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Monday
Jul302012

The Columbia Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Votes to Ordain Women: What did the vote mean?

Here are a few questions and observations regarding yesterday’s vote by the Columbia Union of Seventh-day Adventist (CUC) to accept the ordination of women into the gospel ministry. I posted the following as a comment on the CUC website:

Could it be that ordained men, not unordained women, have been the real agenda here?

As an ordained man I support women’s ordination on the principles of Biblical interpretation and revelation, yet I suspect yesterday’s action is more than what it seems. 

Were there any question of a favorable outcome, would this Special Session even have been called? Was it not, as with many such sessions, a forgone conclusion of prior lobbying, of flurried emails, urgent phones calls, and late-night meetings? Regarding the vote, President David Weigley said, “This is not a surprise to those of us listening carefully around this union”. Other administrators have publicly declared their support of women’s ordination for some time. More than attentive “listening” proceeded this action. Do we not see here the results of a vigorous political action? I would caution against the vote of victory as a necessary sign of the Spirit’s favor. 

For me personally, the 60% margin of “victory” implies failure, not success. The root of the problem is exposed as never before. 

On the one hand we mourn a wounded representative process—as we did after the last GC session in Atlanta—and then turn around to use the same problematic system to get our personal agendas passed. And we are not speaking here of a minor issue to the church. Are we saying we don’t trust the General Conference process but the Union model, the same basic model, is somehow working better? To claim victory through a large margin of popular vote while using a system often undermined by political expediency, time constraints, shallow budgets, and hidden agendas exacerbates the problem. It does not solve it. We missed the mark here.

I would urge more prayerful introspection by middle-management leadership and those above it. To what degree has the need and call for restructuring influenced the timing of this action? Is there an attempt here to consolidate the powers of the Divisions, Unions, and Conferences in light of calls for revival and reform? Is there any evidence of that in the way this decision was expedited against standing policy? Are we seeking to redefine the identity and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church through political means? Does the identity and mission of the church need redefinition or reconsecration? Are we taking the expedient stand or the spiritually principled stand? What does the means of action say about the motive of action?

Was this action truly about women’s ordination? Insubordinate action, if it is deemed so, betrays invisible powers working below the surface of life, powerful passions resisting the Spirit’s restraint. More troubling, has the use and abuse of women continued with men seeking to maintain power at their expense? I hope I am wrong. 

I believe the Spirit of God is leading his church, even here. Perhaps God has chosen this issue, women’s ordination, to expose the true “ties that bind”. 

There are interesting days ahead, friends, as this seed of discontent bears fruit “after it’s own kind”. 

But I trust these things to the hand of God in Christ, who will, through merciful judgments on the world and the church, bring about what we are often loath to accept, a humbling of our pride with a repentance that need not be repented of. 

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Reader Comments (4)

Do you propose that we wait for a unanimous vote? I personally want to see Christ lifted up in the context of this question. How does it fit in to mankinds rebellion, what will it look like in Heaven? Is there anything we can learn from how Christ addresses the church (As Bride).

Also, if people are leaving the church over this, I would say that they might have been IN the church for the wrong reasons in the first place.

Jul 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJesse

No, Jesse, I don't expect a unanimous vote. I'm saying the vote should be by the GC in session and not taken this way way, at this time, by the Unions. I'm afraid there is an abuse of authority in moving ahead this way.

I want to see Christ lifted up too. Nor do I think you and I are the only ones who would feel that way. I wish we got it right more often than we do.

As for people leaving the church, I know there is truth in what your saying, but there is more to it than that. In Romans 14 we are given wise counsel about what it means to love one another when we have differences of faith. If love for God and love for one another are our true motives then we will place a high priority on the one with what Paul calls a "weaker faith", even if it means we sacrifice ourselves for them. Isn't this the lesson of the cross?

I may be wrong, but I feel the process taking place right now has a sense of arrogance, a sense of aggression about it. When people are *demanding* their rights, even when those rights are legitimate, the spirit of Christ crucified is weakened or missing.

Do you see us, in the context of CUC's action, loving one another as Christ loves the church, his bride?

Jul 31, 2012 | Registered CommenterJan McKenzie

I'm unaware of the undercurrents on this subject but interesting blog. Informative!

Jul 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

thank you for putting in words my feelings on this. I fear that the division that will come from this may be nearly able to wreck the boat. I don't know whether women should be ordained or not. But I believe it should have been left to the process that was already in place and planned as the World Church had it. The CUC usurped authority in this decision. That is never good. And I as a woman feel that if you are not willing to serve without being ordained then you are not fit to be ordained.

Aug 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPhyllis

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