A person who harms themselves we would regard as troubled. A person who is of sound mind would not intentionally cut themself, nor would a person of sound mind stand in the path of an oncoming locomotive that will not, and cannot, change course. Thus I can only conclude that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is deeply troubled and not of sound mind.
In 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 the Apostle Paul informs us that we as a church, as believers in Christ, are one body. The Apostle then saw the need to reinforce the idea of oneness in Christ in Galatians 3:28 by expressing that in Christ the divisions in society that we see are no more, for Christ should be who we see when we look at one another.
This makes the decision voted at the 2018 GC Annual Council all the more disturbing in that the idea of unity is not only being legislated for by policing of conscience, but that what is being policed, or in reality what is being reinforced, are some of these divisions the Apostle counseled were no more should we choose to place our identity in Christ. In the establishment of compliance committees to police the ordination of women, we are effectively saying that the words of Paul in Galatians are true, with one small caveat: gender matters.
It is by common consensus that racism in the church is wrong and classism is frowned upon, but sexism, well that’s somehow permissible? The lack of integrity in the application of Galatians 3:28 requires gymnastics of such mental proportions to allow us to disregard a portion of it and yet adopt others that those who achieve it should consider entering the olympics.
If I cut my finger, my foot does not feel the pain, nor do my eyes, but yet the whole body suffers as a result of the pain. The first impulse of my body is not to deny that the pain exists, nor is it to amputate the hurting finger, but rather in a concerted and coordinated effort, my body responds to address the pain and to promote healing. My feet carry me to the sink, my eyes work to locate a Band-Aid, my brain processes and coordinates, my blood works to clot and seal the wound, etc. Every part of my body is put to work to resolve the pain, and yet at no point has my hand had to operate as a foot or my foot had to operate as my eyes; each part of my body has worked to bring about the common goal whilst retaining its own individual identity.
Women in leadership positions are hurting — the hurting finger of the church — especially our female pastors, but there is no coordinated attempt to decrease their hurting. Can anyone see the compliance committees promoting healing, or are they likely to cause more pain? Christ may have called us the salt of the Earth, but I don’t believe that rubbing salt into an open wound is quite what he had in mind. But that is what these compliance committees do.
Women are a part of the body of Christ and if we are to talk about unity within that body, we must address their hurt or we must accept one of two things: the SDA Church is deeply psychologically troubled or women are not part of the body of Christ.
If the first proposition is true, then we should surely desire healing. If the second proposition is true, then women are not subject to the rules and regulations applicable to the body of believers. Considering the amount of time spent policing women’s dress, speech, and positions in the church I must submit that we collectively have rejected the second proposition.
If our mission is truly evangelism to bring people into knowledge and relationship with God, then the identity of each of the separate parts of the body is necessary to accomplish that task. We need women and men, we need young and old, black and white working in unity and appreciating the equal importance in all parts to bring about our ultimate goal.
That some unions ordain women and some don’t should not be a problem to those that hold the proclamation of the gospels as our mission and aim. They are the difference between the hand and the foot, each is vital to achieving the aim, and the aim can only be achieved with each retaining its own identity and purpose. That we forbid and are attempting to punish unions that choose to further the gospel in a manner that best suits their territory is to act against our own interests; it is harmful to the mission and as a result harmful to the body.
Which leads back to the idea that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is troubled.
Very deeply troubled.
Jeremy Storm is a father, student of theology, antagonist, and staunch advocate for equality of both race and gender.
Photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash
We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.