It is no less dangerous for a man to pretend to be a bird and try to “fly” off the top of a very tall building than it is for a man to to try to become a woman, for a man to try to marry another man, for a man to try to conceive, or for a woman to serve as a pastor. Pretend though we may, none of these things are actually possible and represent nothing more than vain efforts to defy our essential identity as engendered humanity. The common inclination to sin which we all share does not make acting on those impulses any less dangerous or dehumanizing.
In order to accept women’s ordination, one must reject what Scripture teaches about sexual identity. Neither Judaism, Isalm, or Christianity have embraced a female clergy because of what Genesis teaches about gender roles. God gave dominion of creation to Adam (Genesis 2:8, 15), and created Eve to assist him in his task of caring for creation (Genesis 2:18).
There is a fundamental subordination of male & female which is built into the fabric of creation (see especially Genesis 2:15-25). Any effort to overturn that subordination results is dangerous and dehumanizing. Ever since the fall into sin, man’s great temptation is to be lazy & not exercise proper headship (drinking beer and eating potato chips and leave his poor wife to take care of everything), while the woman’s temptation is take it upon herself to do everything (and can you blame her?! I can’t), because of her lazy oaf of a husband. But this is not as it should be.
St. Paul affirms God’s order of creation in Ephesians 5:22-33). In a nutshell: God made us male & female to be complementary, not in competition. Headship was given to man, not that he might dominate woman, but that he might exercise the self-sacrificial love & leadership we see in Christ. This is reflected in the liturgy for Holy Matrimony, in which the husband is asked:
“will you have this woman to be your wedded wife, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony as God ordained it? Will you nourish and cherish her as Christ loved His body, the Church, giving Himself up for her? Will you love, honor, and keep her in sickness and in health and, forsaking all others, remain united to her alone, so long as you both shall live?”
and the wife is asked:
“will you have this man to be your wedded husband, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony as God ordained it? Will you submit to him as the Church submits to Christ? Will you love, honor, and keep him in sickness and in health and, forsaking all others, remain united to him alone, so long as you both shall live? Then say: I will.”
I once preached about the implications of sexual identity for marriage; you can find that sermon here. If God has given man to be head of household and provide for his family, how much more so in the family of God? 1 Timothy 3 also assumes a male pastorate (consistent use of the male pronoun, must be husband of one wife, etc.). And then of course there’s the infamous 1 Timothy 2:12, which has all of this in the background.
“Father” is another biblical title for “pastor” (see 1 Corinthians 4:15). Commenting on the 4th Commandment (“Honor your father and your mother”), Luther says:
“Thus we have two kinds of fathers presented in this commandment, fathers in blood and fathers in office, or those to whom belongs the care of the family, and those to whom belongs the care of the country. Besides these there are yet spiritual fathers… For those only are called spiritual fathers who govern and guide us by the Word of God; 159] as St. Paul boasts his fatherhood 1 Cor. 4:15, where he says: In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel. Now, 160] since they are fathers they are entitled to their honor, even above all others. But here it is bestowed least; for the way which the world knows for honoring them is to drive them out of the country and to grudge them a piece of bread, and, in short, they must be (as says St. Paul, 1 Cor. 4:13) as the filth of the world and everybody’s refuse and footrag.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I think it would be just a tad awkward to call a woman “father.”
Pastor Ken Kelly has recently written well on this topic here.
The final word (for now) goes to Pastor Larry Beane, who has said:
The argument for women’s ordination is really based on the belief that it is morally wrong and unjust to exclude them from the holy office.
But if it is wrong to exclude them in 2013, it must have been wrong in 1930. It must have been wrong in 1830. It must have been wrong in 1030. It must have been wrong in 530. And it must have been wrong in 30 when our Lord chose only men to preach and administer sacraments, even though 1) Jesus was always willing to break rules if they were wrong or immoral or unjust, 2) Jesus never shied away from doing right even at risk of offending people or risking His life, 3) Jesus was willing to scandalize people by speaking to women and having women disciples (but not women apostles), 4) the first witnesses of the resurrection were women (but they were not made apostles).
So to those who think they are righting a moral injustice perpetrated by men by pushing for women’s ordination, do you think the Man Jesus is a coward, a misogynist, or just a run of the mill sinner?
The reality is that we are not only following Jesus’s example, but explicitly obeying Scripture and humbly submitting to God’s created order even though it makes us unpopular.
It’s more important to be faithful, isn’t it?