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Compliance or Conscience? Charting Our Discord about Ordaining Women


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Although we often say that we can understand in two ways the discord regarding the ordination of women that exists among those of us who are Seventh-day Adventists, we rarely go beyond identifying them as issues of either compliance or conscience. Here is one attempt to move further in the direction of increasing clarity:

Ordaining Women
Compliance: Defiance of Authority
Conscience: Devotion to Principle

Those Who Ordain Women
Compliance: Disobedient and Rebellious
Conscience: Being True to Duty

Organizational Analogies
Compliance: Businesses or Militaries
Conscience: Families or Teams

Locations of Authority
Compliance: Centralized
Conscience: Decentralized

Comfort with Pluralism
Compliance: Less
Conscience: More

Administrative Tendencies
Compliance: Secretive and Structured
Conscience: Public and Procedural

Default Method of Increasing Unity
Compliance: Coercion
Conscience: Persuasion

Trust in Distant Colleagues
Compliance: Little
Conscience: Much

Feelings about the Future
Compliance: Anxious Concern
Conscience: Hopeful Confidence

Best Possible Outcomes
Compliance: Wounded and Weakened Denomination
Conscience: Healed and Strengthened Denomination

This list is a start which others will hopefully improve! Add your thoughts in the comments below.


David Larson has specialized in ethics and theology in the School of Religion at Loma Linda University Health for forty-four years; however, his views do not express the convictions of all of its 20,000 or so administrators, faculty, clinicians, and staff.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash.


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