Pastor Stephen Bohr, Director of the independent Secrets Unsealed media ministry, was the second speaker to present the case for male headship at the “Crisis Ahead” women’s ordination symposium in Bakersfield, California. He provided a long list of points, constructed from snippets of Bible texts and passages of Ellen White’s writings, which, he argued, demonstrated conclusively that God appointed men to be spiritual heads and women to be spiritually subordinate.
Pastor Bohr began his explication of the chain of authority by arguing for hierarchy within the Trinity, specifically, Jesus’ eternal subordination to the Father.
“Jesus was in subjection to the Father even before the Creation of the Angels,” Bohr contended.
As support, Bohr presented an excerpt from Ellen White’s “Patriarchs and Prophets,” page 36:
Before the assembled inhabitants of heaven the King declared that none but Christ, the Only Begotten of God, could fully enter into His purposes, and to Him it was committed to execute the mighty counsels of His will. The Son of God had wrought the Father’s will in the creation of all the hosts of heaven…”
“God was the head of Christ long before the plan of Salvation came into existence, according to 1 Corinthians 11:3 and this statement from Ellen White,” Bohr said.
Concerning the pre-fall subordination of Eve, Bohr said, “There’s abundant evidence in the Spirit of Prophecy to indicate that Adam was placed as the head.” He read several statements by Ellen White about Adam’s condition at the very beginning before sin entered this world, including the following:
Volume 6 of the Testimonies 236. “Under God, Adam was to stand at the head of the earthly family to maintain the principles of the heavenly family.”
Bible Echo August 28, 1899: “Adam was appointed by God to be the Monarch of the world under the supervision of the Creator.”
Patriarchs and Prophets page 48: “The Sabbath was presented to Adam, the Father and representative of the whole human family.”
Bohr sought to establish through a series of Genesis texts the pre-Fall and post-Fall headship of Adam (the headship of man).
He referenced Paul’s seeming prohibition of womanly authority as a witness to Genesis: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man… for Adam was formed first, and then Eve.” Bohr argued that Paul’s letter to Timothy testifies to the primacy of the male in the Creation Order.
Bohr said Paul was referring in 1 Timothy 2:12 to “full ecclesiastical authority.” He clarified, “It does not mean that a woman cannot teach Sabbath School or give Bible studies.” The context is a discussion of the supervisor or overseer of the church, Bohr suggested.
Bohr made the argument that physical stature is tied, in Heaven’s view, to authority. “In heaven there is order, and the tallest angels command the angels that are not as tall,” Bohr said. “So heighth (sic) makes a difference.”
Bohr again turned to “several statements from the Spirit of Prophecy.”
When Satan rebelled against Jesus, the evil angels formed companies, “each division with a higher commanding angel at their head” (emphasis Bohr’s).
“Are there heads under Christ, the absolute head?” Bohr asked rhetorically, cupping his ear to invite the audience to respond. “Obviously!”
Ellen White made various references to “tall commanding angels,” which Bohr used to illustrate that physical stature is an indicator of God-given authority.
“So would heighth (sic) make a difference when it comes to Adam and Eve and the issue of authority?” Bohr asked rhetorically. “I believe so.”
Do you know how tall Jesus was before he came to this earth? According to the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol. 7, page 904, Jesus was taller than any of the angels. Why? “Because he had more authority, that’s right,” Bohr said.
He made the point that Adam named Eve, which indicates the man’s authority over the woman.
Bohr also argued that being older (“priority of existence”) is tied to authority (see the story of Cain and Abel).
A further argument in favor of Adam’s headship is that, according to commentary by Ellen White, Eve did not appear naked when she sinned. It was only after Adam, the head, sinned that Eve appeared naked, Bohr said.
He hailed patriarchy, stating that God intended a patriarchal system of government. “People talk about patriarchy as if it’s a bad thing,” he offered, reading from Ellen White’s Patriarchs and Prophets (page 141) to prove that patriarchy was God’s intent all along “to preserve the knowledge of God.”
“The patriarchal system was a good system, and continues to be a good system,” he remarked. “The media has made it a bad system, not God’s word.”
Bohr provided a litany of the male leaders of Israel and in the New Testament, who were all male, Bohr noted emphatically. “The genealogy of Christ is traced through his male ancestors.”
Bohr referenced Ty Gibson’s article in which Gibson argued that the Adventist pioneers (specifically Ellen White) supported ordaining women as pastors and elder. “Unfortunately, he doesn’t quote any of the pioneers. I’m going to read you what the pioneers said. If he quoted them, it would totally destroy his thesis.”
Bohr quoted Daniel T. Bourdeau’s remarks in the Review and Herald from 1862:
These remarks of the apostle are a standing rebuke against those unquiet and self-sufficient women who are unwilling to submit to their husbands in the Lord, and have a disposition to take the lead in meetings, in the presence of brethren who are qualified to rule the church. It is a shame for women to thus lead out. “If they would learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home.”
Jumping over the portion of Bourdeau’s comments that read, “But in the same chapter we have an instance in which men should keep silence in the church. This is when they speak in an unknown tongue, and there is no interpreter,” Bohr jumped down the page to another paragraph in which Bourdeau wrote:
Here again we have the idea of subjection. Paul does not suffer a woman to teach, or to usurp authority over the man; and we do not learn from the Scriptures that women were ever ordained apostles, evangelists, or elders; neither do we believe that they should teach as such.
Watch the full video of Bohr’s presentation, “Male and Female HE Created Them,” here.
Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.