Dear Seventh-day Adventist worldwide family,
I wish to somehow send my voice to you, that you may know that I am one among many within the North American Division who do not agree with the consensus from the few at the top who are pushing women to be pastors and elders. I am a Seventh-day Adventist, 33 year-old woman, and it is clear to me from the Bible, our firm foundation, that God has not chosen women to be pastors or elders. I feel that I am not being represented correctly by the current Seventh-day Adventist leadership in North America. As you are in a position of responsibility in the church and with the potential to be among those who will vote on serious issues at the next General Conference session, I am writing this letter to encourage you to be faithful to the word of God. I am saddened to witness the politics and rebellious spirit here in the Pacific Union and the North American Division at large behind the movement for women to be ordained as pastors and elders. It is my plea for you to not be moved by the unseemly politicking in the church, to not be moved by the current culture of this corrupt world, to not be moved by threats or fears alike, but please, please, please, be moved by the Bible.
I can’t help but see the chilling similarity of this current power struggle to the one given us as an example in the word of God - the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. The fearful consequences of their push for the leadership unassigned to them ended in tragedy, and I pray that tragedy is not also our end in the Seventh-day Adventist church over the same issue. If this issue of women’s ordination is unclear to us, it is because our hermeneutics have evolved into that which can erode any of the pillars of our faith, including the truth about the Sabbath. The same hermeneutical principles that have allowed some to embrace women’s ordination will lead to embracing Sunday sacredness as well.
The discourse in “Prove All Things, A Response to Women in Ministry” thoroughly points to the clear Biblical evidence of God’s will to have women very much involved in ministry, but not in the roles of pastor and elder. In a much abbreviated summary, the subsequent Biblical evidence seems more than enough to make this matter clear.
In the creation account alone - before the fall - there is abundant evidence that God put man as the leader and head. God created Adam first (with which God denotes headship - Exodus 22:29, Numbers 3:12), He created woman out of man, He created woman for man to be his “helper,” and Adam named Eve before and after the fall (“woman” and then “Eve”). One wonders, why didn’t God make Adam and Eve at the same time? Man’s headship is directly affirmed in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 11:3, 8, 9, “...the head of the woman is the man... for the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” God gives us the order and manner of the (pre-fall) creation of man and woman as the reason that “the head of the woman is the man.” To reject the New Testament interpretation of Genesis 2 is not taking precept upon precept and line upon line, but it is in fact rejecting the internal witness of the Bible.
God even cemented role distinctions into our very physical being at creation. It is absolutely impossible to carry on the human race without recognizing role distinctions God has created in us, as a woman cannot reproduce without a man and a man cannot bear the child. Our very physical nature reflects role differentiations.
After the fall, although it was Eve who sinned first and led Adam into sin, God holds Adam responsible. Why would He do that if Adam was not the leader of both? God reaffirms and adds to man’s headship by telling the woman that “he shall rule over thee” (Genesis 3:16). God rejected woman’s attempt to take on the leadership role at the fall. Man’s headship is also reaffirmed in the New Testament in Romans 5:12, “Sin came into the world through one man.” Why doesn’t it say “sin came into the world through one woman”?
We are also familiar with the texts in 1 Timothy 2 that describe women professing godliness - women that are in “subjection,” women who do not “usurp authority over the man.” And what are the reasons given? The order of creation, and the account of the fall. “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Timothy 2:13, 14).
How can a woman meet the Scriptural requirements for congregational leadership as listed in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6, that an elder must be “the husband of one wife”? Certainly Paul could have been generic here in regard to gender had he been inspired to by the Holy Spirit. And, although the New Testament church is described as “a royal priesthood” in 1 Peter 2:9, God’s Old Testament church was also described as the same in Exodus 19:6, “a kingdom of priests,” yet God still had men, not women, in leadership of the congregation. All believers are to work for the salvation of others, but not all are to lead in this work.
A question with no logical answer is begged, how can a woman “submit” herself (as it says in Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18) to her husband at home, but then as soon as they walk into church on Sabbath morning, he is to submit to her leadership? Is she not his wife at church also?
Even just these few Scriptures are more than sufficient to thoroughly convince me that ordaining women as pastors and elders is wrong and not in God’s order; for to come to the opposite conclusion would mean to deny these direct and clear texts. And, in further study throughout the rest of the Bible, in studying the spirit of prophecy and Adventist history, it is affirmed again that ordaining women as pastors and elders is wrong and not in God’s order.
This issue is bigger than we may think, for the same hermeneutics that twist these plain texts of Scripture to ordain women as pastors and elders are the same hermeneutics that will lead us right out of the church in embracing Sunday as sacred. Please, let us not follow the example of Satan who aspired to a position higher than he was assigned by God. Please, let us not follow the example of Eve who, “like restless modern Eves, she was flattered with the hope of entering a higher sphere than that which God had assigned her. In attempting to rise above her original position, she fell far below it” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 59). Please, let us not follow the example of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram who were dissatisfied with the roles God had given them and sought the priesthood also.
I am one voice among the many in the North American Division who disagree with the few that are misrepresenting us. I feel that I am not being represented correctly. With the many others who are being misrepresented by the pro-women’s ordination push, I believe there would not have been such a consensus among the North American Division leadership and other Union and Conference leadership were it not for the politics and unfairness practiced in making these decisions. Please know that there are many Seventh-day Adventists in the North American Division who do not agree with the rebellion manifested in the manner the issue of women’s ordination is being pursued, nor with the very movement itself to ordain women to the office of pastor and elder.
Complete obedience to following anything the Scriptures command is the key to understanding them (John 7:17). Are we willing to be obedient? Please don’t make your decision on this issue as a political decision, nor by the corrupt culture of this world, nor employ the consequential reasoning that leads to compromise, but let your decision be based on the word of God, our firm foundation.
With love and respect,