This blog is about freedom from narcissism and religious abuse. Today I am going to write about the deep sadness in my heart over the church I grew up in and the growing threat to religious liberty.
Ted Wilson, the world president of the Seventh day Adventist church is on a witch hunt. Of course he claims he’s not, but any intelligent person paying attention knows what he’s doing. He pushed a paper through this last week to give the unions who have been ordaining women a year to stop or they will take legal action. A couple papers circulated from his office last week discussing a possible takeover of these unions because this president obviously does not support women pastors. It’s not just ordination Wilson is against, but actual women pastors.
A few years ago he was visiting Australia when a woman pastor was to be commissioned along with two men who were going to be ordained. When Wilson arrived, there was a change of plans and the woman was commissioned alone, so Wilson could come onto the platform when the women left while the men were ordained. Bluntly speaking, Wilson wouldn’t lay hands on her and pray over her. Can you imagine any of the disciples not doing this for a committed gospel worker? Can you imagine Jesus doing this?
Sandra Roberts has been an elected conference president for three years, but her name has never been listed in the Adventist yearbook, nor has she been welcomed at official meetings. It doesn’t matter that Jesus has called her and she gives her heart to God’s work, she is simply shut out because she is a woman.
So why should I care? I’m not a pastor. I care because what happens to one women affects all of us. As Maya Angelou said,”Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”
I care because male headship divides families and it is splitting this church. I care because it took me years to realize God loves me as much as my brothers, because I grew up thinking God preferred men over women to pray or preach or lead worship. I care because little girls growing up right now need to know that God values them as much as the boys. I care because Adventists have always stood on the side of freedom until now.
There is a movie coming out next month about Desmond Doss, a World War II medic who saved lives without carrying a gun. Adventists believe no one should bear arms if it goes against their conscience. They also have a religious liberty department and lawyers to ensure their members are not forced to work on Sabbath.
Until now, freedom of conscience was of utmost importance if you belong to the Seventh-day Adventist church, but now there is group of people who are not approved to use their freedom and they are women pastors. These women believe they are called by God and Mr. Wilson wants them to ignore this call. How oppressive is that?
It’s so ironic it reeks of insanity, but in a church founded by a woman who preached all over the world, there has risen a very self-righteous and vocal movement to proclaim women pastors under the influence of Satan. If that is not a witch hunt, I don’t know what is.
Many Adventist scholars in North America firmly disagree. The seminary at Andrews University has put out a document refuting male headship which came into the church in the 1970s. While founder Ellen White was alive there were women pastors. She herself carried ordination credentials although she was not ordained by men, but claimed to be ordained by God. One would hardly expect her to be welcome by these men if she were preaching today.
So how did we get in this mess? Men who wish to be on a higher plane than women. They not only wish to be seated next to Jesus before the women, but they would prefer the women be seen and not heard. This is obvious by the vote itself where nearly three hundred people voted, but only nine of them were women.
Such exclusions are abusive and go against all we know about Jesus, yet these men claim to be doing God’s work. They aren’t worried about people leaving the church under their abusive watch because they believe in the shaking in which people will be shaken out of the church. They even got these words from a woman, but I doubt she thought the shaking would come down to women pastors because she sent her own tithe to support women pastors.
Jesus has always been calling women. He called a woman to evangelize her entire village. He called Mary to sit at his feet. He called a woman to preach the first resurrection sermon to his disciples. And Jesus is still calling women today.
Mr. Wilson might think he’ll be the president to usher in the second coming, but I fear he has forgotten who is actually coming. Here’s a little parable I wrote for him. If you know him pass it on.
Once upon a time there was a group of workers who were waiting for the master of the estate to come at any time. He had specifically asked all of them to bring in the harvest before he returned. In order to do this it took every man, woman and child.
They were dealing with less than ideal conditions because they were working in the dark of night and they wanted to harvest as much as they could before the master arrived.
The master knew how difficult the task would be and had warned everyone to make sure they didn’t run out of oil. Some of the workers, concerned about a shortage of oil went into town to get more oil to make sure they had plenty. When they got back, they seemed to work twice as fast.
A few men believed the Master had put them in charge over the others. They looked around and saw how fast the workers with new oil were working and decided to limit the use of the good oil to men. It was said that men work faster and can do more heavy lifting so the oil needed to be redistributed.
Some disagreed. Women in particular disagreed because they were all about doing their master’s business. They did not feel they were accountable to the men who wanted to limit their ability to do their job because they believed they answered to the master himself.
Other men agreed with the women and by standing up against those who wished to control, empowered the women to keep working, but as the night grew darker a great conflict ensued.
Men against women, men against men and even women against women began to argue and take sides. The question came down to who was most important to use that good oil.
The men who imagined themselves in charge, firmly believed only men should have access to this oil–after all God created Adam first and Eve was his helper sent to procure the oil so Adam could do his important work. Others said God created both Adam and Eve in his image so neither worker was more important than the other.
While the workers were arguing over who could use the good oil, a terrible storm came up. It was worse than anyone had seen before. A large portion of the crop was still in the fields and they were all heartbroken to see how much they had lost, yet many blamed each other for the losses.
There was still much work to be done, but now it was much harder to work around the hail which had frozen some of the crop. Many were exhausted from the fight and scrambled to salvage what they could, but they were shocked to be told they must give up their oil or they would be arrested and fined their wages. They were given one hour.
They had no more time to waste on vain arguments to soothe men’s egos. The women and men who supported them saw a faint glimpse of light on the horizon and they knew if they could just keep working through the hour, the dawn would soon break and they would no longer need the oil.
The last few minutes they worked with what appeared to be super human effort and it was amazing what they were able to accomplish. Then it happened. Light. Glorious Light such as none of them had ever seen before. The Master had arrived to honor his faithful workers.
The men in charge ran out in front to try to explain to the Master how these women had impeded the work with their insistence that they were equal to the men, but the Master told them to go to the back of the line because in his kingdom whoever is first shall be last and the women who were last would be welcomed first.
Then to everyone who tried to stop another worker, the Master said the most incriminating words, “Away from me, you evil doers, you’ve twisted my words, you’ve esteemed yourselves above others and kept the best seats for yourselves and by doing this, you’ve lost a great part of my precious harvest. You certainly don’t know me–because I never knew you.”