Guys – Stop ordaining our women!

By Cindy Koch

I know you think it’s a helpful and progressive thing. I’m guessing you know some pretty amazing gals. I’m sure you’re concerned about sounding like a jerk. But stop it, for the sake of our women.

A leader of the church is someone amazing, but not because there is something amazing about the person. One is amazing because God puts gifts in his hands and words in his mouth. God chooses and uses things and people to deliver his gifts. He marks his children with water. He forgives sinners with bread and wine. He sustains us with words of the good news of eternal life. But He tells us where to look.

Really, it’s no secret how God is doing this. Guys, according to God’s Word in the Bible, this is your job. Remember Adam? God entrusted him to call it like it was. He was created to love God. He was created to look after God’s creation and listen to God’s word. He was created to name all the animals. Woman was created from his side, and he saw her. He called it bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh; I will protect you as part of who I am.

But sin invaded. Crying and pain and toil and whining about liberation. It’s all been messed up since that selfish meal of forbidden fruit. Creation was good, but our world turned deadly. Adam’s one-flesh partner was deceived, so he also ate the apple. He fell into the trap of death with his bride. And we all were born into the deep pit of death.

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And so, I guess it is no surprise that you have given up. No longer do you honor God’s gift to our women. No longer do you see your own bone and flesh ready to help. No longer do you gather her to your side in protection from the evil one. No longer do you warn her about the rotten fruit of selfish desire. You ordain her to do your job.

It is a weak and shameful generation that would tell a woman she should act like a man. It’s a confused place where a message of comfort tells a woman to do something other than what God created her to do. It’s a messed up church that would cheer for Jesus to crucify Mary on his cross.

Guys, I know you love our women. But Christ redeemed you to be the guy. Call it like it is. Even Adam continued to name things after the terrible face-to-face encounter with the Almighty God. With a promise ringing in his ears, he names his wife then and there with the pure Gospel of life. Adam calls her: Eve, “Mother of all the Living.” Born from her destructive body, generations later, the Holy Son of God will crush the head of death. Adam believes and marks them both with a word of comfort. He trusts the promise and feeds their broken hearts with a breath of forgiveness. Because of Christ, He just does his job.

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12 comments

  1. There’s more than one way to call it like it is. Men have largely ruled the church, all denominations, throughout history. Men were in charge as the Catholic church decided to shuffle it’s pedophile priests from one parish to the next, giving them access to new potential victims to groom. Men were in charge as heresies such as the Shepherding Movement took root and poisoned Christianity. Men still are in charge and they’re mostly alone. Which, by the way, was and is not good. It doesn’t seem wise for God to make a woman to be a man’s companion if the unspoken rule was a complete separation of their spheres. As one who farms, I can tell you, it’s not something that can be done alone. Jesus refers to his church workers as harvest hands, for a very long time, only men were allowed to work the fields. In the real world, there are places where men cannot go, where their influence wanes or causes scandal. For such times and places, women must be in leadership – so that men are not alone. So that one sees what the other turns a blind eye to. Men were in charge in ancient Israel, Italy, Greek, Turkey for the very good reason that they lived in a patriarchal world where women would be a laughingstock. Today women are the equals of men in the public sphere, it’s only in the church where women are limited to a specific place and it shows, it really shows.

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    1. “Now you tell me, when a father goes ahead and washes diapers or performs some other mean task for his child, and someone ridicules him as an effeminate fool, though that father is acting in the spirit just described and in Christian faith, my dear fellow you tell me, which of the two is most keenly ridiculing the other? God, with all his angels and creatures, is smiling, not because that father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith. Those who sneer at him and see only the task but not the faith are ridiculing God with all his creatures, as the biggest fool on earth. Indeed, they are only ridiculing themselves; with all their cleverness they are nothing but devil’s fools.” (Martin Luther, Sermon on the Estate of Marriage 1522)

      Your argument does not comprehend the nature of the Church. It attempts to posit the way of the world in harmony with Christ and assumes a structure of power and authority which does not exist. What you say may be true of some churches but it is not true of God’s order and His Church.

      When God ordains that a woman is created as a helper, He also calls the man to have goals worthy of the woman’s help. When God ordains that a man should protect the woman, He calls the woman to be worthy of protection. Each is called to merit and serve the other. God chose not to allow sin to defeat that order. Different areas of responsibility is not inequality. When we live according to our callings, the modern nonsense of choosing to be something or being whatever we want o be or choose to be is shown for what it is. A calling is not a personal choice, nor is it an assigned role. It would be inequality if some could choose and others not. This is the inequality presented by society, that some may choose and others not. The Church is not guilty of any such thing.

      When we live according to calling, we expose the errors in many choices and show that many people choose to be something that they and, sometimes, no one ought to be. We show that people assume roles and responsibilities sinfully. Both parents have a responsibility for teaching the faith to their children. We have a biblical model in Priscilla who, with her husband, contributed to private catechesis and hosted a house church. In some of today’s churches, that would have made them co-pastors of some evangelical church but neither was called and neither took on the role of public preaching because they choose to do so. When worthy men were not found, God raised Deborah to lead Israel. We know much more of Mary than Joseph, we know that women were numbered among Christ’s followers, we know that women were blessed with reaching his tomb, first, and were given the privilege of bearing that news. So, God announces salvation to lowly shepherds (pastors?) at start of his life with us and to women at the dawn of new life but His Church and His order makes inferiors?

      A life in Christ, discipleship, is not about choosing a faith, choosing to believe, or choosing Christ, it is about accepting that you are chosen by God and every aspect of the Church reflects that. There is no inequality in God’s choosing. A pastor is not a superior position in the priesthood to one who comes to hear and receive. His prayers are not more effective, he is not a lesser sinner, he has no additional grace, and does not stand higher than you before God. Believe me, behind every pastor I have ever known is a wonderful wife supporting him and helping him through every day. Without her, I don’t think they would be what they are. Is this not God’s way of doing things, using us to be His hands in the lives of others? Is there an inequity, here?

      As to more practical matters, the Church has been wise to offer women a vote in the business of the congregation and allowing them to serve in practical roles. Without such, many congregations would have floundered as men tend not to be as active on a large scale in many congregations. But then, just as a man assumes the responsibility for such practical matters in service to others, men and women, so may a woman serve. Those men among us not called to the ministry can no more step into that role than a woman. Where is the inequality? We all go out into the world as Christians, living our lives for Him. we work in the harvest fields, even without vestments. we serve the least, the last, and the lost, together, both men and women.

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      1. “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.”

        Everyone is bound by constraints. Some are acquired through life and some are God-given (talents, physical abilities, intelligence, etc.). We are affected by decisions made by parents and grandparents, are born in places we do not choose, into lives we do not choose. We certainly do choose to act or not to act as we ought – that is actual sin. But we do not wake up and say to ourselves “I shall covet something today” and then go out and do it. Sins arise from within, without our consent. This is our nature. As we sin and err, the world is affected and God takes on the challenge of working His will through it. By His grace alone, we are given what we need, even faith. He has chosen us (2 Tim 1:9, Rev 17:14, 1 Peter 2:9, Col 3:12, Romans 11:5, 1 Thess 1:4).

        Whatever situation we find ourselves in, throughout each day, our callings are clear. I am a husband, a father, a laborer, a supervisor, a friend, and always a Christian. In each case, those I relate to as each of these things is loved and served by me where I do well. God’s law describes such love and service to others, not the rights and wrongs of my reason or choosing. Whether I labor as a lawyer or a roofer, my labor serves and loves my neighbor because I seek to be the best and God has planned such good work for me (Eph 2:10). I labor because this is how God gives daily bread to my family, and so on. God serves other through us and us through others, this is how He chooses to work.

        Not all people may become doctors and not all doctors may become neurosurgeons. No one loves and serves properly trying to be what one is not. A fine doctor obsessed with trying to become a somewhat competent neurosurgeon is pulled away from serving many, all for selfish desire to be what she chooses. For one’s own reasons and dreams, one could abandon an established life and become a long-haul truck driver simply by choosing not to be with family, to spend time, to be active at church, to give up the ties he has forged. But that would not be loving service to those that have become part of his life. It becomes easier as we grow older not to ourselves as cowboys and astronauts and to feel God’s guidance and to realize that we are given inclinations and abilities to guide our actions to the benefit of others. Our lives in vocation are a preaching, they are the living word as we are alive in Christ.

        Only service to God, by unique calling, should move one sever ties – not dreams, or money, or personal fulfillment, or beliefs concerning equality, or social agendas. Pastoral ministry is a unique calling. While women can and do teach in missions, Sunday School, Christian schools, those roles do not include public preaching and sacrament, those roles do not posses the Keys. Those things that belong to the Church are in the keeping of men selected for that purpose. I am sure any pastor can give you examples of his calling, it can be quite varied. Scripture tells that only men are so called and we do not read things into or out of scripture based on cultural or societal norms. Rather, we find in scripture the deficiencies of such norms. God’s Word is our authority. If you would make an argument for ordaining women, it must be made from God’s Word. That is a welcome discussion. Only good cam come of it.

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      2. You have a right to believe as you do, but I grew up with pastors that were men and pastors that were women. They both preached out of the same Bible, said the same sermons, carried out the same pastoral duties. All my churches prospered under their leadership. Things that didn’t happen: fire did not fall from heaven, women weren’t turn into pillars of salt, venomous snakes didn’t poison the congregation, that sort of thing.
        You’re reading the word of a God who is frozen in time, according to a patriarchal society. My God lives and is present here and now, according to our egalitarian society he gives gifts as he wills, to men and women alike.

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      3. I am a Lutheran and confess God, who is not bound to human time or space. He lives the same, now, as ever. To say that God’s Word changes, that His promises change, or that His order and laws change with our time is to deny what he has said, “…the word of the Lord remains forever.” (1 Peter 1:25) He does not operate either to our American notions, now, or to tyrannical notions of the past. The world is no more or less sinful than it ever was. Human beings are no better than they have been since the Fall.

        If I confine God to the sensibilities of human perceptions and human age, I am fashioning a god in a human image. I would encourage you to step back and allow God to reveal Himself and not seek in places other than where He is to be found, in Word and sacrament. As soon as you depart from this, you seek something other and place your faith in your own reason, you are taming a god to your own needs. We only read the same bible if what we both read is God’s eternal Word, not a moral guide or instruction book, not something that contains God’s Word to be drawn out by reason and reflected on according to our sensibilities, to be decoded, or to agree with us. It calls and saves, it gives life because it has life, just as it is.

        But what else would you hear from a a confessional Lutheran on a confessional website? I would be interested in knowing your background and what brings you to this discussion. Is it necessary to depart from God’s Word in order to have women ordained? I still think this should be the discussion – where in His Word do we permit it?

        As with any sin, God will work His will in the world. I have no doubt that you hear the Gospel and are saved, in spite of any wrong practices. He accepts a church where many Christians are in doctrinal error and forgives us our personal errors of interpretation. By grace (God’s unmerited favor) we are saved, through faith (created by God in us).

        Truth is in scripture and scripture indicates this as a male calling. If Jesus can allow familiarity with sinners, against the customs and religious rules of the time, we have no valid reason to suppose that God could not have violated any other conventions of society in building His Church and giving us His Word. The Incarnation and Christ’s life among us, his suffering and death are enough to show that this is not a God concerned with human wisdom and reason (1 Corinthians 1:18-31), not one who lives and changes as we do, not one who is perfecting society, or choosing models of human society as moral exemplars and certain nations or peoples as superior.

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      4. Might I suggest that you use Twitter? When you’re limited to 140 total characters, you tend to get good at condensing what you have to say. The verbose nature of your statements take a really long time to figure out. (I’m still trying to figure out what you said yesterday.)

        I think, somewhere in there you asked about my background. I grew up in Southern Baptist Churches and saw how women were relegated to second-class status in the name of having different roles. I don’t believe any one church has a monopoly on the Bible and I’m curious about all denominations. I wasn’t aware that this blog was Lutheran or for Lutherans only.

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      5. It is not for Lutherans only, I am just curious about what draws attention to non-Lutherans.

        I have little experience with the SBC as I live in the Northeast.

        Sound bite talk is destructive of earnest dialog and issues of faith are not served by short pronouncements. Reasoned discussion gets little enough attention in our society because everyone seems to think there are short answers and quick solutions. If this were as simple as “I think this…” “You think that…” there would be no point in saying anything.

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      6. You’d be surprised at the similarity between Lutheran and non-Lutheran teachings, the SBC does trace it’s existence back to Luther at the time of the Reformation, it just continued to add the thought of it’s other teachers along the way. Some of the things you say, saved by grace through faith, God chooses not because of us or through us so that no one can boast, are pretty much the same as what I heard growing up. I did once host an exchange student, a Lutheran who was a lot of fun to debate and I learned a lot from him.

        I didn’t grow up under the idea of reasoned discourse, when I see a flood of text, my eyes sort of glaze over and my attention wanders. Which is why I still don’t know what you said yesterday.

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      7. You ought to watch a good bible class among Lutherans deviate in discussion and come back two weeks later. I guess I learned to ask, ask, ask, get clarity.

        I find that a huge difference between Lutherans and others is the notion that faith is not a choice and does not reach out to claim anything. It is passive – imparted to us, by God, to receive grace. This is how we baptize infants, knowing that, through baptism, God not only saves but creates faith in them and prepares them for further hearing, studying, nurture.

        We reject choosing or even “accepting” as an action, a work, which,means that it becomes part of one’s salvation. to us, that says Christ is not enough because I must choose or accept. We reverse that, God chooses and accepts us, we just receive. In some sense, even in church, it is not that we are voluntary or willing – our sinful selves push back – but God works through it telling us what we need to hear and giving us what we need, not matter what we think or feel about it.

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      8. That’s not that dissimilar with some aspects of Calvinism, namely that God enables people to believe, God’s grace is irresistible, once saved always saved (God prevents people from walking away from the truth). It’s all on God to choose us, initiate salvation, enable us to respond to his offer of salvation, and God keeps us from falling away.

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  2. Cindy, I think we could do a lot more for this cause if we set better examples of marriage. I have seem far too many single-parent households and know of ten times the divorce and remarriage in the pews as I had growing up. I don’t see fathers in church as often as mothers. Men abdicating their roles, society convincing people that marriage is a legal and soluble contract, lack of forgiveness, abuse, abandonment all contribute to the problem. An economy based on double-income pricing rather than a fair and living wage – how often people lament the days when a man would work to support a household and come home for dinner yet vote for and support a corporate system set against that. People are more apt to blame the poor and struggling for being just that rather than just helping with immediate need and looking for justice. We even go out of our way to make people have unwanted children without ameliorating the causes that motivate these women or caring about the women or making it so that all children are truly gifts from God. No, better to judge the woman for her promiscuity and leave her to suffer on food stamps and the child to be raised by grandparents with visit from a “bay daddy” in order to make sure they’re raise by “blood” and not adopted by a husband and wife. How often we see these sentiments coming from people at the local charismatic temple. Is it any wonder then that people who understand alienation and being outcast, homosexual couples, want to adopt, do the right thing for these children?

    The Church is not the issue, it is us. We are too enamored with the privileged position that this nation used to lull us and we are too willing pawns for what passes as “conservatism.”

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