At the General Conference (GC) Session, the world church voted against giving divisions the prerogative to decide for themselves whether or not they would ordain women as pastors. Because of this decision, the Seventh-day Adventist official position has defaulted to our original standing that women may not be ordained to the gospel ministry. Clearly, people on all sides of the debate have held strong views and opinions for reasons they sincerely believe to be irrefutable. But what now? How should we respond to the decision made by the world church? Do we persist in believing our own opinions?
In answer to these questions, it is important to remember that no matter which way the vote had gone, we can be assured that God has given us a source of authority in the GC Session. Consider the following quote:
I have often been instructed by the Lord that no man’s judgment should be surrendered to the judgment of any other one man. Never should the mind of one man or the minds of a few men be regarded as sufficient in wisdom and power to control the work and to say what plans shall be followed. But when, in a General Conference, the judgment of the brethren assembled from all parts of the field is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be stubbornly maintained, but surrendered. Never should a laborer regard as a virtue the persistent maintenance of his position of independence, contrary to the decision of the general body. (Ellen White, Testimonies to the Church Volume 9, 260)
In other words, regardless of our preconceived ideas and opinions, when the world church votes during the GC Session, we must surrender to that decision as to the will of the Lord.
WE HAVE TWO CHOICES
Therefore, we as a people may choose one of two paths. We may follow the voice of the church, and choose to surrender our opinions and obey. Or we may persist in holding our personal opinions and go contrary to the will of God, even though we have been given clear light through the vote. To choose the former is to choose unity; to choose the latter is to choose war with God.
Therefore, if we believe the inspired words of our prophet, the correct choice is to cease quarrelling and debating about which opinion is correct. God has shown us. As a result, we must walk humbly in the path that He has marked for us in unity, loving others as we love ourselves.
A MESSAGE OF WARNING FOR THOSE WHO REJOICE
Now, for those who are rejoicing at the outcome of this decision, please remember that the "opposition" is still our family. They may have been wrong on this issue, but by condemning them you are playing the role of the accuser of our brethren. This is absolutely NOT the time for "I told you so." Remember that they are people too and just like you, they feel painful emotions. Consider the women pastors who perhaps face an uncertain future. You might be quick to say, "Well, they brought that on themselves by choosing to become a pastor." But you must remember your statement is condemnatory and is not one of grace. In fact, it is Christ who extends grace and it is Satan who condemns. Truly, if God treated you how you deserve to be treated, you would be dead. Therefore, don't treat them as you feel they deserve, but rather, treat them with the same compassion Christ extends to all souls.
In the unity of truth, let us rally around the bloodstained banner. Let us clasp hands with our brothers and sisters across the world in a united front against the enemy of souls. God help us to lay aside our personal opinions and love each other as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it! And finally, let us esteem all others as better than ourselves by truly, deeply and completely loving our brothers and sisters who voted differently than we.
Arise! Shine! Jesus is coming! Amen.