By Pastor Hal Mayer
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Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry. Thank you for joining me today as we look at another very relevant matter to God’s people in the last days. There are so many things happening right now that it is hard to keep up with them all. Yet, as God’s people we have the privilege to trust that the God of heaven has everything under control and that the most important thing is to keep ourselves consecrated to the will of God. So, may God bless you today as we study about our times.
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Let me also remind you about last month’s exclusive offer to order a special edition of Last Generation Magazine at pre-press discounted prices. The edition is called Back to Basics featuring the Three Angels’ Messages and God’s call to return to the great moral principles of His Holy law. With Pope Francis visiting the US this September, this magazine should be spread like the leaves of autumn, especially since Pope Francis has just proclaimed 2016 a “holy year” to call his church “back to basics.” The Last Generation special issue explains each of the three angels’ messages in Revelation 14; it identifies Babylon and explains the Mark of the Beast in a loving, yet clear way. This is an excellent opportunity for you to get quantities to distribute far and wide. Shipping is free if you order by June 10. Find your last month’s inserts, or contact Last Generation at 540-672-1996, ext 283.
Today, the subject and practice of Women’s Ordination has penetrated very deeply into many churches. It is therefore important for us to understand this in a sensitive, yet clear way. The Bible gives us guidance concerning everything we need to know in order to navigate our journey to our heavenly home, both as individuals and groups or churches. And by following the counsel of the Lord in the Bible we will be spared a thousand dangers and deceptions. As we study today, please let your heart be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Please do not become angry with me for explaining what is in the Bible. But take it to the Lord in prayer.
To begin let us pray. Our Father in heaven, as we study a controversial matter today, please help us understand our true position, based on scripture, for the Bible is clear. When we see the attempts of modern culture to change us, we pray that we will not be confused. The last thing we need in these last days is more confusion, particularly in the church. There is already so much confusion in the world. We pray that Your word will shine more brightly amid the moral darkness of our times. And thank you for Your Holy Spirit. We invite Him to teach us today. In Jesus’ name, amen.
It was gut-wrenching. The St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Heathsville, VA had about 110 members one Sunday. The next it only had 40. Seventy-five percent of the members decided to leave the Episcopal Communion, the American branch of the Church of England over its liberal policies and practices. These members had finally had enough and felt they could no longer identify with the church or commune with the body for its unbiblical teachings, especially its recent decision to ordain homosexual bishops. By a strong majority, the church voted to disconnect themselves from the Episcopal Church and affiliate with Nigeria’s Anglican Church and rename the church St. Stephens Church (Anglican). They changed the locks on the doors and the signs out front and claimed the property. Now there were two St. Stephens in Heathsville, one Anglican and one Episcopal. Those that wanted to remain in the Episcopal communion would have to worship elsewhere.
Heathsville is a little town in Northumberland County, southeast of Washington DC along the Chesapeake Bay, where everybody knows everybody. The main part of the fractured body continued meeting in the cute little church building built in 1881, which is registered on the National Historic Register as a historic place. The loyalists, those who remained with the Episcopal Communion, began worshipping two blocks away at the invitation of the United Methodist Church.
“It’s beyond belief when the Episcopal Church cannot confirm that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven,” said Ward LeHardy, a member of the newly formed St. Stephen’s Church (Anglican).
The tension was palpable in the little town as the two groups tried to understand what had happened to them. At least fourteen other congregations also separated from the Virginia Diocese over the same two issues of the Bible’s authority and the new practice of ordaining homosexual bishops, making Virginia the Epicenter of the schism. To make matters worse a dispute arose over who owns the property with at least ten of the separated congregations. The building at St. Stephens is held in trust for the Episcopal Diocese.
“Anybody who is Episcopalian is welcome to come in [and worship] as an individual but not as a group,” said LeHardy, one of the Anglicans. “We don’t think it would be right for them to use the same building the Anglican Church is using. We love those people and it’s painful, but life goes on.”
The problem began in 1976 when the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America voted to ordain women to the priesthood. The next year, several thousand dissenting clergy and laymen met in St. Louis to work out a response. They called themselves the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen. These so-called “concerned churchmen,” or “concerned brethren,” as they might be referred to, adopted a theological statement in which they determined to continue to uphold the traditional practices and order. They also formed a new church known as the “Anglican Church in North America (Episcopal)” and began ordaining bishops and priests. The movement became known as the Continuing Anglican churches. Some of their number left the Anglican Communion all together and joined the Catholic Church. Thousands left the denomination. Over 900 parishes, or parts of parishes, joined with the Continuing Anglicans, leaving the liberals free to pursue their agendas without them.
But the current strife, which was founded mostly on the discontent over women’s ordination, exploded in 2003 when the church decided to ordain openly gay bishops.
Meade Kilduff, 93, was traumatized by the split at St. Stephens in Heathsville. “My head was going around and around, and I thought, ‘Well this is a good time for me to get a stroke,’” she says. “I got home and just got on the bed and just cried and cried and cried.”
The liberals and conservatives at St. Stephen’s tried to work together, and find a way for both churches to use the buildings, but negotiations fell apart. The new Episcopal bishop eventually told them, “There’s a new sheriff in town.” He was referring to Katharine Jefferts-Schori, the first female bishop ordained in the national Episcopal Church who told the Diocese of Virginia to stop negotiating.
“The reality is that the intensity of the conflict escalated after I was elected,” admits Jefferts-Schori, “and it was clear that several bishops were attempting to lead dioceses out of the church and it was time for a church-wide policy.”
In other words, the liberal leadership of the Episcopal denomination were not interested in unity. Within weeks the Diocese of Virginia and the national Episcopal Church sued the Anglican Church at Heathsville, over the property ownership, along with other churches that had separated. They asked the court to declare the Anglicans trespassers, affirm the diocese’s ownership of the property, prohibit the Anglicans from using it, and instruct them to transfer title to the diocese. In January of 2012, after a five-year legal battle, a judge ruled that the Episcopal Church is the owner of the buildings.
“I have mixed emotions, more sadness than happiness,” says Ellen Kirby, a member of the Heathsville St. Stephens (Episcopal) Church. “We’re a small community; we see each other all the time, at the post office or the grocery store; and we know the hurt and what it feels like to be out of a church and a space that you love.”
Things went worse for the Fairfax Church of the Apostles, where the building will remain empty because the whole church left the Episcopal communion and there is no congregation to take their places. The diocese is taking the building from them and now the Anglican Church owes them more than $1 million that was in their bank account when they split. They will have to turn over the land they bought for a new church as well as give up the building they are in, which is worth around $5 million. The building will probably be sold (perhaps to another church) and the money go to the diocese.
The acrimony was obviously exacerbated by the Episcopal hierarchy, and Jefferts-Schori in particular. David Harper, rector of Church of the Apostles in Fairfax said, “The Episcopal Church has developed a scorched-earth policy.”
You see, my friends, churches that prioritize policy over the word of God will always try to settle disputes on the basis of the courts of law, rather than coming back to their biblical foundations. Not only that, but churches that leave their biblical foundations will inevitably appeal to the state to persecute dissenters in their own ranks first, then others when larger, more national issues are involved.
So far, there have been 83 lawsuits in the United States by the Episcopal denomination against dioceses or churches and even individuals that have chosen to disassociate. Virtually all of the cases have been settled in favor of the Episcopal Church. In other words, they have gone to the courts to keep the property in dispute in spite of scriptural condemnation.
The Episcopal Church is not the only church dealing with this problem. Lutherans, Presbyterians, and now evangelicals are all involved in liberal vs. conservative conflicts over female clergy and more recently homosexual clergy.
The Bible tells us that in the last days perilous times will come. People will lose their clear-headed loyalty to scripture. Paul explains this in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and also tells us the reasons. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
The love of self is the most perilous of positions to be in. When you love self, you cannot understand or accept the teachings of scripture. There is no barrier to sin. But the Bible isn’t just talking about worldly people. It is talking about those who claim to be God’s people, who have a form of Godliness but will deny its power. And they will advocate, promote, push and shove, and demand and insist on their own way in the church too. They will find ways to justify their sin. They will find ways to put a religious cloak on their godless actions. They have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. They change the truth of God into a lie, Romans 1:25.
How do you do that? By wresting the scriptures to justify their own course to make it say things that it doesn’t say. They twist it to make it support things it actually condemns. This is the foul spirit of confusion. It is the spirit of Satan. Do we have confusion today in society? Do we have confusion today in the church?
Friends, this is the spirit of lawlessness and rebellion that leads to divisiveness in churches, as these unconsecrated elements push to liberalize churches and rationalize lifestyles. Liberal elements deliberately re-interpret scripture and change definitions of words in order to justify their desires.
What divided St. Stephens in Heathsville, VA was the ordination of openly practicing homosexuals to the ministry of the gospel, which was viewed as unbiblical and an accommodation to the culture of our times by those who have separated from them. As far back as the 1970s even some churches, such as the United Church of Canada, began calling for acceptance of gays and lesbians in society and for non-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation.
But it has only been in recent years that society has begun to swing in support of the homosexual lifestyle. And with it, many churches have begun to change their position and policies concerning homosexual clergy. Now, a growing number of churches ordain homosexual clergy and perform same-sex marriages, including the Christian Church, or the Disciples of Christ, the Anglican Church and the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America, the German Lutheran and the United Evangelical Churches in Germany, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Presbyterian Church in the United States, the Old Catholic Church, the Church of Sweden, the United Church of Canada and the United Church of Christ. And now there is a raging debate among Evangelical Churches about whether to bless same-sex marriages. If they do, they will inevitably ordain homosexual and lesbian pastors too. As time goes by more social pressure will be exerted and more churches will accept that which they once believed the Bible condemned.
In just about every case, the move to ordain homosexuals and bless same-sex marriages has caused division. And in almost every case, listen carefully, it has been the direct result of a change in policy which permits the ordination of women to the pastoral role. For all the talk about unity, modern Christian churches are badly divided. Many of the churches that have taken the step to ordain women and then homosexuals have seen the loss of large numbers of members and the realignment of some of whole churches under new denominations of conservatives. Some have joined the Catholic Church. Many of these people want to uphold Biblical authority, as they understand it and cannot conscientiously remain in their former communion.
Though the church leadership in these churches tried desperately to maintain some form of unity, the problem is that they are pushing a unity around policy, or more starkly, a political unity, which is not based in truth. Usually, such political unity is based on popular opinions or social pressure. Only Bible truth can bring true unity.
From Gospel Workers, page 92, we read. “Men would effect a union through conformity to popular opinions, through a compromise with the world. But truth is God’s basis for the unity of his people.”
And here is a rather stark statement from Great Controversy, page 45. “If unity could be secured only by the compromise of truth and righteousness, then let there be difference, and even war.” And that is exactly what has happened in many churches today.
If the Bible is no longer the basis of its beliefs and practices, a church inevitably migrates toward more liberal policies and popular social views. Those that want to maintain Bible unity are often accused of narrow mindedness, legalism, unprogressive and of causing disunity. Those defending scripture are usually marginalized. Conservatives eventually leave and find another place to worship. There are no longer any faithful voices holding the liberals from their goals.
Listen to this statement from Historical Sketches, page 197. “We cannot purchase peace and unity by sacrificing the truth. The conflict may be long and painful, but at any cost we must hold fast the word of God. ‘The Bible, and the Bible only,’ must be our watchword.”
The Anglican Church is a classic example. After years of controversy the Church of England finally ordained its first female bishop in January of 2015 after the church had cleared the way in November last year. The church had been ordaining female priests for many years. Previously, the Episcopal Church in the United States ordained its first presiding female bishop, Dr. Katharine Jefferts-Schori in 2006.
The Episcopal Church in the U.S. has been at the forefront of reinterpreting the Bible principle of male headship for decades. In fact, all the way back in 1974 one of its bishops had ordained eleven women to be priests in what was considered an “irregular ordination.” Two years later the church changed its position on female priests and the ordinations were approved.
The disunity over unbiblical ordinations in the world-wide Anglican Church was so bad that the Vatican took advantage of the situation and created an ordinariate just for conservative Anglicans so that whole churches, unhappy in their own, could join the Catholic Church lock, stock and barrel.
This same process has happened at other communions as well in rapid succession. Here are a few recent examples.
In 2013, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA; 4 million members) elected Erwin Guy as their first openly gay bishop.
The Methodist church (NY Conference) in 2014 withdrew its procedures against United Methodist minister Thomas Ogletree for performing his son’s same-gender wedding.
And back in 2010, the Presbyterian Church (USA) or the PCUSA, after rancorous debate, voted to remove prohibitions against ordaining priests and bishops with active homosexual partners or unions, clearing the way for ordinations of gays and lesbians. This has not helped their growth either. In fact, like the Anglicans and others, they have lost members in droves over the ordination of women and now gays and lesbians as well as other liberal policies. More than 500,000 conservative members left the church, which cleared the way for yet another liberal move in 2014, the approval of a new definition of marriage, which allows for same-sex marriages.
It is interesting to note that the PCUSA commissioned a denominational level study group on “peace, unity, and purity,” to study the subject. As is often the case with such study groups, it didn’t help them maintain their loyalty to the Bible. All it did, in the end was pry open the door to justify their new policies. It apparently became one of the catalysts for change in regard to ordination of gays and lesbians. Denominational study groups can be very dangerous in an emotionally charged and politically divided environment within a denomination.
Largest Presbyterian Denomination Gives Final Approval for Same-Sex Marriage
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approves same-sex marriage
Often, one study group after another is commissioned to study and re-study the issue, so that eventually people tire of it and accept the liberal intentions. Study groups in the context of a liberal push rarely advance the cause of truth and true unity because the study group is usually divided as well, for one thing, and if it isn’t, there are accusations of bias by one side or the other. Liberals aren’t interested in unity, though they claim they are. They are mainly interested in getting their way and making the changes they want, no matter what the Bible says.
The pattern among the liberal fallen churches of Babylon is patently obvious where it leads. First, women’s ordination divides the church. Then homosexual ordination and same-sex marriage take its place once women’s ordination is entrenched. It is a predictable pattern. Women’s ordination becomes the catalyst for homosexual ordination.
How do I know? Listen to this clear and cogent quotation from an article in Time magazine called Inside the Evangelical Fight Over Gay Marriage. Speaking of evangelical churches, which are now under enormous pressure to change their position on gay marriage, Elizabeth Dias wrote, “So far no Christian tradition has been able to embrace the LGBT community without first changing its views about women. The same reasoning that concludes that homosexuality is sin is also behind the traditional evangelical view that husbands are the spiritual leaders of marriages and men are the leaders in church….”
And that is exactly what has happened. If a church is willing to change its view of the Bible concerning the role of women in order to ordain women to the gospel ministry, it will eventually ordain gays and lesbians to the ministry as well. The two are symbiotic twins linked to the same parent concept, the biblical principle of male headship.
God understands the nature of men and women, don’t you think? That’s why he ordained a certain order to keep everything in balance. But now society is pushing the churches to change that order in spite of what the Bible reveals.
Dias also said, “the fight over sexual orientation is personal and complicated… the Bible itself is on trial… The roots of the conflict are deeply theological.”
Though Evangelicals don’t obey scripture in every point, such as the seventh-day Sabbath, scripture, and its authority, is very important to them, as they understand it. It is their defining feature. So, to accept homosexuality as normal would be to stop being Evangelical. Mainline churches have long ago surrendered biblical authority in their quest to overthrow the male headship principle and become accepting of female clergy. Now it is a short step for them to introduce the gay culture into the ministry and Evangelicals are just entering the fight. To accept homosexuality as a moral good or even a moral equivalent to heterosexual lifestyles would be to deny the Bible and its authority in the church and replace it with human opinions, feelings, and laws.
If churches are willing to redefine their understanding of the clear statements in scripture against homosexuality in order to accommodate gays, what then cannot become subject to the whims of culture? Here is another statement from Wilhite Jenson, an author that ties together the connection between the two ordinations.
“…The question of women’s ordination and homosexual ordination are homologous [or the same]. Thus, every mainline denomination that has previously ordained women is now debating the validity of ordaining homosexuals.” Jenson, Wilhite, The Church: A Guide for the Perplexed.
While the author speaks in theological and academic terms, it is obvious what he is saying. Those who have changed their theology of women will inevitably move toward the homosexual ordination. Those pushing women’s ordination may deny this vehemently. They may pontificate that it would never happen, yet it has happened in every denomination that has gone down that road.
Homosexuals know that if women’s ordination is justified on the basis of equality and non-discrimination, not on the Bible principles of male and female complementarity and male headship, they have a wide open door and pretty much all they have to do is waltz through it. So, they just bide their time and wait until the issue of women’s ordination is settled and then push for equality and non-discrimination in the same way. The churches that ordain women make themselves utterly vulnerable to the gay movement for so-called “equality” in both marriage and ordination.
Often there are those that develop flimsy arguments from Bible statements about equality of men and women, such as Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” But these are talking about salvation, not headship in a fallen world.
Another argument that is bandied about is that God made Adam and Eve equal and that since we are to try to reach the perfection of Eden, we also need to restore the equality of Eden. But the argument is seriously flawed. When sin entered the human race, God knew what feminism would do to the human race. He had to change the relationships between men and women so they could recover the principle of submission. While men and woman access salvation the same way, He placed the women in submission to her husband and the husband in submission to Christ in other matters. Until sin has ended, this can never return to the perfection of Eden.
Women who are discontented with submitting to their husband’s or to male headship in the church chafe at God’s ordained role for them. They think they know better than God. The complementarity that God gave man and woman in Eden has changed too. After all it was pride that led to the first sin. In the new order, God intended that the complementarity of man and woman is even clearer. Discontentment or ambition for headship represents an attitude that is in opposition to God’s revealed will and would then be sinful.
The foundation of women’s ordination and consequently homosexual ordination then is, in reality, a rejection of the Biblical principle of male headship. To justify either of them, the theology of the church must change. And justifying one, inevitably justifies the other.
But there is more. Here is another statement from a person who should understand this issue better than most. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay and partnered bishop of the Episcopal Church in America said, “It is not an accident that the women’s-liberation movement preceded the gay-liberation movement.”
Just think about that for a moment. He is saying that it was planned. That’s quite a revelation in itself. In other words, there are at least four points here. First, because of the Bible, the churches were once the strongest bulwark against the social acceptance of the gay lifestyle as a normal alternative to the heterosexual lifestyle. Second, gay activists knew that in order to pave the way for the normalization of the gay lifestyles in society, they would have to change the perceptions of the role of women in the family and in society. Third, in order to accomplish that, they would have to change the theology of the churches toward women and embrace women as pastors to lead the flock. Fourth, churches would then have to ordain gays and lesbians to the clergy for full normalization of the gay lifestyle. If not there would still be holdouts against their lifestyle. There is no more powerful coup d’état than for a church to ordain a homosexual to the ministry of the word. The pastor then has the ability to shape the attitudes and thinking of the congregation. Do you think activists for women’s ordination realize what they are doing?
Let me continue with Robinson’s own words.
“Discriminatory attitudes and treatment of LGBT people is rooted in patriarchy, and in order to embrace and affirm gays, evangelicals will have to address their own patriarchy and sexism [or their theology of women’s ordination], not just their condemnation of LGBT people.”
Robinson is saying that it is not just the Bible’s rejection of the gay lifestyle that Evangelicals will have to overcome, but they will also have to overcome the deeper theological roots that have kept them from accepting the gay lifestyle as normal or at least a moral alternative. That, he says, is rooted in the church’s views on male headship or patriarchy, as he calls it. Further, he is also indirectly saying that what happens in the church on the women’s ordination front will also happen to the church on the homosexual ordination front. So, there you have it out of the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
If you would like to read about the planned effort to change the church and society concerning the homosexual lifestyle, get a copy of After the Ball, by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen. The subtitle is: How America will Conquer its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90s. This book describes the coordinated, strategic and tactical plans laid out in the 1980s to overthrow traditional views and attitudes of society toward homosexuals. It includes a powerful section on how to change the churches and make them “gay friendly.” While it discusses America, the same strategies were carried out in other countries as well.
Notice that the traditional family is under assault in both the women’s liberation movement and the homosexual movement. Patriarchy is normally a negative term used to describe male headship both in the family and in the church. At the root of it is the desire to rid the family of the father figure as the head or patriarch of the home. While there are many men that do not deserve to be the patriarch of their homes, yet, scripture teaches that God has ordained that a loving husband and father is to lead his family in the Christian life. That divinely ordained system of “patriarchy” extended from Eden all the way down through the patriarchal age and the Old Testament, right through to the time of Christ and the New Testament, even down to our own time. It is still there in scripture in various ways whether we want to acknowledge and accept it or not. It is only in the most recent times, since the 1990s essentially, that the push to overthrow this Biblical reality in Christian homes, in the churches and in society has taken root. It is an assault on the gospel itself, the very antidote to sin and immorality. The theological pillar of male headship has to go if homosexuals are to achieve their goals.
And the issue involves religious liberty. As the next wave of culture laps at the door of the churches, Evangelicals see a threat to their religious liberty. The next big question, says Elizabeth Dias, “is whether religious freedom will protect a faith group’s right to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.”
In other words, the homosexual lobby is working to remove your freedom to preach or teach the Bible as it reads. And they are laying their plans very carefully and strategically. First, they are getting as many churches onside as they can. One by one the churches are capitulating to their demands, first to remove “patriarchy” or male headship as their theological norm; then to ordain women; then to approve of homosexual lifestyle and marriage; then to ordain homosexuals to ministry roles; and finally to secularize the church so much that it is as powerless as a single leaf churned by the waves on the shore. They aim to close any business that will not support their lusts. They insist that health care should include all modalities, with no religious exemptions. They will eventually demand that churches must not speak against their lifestyle. They want to shut down any voice that opposes them, just like the Sodomites tried to do to Lot.
Evangelicals and other Christians are on red-alert that their religious liberties are under a powerful assault. Some, no doubt, fear that the day may come when they will not be able to preach the Bible message for fear of a lawsuit accusing them of discrimination.
The scripture says, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient [or appropriate]. Romans 1:28
So, Evangelicals have a huge problem. They are in a persistent culture that demands homosexual lifestyles be accepted and accommodated as normal and they are struggling to defend their biblical understanding of the issue. Amazingly, they are turning to unusual partners to strengthen their position, including the Vatican itself. Not long ago the Pope invited a number of Evangelical leaders including Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Rick Warren of “Purpose Driven” fame, pastor of the Saddleback Church in California and Mormon president Henry Eyring to speak at a first-ever interfaith colloquium on the “Complementarity of Man and Woman.” Others participated in the meeting with the pope as well, such as representatives from the Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council. There were also representatives from Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Anabaptist religions.
“The colloquium started a conversation of groups on virtually every continent and virtually every religious tradition,” said Moore, “on how we can work together for the common good of marriage.”
Without a redefinition of headship, without a redefinition of the role of women in church leadership, and without a redefinition of marriage, ordination of homosexuals is not likely to take root. But in recent times, these triune changes have paved the way for churches to adopt the most unbiblical actions. It has, in fact, opened the way for the churches to become part of Sodom. By moving first near the cities of the plain, and then eventually into the city of Sodom itself, Lot became leavened by the prevailing immorality around him so much that he had no arguments against the activists who came banging on his door, except to shockingly offer them his daughters. Only the angels of heaven could intervene. Today, churches are doing the same thing as Lot did. They are gradually joining the culture of perversion and already they have lost the war against immorality flooding into their theology and practices.
But let us think a little more about the history of women’s ordination.
Throughout history, pagan worship almost always included female leaders along with male leaders. Whether it was ancient Sumeria (not to be confused with Samaria), Phoenicia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Hindu or Buddhist, all of them had female priests. This was the pagan way of formulating the worship of the gods. Nimrod, the founder of paganism and all pagan religions, did everything he could to change the order of things that God had established, including the natural order. Homosexuality arose again after the flood and resulted eventually in the destruction of Sodom and the cities of the plain.
As you would know from the story of Lot, the homosexuals of that city were very demanding and threatening, much like they are today. They did not like to hear testimony against them and would do everything they could to shut the mouths of those who would oppose them. When Lot implied that they were wicked, they were quick to threaten him with worse than what they were going to do to the two angels that came to stay with him. They would probably have killed Lot had not the angels rescued him.
Pagan worship included female priests as well as prostitution, both male and female. Women were used as sex objects in temple worship through phallic rites and ceremonies. The legends of licentious and violent gods left the people with wicked and immoral examples by which to model their lives.
But the history of God’s people was different. Never were females given headship roles in the practice of religion, or in the family for that matter. There is no doubt from scripture that God, in a sinful world, established an order to minimize the lure of temptation and the consequences of sin. Male headship was meant to be a check to sin and to lead families and the church to the alter of worship and obedience to the will of God. So long as men were spiritual and led the people in God’s appointed way, families, nations and the church were relatively stable and pure.
But Satan always tries in subtle ways to get God’s people off His ordained plan. Whenever false gods penetrated Israel, whether it was the Baals or the Ashtoreths, they always and consequently began to replace male headship with female headship. This happened in the time of Jezebel, for instance.
But the roots of feminism in the Old Testament go all the way back to Eden. It was Eve who left her husband, her protector, and took of the forbidden tree. Here is an important statement from Patriarchs and Prophets, page 59. “Eve had been perfectly happy by her husband’s side in her Eden home; but, like restless modern Eves, she was flattered with the hope of entering a higher sphere than that which God had assigned her. In attempting to rise above her original position, she fell far below it. A similar result will be reached by all who are unwilling to take up cheerfully their life duties in accordance with God’s plan. In their efforts to reach positions for which He has not fitted them, many are leaving vacant the place where they might be a blessing. In their desire for a higher sphere, many have sacrificed true womanly dignity and nobility of character, and have left undone the very work that Heaven appointed them.”
Eve thought that she could manage herself but forgot that in their complementarity, Adam and Eve safeguarded their sacred trust only together. Today, modern Eves think that if they can become equal with men in function and role, they will achieve a higher sphere. But in reality, it brings them lower.
The Bible is not silent concerning the desire for equality in the wilderness either. And He put a stop to it rather pointedly. Numbers, chapter 12 gives us clues about the underlying issues many churches face today. Moses was often vexed by the people, but perhaps none of them were so vexatious to the appointed spiritual leader of Israel as his own family, those whom he loved.
Aaron was the high priest and a prophet and was the spiritual head of the whole nation. Miriam was a prophetess first in rank above all the women of Israel. She had a huge responsibility to lead the women in the way of the Lord. Micah 6:4 tells us that both were commissioned by God to be Moses’ assistants to lead Israel out of Egypt. In Micah 6:4, God says, “For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron and Miriam.”
Miriam had quite a personality. She had shown from childhood that she had force of character. She had been quick minded and quick footed beside the Nile when the princess found Moses in a little boat. She was richly endowed with talents in poetry and music and had led the women in song and dance on the shore of the Red Sea. Heaven had honored her and she stood next to Moses and Aaron in the esteem of the people as the leader of the women.
But something evil began to happen in the heart of Miriam. Satan tempted her to think that she had been slighted. It was the same thing that happened in heaven when Lucifer began to envy Christ. Miriam wanted to believe that she was entitled to equal authority with Moses.
When Zipporah returned to Moses in the wilderness, Miriam felt that Zipporah didn’t deserve to be part of the inner circle. After all, Miriam and Aaron had “borne the burden in the heat of the day” with all the trials and inconveniences of Israel’s deliverance, while Zipporah remained at ease with her father in Midian. Miriam saw her as competition and felt her authority threatened now that Zipporah was back. It seemed that Zipporah had immediate influence with Moses that exceeded her own and she was not a little unhappy with that.
Zipporah expressed to her father Jethro that she was very concerned about Moses wearing away with all the care and worry about every little matter. Jethro advised Moses to put small matters in the hands of others. What really torqued Miriam was that Moses appointed 70 elders on the advice of Jethro because of Zipporah’s complaint, without consulting her. This made her feel that Zipporah had gone around her and now had more influence than she did. She felt as if she had just been demoted. Miriam lost sight of the fact that God had given her the privilege of being a prophetic voice to His people, and as a close companion to Moses, the leader of the women. She did not need to be involved with the elders.
Actually, this experience was important because it would lead Miriam to understand that she was not ordained to an equal headship position with Moses. She was his assistant, one of Moses’ closest and most important confidants. With Miriam in a headship role it would have confused the people concerning who was the appointed leader. Miriam became dissatisfied with the position to which God had appointed her and she began looking for excuses to seek affirmation of the role she wanted to believe was hers. After all, she had saved him as a baby and perhaps saw herself as his protector. It was offensive to her that Zipporah now assumed that role.
Miriam quickly found a sympathizer. Aaron had originally been appointed to assist Moses as his prophet in delivering Israel from Egypt. Now, God had given him a different role; to be the high priest, the spiritual leader of the nation. The 70 elders were ordained to take his place. The spirit of God came upon them and they prophesied. So, Aaron thought he also had reason to be discontented with the new arrangements.
Aaron should have known better. He had already shown his weakness in complying with the demands of the people at Sinai for an alternative, more liberal and worldly form of worship with dancy music, nakedness and everything. But now, he and Miriam began to question God’s providence and pressed for equal recognition. They were a type of the men and women in the last days that push for women’s ordination.
Numbers 12:2 says, “And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by us?”
Satan had succeeded first with Eve in the Garden of Eden and through her he got Adam. Now, he succeed with Miriam and got Aaron too. Do you think there is a pattern there? Friends, Satan knows how to use a woman to get to a man. And it is in more than mere adultery or licentiousness that he does it. He even uses the “equality” argument so that he can eventually get whole churches. Have you noticed how many men there are pushing for women’s ordination? Undiscerning men become the voice of the women even if it is patently out of harmony with God’s revealed order.
“The Lord heard it,” it says in verse 2. The Lord heard their discontent, their accusations and knew their hearts and was displeased. God had to make sure that there was no confusion in the camp over headship.
The issue way back then was equality and headship. The Bible does not teach that there is to be equality in everything. Miriam and Aaron desired something that wasn’t appointed to them and it resulted in rebellion.
Those who have ambition to achieve that which God has not appointed them are also in danger of rebellion to God today. They may not realize it, but they have begun to assume the same attitude and spirit as Miriam. When I see the grandstanding, the shouting, the demanding spirit and pushy disposition of those urging women’s ordination, not to mention articles in church magazines, brochures and pamphlets etc., openly pushing women’s ordination with subtle and deceptive arguments, I cannot help but think that this is displeasing to God.
“Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us?” they demanded. Miriam wanted it to be clear that she was a prophetess and her authority was way above Zipporah’s. While jealousy over Zipporah was the excuse back then, the same jealous spirit motivates the equality issue today.
God was not slow to check the evil. Numbers 12:4-8, says, “And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”
Miriam was out of bounds in demanding equality with Moses. God had to correct the misrepresentation of His appointed order, humble the proud woman and vindicate his servant Moses. God was greatly displeased with Miriam and Aaron and the Bible says He departed, a sure token of His displeasure.
Verse 10 says, “And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.”
The folly of Miriam’s demand for equality with Moses was punished with a fatal disease. Leprosy represents sin and God made it clear to Miriam that her claim to equality was sin? Is it possible, my friends, that rivalry has stirred similar claims against God’s appointed order? Is it a deadly spiritual disease?
Think about it. If the woman is the head, then the man is not. There is no equality in headship. It is either the one or the other. Feminism intends to make women feel that they are inferior if they are not in the same role as men. They have lost sight of the principles of biblical complementarity. It is carnal men that have abused, oppressed and often lorded their authority over women, to which feminism’s demands are a reaction.
If Aaron had exercised his headship in the church and stood firm against Miriam, her accusations would not have gained traction and a great evil would have been avoided. But Aaron helped Miriam and he participated in her sin.
When Aaron saw Miriam’s leprosy, he recognized what they had done. “We have done foolishly,” he said, “wherein we have sinned.” Verse 11. Aaron was reproved for joining with his sister in rebellion to God’s order. Apparently, Aaron didn’t get leprosy because he was not the instigator of the sin and also because he was the one to judge Miriam as leprous, being the high priest. However, he could not judge her leprous without being reminded of his own sin because he had joined her. Furthermore, God made a difference between those that mislead and those who are misled. Aaron had a weak character and was misled several times in his ministry. But Miriam had misled him and therefore had the greater guilt.
Could it be that many are misled by ambitious women who want that which God has not designed for them? Could it be that the feminist push for equality of women with men in these last days is as much folly as it was back then? Is it possible that God is as displeased with it now as He was back then? Today we are not dealing with Moses, but with a far greater One than Moses. Moses was the appointed as head of Israel. Christ is the appointed head of the church, the very one who ordained the system of headship in the church.
Miriam thought she had a compelling argument to support her aims. She thought that fairness demanded that she be recognized as equal with Moses. But friends, let us never forget that nothing in this wicked world can be expected to be just or fair, at least from our point of view. God has a sense of justice quite different from our own. Sin distorts everything in our human minds, and we often don’t see justice in things God does, or in the role in which God has placed us. If we do not meditate on God’s word, we will not understand God’s ways. Many of those that blindly support women’s ordination today think that the Bible can be re-interpreted to support their ambitions. They think they have compelling arguments, when in reality they construe the words of scripture to suit their own minds. And God will let them do it to test their metal, to show who they really are.
Aaron repented and pled with Moses to intercede for Miriam. God was merciful to Miriam and healed her at the intercession of Moses, but she still had to serve seven days banishment outside the camp. “Let her be shut out from the camp seven days,” God said, in verse 14, “and after that let her be received in again.”
But listen to this. Verse 15 says, “and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again.” In other words, while the people were to see in the punishment of Miriam a reproof of their own murmuring and complaining against Moses, the whole affair delayed their journey toward Canaan. It retarded their progress. Do you think that God’s people today could be delayed on their way to their heavenly home by the demand for equality of women in God’s church? Miriam’s punishment should be a lesson to all of us right down to the end of time.
Friends, don’t you think we need this lesson today? The ordination of women brings confusion over headship and over the authority of scripture. This cannot be God’s plan. It is a very subtle deception of Satan. The equality movement also brings confusion of gender roles and opens the door to even more confusion including sexual orientation. To achieve approval of their lifestyle, homosexuals have united with feminists and have led many churches in confusion over headship. Now they are following the natural trajectory and have begun to adopt unbiblical principles in ordaining homosexuals.
Here is an important statement from the Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, and page 421. While it is discussing a dress issue, the attitude often seen today in demanding women’s ordination is similar. “Those who feel called out to join the movement in favor of woman’s rights might as well sever all connection with the third angel’s message. The spirit which attends the one cannot be in harmony with the other. The Scriptures are plain upon the relations and rights of men and women.”
There is nothing wrong with women being involved in leadership in the church in many areas of great importance. God has ordained key roles for women in leadership, like Miriam.
Here is a statement from Evangelism, page 462 about the role of godly women in the church. “The Lord has a work for women as well as for men. They may take their places in His work at this crisis, and He will work through them. If they are imbued with a sense of their duty, and labor under the influence of the Holy Spirit, they will have just the self-possession required for this time. The Saviour will reflect upon these self-sacrificing women the light of His countenance, and will give them a power that exceeds that of men. They can do in families a work that men cannot do, a work that reaches the inner life. They can come close to the hearts of those whom men cannot reach. Their labor is needed.”
Friends, God needs all, both men and women in His work. They are to complement each other. They are to strengthen each other. Though we should all be subject one to another, 1 Peter 5:5, God has ordained an order that is revealed in his word. There are many arguments that have been raised in support of women’s ordination, some of them very smooth and nice sounding. But when examined they are rather empty compared to the powerful principles God’s word reveals in defense of His establish order.
Modern society is very confused. The churches have been a strong testimony against the revisionist views of modern social engineers who want to change the definition of family, marriage and other aspects of society. They cannot be fully successful if they don’t change the church’s understanding of the authority of scripture. Women’s ordination is one step in the dismantling of the family and the church, and its end is confusion and every evil work, James 3:16.
How can God’s people fully represent the truth for these last days if they succumb to these smooth and subtle arguments that point away from God’s word?
May God help us all, as we navigate the difficult issues and circumstances of our times. May His presence be with you every day, as you humbly submit yourself to His revealed will and take up the work He has given you to do. Friends, let us aim for the mark of God’s high calling. Let us each live for the truth. And let us each follow God’s plan in protecting His design for ministry.
Let us pray. Our Father in heaven, we are thankful for the word of God which is so clear. We do not want the confusion of our times. We want the clarity of the word of God in our lives. Please send Your Holy Spirit to help us live right, and have a submissive attitude. May we have a firm stand on Your word, and let no one persuade us to depart from it. When we face ungodly demands within the church, help us to meekly, but firmly, defend the word of God. Please Father let not Your people be led astray by fanciful arguments and construed definitions. That is what Satan loves to do in creating confusion. Give us victory over the enemy and strength to endure the painful and challenging times we must pass through before the end. In Jesus’ precious and holy name, I pray, amen.
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