Women’s Ordination: Church Leader’s Heartfelt Plea

Women’s Ordination: Church Leader’s Heartfelt Plea

by Pastor Louis Torres | 24 Jun 2015Mr_and_Mrs Louis Torres

My name is Louis Torres, President of the Guam-Micronesia Mission. My wife and I have served this church since 1972. She is a fifth and I am a first generation Adventist. I have served as a pastor, evangelist, and church administrator. Of all the issues that we have seen coming and going throughout our church journey, none have been so filled with passion as this women’s ordination issue. My wife Carol and I have trained hundreds of women in soul winning and believe they play an important part in the finishing of God’s work. We have people that we love on both sides. From our standpoint, and we may be wrong, there is going to be a fragmentation of the church no matter what direction this takes. However, if it does happen, we believe the Lord would rather that it happens due to a crystal clear stand on the Scriptures.

Here is why the church is free to act only in submission to Scripture:

Is Women’s Ordination a biblical issue?

Since the issue of ordaining women is dealing with ordination and the ministry in God’s church, then the only place to find a solution is in the Bible. The very spiritual nature of the church dictates the rationale to also be spiritual. The SDA Church accepts the Bible as totally inspired (2 Tim 3:15-17). To amalgamate its truths with human philosophy or customs is a deadly mixture. See the article Bible Inspiration on Click Here. Also see: Bible Inspiration in the 28 Fundamental Beliefs.

Since the issue of ordaining women is dealing with ordination and the ministry in God’s church, then the only place to find a solution is in the Bible.

Is headship an issue?

Adam was given the headship role when “Adam and Eve were “given dominion.” This male headship is obvious when God gave us the Ten Commandments. What many have not noticed is that these God-given commands for the human race were directed to the men who were to teach their families. The 2nd Commandment addresses the “iniquity of the fathers, unto the third and fourth generation” (Exodus 20:5). Notice it makes no mention of the mothers. The 4th Commandment is again addressing the head of the home. The Sabbath and marriage are the only two institutions that are still with us from creation. Christ ordained both! And while women are included under the term “thou,” men are the main objects of the directive because of their headship teaching role. Which was exactly what Paul reflects in his writings. The 10th Commandment is also male directed. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife…or anything that is thy neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17). To reject the headship is to reject God’s divine order, a term that is distasteful in this permissive generation. Even when it comes to a parent’s honor, again the father is first mentioned, and then the mother. Here in the 5th Commandment Christ enjoins upon the children to honor the family unit and its order. Do away with headship and you will have to re-write the Commandments. The males (elders) were held responsible for the spiritual safety of the family evidenced by the command for them to place the blood on the “lintel and the two side posts” (Exodus 12:21, 22), during Passover. Christ confirmed Adam’s headship when He became the second Adam and not the second Eve, even though Eve sinned first! What had to be redeemed was not only the sinners but the headship/leadership role of Adam. Satan did not gain the mastery of the world till he took down Adam. Christ on Calvary restored all of that and more. That is why Paul attaches the male leadership for the home and the church (1Timothy 2:11-15, 3:1-7; 2Timothy2:2).

Liberty does not mean permissiveness.

Does individual liberty have limits?

The “highest form of freedom” contains boundaries. Jesus said, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psa. 40:8). To liberated Israel from bondage God gave structure and order through Moses. Jethro’s counsel to Moses added much more detail and unity to the structure, not less! Why? The extra detail and structure made unity more secure. The new governors of tens, hundreds and thousands were not free to do as they pleased but to teach judgment within the many laws given to Moses at Sinai. To use Jethro as an argument to let everyone do as they please is “remarkable”. To teach my daughter how to ride a bicycle, I had to steer until I was certain that she could safely ride on her own. Just because she could steer didn’t mean she was free to go where she pleased when she pleased. Christ created this earth and entrusted it to the stewardship of Adam (Genesis 1:26-28) under His guidance. The Lord has never stopped giving directions and guidance to His Church. That’s why prophets and apostles exist. But in no way did the Lord stop steering. While He does not take man’s freedom of choice away, it does not mean that he stops managing. Adventist are not Deists.

“Like the angels, the dwellers in Eden had been placed upon probation; their happy estate could be retained only on condition of fidelity to the Creator’s law. They could obey and live, or disobey and perish.”.CC 15.3

The term “probation” means the process or period of testing or observing the character or abilities of a person in a certain role—someone supervises. Adam’s fall demands more supervision then in his pre-fall condition. Freedom of choice in God’s kingdom has positive constraints. Willing conformity and obedience to God’s revealed will is true liberty. Because God’s commands are life. (Romans 7:10) Without them there is death and there is no freedom in death.

“Our God is a God of order, and He desires that His children shall “will” to bring themselves into order and under His discipline.”CG, p.112

Liberty does not mean permissiveness. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).

Did the Church of Acts have Authority to Solve Problems?

The Jerusalem Counsel was under Divine Inspiration, not mere human reasoning. “Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.” (Acts 15:6) Were the Apostles inspired or simply operating under their own reasoning? The matter of salvation solely through Christ had already been settled (Acts 4:12). But “certain’ men in certain pockets of the church were stirring up the people with false teaching causing splinter groups. The unity of the church was in jeopardy. Now it had to be settled formally. And it was. Circumcision along with the earthly Temple practices was to be replaced by the Heavenly Sanctuary and the Gospel. The voice of God had spoken through the united meeting of all the churches representatives, resulting in a unified understanding of the Gospel and its requirements. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has already settled the issue of women’s ordination twice by the General Conference in session; once in 1990 and again in 1995. Like the Jerusalem Council, the voice of God has spoken. But “certain” voices continue to bring disunity.

Not even the General Conference has the right to overthrow or adjust Scripture.

Is a representative form of Church Government still under the control of Divine Guidance?

It is true that Church policy over such matters as when to hold constituencies or how much to pay workers or how to legally hold church property or a thousand other things has no Divine “thus says the Lord” in Scripture. The church prays and thinks and uses common sense in these matters. But a “Representative Church Government” is still under Scripture. Not even the General Conference has the right to overthrow or adjust Scripture.

“God has invested His church with special authority and power, which no one can be justified in disregarding and despising; for he who does this despises the voice of God. Those who are inclined to regard their individual judgment as supreme, are in grave peril.”ChL p.9.2

God has bestowed the highest power under heaven upon His church. It is the voice of God in His united people in church capacity which is to be respected.”CCh 241

Is watching over truth a Church control or duty?

The church has been vested with the duty of guarding biblical truths. “The church of the living God, [is] the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). Those in disobedience or with supposed new light consider the church’s authority as intrusive and restrictive-popery. Remember Jesus’ counsel to the church in Matthew 18:15-17. In God’s church no one has unrestrictive liberty to do as he or she pleases. Read Paul’s inspired counsel to the churches. See 1 Corinthian 5:11-13; 14:28-35, 40; 1 Thess. 5:12; 2 Thess. 3:6, 7; Heb. 13:7, 17. To limit someone from overstepping the bounds of God’s ordained roles is within the church’s responsibility. That goes for men as well as for women.

“God is a God of order. Everything connected with heaven is in perfect order; subjection and thorough discipline mark the movements of the angelic host. Success can only attend order and harmonious action. God requires order and system in His work now no less than in the days of Israel.”ChS 73.

To allow for each division to have its own way in such an important biblical matter is to create a congregational system of church government and teaching.

Should the General body of the church allow for “variance” by Divisions in biblical matters?

A state of affairs in the Old Testament reveals a condition being suggested as a solution today. “But every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). It was God who led this church into a representative form of government. To allow for each division to have its own way in such an important biblical matter is to create a congregational system of church government and teaching.

“In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what God has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.”CET 204.1

A Yes vote which gives the right to individual divisions to ordain or not ordain is a yes vote to women’s ordination. This will not unite the church. Instead this will encourage theological pluralism, even more disunity, and regionalization of the global church.

The Bible’s admonition is: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). A Yes vote which gives the right to individual divisions to ordain or not ordain is a yes vote to women’s ordination. This will not unite the church. Instead this will encourage theological pluralism, even more disunity, and regionalization of the global church.

Is Ordination a Biblical teaching?

It was God who set men aside for a holy office of ministry. It was done in the Old Testament to Aaron and his sons (Exodus 40:13-15), Christ to His disciples (Mark 3:14), and by the Apostles to the elders (Acts 14:23). It was by divine election that God specifically chose Aaron and his sons, males and not Miriam a female, to serve as priests (Exodus 40:13-15; 1 Chron. 23:13). This was in spite of the protest and sin of Miriam (Num. 12:1-9), and Korah and his followers (Numbers 16:1-35). Watch this more detailed presentation: Click Here to Watch

Silence does not give license. On the contrary, it is sometimes the strongest language against an action or thought.

Does Bible silence allow for unbiblical doctrines or practices?

The argument is made that since the Bible does not forbid women from being ordained then it is permissible. Silence does not give license. On the contrary, it is sometimes the strongest language against an action or thought.

No one can argue against the claim that there is no statement in the Bible that says, “do not keep Sunday holy.”

Throughout the entire Bible there is the constant mention of only men being priests, pastors, or elders. The silence about women pastors or elders is deafening. God, by stating what is supposed to happen, negates what is not supposed to happen. For example. God established the Sabbath day as the day of rest as part of the creation story. Then it is not mentioned until Exodus 16, about 2600 years later. The 2600 years of silence does not endorse a new day of rest. Fourteen hundred years later Jesus walked on earth and kept it, but because of the apparent silence in the New Testament Sunday keeping has replaced Sabbath keeping. No one can argue against the claim that there is no statement in the Bible that says, “do not keep Sunday holy.” History is being repeated in claiming there is no statement in the Bible that says “do not ordain women.” Notice that the Reformers failed to successfully face this argument: “The English Reformers, while renouncing the doctrines of Romanism, had retained many of its forms. Thus though the authority and the creed of Rome were rejected, not a few of her customs and ceremonies were incorporated into the worship of the Church of England. It was claimed that these things were not matters of conscience; that though they were not commanded in Scripture, and hence were nonessential, yet not being forbidden, they were not intrinsically evil. Their observance tended to narrow the gulf which separated the reformed churches from Rome, and it was urged that they would promote the acceptance of the Protestant faith by Romanists. . . .

“The very beginning of the great apostasy was in seeking to supplement the authority of God by that of the church. Rome began by enjoining what God had not forbidden, and she ended by forbidding what He had explicitly enjoined.”GC p.289-290

Were there women pastors or elders in the Bible?

There is no biblical record of any woman priest, apostle, pastor, or elder. The one woman who comes the closest to being a priestess in the Bible is Jezebel, daughter of the high priest of Baal (PK, p. 114), (2 Kings 9:22; Rev. 2:20).

Are we all Equal? In salvation and being, men and women are equal. Four quarters may be equal in value to a dollar bill, but the two are not the same. They have different functions. Equal does not equate to being the same. Though some use the text “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). To suggest that God did away with gender, race, etc., is not substantiated in the New Testament. The stress in the text is unity and equality in faith, not sameness. A man is still a man and a woman is still a woman; a Jew is still a Jew, and a Greek is still a Greek.

Christ did not compromise in biblical matters; neither should a genuine Christian. “We cannot purchase peace and unity at the cost of truth. The conflict may be long and painful, but at any cost we must hold fast to the Word of God” (HS 197).

Should Christians compromise for the sake of peace and unity?

Christ’s prayer for oneness was based on the Scriptures (John 17:11-21). For the sake of unity and peace the Roman emperor Constantine introduced worldly practices resulting in the watering down of the truth and opened the way for the harlot of Revelation. Compromise is not a biblical basis for unity or peace. Some writers have unfortunately suggested that people who oppose women’s ordination are controlling and lack the Holy Spirit. This type of personal attack is not helping the discussion and should be avoided, because we cannot compromise biblical truths.

Christ did not compromise in biblical matters; neither should a genuine Christian. “We cannot purchase peace and unity at the cost of truth. The conflict may be long and painful, but at any cost we must hold fast to the Word of God”.HS 197

What about Gender blending?

God’s displeasure concerning gender blending or erasing the differences between the sexes is clearly outlined in the Scriptures. See Lev. 18:22; 20:13, Romans 1:26-28, 1 Cor. 6:9, 1 Tim. 1:10. Lack of gender differentiation is opening the door to society’s acceptance of same sex relationships, and gender confusion. Even the secular news media recognize this: “So far no Christian tradition has been able to embrace the LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual] community without first changing its views about women. The same reasoning that concludes that homosexuality is sin is also behind the traditional evangelical view that husbands are the spiritual leaders of marriages and men are the leaders in church” (Elizabeth Dias, “A Change of Heart: Inside the Evangelical War Over Gay Marriage,” Time, January 26, 2015, 47).

Should only men be ordained ministers?

Mrs. White saw only men as ordained ministers, but urged all to serve in various ministries. “Ye are the light of the world.’ Is this addressed exclusively to a few men who have been ordained to the ministry? No! but to every Christian, young or old, rich or poor.” {12MR 331.3}

Is exercising judgment being judgmental?

Some writers see that God’s character of grace and love preclude judgment. This is not Biblical. God forgave Adam and Eve, but put them out of the garden (Gen. 3). God’s judgment brought about a flood (Gen. 6, 7), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 13:10; 19:24), plagues on Egypt and their destruction (Exo. 9:14; 14:23-28), the deaths of Achan (Jos. 7:24-27) and Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), and there will be a final judgment (Rev. 20). We are to judge between right and wrong, else we would not be able to know what is truth. See Acts 4:19; 1 Cor. 2:14, 15; 1 Thess. 5:21.

Why did the early Church reject women as ministers when all around them the millions of gentiles would have and were responding to female priests? (e.g. Rome’s vestal virgins.) For one simple reason. The Bible. It is clear about this matter.

Should Culture play a role in Biblical decisions?

Why did the early Church reject women as ministers when all around them the millions of gentiles would have and were responding to female priests? (e.g. Rome’s vestal virgins.) For one simple reason. The Bible. It is clear about this matter. The word culture does not exist in the Bible. The Bible writers used traditions and customs (Matt. 15: 2, 3; 15:6; Acts 28:17; Col. 2:8; 1 Pet. 1:18). Culture is a new word suggesting that customs and practices are now acceptable. However, from Christ own words, relevance and culture should not dictate our beliefs (Mark 7:3-13).

Jesus is our loving Savior, our Redeemer, our Mediator, in short, He is everything to us. He counsels us with these words: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Luke 13:24 NKJV

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ. We stand at the precipice of a crisis. Make no mistake. This issue is about how we as a denomination define our beliefs as we move into the future. Do we want to remain a Bible-based church, or allow culture and modern ideas to dictate our beliefs? Once we allow culture to dictate, we subject our children and grandchildren to an unknown and perilous future. How much has culture changed in your lifetime? How much has it changed in mine? There are things society accepts today that when I was a child were considered abhorrent, criminal, immoral and shocking. Today those same things are paraded as not only acceptable, but desirable in many settings. Much has changed even in the last five years. This is not too surprising because, as we’ve been told, “The final movements will be rapid ones” (ChS 52). It is my heartfelt appeal to every delegate to protect our church from this unknown future and to remain firm in our stand to use the Bible and the Bible alone as our guide.

Please, my brothers and sisters, from this perspective, I would VOTE NO on the issue of Women’s Ordination, and maintain the principles of the Bible Study that gave us the great truths found in the 28 Fundamental Beliefs, such as the Sabbath, State of the Dead, and the Heavenly Sanctuary.

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