2 January 2024 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
Women ordained and preaching? Aunty, is the Bible the word of God? Do we take it as God speaking to us? What does the Bible say? It’s very clear that women have no place in the pulpit, and we need to go back to God’s word on this matter.
Signed, Back to the Altar of Prayer
Women’s ordination demonstrates a fundamental difference in how Adventists understand the Bible—indeed, how they see the world they live in.
One kind of Adventist sees the Bible presenting broad principles: inclusion, honesty, kindness, openness, humility, and other fruits of the Spirit. They believe that God, being good and understanding, wants to see people being like Jesus. He trusts them to make choices in harmony with his principles as the situation they live in changes. These folks note that many rules and regulations arose in the Bible cultures—such as how women were treated in the Old Testament—and they note that the rules changed when the culture changed. The hundreds of rules in the Torah, for example, were replaced with the principles of the Sermon on the Mount.
Yet others see the Bible as a stern rule book. They don’t just prefer things that way: they seem to have a psychological need for black and white directives. They want human beings brought “under control,” and they’re eager to help God do it. They assemble Bible verses to create do and don’t lists—adding all the rules they find in Ellen White, too! They insist that God gets quite annoyed when women speak in church, or when people eat meat, or wear jewelry, or go to church on Sunday.
These are two very contrasting views of God. In one case, God is a guiding parent who understands the settings in which we live, and encourages us to model our lives on Jesus’ example and teachings. In the other, he is an inflexible micro-manager who insists that everyone behave perfectly and all in precisely the same way, regardless of their circumstances.
And it seems to Aunty that those who believe in a God of rules want a church that takes up the enforcement task on their behalf, including “shaking out” anyone who doesn’t agree.
Women in ministry is a case study in these differing approaches. The Old Testament has women remaining under the thumb of men—and some Adventists feel that’s God’s intention even today.
Yet Jesus treated women with exceptional kindness, and there was female leadership in the apostolic church. We Adventists, who claim to have taken another step in “present truth,” were gifted a female prophet who was ordained by our church. Shouldn’t that be a sign that God expects us to follow the big principles—including an equal opportunity to serve God?
Aunty admits, with great sadness, that she is losing hope that these two sets of believers can find common ground. Though she’s wishes people wouldn’t give up on the Adventist church, she realizes that some will take the General Conference president seriously when he tells them that he wants to see them shaken out.
Aunt Sevvy has collected her answers into a book! You can get it from Amazon by clicking here.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Your real identity will never be revealed.