First Person Life

2011-12-15

Because There are Women Pastors, Women Should be Ordained (?)

In a recent post, in response to the question, "So....why do you think that women should be ordained?," a proponent of women's ordination said,
Some women are pastors. To be a pastor in our church a person has to be ordained. Therefore, women should be ordained.


The problem is that this reasoning is backwards.

Let's take a different example - recently in my area, a 9 year old girl was pulled over driving a car. By the above reasoning, Michigan ought to begin issuing drivers licenses to 9 year old girls. After all, in Michigan, you need a drivers license to legally drive, it is provably true that there are 9 year old girls driving (and "pretty good" if you believe their own testimony), therefore, 9 year olds should be issued drivers licenses so they can legally drive.

I think it's clear that this line of reasoning simply doesn't work.

In a certain sense, it could be said that, if there are women pastors, there is already "women's ordination."

In the Lutheran Church, Ordination is simply the human rite by which the Church, in the name of God (in His stead, but not by His command), declares a one to be fit to hold the Office of the Holy Ministry and the candidate agrees to accept the responsibilities of that office and carry them out faithfully. The act of installing a pastor is the act of "ordination" if it is the first call that a candidate has received.

The fact that we use two different rites is because they perform different functions. "Ordination" occurs at the time of the first call (only) to mark the church's affirmation of the individual's fitness for the office of the Holy Ministry and for the church to hear the pledge to remain faithful to the responsibilities of that office. "Installation" is the act of entrusting the responsibilities of the office in a specific place to a specific person.

Note carefully that Augsburg Confession XIV states, "Of Ecclesiastical Order they (i.e., the Lutheran's) teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called."

It is the "call" of the church that makes a pastor. Ordination occurs at the time of a man's first call into ministry as a solemn act to (1) affirm the call is a "regular call" (i.e., is done in good order and is in accord with the will of God revealed in Holy Scripture) and (2) affirming the fitness of the called individual to fulfill the office to which they have been called (both their theological fitness and their personal fitness - the qualifications for which are also laid down in Scripture). Together, these affirmations declare that GOD has called this particular man as one of His representatives to the Church. Installation declares that God has called this particular man as His representative in a particular location/field of service.

Ultimately, the act of "ordination" merely signifies what God has already brought about. It is a public affirmation that the candidate is qualified to hold the position AND they have been rightly placed into that position. Without a "call", an "ordained" person is merely a "qualified layperson" who has committed to faithfully carry out the office should God see fit to entrust him with it. Another way to say it is, there is no pastor without an altar at which he serves. (There is a place here for whether or not theological professors and other synodical positions serve altars - and that's an ongoing debate, but it's not necessary to carry forward this particular conversation.)

The real question is, can the Church of God (or a local congregation which is the Church in a specific place) set aside the clear teachings of the Word of God in order to place someone into that office who (1) does not possess the qualifications which God has laid down and (2) whom God has clearly said ought not hold that office.

Those who oppose women as pastors say, "no, a congregation cannot claim that their actions are godly when they directly contradict the Word of God." The fact that there are congregations who have set aside Scripture and placed a woman into office does not mean that God approves. Ordination is the rite by which the church says, "God approves." God clearly reserves the responsibilities associated with the Office of the Holy Ministry to men. Therefore, women ought not be ordained. That is to say, the church has no right to over-rule God's express statements on the matter.

Those who oppose placing women as pastors oppose it on the grounds that God has clearly taught that one of the qualifications of that office is, in essence, a Y-Chromosome (before the advent of trans-gender surgeries, we may have been able to express this differently and less technically. However, even physical appearance, today, is not a sure marker...).

Finally, and this point needs to be very clearly understood: It is GOD who choses these men for His own reasons and his own purposes. It is not because of anything inherent in the individual but because of GOD'S CHOICE of that individual and GOD'S WORK in that individual's life to make him fit for the office to which he is called. Furthermore, it is GOD, working in the heart, mind, and will of His people who lead them to call a specific man to serve as THEIR pastor in a specific location.

It is not that the Y-Chromosome makes him fit for the office (as there are many, many, many, many men who are not qualified to fill the office) but it is one of several markers that God has given to us in order to discern that a particular person is one whom God has chosen to fill the office of pastor. There are others - including his knowledge of the scriptures and their teaching, his ability to teach the faith to others, etc. which are also laid down in Scripture.

Hope that helps!

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