Popular singer Beyonce has this song If I Were a Boy, where she fantasizes about living the life of an irresponsible man in his twenties, joking with the fellas and doing what he wants. In the song, she swears that she’d listen to her woman but when I hear that, I wonder to myself: does she really get it? Does she look at men and see only the power they have? Does she really understand the burden of the responsibility of the husband?
Earlier this year, I saw video of LCMS President Matt Harrison addressing woman’s ordination and saying that he didn’t think that it was going to be much of an issue going forward in the LCMS. I don’t know if this before Ordain Women Now (OWN) popped up on Facebook, but it did strike me as a statement that didn’t fully consider the context of the world the LCMS. While I do believe Pastor Harrison when he says there wouldn’t be open push for woman’s ordination in the LCMS for the next ten or twenty years (when I was in college, the sense of the issue I got was that most of the significant theologians were completely opposed to it or at least upholding of the LCMS’ position), the LCMS’ practice of honoring the order of creation has the possibility of facing opposition, and, as witnessed by OWN, even smart people won’t hear the Bible’s doctrine. Even the ELCA jettisoning the name Lutheran won’t solve this.
While the LCMS’ size helps it fly under the radar, we live in a world that is trying to ignore gender in every respect. Homosexual couple are as legitimate as straight couples, and have found other ways to have children. Parenting and marriage have gone through their own divorce, and the state has chosen to side with the partner who is least committed to the marriage. And women are told that they are entitled to have as much access to career and prosperity as men do, even if the woman who ascends to the corporate ladder still wants a man who can take of her. I’m not saying this because I automatically think all women should be at home all the time; with the advances in technology, and education, they be able to have opportunities to work and make the living. But this context is important, because, at its worst the world looks at the LCMS and says, “You don’t ordain women? What kind of sexist pigs are you?”
This is the essence of what it means to be the church in the world-to hold fast to God’s teaching against mass cultural opposition. But that doesn’t give us the right to beat people like those in OWN over the head with our opinions. We have to open the Scriptures, show them the order of creation (God created us different for a reason), Christ and His male Apostles, and 1 Timothy 2, but that’s not even our first point. What we have to teach that womanhood do have great value, especially childbearing and in being a supportive wife. But God hasn’t given women gifts of authority over a congregation of believers, and that is to their benefit.
As far as one of the arguments of the OWNers, how exactly can we limit God? Have you bought into the twentieth century notion that we create God at our own personal buffet? In the divine service, he come to us, and we don’t serve. We just try and not get in the way. Go read Isaiah 6 and Exodus 19 and tell me that we’re limiting that God, in whose power and glory drives us to despair and repentance.
The more I read the argument of the OWNers, I’m shocked by how outdated their approach is. They asked for an open discussion of the question in the LCMS (which happened twenty years ago), but as I wrote the other day, there is a precedent for woman’s ordination, which leads down a path where the authority of Scriptures is abandoned. To those in OWN, were you really that naïve to think that the LCMS, a denomination that has clung to the scriptures, would just hear your arguments about “we’re limiting God by not having women pastors” and not come to a vigorous defense? Try and come up with a new argument, if it’s for no reason to humor us.
That lead of course to a classic liberal move, they kick people out of their group whose arguments they can’t refute, even if one of them is a respected publisher (Rev. Paul T. McCain) and the other is the host of a popular radio program (Rev. Todd Wilken). Really OWNers, you didn’t think that if you raised this topic, there would be really smart people coming out to debate you? I’ve read Pastor McCain’s and Pastor Wilken’s comments, and yes, they were tough on you. But when you break into someone’s house with a knife and they come down the stairs at you with a guy, it’s your fault you came in under-armed. It’s not Pastor McCain or Pastor Wilken’s fault that your argument isn’t any good, and banning them makes you look weak.
But debates aside. What this does really come down to is the congregational level, and how women are allowed to serve in congregation. I’ll go back to what I said yesterday, with the OWN administrator who listed off every thing she’d done in her church as if it gave her the right to go out and make this argument. In a way, I don’t even blame her. I blame whatever pastor she had who allowed her to overstep her boundaries and continues to let her cause this disruption in our synod. I can see such a situation arising very easily-pastor gets overwhelmed with work, and just lets her assume power solely based on competency. Like many errors, I wouldn’t be surprised if this one started out of expediency, and it’s the kind of situations that we in the LCMS should be worried about, because it can erode our consensus on the Scriptural view of the Ministry and of the order of Creation.