Monday, October 31, 2005

Ste. Em revisits St. Gregory

Yes, so it is. Women can image what it is to be receivers in a way that men cannot. That is not to say that men are not also receivers- and no-one has said such. Of course, only the most ludicrous deconstructionist feminist gymnastics have devised connotations in which women are those who beget. That is an image that males bear before the world. Still, to both is given the ability to receive.

And it is not true that the reason women are not to be ordained is because there is yet a lack in them. Precisely the opposite. It has nothing to do with capability or faithfulness.

However, either we speak the whole counsel of God regarding the ordination of women, or we may be left speaking as the opponents do for it. Again, this is not to say no-one is not doing so. This is only to encourage doing more openly so with regard to the texts that might at first appear to be as so much Law being heaped upon women. That runs a risk. Where the Scriptures are- properly taught in truth and purity- there Christ is. The trouble with Jesus is that when He shows up even run through the Gospel, sin is revealed (Is 45:7). But that is the Good News for Paul's words in 1Timothy 2:14. For, then we run them through Jesus. ”The difference between Christ's kingdom and the kingdom of the world is this, that Christ reduces all men to sinners. Yet Christ does not stop there, for then He absolves them” (Luther, AE vol. 23).

Klemet Preus gives a succinct answer for why women may not be ordained. “God excludes women because He wants to teach original sin. He wants to teach both sexes that original sin still affects us. The argument that women are excluded from the ministry because they are somehow unfit ... undermines God's command. This command is not based on current empirical perceptions, but upon an historical fact recorded in the Bible” (The Fire and the Staff, 299.)

Hardly seems “Gospelly,” does it? This is certainly not to suggest that Preus doesn’t also speak by way of the Gospel, either. This is but one small snippet of what he has to write. His groundwork lays the Gospel foundation well.

So let's run Paul’s command through Jesus. After all, what is given in Christ and is received comes by way of the Gospel- even the Law for the sake of repentance. There is the way of the Gospel that can hardly be absent an application of Law for you!

In 1Timothy 2:14 God places before His people a reminder of fact recorded in history: Eve was deceived, and from that Man fell into sin. Therefore, says Paul, let women remain silent in the worship assembly. Christ has taken Eve's sin into His own flesh upon the cross, and by that her own flesh has been redeemed from sin, death and the devil. Not only hers, but also that of the whole human race- her progeny. That means all of us, too. What Christ has assumed has been redeemed.

No theological position that ordains women can do so without excising or diminishing the permanent effect upon the human race of Eve's deception, original sin. In practice women’s ordination demonstrates this. No woman can be ordained save that Christ’s Bride choose to go her way against His Word, just as Eve did with Adam. Women are too precious to our Lord to leave in their sin. He would deal with it Himself. Eve’s deception ought not be left out our speaking, for that is the particular reason why our God entered a woman’s womb, assumed human flesh, and was nursed at her breasts. In so doing, all women are lifted up by being as God created them to be, women. Thereby all mankind is raised up with them.

So Christ would have it that women have more than mere ordination. He wishes to give them all that He has- His entire Kingdom of Grace. Therefore He holds out to them the reminder of what is reality: Eve was deceived. Yet here is the Greater Reality: in His flesh- that which was born of a woman under the Law- He assumed not only her sin but also the whole world's. It is in this way He loved Eve: It is she for whom He died, Eve the deceived. Women who are grasping for ordination are grabbing for the lesser gifts at the expense of Christ Himself. They, scrambling to choose their own way just as Eve did, would remain a pauper. He would have them be His Queen as He gives them His Kingdom. He died in order that all might be accomplished for their sakes.


Rev. J. R. Sawyer said...

Good reminder, Em! We forget that the clothes we strut around in are there as a reminder of our fallen state. Once, we were naked and not ashamed. Then, we were naked and ashamed. Now, to our great shame, we are dressed to kill, and give no thought to how far that shows that we have fallen! Of course, our true clothing is in Christ, and modest attire -- even the pastor's vestments -- or the batptized's robe -- can remind us of that! Finally, on Preus' reminder, it occurs to me that Moses wrote that the Israelites, "to this day," do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, as a reminder that the angel touched the hip of Jacob and put it out of socket. It is not that women are being punished somehow, but that we are all being reminded -- by their not being ordained -- that we all fell when Eve was tempted, and now, as you so excellently point out, are all redeemed when Christ assumed our humanity in His birth of a woman.

CPA said...

I'd never heard that point before, that the exclusion of wome from ordination is like the rainbow: the one reminds us of the fall, the other of the flood. Fascinating, and great post you developed from it.