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.
My purpose here was not to address the subject of women’s ordination, which I support, but the process being taken to introduce this change into the church. I accept the first but object to the second.
After more thought I’m still convinced that the subject of women’s ordination is being used to further other agendas. Whether I have correctly identified those agendas, hidden as they are, I am not sure. Time will tell. However, I do not believe this action will end in good will among brothers and sisters in Christ, not in the short term, nor will it serve to establish the truth on the firm foundation of Scripture and wise experience.
Lessons will be learned, by some at least. Pain will be endured by many and sadly, some will leave our fellowship as as a consequence of this action and its unfolding drama. Others, I am confident, will take their place.
We are being tested. I pray we pass with a greater faith in Christ than we have exhibited so far. At the least, I can say that of myself. May God grant us his mercy, wisdom, strength, and peace for the days ahead.