by pastor David Bissell (retired after 40+ years of work in the SDA church)

CHINA SETS THE TONE.  Dear Brother Doug, and all who are opposed to women’s ordination: I am sure you are aware that the pastor of our largest church in the world is a woman.  Her name is Hao Ya Jie.  She is the pastor of 7,000 Seventh-day Adventist members in a church in China.  In addition to her ministry, more than half the pastors of Adventist churches in China are women.

HERE IS MY PLEA:  Some of you believe women should not baptize or organize churches because only men should be ordained by God to be elders and leaders of churches.  You claim that this is a moral issue and a forever principle that was ordained by God before sin entered the world.  (I am aware there are variations to this idea.) What if this woman and the other women pastors in China would have followed your counsel?  What if she would have believed that a woman’s role should be limited?  What if she believed that only men should lead, organize or baptize?


Would you be so brash as to say that this woman should not be a pastor?  If we followed your advice, this woman and the other Chinese women pastors would not be spiritual leaders.  Would you advise that the Adventist Church shut down her ministry because she is the wrong gender?  Would you say she should not teach men?  Would you purport that her ministry is not of God?  Would you say that only a man should be the pastor of these churches?  Your proposal, if it had been followed in her case, would have stymied the work of God in China.

If the Adventist Church in San Antonio were to follow the way you want us to vote, what would you do to aid and encourage gifted women to carry out the work that this woman and others like her have done?  You who believe that God has limited his highest work to men, how do you account for His leading in the life of this woman and other female pastors?  How do you account for the powerful teaching ministry of women like Elizabeth Talbot of Jesus 101?  She has spoken at pastors’ retreats and encouraged many men.

If we followed your counsel we would never listen to her because she is a woman.  How do you account for the role Ellen White played in Adventism?  Those who believe in a rigid interpretation of 1 Timothy 2 and 3, would you advise Ellen White to be quiet?  Would you follow your own understanding of this passage and propose that women be quiet in church without speaking to men?  Would you shut down their obvious gift of leadership?  If Ellen White should not have been a spiritual leader as you propose, where would the Adventist church be today?


A LESSON FROM THE CIRCUMCISION CONTROVERSY:  Early in the history of Christianity, there were those who sought to limit the work of the Holy Spirit, demanding that all be circumcised before they could become Christians.  They felt strongly that it was their responsibility to control how God was working in the world.  They had many Bible texts to support the importance of circumcision.  It was plain from the Old Testament that this was a covenant forever.

Their support from Scripture for their view was far clearer and more evident than support for denying women the opportunity of leading, pastoring and organizing churches.  This problem became such an issue that it threatened to divide the early church.  So, there was a Jerusalem counsel.  Upon listening to the testimony of Paul and many others, the church leaders could not deny that God was bringing Gentiles into the church, regardless of whether they accepted circumcision or all the Jewish interpretations of the law.

Today a similar choice stands before us.  Will we recognize the leading of the Spirit in the lives of godly women in the church?  Contrary to what anti-ordination people suggest, I do not believe it is assertive women that need to be put in their place.  It is an issue as to whether a church that claims it has a mission to the whole world will do the right thing!!!!!!

The church needs to get behind the work of the Spirit and support every woman and human being that is being led to give their lives in ministry.  Will we deny the work of the Spirit and stymie the work of God by our own narrow interpretations of Scripture, or will we get behind what God is doing in the world today?

If you are not going to recognize what God is doing in the lives and ministry of women, what is your proposal for encouraging women to use their Godgiven talents to be pastors and leaders?  With all my heart, I encourage you to open your eyes to what God is doing in the world and avoid limiting the movement of the Spirit of God.  If this kind of leading is of God, and the work in China seems to suggest this without a doubt, you could be fighting the Lord.  May we unite together to see the work spread like wild fire! That is my prayer.

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  • 13. July 2017 at 11:58

    I believe DB went to China and knows this lady preacher first hand. I NEVER DID HEAR HOW THAT WORKED OUT BETWEEN THEM.?

  • 13. July 2017 at 14:44

    Words well chosen and spoken! May His Spirit continue to guide us to accept His leading.

  • 13. July 2017 at 16:00

    Base on the Church in China women to be ordained is against my conscience.

  • 14. July 2017 at 22:50

    Oh, and one more observation. According to the Bible Adam and Eve were created equal as memorialized by the rib.
    Male headship was part of the curse of sin.
    Jesus did not die to leave us in sin.
    To insist on male headship is to reject Jesus salvation from sin, the new birth, becoming a partaker of the divine nature, and entrance into the Kingdom of heaven.
    Think about it.

  • 15. July 2017 at 13:19

    While I totally ageee with Doug Batchelor, I can’t speak for his position. This writer completely confuses the argument for me. I have no problem with women leading out and preaching and organizing. It’s just ordination that’s a problem. God gave the hard work of being a priest to the male. He gave the birthright to the oldest male.

  • 15. July 2017 at 20:49

    The Seventh-day Adventist Church is at 20 million members without the approval of one woman’s ordination as a pastor.

    The rejection of women’s ordination has not resulted in the stunted stagnant growth of the church. False Dichotomy.

  • 14. September 2017 at 14:06

    Should Women Be Pastors and Eldresses?
    In a social climate of complete equality in all things, the plain biblical teaching of only allowing men to be pastors and elders is not popular. Many feminist organizations denounce this position as antiquated and chauvinistic. In addition, many Christian churches have adopted the “politically correct” social standard and have allowed women pastors and eldresses in the church. But the question remains, is this biblical?
    My answer to this question is, “No, women are not to be pastors and eldresses.” Many of you may not like that answer, but it is an accurate representation of what God says in His Holy unchanging Word. You make the decision after reading this paper.

    First of all, women are under-appreciated and under-utilized in the church. There are many gifted women who might very well do a better job at preaching and teaching than many men. However, it isn’t gifting that is the issue, but God’s order and calling. What does the Bible say? We cannot come to God’s word with a social agenda and make it fit our wants. Instead, we must change and adapt to what it says.
    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve. He put Adam in the garden and gave him the authority to name all the animals. Afterwards, God made Eve as a helper to Adam. This is an important concept because Paul refers to the order of creation in his epistle to Timothy when he discusses the relationship between men and women in the church context. Let’s take a look.
    “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression” (1 Tim. 2:12-14). This passage has several interesting areas of discussion, but for our purpose we will focus on authority. At the very least, there is an authority structure set up by God. The woman is not to have authority over the man in the church context. But this does not extend to the political/economic world. In the Old Testament Deborah was a judge in Israel over men. Also, in the New Testament, Phoebe played an important role in the church at Cenchrea (Romans 16). There is no doubt that women supported Paul in many areas and were great helpers in the church (Act 2:17; 18:24; 21:8). But what Paul is speaking of in 1 Tim. 2 is the relationship between men and women in the church structure, not in a social or political context.
    When we look further at Paul’s teachings we see that the bishop/overseer is to be the husband of one wife (1 Tim. 3:2) who manages his household well and has a good reputation (1 Tim. 3:4-5, 7). Deacons must be “men of dignity”(1 Tim. 3:8). Paul then speaks of women in verse 11 and their obligation to receive instruction. Then in verse 12, Paul says “Let deacons be husbands of one wife…” Again, in Titus 1:5-7, Paul says, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man be above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward…” Notice that Paul interchanges the word ‘elder’ and ‘overseer’.
    In each case, the one who is an elder, deacon, bishop, or overseer is instructed to be male. He is the husband of one wife, responsible, able to “exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). We see no command for the overseers to be women. On the contrary, women are told to be “dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things” (1 Tim. 3:11). Why is it that it is the men who are singled out as the overseers or elders? It is because of the created order of God that Paul references (Gen. 1-2; 1 Tim. 2:12-14). This is not merely a social custom that fell away with ancient Israel.
    Additionally, in the Old Testament in over 700 mentions of priests, every single one was a male. There is not one instance of a female priest. And yet in the surrounding nations it was very common to have High Priestesses, temple virgins, and female Oracles. If God would have wanted to have female church leaders it would have been the simplest thing in the world as it was quite accepted at the time. This is significant because priests were ordained by God to hold a very important office of ministering the sacrifices. This was NOT the job of women!
    Therefore in Genesis 1-2, 1 Timothy 2, and Titus 1, the normal and proper person to hold the office of elder/pastor is to be a man.
    What About Galatians 3:28?
    “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” (Gal. 3:28).
    This verse is often used to support the idea that women can hold the offices of elder and pastor because there is neither male nor female in Christ. The argument states that if we are all equal, then women can be pastors.
    Unfortunately, those who use this verse this way have failed to read the context. Verse 23 talks about being under the Law “before faith came” and how we are brought closer to Jesus and have become sons of God by faith. We are no longer under law, but grace and we are “Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise,” (v. 29). The point of this passage is that we are all saved by God’s grace according to the promise of God and that it doesn’t matter who you are, Jew, Greek, slave, free, male, or female. All are saved the same way, by grace. In that, there is neither male nor female.
    This verse is not talking about church structure and leadership. It is talking about salvation “in Christ.” It cannot be used to support women as pastors/Eldresses because that isn’t what it is talking about. Instead, to find out about church structure and leadership, you need to go to those passages that talk about it: 1 Timothy 2 and Titus 1.
    Being a Pastor or Elder is to be in Authority
    God is a God of order and balance. He has established order within the family (Gen. 3:16; 1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-21) and the church (1 Tim. 2:11-14; 1 Cor. 11:8-9). Even within the Trinity there is an order, a hierarchy. The Father sent the Son (John 6:38) and both the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26). Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me,” (John 6:38). It is clear that God is a God of order and structure.
    In creation, God made Adam first and then Eve to be his helper. This is the order of creation. It is this order that Paul mentions in 1 Tim. 2:11-14 when speaking of authority. Being a pastor or an elder is to be in the place of authority. Therefore, within the church, for a woman to be a pastor or eldress, she would be in authority over men in the church which contradicts what God says through Paul in 1 Tim. 2:11-14.
    But Doesn’t This Teaching Belittle Women?
    No, male leadership does not belittle women. Jesus was given his authority by God the Father (Matt. 28:18). He was sent by God (John 6:38). He said the Father was greater than He (John 14:28). Did this belittle Jesus? Of course not. Women are of great value in the church and need to be used more and more according to the gifts given them.
    Does the wife’s submission to the husband mean that she is less than the husband, less important, or belittled? Again, not at all. Not having a place of leadership in the church does not mean a woman is less of a person, less important to God, or inferior. All are equal before God whether it be Jew, Gentile, free, slave, male, or female. But in the church, God has set up an order the same way he set one up in the family. The chain of command is Jesus, the man, the wife, and the children.

    What About Women Who Say They are Called By God to Be Pastors or Eldresses?
    There are women pastors and Eldresses in the world who love their congregations and have stated that they are called by God to be pastors. Of course, I cannot agree with this considering the previous analysis of the biblical position. Instead, I believe they have usurped the position of men and gone against the norm of scriptural revelation. Additionally, those who state that they are called by God because of the great job they are doing and the gifting they have received are basing their theology upon experience and not scripture.
    The issue is simple: are they submitting to the word of God or are they making the word of God submit to their desires?
    What About a Missionary Woman Who Establishes a Church?
    Scripture establishes the norm. As Christians we apply what we learn from the word, to the situations at hand. So, what about the situation where a woman missionary has converted a group of people, say in the jungle somewhere, and she has established a church? In that church, she is then functioning as a pastor and teacher having authority over men in the church. Should she not do this?
    First of all, she should not be out there alone. She should be with her husband or, at the very least, under the oversight of a church body in the presence of other women and men. Missionary work is not a lone endeavor to be handled by single women.
    Second, if in some highly unusual set of circumstances there is a woman in a lone situation, it is far more important that the word of God be preached and the gospel of salvation go forth to the lost than not. Whether it be male or female, let the gospel be spoken. However, I would say that as soon as there is/are males mature enough to handle eldership, that she should then establish the proper order of the church as revealed in scripture and thereby, show her submission to it.
    In 2 Tim 2:11, Paul says that a woman should quietly receive instruction. Please note that “The word, heµsychia, translated “quietness” in 1 Timothy 2:11 and silent in verse 12, does not mean complete silence or no talking. It is clearly used elsewhere (Acts 22:2; 2 Thes. 3:12) to mean “settled down, undisturbed, not unruly. A different word (sigaoµ) means “to be silent, to say nothing” (cf. Luke 18:39; 1 Cor. 14:34).” Paul is advocating orderliness in this verse.
    Then in verse 12-13, Paul says, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.” Notice that Paul directly relates the authority issue with the created order.
    Where can the teaching of women ordination lead?
    In order to get to the position that women can be pastors and eldresses, people must ignore and or reinterpret a lot of Scripture. The problem with this is that once accomplished, the same method used to justify the woman’s pastor/eldress position can also be used to undermine other areas of biblical truth.
    Now, there is no exact correlation between believing in women eldresses/pastors and apostasy. But we can see a general sequence of doctrinal positions that lead away from biblical fidelity, women pastors and eldresses is one of them. In fact, women ordinations seem to be a precursor to apostasy. We see that denominations that hold to women pastors later overwhelmingly come to support abortion, homosexuality, and deny the inerrancy of scripture.
    God in His word clearly tells us that the elder is to be the husband of one wife. A woman cannot qualify for this position by virtue of her being female. Whether anyone likes it or not is irrelevant to the fact that this is what the Bible teaches. The real question is does God mean what He says? And do we believe what the Bible says when it teaches that all scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit and is profitable for doctrine and reproof?
    If you want to mess something up, all you need is two things: people and time. It is our tendency to rebel against God and fall into error, to become more liberal. To summarize, the problem with justifying women pastors and Eldresses is twofold. First, it’s not what the Scriptures teach! Second, it opens the door up to other errors.
    What does the scripture say?
    • 1 Tim. 2:12-13, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.”
    • Titus 1:4, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man be above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.”
    The verses clearly teach a woman is not to teach or exercise authority over a man because Adam was created first, thereby making it a doctrinal mandate, not a cultural one. In the second verse, Paul tells Titus to appoint men as elders. So, we can clearly see that the Bible teaches it is the man who is to be an authority in the Church. But, in order to justify having women be in authority and teaching men, the texts are deconstructed and reinterpreted.
    We Christians must take the word of God seriously. Sometimes doing this means that we have to act in a manner contrary to what others may believe. So be it. Since I have examined this topic very thoroughly, I am convinced that the office of elders/pastor is for men only, the Scriptures clearly teach this, and that those who would contradict it could not be trusted to interpret other areas of Scripture. Error leads to error and unless we adhere to the clear teaching of Scripture, we will drift further and further away from God’s revelation.
    Does this seem overblown? It should not if you believe in the Bible as the Holy and Inspired Word of God. If you compromise in one area, it is easier to compromise in another. We must ask the same question Jesus asked, “…when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).


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