Why the LCMS Will Ordain Women in My Lifetime

Just keep telling yourself, “It can’t happen here. It can’t happen here. I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!”

After 40 years of chipping away at, the pro-OW forces practically have the victory in hand. It may not seem like it. Those pushing for it may not even realize how close they are (unless they read this post, of course).

There are only so many Jenga pieces you can remove before the whole thing falls with a roar. You’ll notice that in Jenga you do not have to remove every piece to make sure it will fall. In fact, the majority of the pieces remain in the tower. It’s anybody’s guess which piece will be the last.

What will be our final Jenga piece? Could it be that making women the Presidents/Vice-Presidents of our congregations will finally topple the whole edifice? Let me say this: when I first read and heard about that resolution in 2004, I said, what could be so bad about this? It’s only polity, right? Jesus never mandated any polity in the Bible, so whoever wants the job can have it. As long as we protect our sacred proof-texts (1 Corinthians 14:33-38; 1 Timothy 2:9-15), it’s all good.

You know that final battle scene in The Return of the King? The one where the small band of good guys is surrounded by a seemingly endless number of bad guys? The only problem is, we don’t have any hobbits headed for Mount Doom. We’ve allowed the anti-family, anti-headship forces to surround the small piece of ground we’re still holding: women can’t be pastors. Is that what the Bible says? We all know it says women cannot be pastors in the Church of God. Is that it?

What about Genesis 1-3; 1 Corinthians 11:1-16; Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Timothy 5:9-16; 2 Timothy 2:3-5? All culturally conditioned? Let’s just be honest: these passages–other than Genesis (which is the foundation for Paul’s teaching)–represent the teaching of the apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul of Tarsus. If he truly is the apostle of Jesus, then his authority is Jesus’ authority. And if it is Jesus’ authority, it is the authority of the Triune God. If it is the authority of God revealed after the redemption worked by Christ, then it was also His will prior to redemption, that is, built into creation.

What follows? I realize I’m sounding prehistoric–wait, that’s exactly what it is: pre-historic. This headship of man over woman was God’s will for His creation. That means it does not apply only in the Church, and it especially means it does apply only insofar as the pastoral office is concerned. It applies everywhere, because God is the creator and ruler of all things. You work out the implications.

Why has the ELCA been so effective at getting EVERYONE in that denomination to buy OW? Part of the problem is Law and Gospel. Not those concepts in themselves, but a certain polarization of them. Law=Bad; Gospel=Good. So, if the will of God for creation is not Gospel (i.e., forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ), then it must be Law. If it is Law, then it must be bad. This is simply a misapplication of Law and Gospel to every tiny thing. Frankly, God’s will for creation is Law, and it is good, because God ordained it. If you or I can’t handle it, that’s because we’re not good. Christ redeemed God’s order, He did not annul it.

There is more to be said, but this is probably enough to generate the hate-mail. This is not a popular position; but when has God’s position ever been popular? But unless we begin to teach the creative will of God for His creation, we will lose this battle. We cannot continue to give away the ground that is the foundation for our position on the ordination of women. Otherwise we run the risk of making our opponents correct: it’s just a silly little rule to keep women down and cement the control of men.

[Chris at ORT has good comments here; he makes note of something I neglected to say: this has nothing to do with ability, emotional tendency or anything else. Those arguments get you nowhere. Glen at Territorial Bloggings has good comments here as well–and with more wit than I!]

Timotheos

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27 thoughts on “Why the LCMS Will Ordain Women in My Lifetime

  1. I wonder if it’s worse for a Lutheran synod to SAY they adhere to a quia subscription of the Confessions and a literal, whole interpretation of the Scriptures, while doing something else, or for it to declare themselves as beneficiaries of a tradition that doesn’t apply completely to them now, as in another synod.

  2. The way I understand, the leadership of the Christian family was clearly delegated to fathers. Consequently, the pastoral fathership of the congregation also goes to a man.

    There are two issues here. Who God delegated what to, and what it is that spiritual leadership is truly about.

    God defined spiritual leadership in terms of a servant. But, what about church leadership such as president, V.P. etc… do we strive for leadership in worldly terms… meaning we choose power for others to then serve us? Both men and women unfaithfully strive for these positions of power, so no difference there.

    Now, back to the issue of pastors. Since God effectively delegated this leadership duty to men, both men and women christians should make sure men are holding up their end of the deal.

    Men need to step up and fill these roles so that women don’t have to. Problem is that as men step back from these duties, women step up to fill the gap. I really can’t blame the women. Because the problem realy rests with us men.

    >>>
    Do we have enough men filling our needs for pastors? No. We now have women stepping up to the plate, and we are still short ordained ministers…

    How many people in an average congregation participate in the leadership and voting responsiblities? Maybe 10-20%? And this often include both men and women. In my congregation it’s about 5%. (And women do not vote here).

    You all see what I’m getting at? What happened to all the real Christian men?

  3. Now, after that long rant…

    There are two things that currently keep LCMS from ordaining women and fully embracing women in all leadership roles. First is our view of who God delegated spiritual leadership to.

    Second is that most of these efforts and resolutions would only serve to further split Lutherans. Even the proponents of these efforts realize that losing half the members(including pastors) wouldn’t be good.

    But, if/when this happens what would we do? Start a new Synod? or should we start dusting off our Catholocism studies?

  4. “Do we have enough men filling our needs for pastors? No. We now have women stepping up to the plate, and we are still short ordained ministers…”

    This isn’t true. There are more than enough pastors, and the seminary’s classes are getting larger every year. That’s not the problem. For various reasons, various churches do not have pastors. Some cannot afford to pay a full-time pastor. Some, for whatever reason, simply will not call one. THERE IS NO “CLERGY SHORTAGE.”

    “There are two things that currently keep LCMS from ordaining women and fully embracing women in all leadership roles. First is our view of who God delegated spiritual leadership to.

    Second is that most of these efforts and resolutions would only serve to further split Lutherans. Even the proponents of these efforts realize that losing half the members(including pastors) wouldn’t be good.

    But, if/when this happens what would we do? Start a new Synod? or should we start dusting off our Catholocism studies?”

    The point of this post is that we have, for all intents and purposes, lost the Biblical ideal for leadership. I don’t think it can be confined to things spiritual. So, if all we have for a reason is that the Synod might split, then maybe it should be split. I don’t think unity would be furthered if that’s the only reason for not ordaining women. Further, a majority of “Lutherans” around the world already ordain women. Now, the ecumenical argument might be part of an argument, since the majority of _Christians_ (EO, RC, etc.) around the world do not ordain women.

    What will I do if the LCMS ordains women? Leave. Where will I go? I have no idea.

    Tim

  5. Tim, I agree (mostly, and if I’m honest, probably entirely) with you on women in the position of president of congregations. I don’t know if it will lead to women ordination, but I can see where you are coming from, and we may be starting down the slippery slope (actually we’re probably pretty far down it already).

    I think that we need to recapture what it means to be a Christian man in the LCMS. We have regulated most of the significant spiritual leadership in a congregation to one man, e.g. the pastor, and IMHO have kept the other males from having significant roles in leadership unless we can show the value in having a spiritual man in the position of congregational president. If one takes an honest look at the spiritual health of LCMS congregations by and large the gender with the greater health (& numbers) is the females. Generally (stereotypically) Christianity has become feminized (even to the point of, as Paul T. Coughlin says in “No More Christian Nice Guy,” Jesus has become “a woman with a beard”) and men see no significant role within it. While I agree there is some dangers (I’ve seen them 1sthand) in the Promise Keepers movement, by and large it has been the only viable option within the Christian church for men to be challenged and given opportunity to grow spiritaully. And the LCMS has ignored it/condemned it as borderline heretical, thereby eliminating an opportunity for men to have something for “them”.

    Does the LCMS challenge men to grow spiritually and provide opportunities for them to do that in a way that appeals to men? If the pastor is the only person who can “offically” lead a Bible study (because we’re afraid of bad doctrine), where do your spiritual leaders get trained and grown? Are we raising up role models for the young men to follow if they do not feel called into the pastoral ministry? Where are the strong, spiritual businessmen, doctors, lawyers, construction workers, et al, in the LCMS? Why aren’t they being EQUIPED to lead the youth group, or Bible study groups, or the congregation?? Where are the opportunities to serve as a layMAN where I am challenged and encouraged to lead spiritually? Lutheran Laymens League?! And by the same token, are women being given significant opportunities to use their spiritual gifts in a way that follows the biblical model of headship?

    I’ve been a member of a few LCMS congregations in my adult life and I’ve seen some good male role models in them, but not enough. More often than not I’ve seen more than a few households where the only adult attending services on Sunday morning has been the wife. Why is that? What are we not doing to get the husbands to church? I don’t have the answer and I’ve struggled with this question for almost 20 years.

    Regarding men in church leadership positions, my philosophy is that we men are basically lazy and if the females are going to do it then why should we. If women are allowed to be congregational presidents, then men will not run or fill those positions. And in defense of the women, if they are the defacto non-collared spiritual leaders in a congregation, then they deserve to get one of their own into leadership. Is it unbiblical, probably; is it pragmatic, of course. What should be done about it, figure out a way to reach and challenge the men not in the pew. In that regard, we’ve already lost the battle.

    Scott

  6. “Regarding men in church leadership positions, my philosophy is that we men are basically lazy and if the females are going to do it then why should we. If women are allowed to be congregational presidents, then men will not run or fill those positions. And in defense of the women, if they are the defacto non-collared spiritual leaders in a congregation, then they deserve to get one of their own into leadership. Is it unbiblical, probably; is it pragmatic, of course. What should be done about it, figure out a way to reach and challenge the men not in the pew. In that regard, we’ve already lost the battle.”

    Exactly, Scott. In fact, Deborah the prophetess makes precisely this point: “Nevertheless, hte road on which you [Barak] are going will not lead to your glory, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Jdg. 4:9). Fine, she says, I’ll do it; but it will be to your shame. Same with women in the church today.

    “Tim, I agree (mostly, and if I’m honest, probably entirely) with you on women in the position of president of congregations. I don’t know if it will lead to women ordination, but I can see where you are coming from, and we may be starting down the slippery slope (actually we’re probably pretty far down it already).”

    I’d say it’s not exactly a slippery slope argument, as it is an argument that by doing certain things, we deny in practice what we hold in theory. In some sense, things get worse and worse and worse; but why?

    Tim

  7. Tim, maybe we do indeed have enough ordained men to pastor all or our churches. This is one opinion in which I am happy to be wrong.

    There are indeed leadership roles for women in a congregation. They are just different. Not to go into those here, though. Consider the Deaconess positions, and teaching positions within Lutheran schools, very critical positions for which women are heartily welcomed and contribute in massive ways. LWML, etc.

    I am supportive of women leading bible studies. Especially when older wiser women lead a study of younger women, because critical teaching happens here. Even a bible study with a mix of men/women/youth seems fine to me. But coordinating a Bible study is not the same as a Pastor or Elder leading a Worship service, or a respected older gentleman presiding and president.

    In my church women aren’t even allowed to vote. But it is expected that husbands votes reflect the common wishes of the wives. A nice ideal, but the point is clearly made. Women are allowed to express their opininos, but even then only about 10% of the congregation even bothers to vote. In the case of singe women, there are complications, the then we have the elders who are supposed to be working these issues.

    So, no matter how we slice it, we men are not holding up our end of the deal.

  8. And… a more practical reason…

    Congregations do not last with husband-wife (or male-female) squabbling over details of church business.

    This may seem a silly reason, but for those of us that are married… we don’t always see eye-to-eye with our spouses on things, do we?

    Now, I’m not against expressing disagreement and working through problems. But I am against taking these issues into the public church business setting.

    My point is that every single argument I have ever heard in favor of ordaining women and having women presidents includes the issue of equally sharing worldly power. This equally sharing of power is a worldly concept, not a Godly one, and it has noething to do with the buisiness of church preaching and teaching.

    Now, please let me also point out that this is not a gender specific phenomenon.

    Both men and women argue for ordaining women. Likewise, both men and women argue against it.

  9. Hey all,

    It’s been a long time since I posted here, but this is a topic very near and dear to my heart, so I felt like I should say something, so here it goes:

    If indeed the LCMS decides to abandon true doctrine and ordain women you are all welcome in the Catholic Church.

    • Sorry we do not want to be in the arms of Babylon the great harlot. Religion. If the liberals wish to ordain women the conservative laypeople like myself and pastors will stay LCMs and the liberals can take thier congregations and take the more left leaning Concordia seminaries and join the elca and those congregations in the elca who oppose it’s fake Lutheran confession masquerading In the elca and want to be conservative Lutheran can join.us and we will continue as the LCMS synod or change our name To. LCIS and everyone will be happy just leave us the Concordia seminary in Ft Wayne Indiana. And we will. Move the radio station from St. Louis mo to ft Wayne with any other conservative. Organizations part of the LCMs we can even change our name to the Lutheran church Indiana synod the. LCIS has a nice ring to it

  10. Since the Catholic Church abandoned true doctrine some time ago, Fr. Christensen, why don’t you come over to the LCMS now while it still officially condemns women’s ordination? Then we’ll all move together later. 🙂

  11. The real crux here is this: Is Paul making a first article argument in 1 Tim 11-15? There is little difference between this argument and Christ’s argument against divorce (Mark 10:6-9). This is not an issue of Christian piety alone. It is natural law.

    It’s also not a result of the fall (at least not the curse), and therefore “corrected” by the Gospel contra those who would point to Gal 3:28. This verse simply states that women are heirs of the promise in Christ.

    Rob (very much) Contra Mundum

  12. Rob makes a great point. We are indeed all heirs to the promise of Christ.

    Maybe going off on a tangent: I don’t believe the message of salvation reflects anything about ordination bringing anyone closer to salvaton. Point within this discussion is that ordination holds no special spiritual significance for women, nor for men.

    So what is there to gain by battling over this issue? Nothing.

    The real issue is understanding God’s position on this. And I think we understand that God clearly dictated men take the lead with regard to spiritual issues within the church family. And if men won’t step up to the plate and fulfill their responsibility, then women will.

  13. Fr. Christensen… “If indeed the LCMS decides to abandon true doctrine and ordain women you are all welcome in the Catholic Church.”

    Fr. Christensen,
    I have put significant amount of thought into this very issue. It’s not a bad idea.

    My concern is, how would it work when the priest asks me to embrace a few critical aspects of Roman Catholic doctrine and confessions in which I disagree?

    >>>
    Tim mentioned that he didn’t know what he would do if LCMS changes these changes. I’m not sure I know what I would do either. But I suspect we would find a large following of like-minded folks willing to start a new Synod. Or possibly experience a migration of memberships to, say, the Wisconsin Synod (WELS).

    >>>
    But honestly, Tim, I do not expect to see this change occur within LCMS in my life time. Niether do I see LCMS ceasing to be an active Lutheran Synod. Any Synodical change of this magnintude will receive significant debate and review by cooler wiser heads before it ever occurs.

  14. Quoting myself.. “Point within this discussion is that ordination holds no special spiritual significance for women, nor for men.”

    After reading this again, this didn’t come out quite the way I meant it. Obviously ordination has spiritual significance, with respect to ministering to others. Just suggesting there is no significance with respect to personal salvation.

  15. Is “spiritual” leadership in the first article realm? If so, what does that mean? If not, then what are the other implications for headship in the created order?

    Rob (very much) Contra Mundum

  16. With respect to other implications:

    Is God’s ideal of spiritual leadership the same as our worldly ideal of leadership?

    In God’s view the authority rests with God, and spiritual leaders are identified a servants to their family and/or flock.

    In a world view, it is often understood that the authority of a leader rests with the leader and the family or flock are to serve the leaders priorities.

    When we say we are the leader of a government or business entity, we mean we have the authority to tell other’s what to do.

    When we say we are a church or spiritual leader, we usually mean something else. We are usually talking about someone who serves specific needs of a congregation.

    When we say we are a father, we often reflect that it is our responsiblity to serve our family in making them sure they are safe, comfortable, and fed… and maintain an active spiritual life.

  17. Great discussion and very relavent issue. One thing that has failed to be reflected in this discussion is what do we do when men shrug their responsibilities but woman is more then willing to pick them up? Need I remind anyone of the curses handed down in Gen. 3? My answer: CALL MEN TO TASK! To often we are willing to sit idealy by as pastors and say, “Well, I guess no men will do it so a woman can.” Shame on us! We need to hear the order of creation discussed in the pulpits, in Bible Study, in the classrooms and hallways of our churches! In the same way, women must be reminded of their place in creation, that of raising the family and taking care of kids. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that women need to be barefoot and pregnate. However, there is great joy and pride given to the woman who takes care of her family (Prov. 31). Why are we not discussing this point as well? Woman’s role in the family, society and church is important, however we must make the distintcion and call each sex to task where they are missing the mark. My prayer is that we will all do this and where I am lacking may my brothers tell me so that I might live a God pleasing life as well.

  18. Lawrence said: “My concern is, how would it work when the priest asks me to embrace a few critical aspects of Roman Catholic doctrine and confessions in which I disagree?”

    Well, the answer to that is that hopefully by the time you came to the point in your faith journey where you were ready and willing to enter the Catholic Church you would either have overcome your misconceptions and disagreements with Her, or you would at least be willing to explore them with an open heart, mind, and with intellectual honesty.

    If you are at a point where you are willing to explore your disagreements with the Church’s teaching with openness and intellectual honesty, then lets get to it. I would be more than willing to talk about it.

  19. Indeed, I’m sure you are most capable to speak with me on these things, Fr. Christensen. Thank you.

    My point is that I’ve explored these things and found the R.C. Church has made many very positive adjustments over the last 500 years. Just not all that I would like to see.

    Now, I’m not trying to judge you or the RC Church. I respect you and embrace you as only one of the “non-Catholic” flock can.

    Maybe one day we will be able to truly breach these gaps. Probably not in my life time, but significant steps have been made and I remain hopeful.

  20. Pingback: Territorial Bloggings

  21. Knock Nock can I come in ?I’m not a Pastor and never would want to be one. I like the fact that God made you men in His own Image.
    Pastor Chryst was telling me about this very same subject at his blog today by sharing a link
    to an article written by Ms. Sandra Ostapowich, who once aspired to be an ELCA pastor herselfbut changed her mind. Here is a paper she presented on the subject

    Honestly I have no idea why any woman on earth would ever want to be a Pastor ? I picked up a copy of the Voters Assemby Meeting along with a a copy of a draft for a new constitution that will be voted on tonight at our Lutheran School where I work for my husband to read at home. I’m just the bone of His bone, his help meet but you know He’s going through a midlife crisses and is stuggling with his identity now that he is retirment age,we have pep talks almost every day now to keep him from becoming depressed about not being unemployment and out of a job sense november. My job for almost 40 years has been to be his comforter to remind him of our Lord’s love for him and all that the Bible says because he doesn’t tend to read it for himself and when he does read it he has a temper and hears law more often than he hears the grace God would have him to hear.Like Mary, Martha’s sister I listen to my Pastor’s and DCE Hintz and then take their messages home to share with Don.He comes to church but doesn’t always listen very well.

    Ruth and Naomi are the woman I admire, Naomi had respect for Boaz she only hoped to glean in his fields. Grandma Ruth was their child care provider.
    The woman in the LWML circles and Lutheran world relief have my total respect . These dear ladies at my church have always been the finest examples of womanhood,in the past fifteen years they’ve let me help with funeral dinners, sew quilts, serve on the altar guild and put spanish large print Bibles together and Monthly Church News Letters. In the 13 pages of Ms.Sandra’s article I don’t remember her listing the LWML or Sunday School Teachers, what a blessing our female Sunday school teachers are to a congregation and our child care providers in the nursery. I’ll read her article again maybe I just over looked it. We don’t need a cristal ball to predict what these sick individual who are blinded by the devil through their sexual appitites are leading to. Will we be ready to be of service to them when they are sick, when they are tired , when our Lord heals their eyes and they see themselves as sinners ? Are we be ready to be good neighbors who are ready to pick them up and take them to Jesus in prayer or will be choose another way? A few weeks ago it accured to me that purverts are allowed to have babys in their care, many children suffer from sex crimes every year they are mulested by family members and friends. Same Sex Marrage for gays and lesbians is onely the tip of the iceburge , as I see it we can expect these crazy people to adopt children and these children are the very ones we are to be bring to Jesus in prayer ,remembering: suffer the little children and forbid them not for of such is the kingdom of God. The LCMS is like a mother bringing her children to Jesus, the Christ, so that He will bless them with His touch of mercy and grace, something their little world knows nothing about. Having been hospitalized for insanity several years ago didn’t seem like a good thing at the time but now I realize why God let me dispare , other wise I could not have seen for myself the true human condition,I had set myself in a comfortable possition where I was prideful of all my accomplishments,most homosexuals are proud of themselves , making excusses for thier actions. All vice tempts us to justify it’s self,be it sex, ponograhy, drugs, glutteny ,alcohal, smoking,hate, it’s all the same. Thank God He is in heaven on His throne alive and well getting ready to send out His angels from the four winds to gather His sheep from the goats. More and more I realize how much we are in the end times, it is as in the days of noah and like you have said Pastor Chryst Jesus is our Sabboth rest from all this crap that is every where around us and often within us. Being part of the Christian church is like a breath of fresh air, a drink of water to a thirsty soul, and the hand of God to rescue us from sin death and the devil.Funerals become a blessing to those who have children born with birth defects, brain damage and cancer that have no cure on earth yet. Parents pray that their children won’t be left here to suffer but that Jesus will come and come quickly to set them free from their tents that cause them pain and suffering.I would no nothing about all of this if God would have allowed me to remain in my comfort zone where I was happy decorating my house, fixing meals , sewing, shopping,planning birthday parties, doing crafts with my boy scouts and brownies,going on family vacations
    etc. I see now that I needed to come down off my high horse for awhile so that He could give me more compassion for people who maynot not know Him yet or how much He loves them.The LCMS Child Ministry has gone on record as saying our mission is to see that our mission is to share the love of Jesus with ALL children. On behalf of Windows Ministry it is important that we support that statemant and include even the poor kids that get adopted by a homosexual or even a child who may be a clone if the future should hold such a child. Let us not be like the desciples who would tell Jesus to make them go away when thir mothers bring them to Jesus. These are children who may be wearing a smile on the outside but inside they are hurting. Do you know anyone who would be interested in being a Pastor,coach,leader or family involved in the LCMS Child Ministry ” Windows Ministry ” ? Anyone in the LLL or LWML, Stephan’s Ministry,the Board of Parish Education ?

  22. Mrs. Traylor,
    Thanks for your comments. You said, “I like the fact that God made you men in His own Image.” Don’t forget that women, too, are made in God’s image. Men and women have their unique roles in God’s creation, but that does not mean inferiority or superiority.

    God bless,
    Tim

  23. Dear sir I also hold membership in the holy apostolic Lutheran church We are a small confessional Lutheran synod we have one small chapel headed by a elder
    Chapel of our lady of CZESTOCHOWKA. In lower part of Hudson valley ny we have about 28 members. And we honor the saints and Mary but do not pray to them just as Martin Luther who had a deep devotion to the blessed mother of god who is ever virgin I know that sounds strange but Lutherans in the days of Martin Luther never questioned Mary as being the mother of god or being ever virgin yes we deny the idea of immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary by her mother St Anna this is not biblical only Jesus was conceived without sin

  24. Interesting I think I heard Of them they hold to a very conservative interpretation of Lutheran doctrine and theology I have pasted the road they are located

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