Author Topic: The Ordination of Women  (Read 28673 times)

mariemeyer

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The Ordination of Women
« on: December 13, 2010, 05:50:50 PM »
There are two reasons for starting this thread.

The first reason is to respond to those who have asked me to be honest about the ordination of women. The second reason is to test the feasibility of a reasoned Scriptural discussion on the various Biblical principles upon which the LCMS bases a male only pastorate.

Regarding the first, I acknowledge that I am not comfortable with the ordination of women. I have a gut negative reaction to seeing a woman wearing a clerical collar, more so if she is wearing Eucharistic vestments.  My reaction is much the same as I feel about voting for a woman as President of the United States, flying a plane with a woman pilot or undergoing brain surgery at the hands of a woman. Each of these is counter to how I feel about myself as a woman.

But the ordination of women is not about my personal feelings. The question is whether the Bible forbids the ordination of women? To that question my honest answer is ďI donít know.Ē 

Why canít I give a yes or no answer?  I will offer one reason which I hope can be the basis of a reasoned discussion.

LCMS theologians claim there are several Scriptural principles that affirm Godís design for a male pastorate.  Among them is the principle that the subordination of the woman/wife to the man/husband is for the sake of unity and order in the home and church God. When men or women disobey the headship/subordination structure, the unity of the home and church is disordered. 

Over the years I have tested this Scriptural principle with the historic liturgy of the Church and traditional Lutheran hymnody. Nowhere have I found either to associate unity or order in the church with an immutable structure where men and women have assigned positions. In fact, I have not read anything in the Confessions about anything remotely resembling the idea that the subordination of woman to man is for the sake of orderliness and unity in the church.  It is for this reason that I question this particular defense of a male pastorate.

  Today, I question whether the LCMS misuses Scripture to falsely bind consciences to the idea that unity and order in the Church requires that men and women acknowledge that their God and Father assigns them non-interchangeable headship/subordination positions and functions.  Note, I do not dismiss anything St. Paul writes about Christ as Head of the Church or the husband as head of his wife. I submit what Paul says is about the organic unity of the head and body, not the head as being in authority over the body.

Marie
 

Cnehring

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Re: The Ordination of Women
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2010, 07:16:54 PM »
One of the first things called for from the NALC is to make a study of this issue. I think it would be great if all parties could sit down and actually study this issue from a Biblical and confessional level.

Scott6

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Re: The Ordination of Women
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2010, 08:43:06 PM »
Today, I question whether the LCMS misuses Scripture to falsely bind consciences to the idea that unity and order in the Church requires that men and women acknowledge that their God and Father assigns them non-interchangeable headship/subordination positions and functions.  Note, I do not dismiss anything St. Paul writes about Christ as Head of the Church or the husband as head of his wife. I submit what Paul says is about the organic unity of the head and body, not the head as being in authority over the body.

If "the organic unity of the head and body" were all that were in play, imagery such as "arm and leg" or "thigh and chin" could work just as well -- or just staying at the general imagery of a body as a whole with many parts that Paul uses elsewhere.  Yet in Eph. 5 Paul says much more than this and is more precise where such a characterization (of Paul's meaning as only "organic unity of head and body") doesn't do justice to statements like: "22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands." (Eph. 5:22-24)

Could you please give an interpretation of Eph. 5, then, that gives an account of the language Paul uses in places like this, where "submission" and "head" are used as complementary ideas?

Harvey_Mozolak

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Re: The Ordination of Women
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2010, 09:05:35 PM »
Scott in your text you have husbands, wives, church and Christ.  Now where is pastor in this text?  And can one make distinctions between spiritual and physical submission?  Harvey Mozolak
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Scott6

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Re: The Ordination of Women
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2010, 09:10:01 PM »
Scott in your text you have husbands, wives, church and Christ.  Now where is pastor in this text?  And can one make distinctions between spiritual and physical submission?  Harvey Mozolak

Hi Harvey,

Marie was alluding to Eph. 5 as being relevant to her point when she spoke of Paul's writings re: "head" and organic unity, so I'm following her lead.  Pastors are not mentioned in the text.  However, if we go elsewhere as at 1 Tim. 2, we do see the office of authoritative teaching, what we would call the pastor, being clearly in view, but that wasn't specifically alluded to by Marie.

As to spiritual and physical submission, I'm not sure what you're asking as all I can think of with physical submission is the image of somebody beating somebody else (as a forced submission) or somebody kow-towing to another (as a voluntary submission).  So I'm not sure where to go with that distinction.

mariemeyer

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Re: The Ordination of Women
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2010, 09:12:58 PM »
Scott:

I will addess your comment about the head/body image being the same as the organic unity between thigh and chin if you address the essence of what I said about the claim that unity and order in the church has to do with men and women being obedient to a structure God is said to have ordained at creation.  Where in the Confessions, the liturgy or our hynnody is the unity of the one Body associated with an immutable structure that is external to the men and woman who are the One Body of Christ?    

As to the head/body image being similar to the organic unity of the thigh and the chin.  You know the Greek. I do not. I have, however, read that the Greek term for "body," I think it is ""soma," often refers to the whole body.  Hence all who are the One Body in relation to the One Head, Christ, grow up into the fullness of Christ.  How does this take place?  It is because they are all as intimately related to Him as is one husband is intimately joined to one wife.  

Recall also that Ephesians 5 includes verse 21.  Be subject to one another.
Marie

Scott6

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Re: The Ordination of Women
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2010, 09:34:35 PM »
Scott:

I will addess your comment about the head/body image being the same as the organic unity between thigh and chin if you address the essence of what I said about the claim that unity and order in the church has to do with men and women being obedient to a structure God is said to have ordained at creation.  Where in the Confessions, the liturgy or our hynnody is the unity of the one Body associated with an immutable structure that is external to the men and woman who are the One Body of Christ?

Oh.  Ok.  Didn't know that responding to that point was a requirement for participation in the discussion.  But alright...

As I've said many times, the language of "order of creation" is problematic on many levels.  What it does preserve, however, is the idea of created difference between the sexes.  Something that Genesis and Paul, among others, affirm.  So I guess that's to "one-up" any other references.

As to the Confessions, they, too, speak of a created difference between men and women and vis-a-vis each other in the Table of Duties.  While this doesn't speak of order in the church (which wasn't at issue in the Reformation), it does address the idea of created differences continuing to pertain in domestic life.  In any case, the Confessions don't address the ordination of women as it simply wasn't an issue at the time.  So I'm not quite sure what the point is, here, except to note that they do acknowledge created differences.

And to be honest, I can't ever remember singing about an all-male pastorate.

Again, not sure what this proves as the Scriptures do deal with the issues in question, but that's my answer to your question in order to allow you to respond to mine.

As to the head/body image being similar to the organic unity of the thigh and the chin.  You know the Greek. I do not. I have, however, read that the Greek term for "body," I think it is ""soma," often refers to the whole body.  Hence all who are the One Body in relation to the One Head, Christ, grow up into the fullness of Christ.  How does this take place?  It is because they are all as intimately related to Him as is one husband is intimately joined to one wife.  

Sure.  That's how the body imagery is deployed in many places in Paul.  Yet Paul also deploys headship language to make a different point (emphasis just so that this doesn't get missed -- Paul doesn't just toot away on one-note here).  I.e., two different things are being discussed -- "organic unity" (to use your term) and male-female relations that revolve around terms like "head," "submission" and "love."

Recall also that Ephesians 5 includes verse 21.  Be subject to one another.

Absolutely.  I know I've posted a sermon on here sometime back when I preached on just this passage.  There, I made the point that there is a mutual submission involved, but that Paul also speaks to each constituency differently.  To women, he briefly speaks of a general submission as he clarifies the mutual submission called for in Eph. 5:21.  I'd imagine he's so brief because here he really isn't challenging many aspects of the status quo.  His address to men, however, is much longer and is more radical for most cultures I know.  The man is to submit to his wife by engaging in self-sacrificial love.  Not the maudlin type of sacrifice saying that: "Oh, I'll sacrifice my life for you by being willing to die for you, my sweetie!"  But rather a type of self-sacrifice that says: "I'll sacrifice my life for you by being willing to live for you, putting your desires and wants ahead of my own."  I preached this sermon in Kenya, and let's just say that it made a few eyes open wider.

To repeat in brief, Paul outlines a dual submission in v. 21.  He then briefly tells the wife to freely and generally submit generally to her husband for he is her head even as Christ is the head of the church (methinks that Christ is in a position of servant leadership to the Church, no?).  He then more expansively addresses the men telling them that their submission to their wives is to be characterized by self-sacrifice on their behalf -- servant leadership, if you will.

FrPeters

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Re: The Ordination of Women
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2010, 09:40:35 PM »
Let me ask a question.  Do you believe that the Church can be wrong over the course of centuries and even millenia and God works to bring correction or change to long settled questions?  I am asking this because if the Church could be so wrong on women's ordination, what about infant baptism which is implied, assumed, even expected, but no where explicitly stated (the claim made against women's ordination).  I guess I am not captive to Scripture in this way that the settled position of the Church must be reproved because of changes in culture and society -- and the truth is there would be no talk of women's ordination without the changes to the fabric of American culture and society (or world wide).

The Church has said "no" not as a rejection of women or their gifts but for a variety of reasons -- presumption of Scripture or expectation of Scripture, practice of Jesus and the earliest Church, and theological underpinings (especially here I think of Rome and the East).  Now either the Church has been wrong about something so vital and central as the ministry or else there is something else at work here.

Once I had a family bring a Church of Christ minister to my office when their daughter got involved with a boy from that congregation and began to doubt her baptism.  They expected us to duke it out and were going to go with whoever was left standing after the argument.  I began by saying that infant baptism was the practice of the Church unquestioned for more than  1500 years and that the exception must be proven not the rule.  So I would say the same applies to those promoting women's ordination -- not only the Scriptural basis but the rationale for why God would put up with such a wrong practice for so long without challenge.

Frankly, one of the biggest problems I have with this discussion is the idea of a God who is forced to put up with a Church that got it so wrong for so long and was powerless to effect any change until the 20th century.
Fr Larry Peters
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grabau14

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Re: The Ordination of Women
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2010, 12:49:24 AM »
I am thankful that Scott brought in the Table of Duties into this discussion as it is a forgotten piece of the Small Catechism (as is the Christian Questions and their Answers).  One only needs to look at the structure of the ToD to see that it moves from church (pastor and laity) to the State (government and citizens) to the home (husband and wife/ Parent and child), etc...   

The first time I used the ToD as a basis for a study on vocation at my present call, it was like a whole bunch of light bulbs going off.  The people never heard this stuff before. 

And the ToD presumes the idea that the pastor will be the husband of one wife.

kls

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Re: The Ordination of Women
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2010, 12:57:59 AM »
Today, I question whether the LCMS misuses Scripture to falsely bind consciences to the idea that unity and order in the Church requires that men and women acknowledge that their God and Father assigns them non-interchangeable headship/subordination positions and functions.  

My conscience and the consciences of many other women--and pastors and laymen and even children--that I know is in no way falsely bound due to the misuse of Scripture.  In fact, it is the very application of Scripture to the issue that provides me with a free conscience.  My conscience is free enough for me personally to be OK with women pilots, brain surgeons and possibly even a female president if she shared my conservative values and I felt she was a better pick than a male candidate.  The doctrine of vocation gives me the freedom (and all women) to not only function in but also be supportive of women in the secular realm at all levels.

In the sacred realm, Scripture tells us otherwise.  I take at face value these very verses which are used to support a male pastorate:
1 Tim 3
1 Tim 2

Marie, if you're not in favor of women's ordination, what exactly are you advocating?  As I see it, in terms of pure real estate, women have it made in the LCMS.  The altar and font take up so little space compared to the remainder of the sanctuary, fellowship hall, school, community, nation, world--all amazing arenas for women to perform challenging, gratifying, God-pleasing tasks.  In terms of positions, women still have it made.  The only positions the LCMS does not advocate women serving in include that of Pastor and Elder-A MERE TWO POSITIONS-very minor in number considering all the joyous opportunities for service within and outside of the church walls.  What else do women need, because I simply don't understand.  I find great comfort that God desires for men to serve solely in these roles as protectors of and advocates for their flocks; in my experience, men are much better gifted with the skills to do this.  God made women very different from men, and this is one area where those differences have an impact.  I believe it's for our protection and benefit as women that He set the men apart for this task.  Why would we want to diminish (or possibly even despise) this most gracious gift of His to the "weaker vessel"?
« Last Edit: December 14, 2010, 01:07:02 AM by Kim Schave »

Charles_Austin

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Re: The Ordination of Women
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2010, 03:43:52 AM »
FWIW: A Roman Catholic friend of mine, loyal and active in her church, supports the church's view that a priest must be a man. "But," she says, "they have not given me what I consider a good reason why this is so."

Jeremy Loesch

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Re: The Ordination of Women
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2010, 06:59:37 AM »
Charles, does your loyal and active friend have an alternative for what her church should do?  If she doesn't believe the reason for the male priesthood is a good one, that doesn't mean she's right. 

I think a bi-cameral legislature is a horrible idea.  I think DC should be given home rule or be returned to the state of Maryland.  I think the federal government should take over the corrupt state of Delaware.  Doesn't mean I'm right.

Suggest to your friend that she listen to the reasoning given and then ask questions of her priest(s).  Then tell her to listen to the answers. 

And "Because I said so." is a perfectly fine and valid answer for children of all ages.

Jeremy 
A Lutheran pastor growing into all sorts of things.

ptmccain

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Re: The Ordination of Women
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2010, 07:23:09 AM »
I'm unaware of any argument made in support of the ordination of women that can not, and has not been, easily used to defend and promote the ordination of actively homosexual persons.


janielou13

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Re: The Ordination of Women
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2010, 07:29:03 AM »
Is it not the case that in Rome, the issue of the ordination of women to the presbyterate is a matter of canonical discipline, and not dictrinal or dogmatic, in that there has never been a declaration by the whole council of bishops and/or the magisterium against it ?   The current policy is based on accepted tradition, not Tradition, as in 'we always done it this way' to put it into the vernacular.

Even Cardinal Ratzinger's statement of JP2's policy is at the level of canonical discipline.

kls

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Re: The Ordination of Women
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2010, 07:39:25 AM »
If the Word of God does not provide good enough reason for anybody, male or female, then I wonder what the purpose is of even believing much else that's found within it.  I think we have plenty of proof where it has led in other denominations, pointing to what Rev. McCain said.  Have there been any denominations that haven't gone the route of ordaining homosexuals after doing so with women?