Let me speak directly to those who stand firmly in the belief that women should be ordained. In the course of the last 5 years I believe one of our greatest weaknesses in our “struggle” to affirm the rightness of women’s ordination (WO) is the use of too many words!
As I studied Acts chapter 5, specifically verses 33-42 I realized the answer to proving the validity of our cause is not primarily in trying to fight policy with words or vote, or to try and convince others with words of the justice of our position. Our position would be greater served if we grew!
Gamaliel in verses 35-37 points out the many causes that had arisen over the years and how each of those causes had ultimately failed as they failed to grow and the followers of these movements were eventually scattered. He then makes the famous statement,
“So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God you will not be able to overthrow them, You might even be found opposing God!” -Acts 5:38, 39
I will confess I have read this text many times over the last 5 years and I’ve applied this text to Elder Wilson and others that seem so set against WO. This week as I read it my heart was reminded, “the easiest application of any text is to apply it to someone else.” So today I want to apply this text to me and my position.
If I read this story in Acts chapter 5 with me in mind I must then ask myself, “what would be the application of Gamaliel’s words to me. To the cause I stand for.” And the answer that convicts my heart: GROWTH!
Let us acknowledge one of the greatest reasons the territories that oppose WO have the upper hand is GROWTH! I don’t mean that they just have a larger voting bloc than we do, but they are growing and in the majority of territories where we affirm WO not only are we often times NOT GROWING, we are shrinking!
Imagine this, what if 5 years ago when Mid-America Union voted (and then rescinded) their position on WO, and then Columbia Union voted to ordain women and then Pacific Union voted to ordain women–we didn’t change any of our votes but rather than fighting a defensive battle trying to defend our position we simply committed in our hearts that we are not going to fight, we are not going to try and prove our just position (that has already been done in committee after committee since 1973), we are not going to get in the debate. We’ll keep voting our conscience, but we’ll expend our energies only on growing. And what if now 5 years later we could look back and see exponential growth in our territories and we could stand before the body and as they condemn the votes on WO we could say like the South American Division reported the other night,
“We have three state capitals where there is a church in every neighborhood.” “We have started 91 centers of influence in our major cities.” “We have planted 440 churches in our urban centers alone in 2016.”
Would that not be a better argument based on Acts 5:38, 39 for WO than an abundance of words to try and convince people we are right?
Now I know already some people have discredited what I just said because they would point out that places like Brazil and Africa are different cultures and “growth” is easier there. But before you get to comfortable in that position of defense, let me say that argument, which I have also used, is only valid if we never mention the growth of the Seventh-day Adventist movement in China as position of support for the cause of WO.
You see we in the core of our beings we understand GROWTH is powerful evidence for the cause of WO, which is why Spectrum, Adventist Today, etc. have made videos & written articles on the women pastors of China and the evidence of GROWTH in support of our cause; it is why so many of us have shared on Facebook and retweeted on Twitter so many of those videos and stories about women pastors in China. GROWTH is the greatest evidence in support of the cause of WO.
After Gamaliel made his speech the Bible tells us that the disciples were beaten and told to stand down, “they charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus.” And what did the disciples do? Did they argue for another hearing? Did they try and convince the leaders to accept what they were doing? No they went out and GREW!
“And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number…” -Acts 5:42-6:1a
No matter what happens today (October 9th, 2017) or tomorrow or at Spring Meetings or at the next General Conference Session. Let us make a commitment to reserve our words for voting and requesting TIME and TIME and TIME again for WO to be on the agenda, but beyond those meetings let the argument of our cause be the GROWTH of each territory that stands for WO!