“When God created Eve, He designed that she should possess neither inferiority nor superiority to the man, but that in all things she should be his equal.” (TM p. 485)

[Jesus] calls upon us to…adopt principles that will restore in us the divine image. The Ministry of Healing, 114, 115.

“The secret of unity is … equality of believers in Christ.” (EGW, 1SM 259)

God throughout history has expanded his work in many ways.
a) He started with Abraham and his family.
b) Then it entered a new phase with Abraham’s descendents becoming the nation of Israel.
c) Then later a 3rd phase happened with the institution of the church after Jesus’ resurrection.

In the case of the priesthood, we see that
a) God instituted a Levitical priesthood in Exodus 28.

b) Then God replaced that priesthood, not with men, but with Jesus as our high priest and the head of the church as Ellen White repeatedly affirms in statements like this:
“Christ, not the minister, is the head of the church.” (The Signs of the Times, Jan. 27, 1890)

c) Then by inspiration, Ellen White made it explicitly clear that Jesus has opened the ministry and leadership of the church so that both men and women could become pastors to the flock of God.

“It is the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit of God that prepares workers, both men and women, to become pastors to the flock of God.” Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church 6:322

As someone who has taught linguistics for 20 years, looking at dictionaries of the time, usage by Ellen White, context, etc. the term “pastor” here can only refer to the position of the spiritual leader of a church (See: http://blog.truth-is-life.org/christian-issues/jesus-is-our-pattern/women-can-pastor/ for an explanation of why and for other quotes that also support women as pastors)

3) JESUS IS OUR HIGH PRIEST OF A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN
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Is there an authorization of women to be priests? Actually there is. God’s goal was for all people to have the opportunity to be priests in the future. The Old Testament predicted this.
And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.” Exodus 19:6 (see also 1 Peter 2:9)
In Hebrews 7:11-18, Paul talks at length of why Jesus has a right to be our High priest and replace the obsolete Levitical system.

Note especially what Paul says here in verse 18:
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***CRUCIAL***
“Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless.”
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Read that again and consider what conservative Jews must have thought when they heard Paul saying things like this about God’s laws. No wonder some sincere people thought Paul was a rebel against God and tried to kill him. They were following laws of God that they thought could never change and Paul just discarded the entire system. It was very scary to them. They had visions of Israel going into captivity as it had many times before when it disobeyed God’s laws. But they forgot the meaning of the sacrifices and the Lamb of God they pointed to, the Lamb who would become the new high priest.

Similarly, those against women’s ordination forget that Jesus death and being baptized into Him breaks down all walls of separation:
“And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile,[o] slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:27-28 (see also Matthew 23:8, Ephesians 2:11-16)

4) MALE GENDER TERMS ARE OFTEN INCLUSIVE OF BOTH SEXES
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Another related point that many people miss is that when Bible figures give rules regarding the male gender, they are often inclusive of both men and women. Even Jesus did this, saying, “The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27). Did he mean that the Sabbath was not made for women? Of course not. He was saying that it was made for all people.

Linguistics shows that male gender words like man included women until ~1000AD.
Old English man, mann “human being, person (male or female);…Sense of “adult male” is late (c. 1000);…Universal sense of the word remains in mankind and manslaughter…A like evolution took place in Slavic languages, and in some of them the word has narrowed to mean “husband.”…Man also was in Old English as an indefinite pronoun, “one, people, they.” www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=man&searchmode=none

Similarly Paul’s requirement about bishops/elders/deacons where stated with male gender language, but included females as the positions of Phoebe and Junia in Romans 16 indicate. See also these 2 links:
Men and Women in Church Order: A Study of Paul’s Use of Representative Statements by Martin Hanna, Ph.D. https://www.dropbox.com/s/pvrh7bevtoraok5/Martin_Hanna_Men%26Women%20(2).pdf?dl=0

See also this article:
Precedents, Prejudice and a Deacon named Phoebe (decisive proof that deacons/pastors qualifications are general principles, not discriminatory against women) by Bryan Bissell
http://blog.truth-is-life.org/christian-issues/jesus-is-our-pattern/phoebe-rocks/
5) BIBLE PRINCIPLES SUPPORT WOMEN’S ORDINATION AND FORBID HOMOSEXUALITY
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A large amount of the reasons for opposing women serving as ordained pastors of churches is the fear that this will upset the natural order and lead to condoning homosexuality in the church. This is unfortunately no different fears that ending segregation will upset the natural order and lead to homosexuality (a real argument in the past by some segregationists). God is actually in the business of upsetting the status quo, but He does it in order to bring greater good, not harm. Here are some reasons why no Christian should support homosexuality, even though we must have compassion and kindness towards those caught in that destructive deception.

A) The General Conference Biblical Research Institute has correctly identified the fear that women’s ordination will “opens the way to the acceptance of a homosexual lifestyle by the Adventist Church.” as a false comparison fallacy. They explain:
“The two issues are not related to each other and should be kept separate. While the Bible clearly forbids homosexual activity, it does not … forbid ordination of women.”

The BRI rightly points out that the “wrong reasons used by some should not prevent us to do the right thing for right reasons.” https://adventistbiblicalresearch.org/sites/default/files/pdf/Some%20Wrong%20and%20Right%20Reasons%20in%20the%20Women.pdf

B) There is no similar hermeneutical framework between women’s ordination and homosexuality as some assert.
1) WO reasons on biblical principles found in 1 Tim 4:8, Acts 10 and other places that we should follow God’s Spirit and what brings the most good for the most people, following objective science as well as the fact that there are no statements against WO anywhere in the Bible.

2) Gay people reason against the very clear laws of God on the issue, against objective science, against what is best for all people and against the moving of God’s Spirit.

You can see many academic references for the above from Oxford, Berkeley, the CDC, Mayo Clinic, and even quite a few gay groups showing that gay lifestyles cause much harm to human beings, starting with reducing their life spans by ~10-30 years on average.
http://questions.truth-is-life.org/homosexuality.html

C) Children can compensate, but men can’t replace women and women can’t replace men. They parent in very different ways, both of which are valuable. This study shows that children of same sex parents do worse on ~77 of 80 outcomes.

New Study on Homosexual Parents Tops All Previous Research (Children of Homosexuals Fare Worse on Most Outcomes)
downloads.frc.org/EF/EF13I75.pdf
See also: http://www.acpeds.org/?CONTEXT=art&cat=22&art=50
http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/parenting-issues/homosexual-parenting-is-it-time-for-change

D) 1 reason for this is because men and women have very different brains.
10 Things Every Man Should Know about a Woman’s Brain
www.livescience.com/14421-human-brain-gender-differences.html

10 Things Every Woman Should Know About a Man’s Brain
http://www.livescience.com/14422-10-facts-male-brains.html

E) This difference between men’s and women’s brains is also interestingly yet another reason why having men only as spiritual leaders will deprive people of important spiritual insights as Ellen White rightly says.

“In many respects a woman can impart knowledge to her sisters that a man cannot. The cause would suffer great loss without this kind of labor. Manuscript Release #959, pp. 1-2 (Letter 137, 1898).

“When a great and decisive work is to be done, God chooses men and women to do this work, and it will feel the loss if the talents of both are not combined.” (Letter 77, 1898; Evangelism, 469)

F) Children who grow up without a father have serious deficiencies often (and same if they lack a mother). Dr. Meeker is a leading parenting psychologist and has found that in the teen years girls learn from their fathers how to make deep relationships with future husbands (and boys learn similarly from their mothers about wives). Without this, they often have very serious deficiencies in their ability to make strong relationships, in how fairly they treat others, their morals, in their reliance and thinking that materialism will solve all problems and other things. They can be overcome, esp. with help from God, but it’s much tougher.
http://www.growingupwithoutafather.org/learned.html
http://henrymakow.com/2014/06/The-Effect-of-Fatherlessness-on-Women.html.
https://megmeekermd.com/books/

See also:
Torah Tuesdays: God and Gay Rights, a secular Q&A http://judahgabriel.blogspot.kr/2015/07/torah-tuesdays-god-and-gay-rights.html?fb_ref=Default&m=1

Pro-Gay Theology: Does the Bible Approve of Homosexuality? https://answersingenesis.org/family/homosexuality/pro-gay-theology-does-the-bible-approve-of-homosexuality/?utm_source=facebook-aig&utm_medium=social&utm_content=progaytheologydoesthebibleapproveofhomosexuality-8455&utm_campaign=20150630

CONCLUSION
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God’s ultimate goal for us is that all of us become kings and priests under God. Is he going to give each of us our own world to be stewards of like He did for Adam and Eve? I don’t know. But it will be interesting for sure.

Just as parents give children more and more freedom as they get older and more mature so that they can become responsible for greater and greater duties, so too does God do the same thing with men and women in spiritual context. The Bible tells us that God is preparing us to be kings and priests of God in heaven.
“[Jesus Christ] is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 1:5,6 (Rev. 5:9,10).

Ellen White writes:
“The Israelites were continually losing sight of the fact that they were under divine guidance. They forgot that the Angel of the covenant was their invisible leader, that, veiled by the cloudy pillar, the presence of Christ went before them, and that from Him Moses received all his directions.” Patriarchs and Prophets, p. Page 396

Let’s make sure that we do not lose sight that Jesus is our leader. Even in Old Testament Times, He chose women as top spiritual leaders of the nation such as Deborah and Miriam and of course in our church, Ellen White. Who are we to go backwards and deny these callings of God? It is those who do so who are actually in rebellion against God. It is those who do so who are actually hindering and crippling the work of God.

More and more godly pastors, GC presidents and church members believe that it is long past time to make an official church policy that recognizes women as fully equal in ministry because they have seen evidence that God has inspired many women to be effective spiritual leaders and pastors in Bible history, in our own SDA church history and in the present in many countries. http://ordinationfacts.com/its-time-adventist-elder-statesman-speak-out-on-womens-ordination/

As Calvin Rock, former Vice President of the General Conference has said:
“For me the whole ordination question boils down to one simple question: Does this person have the gift?…If so, who are we to not recognize it?”

God bless and keep us unified as we move forward with God’s Spirit leading us,
Bryan Bissell

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