Appointed committees with representatives from all over the North American Division, travel expense, individuals with higher education, and some everyday people have gathered to form a co-ed study group meeting over contiguous years to study the subject issue. There was a vote taken, finally, during the world church quinquenniel in July of 2015. The outcome while disheartening in some ways showed some progress with an increase in positive votes over the previous General Conference session in 2010.
Over the past 17 years, I have been leading small groups through the This is Life Eternal Bible reading calendar at least 20 times. What a joy it has been! We weren’t doing it to earn grades! We weren’t doing it to nail down key texts for doctrines! WE WERE DOING IT TO KNOW GOD BETTER, DEEPER, BROADER, and CLOSER!!! Please read John 17:3 and picture the scene in which Jesus prayed those words. If one keeps reading John 17 down to v. 20 of Jesus’ prayer to His Father, it becomes clear that Jesus is praying for us!!! He wants all His people from all the intervening centuries to be “one with Him” as well. For we, the Church, are the “apple of His eye!” Read the following verses in the KJV: Deut, 32:10; Zech. 2:8; Ps. 17:8.
Has the Church always looked the same? No. There have been junctures in history where God brought about change in the way the church functioned. I’d like to share the panorama of church styles in Scripture.
At first, God instituted the policy that the first born son became the “Patriarch” or spiritual leader for his family and he received the “birthright.” to support that leadership monetarily. Remember that those early families became quite large. Abraham for example had in his family 318 men capable of fighting wars, plus servants. Society around them was organized much differently than today. Each town had a “king” and sometimes they invited other kings to join together to go to battle.
After Abraham and Lot separated because their herds got too large to use the same grazing lands or
wells, Lot settled in Sodom and he and his family were captured and taken away. So Abraham had to rescue his nephew and was successful! Moses learned strategies for war while he was in Egypt and used them as Israel’s leader.
Because the blood line of the Redeemer had to be verified, the children were always verified by their father’s name: following Adam as the next patriarch was Seth, son of Adam, In the “begats” of Scripture we see the bloodline identified that way for a couple thousand years.
So, “in the beginning” we see careful record keeping to establish a connection between the Garden of Eden and the Cross and the worship of the God of Heaven was the responsibility of the Patriarchs who raised altars and made sacrifices on behalf of their people.
That worked fine until Jacob’s family went to Egypt to live and were subjected to 400 years of slavery. When they were finally delivered and were leaving for the wilderness God changed the format of their worship. The patriarchal system was not practical for 2,000,000 or more people! So God chose the tribe of Levi to lead in worship to God. No one else was to come close to the Sanctuary or they would die. The priestly Levitical plan worked until Christ died upon the cross, fulfilling every Old Testament prophecy, and removing observance of the Jewish festivals from the Christian calendars! Those festivals pointed forward to Christ and the final harvest etc. Once Christ died, so did the requirements of all those rituals.
You know, those who say only men can serve in leadership roles have not caught the vision of a God who is not fettered by human assumptions. For He left the door open for women to receive the birthright because Zelophahad only had daughters, so God created a law to protect women in that situation from then on.
Deborah was a judge and went to war with the men and won with the help of another woman, Jael, who killed a general who had plagued Israel. She drove a nail into his brain as he slept. Zeruiah, David’s sister, raised three “mighty men.” Every time her sons are mentioned, they are identified by her name: Asahel, son of Zeruiah, etc.
My point is we need to be careful about making statements that identify how God works, because He will surprise you at almost every juncture! Take a good look at Hebrews 11 and the cast of characters there. There is no mention of sin there. You already know from the Old Testament that all of them were sinners, some worse than others! My God is limitless in his resources and His ways! He said to Moses “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy!” He said in His Ten Commandments that we should not “bear false witness” and yet Rahab appears in the bloodline of Christ! She flat out lied about those spies from Israel. But that’s not how God saw it.
Joel 2:28 tells us that in the last days God would pour His Holy Spirit out on men and women alike. And Peter in Acts 10:34, 35 says that God shows NO partiality, but in every nation, whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.
Paul is another story. He makes some direct comments to a certain class of women, not intended to apply to ALL women! Where his journeys took him were temples to heathen gods and there were prostitutes “working” in the temples as part of the worship experience! Apparently they did not understand worship decorum and Paul bluntly lays down some rules for them. But in other places Luke describes women who are leading out in the churches, and in one instance a well known eloquent evangelist named Apollos, was not letting people know that they needed to be baptized in the name of Jesus (he only knew of the baptism of John the Baptist), so Aquila AND Priscilla took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately. See Acts 18:24-26.
Jesus said the harvest is ripe, but where are the workers? When Joel says the Holy Spirit is poured out on men and women alike, shouldn’t our church use every gifted speaker with leadership qualities to finish the work?? The Holy Spirit gifts people with no respect to gender. Can we agree that when a woman aspires to serve God by preaching, nurturing, baptizing, marrying and feels called by God to that position, why not put her gifts to work and FINISH THE WORK. There is no doubt that ordination is for the purpose of recognizing the God-given gifts already demonstrated by anyone who enters the ministry.
For “in Christ there is no male, no female, no bond, no free”…….
There is a prayer that the Pharisees prayed, “Lord, I thank You that I am not a Publican, or a woman…”
Women are still grouped with minorities today. It is a form of prejudice, which I believe must be erased from our church before Jesus comes. Could He be waiting for it to disappear from among us?
May God’s grace and love win over all soon!