Thursday, December 15, 2011


At our recent “Disciples at Chain of Lakes” orientation I was asked about the characteristics of being Presbyterian. I responded that one reason I’m proud to be a Presbyterian is we celebrate women in leadership. We ordain women to be clergy—now called Teaching Elders; we ordain women to serve on the councils of the church—roles now called Ruling Elders.

I read with interest the recent article in the Star Tribune by Katherine Thomas about women serving as priests in the Catholic Church.
She was responding to an article that the Strib had written about female Catholic priests.

Even though my Catholic friends don’t ordain women to the priesthood I have deep respect for that tradition. My wife is Catholic, and I go to Mass with her almost weekly. I also have deep respect for my friends on the conservative, evangelical side of the religious aisle who don’t believe that women should be ordained.

However, I couldn’t disagree more strongly with their position. God calls women to ordained leadership in the church.

The logic of Thomas in the Strib article was especially specious. She essentially wrote that the church can’t ordain women because it is not true. Since women's ordination is not true, then the church can’t make something happen.

However my friends in the Catholic church aren't following an eternal truth--they've invented this truth. They've come to this conclusion based on their interpretation of the Scriptures and tradition. To say that there is an eternal truth that the church is following is false. Their truth is based on their interpretation.

And I believe their interpretation is wrong. Two weeks ago I gave a sermon on Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Mary went to great risk to bear Jesus, she traveled with Jesus with when he was older, she was at the foot of the cross (unlike most of the male apostles) when Jesus died, and she helped choose the apostle who replaced Judas. (Acts 1:14).

Mary was not excluded in her service because she was a female. She was a disciple, a minister, a leader. If Mary was physically alive today it seems incomprehensible that she would be excluded from sharing the sacraments with the people.

The women who bore Jesus couldn’t share Jesus?

The Scriptures are clear that God gives a variety of gifts—1 Corinthians 12. These gifts are not apportioned to people based on gender. To exclude women from ordained leadership is to block the working of the Holy Spirit.

I have had the privilege of knowing many female pastors in my career. My sister is a ordained Presbyterian pastor. To think that a group of men could exclude these women from sharing their gifts seems contrary to what God wants in the world.

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