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The Consistency of God

09 Jul

I struggled over what to title this article because I did not want to turn people off and I did not want to have some of my readers get angry and stop reading these pages. When I was posting on Rachel Held Evan’s website I posted a very annotated look at the history of God and those he appoints to be ministers for him and it was time that I post a more detailed synopsis here

With God’s help I hope to do that.  I have always talked about the consistency of God, he did not raise Jesus on the Sabbath because he was consistent with his command back in Genesis, Exodus and other passages. The same goes for Jesus accension, again done on Sunday which has led many a Christian writer throughout history to proclaim that the day of worship of God was changed from Saturday to Sunday. I disagree, of course, as we see God not being a person who says ‘do as I say not as I do’.

We also see this consistency when he gave us free choice to believe in him or not. He said ‘love seeks not its own’ thus God did not seek his own and make everyone robots whereby they automatically followed him without thinking for themselves and making their own decisions. He allowed people the opportunity to reject him and his love thus he suffered because of the decisions of many over the generations who have taken that freedom and abused it, not only rejecting God and his love but by adding scorn and mockery among other hate-filled actions to their behavior toward the being who gave them existence.

It is this same consistency that we must use and consider when we analyze the woman as a minister issue. So many people, Mark Goodacre is one of them, continue to read into many passages of NT scripture what they want to see there and fail to look at who God is and how he has acted throughout history. In their haste to alter scriptures they forget about God and that he does not change so they come to erroneous conclusions about what God is saying in the NT

The following is a look at key people, scriptures and titles to show how God has been consistent with his instructions and actions from the beginning.

#1. Adam & Eve— helpmeet, helper– Genesis 2:18

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper [a]suitable for him.”

Right from the start, God had intended for man to be the authority head in his creation, even before either person had sinned, God knew what he wanted and he made man to be where the buck stops.  While there was equality in the garden, it was not the equality that is demanded for women today by so many feminists both in and outside of the church.

God’s curse just cemented his intent

And he will rule over you.”

Now we should make the point that this rulership was intended for husbands only. We will come back to this curse later.

#2. Noah and Pre-flood people— the father of; righteous Genesis 3-6

Now this may rankle some people but as we read through these chapters, we do not see one woman who is highlighted for any special honor or for being so righteous that they were selected for special tasks by God. This does not mean that there were not any righteous women in those pre-flood years, though there wasn’t by the time of Noah’s 600th birthday, or that they were treated second class or as inferior for I am sure there were lots of woman who contributed to the development of the pre-flood world and the spirituality of their mates.

BUT, for some reason God highlighted the men as we read:

20 Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. 22 As for Zillah, she also gave birth to Tubal-cain, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron; and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah. (Ch. 3)

and

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, [g]blameless in his [h]time; Noah walked with God. (Ch.6)

#3. Moses & Aaron— Priestly Family– Exodus 28, 29 & 40

28 “Then bring near to yourself Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the sons of Israel, to minister as priest to Me—Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons. (ch 28)

You shall bring his sons and put tunics on them. You shall gird them with sashes, Aaron and his sons, and bind [a]caps on them, and they shall have the priesthood by a perpetual statute. So you shall [b]ordain Aaron and his sons. (ch 29)

and you shall anoint them even as you have anointed their father, that they may minister as priests to Me; and their anointing will qualify them for a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.” (ch 40)

Jumping ahead to the formation of the temple and who shall be its leaders we see God making a point of saying it 3 times, that Aaron and his sons and their male descendants would be God’s priests. There is no opening in any passage of scripture for the entry of women into the office of priest of the temple. God has determined that the male side of his creation would be his stewards of his people.

#4. Deborah– Prophetess & Judge- Judges 4;4

Now Deborah, a [a]prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.

The key words that many pro-woman ministers use in their defense of their position are in bold.  They assume that those words indicate that God softened his position about only males from Levi as priests but that is not the case. A quick look at the definition of those words

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Prophetess

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/judge

shows that neither position has anything to do with running the temple or priestly duties. Deborah spoke with God’s communication to his people and made judgement’s over disputes etc., as the need arose during Israel’s pre-monarchy years. She was NOT made a priest and no reference in Judges 4 &5 has her assuming and conducting priestly duties. She was never made a priest of the temple. God did not violate his command to Moses that only the sons of Aaron could be his priests.

Deborah’s position was totally separate from the offices of the temple. This continued in Israel for centuries as we read of different women who found grace in God’s eyes, Esther, Ruth, and others but not one of them are describes as usurping God’s command of who can be his priests nor do we read any scripture where God made exceptions for women. These women played vital roles in the lives of the people of Israel but not one of them sinned by disobeying God’s commands, including the ones involving who are priests and who is in charge of the temple.

#4. New Testament Womenhttp://www.christinyou.net/pages/womeninchurch.html

Here is where I will use a link as there are many women in the New Testament who are pointed to by feminists and pro-women as ministers supporters to support their argument that women are allowed to be ministers in the church today. if you are honest and look at each woman you will not see them described as ministers nor do you see them assume ministerial roles.

The word deaconess is used to describe a couple of them but that word only means:

a woman chosen to assist in the church ministry; (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deaconess)

she is not made a leader of the church nor a pastor. Then if we look at 1 Tim. 3 we see that the office of deacon was not made the same as the office of overseer or pastor thus a deaconess was not a pastor nor made an overseer of the church. In my quick search of the Bible through Biblegateway, we do not even find the word deaconess used in the bible thus we must conclude that the office of deaconess came much later after the Bible had been written.

Yes women served in the church

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a [a]servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the [b]saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, [c]and of myself as well. (Rom. 16:1ff)

but serving in the church doe snot mean she was a church leader, an overseer or pastor, or even one who made decisions on doctrine, etc. As you can see by the context she was a helper to many not a leader of many.  In other words, while Paul praises her work, he does not make her out to be in violation of God’s rules of who can lead the church.

Then what about Junia(s?)?

Greet Andronicus and [e]Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also [f]were in Christ before me (Rom. 16)

Even though it may be that the name Junia may used as a female name in the ancient records we have, that does not mean it was used as a female name in all instances. In listening to Mark Goodacre lecture on this chapter and women in general, I noticed that he left out the words ‘fellow prisoners’ in his treatise supporting the fact that Junia was a woman and that she was an apostle. In all of my research I have not come across any record where men and women were imprisoned together, { I wrote him on that, and he gave me the usual standard answer that he will keep it in mind when he revises his lecture}.

That is a minute point but an important one. The word ‘apostle’ has several meanings and the one that would apply to women would be:

2a : a person who initiates a great moral reform or who first advocates an important belief or system b : an ardent supporter

We have no record that Paul meant anything different from that meaning if he was referring to a woman. he did not have the authority to change God’s rules on who could be a minister in God’s church so we cannot assume he was elevating women to being ministers by that reference. Women can be ardent supporters and who advocate their faith, there is nothing stopping them from proclaiming the gospel to those who do not believe and there is nothing stopping them from being teachers as long as they keep to within God’s guidelines.
There is a ministry for women and women do get to receive and use spiritual gifts but their leadership is restricted as is their access to certain spiritual offices. Having gifts and talents does not mean that God’s rules do not apply.

#5. God’s Rules—  I Tim. 3 & Titus 1– the husband of one wife

[b]An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine [c]or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation [d]incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Tim.)

and

For the [d]overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. (Titus)

I highlight one phrase for it is those words that disqualify completely and without question women from holding the office of minister or pastor. When you look at all the examples of NT women used by those who want to see women as a pastor, you will note not one of them disobey this or any rule God has laid out for that position.

If we wanted to be humorous, we could say that for the female gender only lesbians qualify for the office of pastor if they were allowed to be married and in the church. God makes his rules very clear and they are consistent with each other. But you might raise the objection that Paul describes some women as ‘fellow ministers’ {see the link in previous point}. You could say that Paul was referring to them as holders of clerical office yet that would be dishonest as we all know that the word minister has several definitions and one of them would be as follows:

To attend to the wants and needs of others (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/minister)

It would be wrong to assume that Paul was countermanding God’s rules with his use of that term when referring to certain women. It would be wrong as well  to assume that the above definition restricts women to only servant status and duties. It doesn’t, but given Paul’s other words in his other books we cannot conclude that he was promoting women to the office of overseer or pastor with those greetings; he was referring to the above definition. Women had a place in the church where the could minister for God, do his will, exercise their gifts but it was outside of the office of pastor and well within the rules God has set down for his church.

#6. Jesus

It would not be advantageous to place the myriad of scriptures recording Jesus’ words in this subsection but if we examine his words we find several important details. First, there is no scripture showing where Jesus overturned his fathers rules for the temple or the upcoming church. He does not say his father was wrong and that women can be priests or pastors and no verse is found counteracting Paul’s later instructions.

This may sound like an argument from silence but it isn’t. if Jesus was going to change his father’s rules, he would have told us clearly and directly. Jesus lines up with God, his father on who runs the church. Second, we find that while Jesus had women supporters and followers, none were made priests or overseers during his life time and no instruction was given by him to allow them to fill those positions in the church.

Third, Jesus may have treated women equally but he did not define equality as modern-day feminists define the term.  Yes he went to women’s homes but he also went to men’s homes but those actions did not overturn God’s rules for the ministry and Jesus did not say that they did. The presence of rules do not imply, all the time, that there is inequality or discrimination present. They exist to guide people and keep confusion from the group practicing the faith or whatever ideology they hold to.

There is a big difference between the rules guiding people to the right way to live and the rules meant to hinder some people from accessing certain areas of life. Without rules we would not know the difference between the right way to do things  and the wrong way of getting things accomplished. We do not toss out the rules simply because we or culture do not like them. We especially do not alter or toss the rules because the unbelieving world thinks they are wrong. If we do then we put out are light and allow the unbeliever to continue in their evil ways undisturbed.

#7. Conclusion

God is consistent and we see that throughout history. The Bible says that God does not change and we can see that in how he wants his church to function. he may have opened the door to more families than just Aaron’s to be his ministers but he still restricted the office to men only thus he was not being inconsistent in his decisions. He just broadened who can occupy the office because of the need that was coming when men and women repent of their sins and need a leader to guide them to righteousness and holiness.

There is one issue I need to address here and unfortunately I cannot link to it at this time because I forgot which blog I read it at. There are some women bloggers out there who are preaching that Christ’s sacrifice restored women to their pre-fall status and equality in leadership and the home. In other words, he removed the curse from women by his crucifixion and resurrection.

Those women who say that, do not understand what Christ’s atonement was all about. Jesus did not remove the curse from women, and it is interesting that these women only pick leadership in the church and the home for this restoration and nothing else,  We know he didn’t lift the curse because women still give birth with a whole lot of pain. This argument is nothing but weak justification for some woman’s usurption of the man’s authority in the home and in the church.

It is a distortion of Christ’s work

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, (1 Cor. 15:3)

In all of the passages talking about Christ’s redemptive work, none mention that it was done to restore women to their assumed pre-flood position. Women actually haven’t left their pre-flood position as they are still the helper of men. All that was done to them was that they would  now have pain when they give birth.  The word ‘yet’ in the passage containing the curse

To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain [e]in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”

would make for an interesting theological study and discussion for another time. No women, you have not been freed from the curse and you are not entitled to lead the home or the church. God’s word is consistent on that as well as we read multiple verses reminding wives to be submissive to their husbands.  Notice, no other biblical writer  (John, Peter, Jude, James, etc.) change Paul’s instructions.

God is consistent, he does not author confusion so we know where we stand and how to proceed and behave in our lives and in the church’s life. As we can see by this study, God has not changed his mind about women and the position of minister. If there were women ministers in the 2nd century following, then that change has come from man who has bowed to the wrong pressure and disobeyed God. Historical acts by ancient church leaders and other people do not change God’s consistency or his rules.

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Posted by on July 9, 2015 in academics, Bible, church, controversial issues, faith, history, leadership, theology

 

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