Friday, June 15, 2007

Some Questions...

Am I being unreasonable in my belief that a young woman funeral home employee ought not be wearing a skin-tight miniskirt in my sanctuary during a funeral at which she is working and over which I am officiating? And would it have been proper to say something to her and risk making a scene in the sanctuary in front of the grieving family? [For the record, I was hoping to say something discreetly to her after the graveside service, but she did not go with the other workers to the cemetery. I considered making a visit to the funeral home, and still might - but I am honestly unsure of how to best address the situation. I'm not even sure she is an employee - she may actually be the daughter of one of the directors. Things were so much simpler when modesty was something to take for granted.] We do have to work with the folks at this funeral home, and I'm just not sure there is a way to address the matter without coming off as a jerk - especially considering that she may never show up again anyway. I can just imagine the scandal if she were to go to an Eastern Orthodox or Tridentine Roman church - or Moslem Mosque for that matter - so clad. Too bad such things seldom shock Lutherans these days. Ideas?

How is it that members of the Missouri Synod (that is to say, congregations, pastors, and lay church workers) can not only hold and teach false (not merely errant, but diabolical) doctrine - but further to actually publish such beliefs in the synodical convention handbook? The example I'm thinking of involves a congregation that is proposing that the LCMS allow the "ordination" of women. Instead of censure or removal from synod for deviation from Holy Scripture - the synod actually published their proposal! I will go out on a limb and predict that nothing, absolutely nothing, will happen to them as a consequence of their public repudiation of the Bible. Meanwhile, I know of a faithful pastor who was not long ago hauled before a super-secret LCMS tribunal and was nearly expelled from synod over a technical handbook issue that had nothing at all to do with false doctrine or moral turpitude. What if one of our churches or pastors sent a memorial to the synod proposing that we worship Satan, or perhaps proposing to add a fourth person to the Trinity, or maybe proposing that the resurrection of our Lord be considered merely a myth? Would the synod simply publish such proposals and forward them off to a committee for debate? Does this kind of thing fall under the rubric of Christian freedom according to our synod? What gives?

Has any pastor, congregation or other member of the LCMS been removed from the roster for advocating women "clergy"? If not, why not?

And while on the topic of priestesses, I'm disappointed that Concordia Theological Semininary (from which I graduated in 2004) will allow the pan-Lutheran Society of the Holy Trinity (STS) to hold its general retreat on campus. Women "pastors" will be staying in CTS dorms. Will they also be leading worship in Kramer Chapel? Will our beautiful campus be desecrated by the sight of women wearing clerical collars, cassocks, and ecclesiastical vestments on the grounds of the seminary and in the chapel? Will there be a joint communion service between ELCA and LCMS pastors (as the current Senior of the Society has written he supports happening at STS retreats)? Hopefully, the STS will be sensitive to their host venue's "Neanderthal" views on scripture and at least be discreet in their gender-bender abominations. Here's a shot from their 2005 retreat's communion service (picture this at Kramer, CTS grads)...


Of course, I know there are indeed faithful LCMS pastors (I know several) who somehow swallow hard and overlook the priestess issue and belong to the STS. I also know the seminary is financially strapped. But can anyone hold conferences and religious services at CTS if they just flash the cash?

And finally...


How could America vote to send Melinda Doolittle home? I know this is old news, yea, even ancient news - but man, I'm still puzzled. Mrs. Hollywood (who never asks for anything) has specifically requested that whenever Miss Doolittle records a CD, Mrs. H. would like to have it - regardless of what musical genre it is. She can sing anything, absolutely anything, with poise, elan, and sheer joy - and make it all look so easy. She also seems like a genuinely kind and humble person.

15 comments:

Pastor Daniel Skillman said...

I seem to remember something in the LCMS constitution that suggests we don't vote on the word of God. Yet, I too, like you, saw the proposal for women's ordination in the handbook for the upcoming convention.

Frankly, I'm not sure what to make of this. Are they saying that we've been interpreting the word of God wrong all these years (aprox. 2000)? I suppose that is possible, but I don't see where they offer any evidence. Frankly, I think it's more likely that they are suggesting that the word of God doesn't matter in this case.

It makes my heart ache to see that the LCMS is more concerned with their own constitution and by-laws than with the word of God and the Lutheran confessions. For the sake of "walking together in love," we are to submit to a whole host of man-made laws that unduly restrict our freedom in the Gospel, and, in fact, in some places, oppose the Gospel. How is this any different than Eastern Orthodoxy, and perhaps even Roman Catholicism?

As to your comment about CTS...I'm puzzled. But putting the best construction on it, I'm hoping it's an evangelism effort on the Sem's part.

About the mini-skirt: Perhaps you could send the funeral home a short note about decorum in the church. You don't need to single out the young lady...yet. Just pass on a note explaining what form of dress is generally expected in the nave. That's what I would do in this situation. If the young lady comes in poor dress again, you could refer to your note as a "priorly agreed upon standard," and thus avoid putting yourself in a negative position (chastizing a person for doing something they honestly might not have even considered to be wrong).

In Christ,
Fr. Daniel

P.S. I'd love to see your response to Pr. McCain's post on "We are Not Free to Use this Liberty."

Out

Father Hollywood said...

Fr. Daniel:

I understand that some things are a matter of "policy" - and those things should be freely debated. Other things involve some shades of gray - such as what constitutes a pastoral exception to only communing those under the pastoral care of bishops with whom we share communion. But when it comes to "ordaining" women, there are no shades of gray. Either we do it (and chuck the clear testimony of Scripture and the catholic teaching of the Church), or we don't do it. I don't understand how any matter of doctrine can be deemed an open question (and be, as you point out, subject to a plebiscite).

Words mean things. For example, a "synod" means a gethering of bishops as opposed to a democracy. I agree with the founders of the United States that democracy is a terrible idea, and will ultimately lead to destruction (both of the U.S. and of the LCMS). We ought not be voting on such things, and resolutions like that should be rejected out of hand, not *published*.

Good advice on the funeral home situation.

I know CTS has sought ties to the STS ever since Bishop McDaniel's magnificent address at the symposia a few years back. And aside from the "elephant in the parlor" of women crossdressing and imperonating pastors, I have a lot of admiration for the STS. But we can't ignore the elephants now, can we?

As far as Pr. McCain's post goes, I agree with him that unity is a noble ideal (and calls to mind the "salad days" when all LCMS parishes had a high level of unity in ritual and doctrine). But I believe the service of the Gospel is a *higher* priority than unity. Which is exactly why we are, and remain, Lutherans. We could, for the sake of unity and love, return to Rome. As noble as Christian unity is, defending the Gospel is more important. I think that should be the principle at work.

I could stop genuflecting at my altar in order to fit in better with the majority of LCMS celebrants (and stop wearing a chasuble, stop chanting, stop elevating, etc.), but that would be harmful to the faith of my parishioners.

As the AC points out, "if the churches observed ceremonies *correctly*, their *dignity* would be maintained and *reverence* and piety would increase among the people" [emphasis added] (Review of Abuses) and "Even the church's canon law is not so severe that it demands the same rites everywhere. Nor for that matter, have all the rites of all churches ever been the same" (Summary).

I see the main liturgical goal as expressed by our confessions (and I'm even citing the McCain Edition of the BOC!) is to strive for *reverence* and *piety* through observing the ceremonies *correctly* - not merely for their own sake, but for the sake of the Gospel.

Synodical unity in rite and ceremony is only of secondary importance to the impartation and catechization of the Gospel through ceremony and rite.

I notice Paul (McCain, that is) doesn't quote the confessions when it comes to ritual and ceremonies - rather he cites Dr. Luther. But we're not subscribed to every word of Luther. In fact, with Luther, context is paramount. For every quote where Luther says "don't," you can also find a quote in which the Blessed Reformer says "do."

At one time, a quarter of all extant books in Europe were written by Luther. If you look hard enough, you can catch him saying about anything (outside of proper context). Furthermore, just like anyone else, he often changed his mind.

We're "Lutherans" in the sense that the name was an epithet given us, and it stuck, and has become a historic label of a Christian confession. We admire Luther as a father of the church, but we're more accurately "Augsburg Confession Catholics." I wish we'd stick to primarily citing Scripture and confessions - and using the fathers to bolster our assertions - instead of putting the ancient fathers on top (as other Christians do) or putting Luther at the top of the pole (which a lot of Lutherans unwittingly do). We subscribe to the BOC "quia," but we read Luther (and every other church father) "quatenus." A quote from Blessed Martin Luther doesn't settle the matter any more than citing Pope St. Gregory the Great.

Sorry to ramble. Thanks for your post!

cheryl said...

Am I being unreasonable in my belief that a young woman funeral home employee ought not be wearing a skin-tight miniskirt in my sanctuary during a funeral at which she is working and over which I am officiating?

The difficulty pastor, is that to be consistent, one must take issue with those women who came to the funeral in trousers (I'm assuming there were some, but I may be wrong). A tight mini-skirt is just the extreme of the underlining social problem that exhibits itself in other types of clothing worn by women.

And would it have been proper to say something to her and risk making a scene in the sanctuary in front of the grieving family? [For the record, I was hoping to say something discreetly to her after the graveside service, but she did not go with the other workers to the cemetery. I considered making a visit to the funeral home, and still might - but I am honestly unsure of how to best address the situation. I'm not even sure she is an employee - she may actually be the daughter of one of the directors.

I hate to say this, but for her sake (that is for the sake of not embarrassing her), it might be best to overlook the situation. A funeral home is not really a very conducive place to bring up the length of someone's skirt. Firstly, it might be resented, as you are not a female (ie she might feel violated), and secondly unless she understands the reasons why you are saying her skirt needs to be longer, she's liable to just get offended (and still not change her wardrobe). If you work with this funeral home regularly and this becomes a persistent problem, then perhaps speaking to the funeral director about the situation might be of some benefit (as they usually try to be accommodating). But, honestly, it seems to be a no-win situation.


How is it that members of the Missouri Synod (that is to say, congregations, pastors, and lay church workers) can not only hold and teach false (not merely errant, but diabolical) doctrine - but further to actually publish such beliefs in the synodical convention handbook? The example I'm thinking of involves a congregation that is proposing that the LCMS allow the "ordination" of women. Instead of censure or removal from synod for deviation from Holy Scripture - the synod actually published their proposal!


I disagree that the idea of female priests is diabolical. I have been on both sides of the isle, and find that while both sides present some good arguments, neither is fully persuasive.

I will go out on a limb and predict that nothing, absolutely nothing, will happen to them as a consequence of their public repudiation of the Bible.

We need to be careful here. Many who advocate for women priests, sincerely believe that is what Scripture teaches. That is not to say they are correct, but their position can hardly be construed as a, "public repudiation of the Bible."

Meanwhile, I know of a faithful pastor who was not long ago hauled before a super-secret LCMS tribunal and was nearly expelled from synod over a technical handbook issue that had nothing at all to do with false doctrine or moral turpitude. What if one of our churches or pastors sent a memorial to the synod proposing that we worship Satan, or perhaps proposing to add a fourth person to the Trinity, or maybe proposing that the resurrection of our Lord be considered merely a myth? Would the synod simply publish such proposals and forward them off to a committee for debate?

That is not comparable, and is somewhat offensive to me both as a female and as someone who must bear the burden of not being able to call down Christ and feed Him to people. It's a burden I accept, as I don't intent on campaigning for change in the Church, but such comments making it heavier to bear.

Does this kind of thing fall under the rubric of Christian freedom according to our synod? What gives?

Has any pastor, congregation or other member of the LCMS been removed from the roster for advocating women "clergy"? If not, why not?


Just remember that there are those of us out there who strive to love Jesus and strive for Orthodoxy and yet greatly struggle with not being able to be priests.

And while on the topic of priestesses, I'm disappointed that Concordia Theological Semininary (from which I graduated in 2004) will allow the pan-Lutheran Society of the Holy Trinity (STS) to hold its general retreat on campus. Women "pastors" will be staying in CTS dorms. Will they also be leading worship in Kramer Chapel? Will our beautiful campus be desecrated by the sight of women wearing clerical collars, cassocks, and ecclesiastical vestments on the grounds of the seminary and in the chapel? Will there be a joint communion service between ELCA and LCMS pastors (as the current Senior of the Society has written he supports happening at STS retreats)?

Okay, let's personalize this, because often times, it's easy to make sweeping statements, when we fail to put names and faces to our "opponant".

"Cheryl" will be staying in CTS dorms. Will "Cheryl" also be leading worship in Kramer Chapel? Will our beautiful campus be desecrated by the sight of "Cheryl" wearing clerical collars, cassocks, and ecclesiastical vestments on the grounds of the seminary and in the chapel?

If I showed up in an ankle-length dress, with my head veiled, will I still be desecrating your beautiful campus?

Hopefully, the STS will be sensitive to their host venue's "Neanderthal" views on scripture and at least be discreet in their gender-bender abominations.

Let me share something with you about myself. I desire greatly to be a priest. Not so that I can usurp man's authority (I find many good things in patriarchy), but simply because I desire to call down Christ from heaven and feed Him to people. I wear modest dresses everyday (even when it would be easier to wear trousers) and until recently had very long hair (I cut it off as a sign of mourning for my dad). If I had it my way, I'd be veiled when I go out (but don't as I don't want to be confused for a muslim). I believe in the differentiating of the sexes (I do not believe that a woman can do everything a man can do (and visa versa)). I believe women should stay home (and if they do work outside the home, it should be an extension of her work in the home and not compete with it) And that's just the start. What I am saying is, please don't confuse a desire to be a priest with the other things you've mentioned (ie "gender-bender").

Father Hollywood said...

Hi Cheryl:

I agree with you that a woman shouldn't be wearing trousers in church - however, I do think there are levels of impropriety. If she were only in the funeral home, it would be one thing. However, she was in my church. People who work for funeral homes ought to be sensitive to the fact that they are coming into the sacred spaces of others.

Obviously, these things should be handled with tact.

However, let's be clear: I am the one who was violated. My parishioners were violated. She came into *my* and *our* sacred space in an inappropriate way. I'm going to put the best construction on it and assume she's ignorant - as our social norms have changed and people don't seem to respect anything other than themselves, their wants, their convenience, or their comfort.

I simply have to disagree with you: priestesses are of Satan.

The Hebrews were a very strange people who worshiped an unseen God, one addressed only in masculine terms, one that demanded only male priests. All other mideast peoples had polytheism - worshiping both gods and goddesses, in whose stead stood priests and priestesses. God's people were, and are, different.

God is our *Father* and no amount of political correctness or whining about being offended can make it different. God became incarnate in the flesh of a male human being. Jesus is the *Son* of God. He in turn chose 12 *men* to carry on His ministry, to stand in His stead, to forgive sins, preach, and administer the Supper. Those men understood their calling, and they in turn ordained only men - as did the Church for more than 19 centuries until Scandinavian Socialists hijacked the Church of Sweden and turned the priesthood into a government job subject to discrimination laws.

Without exception, every word used to describe the pastoral ministry in the NT, and every word to describe the priesthood in the OT, is masculine. Unlike English, where gender is typically non-existent in nouns, in Greek and Hebrew, the gender is built into the word (and inflected according to gender). Scripture only uses the masculine versions of those words when speaking of the ministry.

Women clergy were ministers that only the pagans had - and in fact, in the first century Roman Empire, there were as many pagan priestesses as priests. Again, those who worship Yahweh/Jesus are different (which is what the word "holy" means).

Original sin came when Eve lusted after something that was not hers to have, and when Adam abdicated his responsibilityy to protect his wife from the evil one.

If you have urges to seek ordination as a presbyter (lit: "male elder") in the Church that worships Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, these urges are sinful, and you need to repent of them. They are no different than having carnal lusts directed at a man who is not your husband. A better analogy is that these urges are akin to lesbianism - a distortion of the vocation you have been given by virtue of the sex God created you.

Your merciful Father has given you many, many ways to serve the Church. Priestly service is not one of them. Like the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, it is simply off-limits to you. Why did God design His kingdom that way? I don't know - but I know I must submit to it, and not try to make God submit to me.

You will never be able to consecrate bread and wine and give the Body and Blood of Jesus to the Lord's people - just as I will never be able to give birth to a son or daughter. I am no less a person because I cannot give birth, nor are you any less because you cannot serve as a pastor. God has plans for all of us.

God made us male and female - and yet we live in an age of rebellion. Paul describes homosexuality as idolatry - it is a repudiation of the roles God made for us. It is not my vocation to be a rock star, a fighter pilot, a mother, an astronaut, or a pro football player. God did not give me the body or mind for such things. I would be a fool to lust after that which is not mine - especially as the Lord has lovingly given me a place in His kingdom, a vocation he specifically crafted for me.

Serving the Lord in His kingdom is just that: service. We don't get to pick and choose what *we want* to do. We are *called* to *serve* - we don't dictate the terms to God any more than a slave tells his master what he will be doing. A slave of Christ receives His orders and does his best, in spite of his sin and shortcomings, to be a faithful servant.

To be a pastor is to be the head of a family, the congregation. A woman can't do that - at least not in accordance with Scripture. A godly modest woman would cover her head and wear a long skirt as a sign of *submission*. Preaching in a pulpit is not submission, it is not a woman learning in silence, as Paul exhorts. To be a preacher, a steward of the mysteries, is to be an episkopos (lit: over-seer-man). God simply doesn't give women the vocation to spiritually oversee men and women. A minister is "episkopos" (which is male) not "episkopas" (which is female).

There is a very good reason why pastors have been addressed as "Father" since the earliest days of the church. You can indeed be Christ to your neighbors - in showing them compassion and love. You can "call down" Christ when you teach your children to pray and learn the catechism. But you can no more be a Father-Confessor or a Reverend Father than I can give birth to a child. My wife did that, and it was a miracle. All I could do was watch and give thanks and praise to God, receive the gift my wife delivered, and act within my fatherly vocation. I will never have the gift, the calling, or the blessing of being a mother.

That is why men and women need one another. We need to embrace the vocations we are given, and not lust after that which isn't given.

I don't say any of this to be contentious. We are called upon to be faithful, and if I allowed your comments to go without correction, I would not be faithful to my calling as a presbyter. I do appreciate your taking the time to write, and I pray the Lord will lead you to an honorable vocation of service in His kingdom.

cheryl said...

Hi Cheryl:

I agree with you that a woman shouldn't be wearing trousers in church - however, I do think there are levels of impropriety. If she were only in the funeral home, it would be one thing. However, she was in my church. People who work for funeral homes ought to be sensitive to the fact that they are coming into the sacred spaces of others.


But it's not "your" church or "your sanctuary. It is God's. As for wearing trousers oppose to a miniskirt, a miniskirt may be more provocative, but trousers are more "gender-bender" (to use your words). We've just gotten use to seeing women in trousers, so it doesn't offend our sensibilities to the degree that a miniskirt might. (a hundred years ago, a woman in trousers would have been just as unseemly as a miniskirt today).

Obviously, these things should be handled with tact.

However, let's be clear: I am the one who was violated. My parishioners were violated. She came into *my* and *our* sacred space in an inappropriate way.


No, pastor she did not. You as well as your parishioners are like this woman, a guest in the house of God. Meaning that all of you are standing in the presence of God only because He allows you too. I'm not saying you were not violated, I am only saying to be careful not to violate her in the process of trying to rectify the situation. To begin with, take up the attitude that you and her are both on equal footing where God's sanctuary is concerned. The worst thing you could do is give her the impression that this is YOUR sanctuary, and that she ought to wear more appropriate clothing because she offends YOU. It will come off as classicism, as a "we are better than you" even if you don't intent such.

I'm going to put the best construction on it and assume she's ignorant - as our social norms have changed and people don't seem to respect anything other than themselves, their wants, their convenience, or their comfort.

She probably is. Although her reasoning is probably more along the lines of wanting to fit in, or wanting to be appealing to others, ect. not because of ego-centrism.

I simply have to disagree with you: priestesses are of Satan.

Okay, I guess that kinda killed whatever intelligent conversation we might have had. Please do not demonize people. It is neither pastorally or practically helpful in leading people to the truth.

The Hebrews were a very strange people who worshiped an unseen God, one addressed only in masculine terms, one that demanded only male priests.

They also demanded only circumcised males of the tribe of Levi be priests, are you circumcised? Are you of the tribe of Levi? If we are to be consistent, no Gentile would be a priest, neither would anyone with a handicap.

And God being referred to in male terms has nothing to do with this issue, unless you are suggesting that males are more like God than females.

All other mideast peoples had polytheism - worshiping both gods and goddesses, in whose stead stood priests and priestesses. God's people were, and are, different.

How did we get from female priests to polytheism? This is a strawman. I know the God I worship, The One in Three and The Three in One, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

God is our *Father* and no amount of political correctness or whining about being offended can make it different.

I never argued that He wasn't.

God became incarnate in the flesh of a male human being. Jesus is the *Son* of God.

Yes. I know. I also know he was of Arabic descent and it's laughable when I hear Caucasians and Blacks tell me women can't be priests because they do not image Christ. We've just deemed Christ's incarnation as a Jew inconsequential to His person, now the only thing that counts is that He's male.

He in turn chose 12 *men* to carry on His ministry, to stand in His stead, to forgive sins, preach, and administer the Supper.

Yes He did.

Those men understood their calling, and they in turn ordained only men - as did the Church for more than 19 centuries until Scandinavian Socialists hijacked the Church of Sweden and turned the priesthood into a government job subject to discrimination laws.

Here's the thing, the two main arguments put forward by the Church as a defense of an all male priesthood do not work. Patriarchy (male headship) can only work when there is both a male and female present. The female in this equation strictly speaking should be the Church, but it is not, as there is no reasonable way to limit "Church" to a female, because unlike the priesthood, the position of Church, cannot be held by one person. So we end up with a very lopsided scenario, one which demands that all priests be males, but does not put a similar demand upon the Church. The Incarnation of Christ and His Church is not being demonstrated. The Father-Priest is (unlike at home) short a wife. The second argument employed is the one which says, only males can imagine Christ. Again, to be consistent, we ought to say then that only a female can image the Church (but you hear no similar outrage at males being a part of the Church. So what happens, instead of a true complementarianism (which ideally Patriarchy is in the home) where each gender acts in accord with the gifts and talents God has subscribed to each, we end up with a situation where not only is there no place for a woman that is just hers (a man can do anything a woman can do in the Church), but only women are barred from certain offices. Secondly, saying that a woman cannot image Christ incarnationally, as serious, and I mean serious soteriological effects. Our salvation (theosis) depends on the degree that we will be as He is, on the degree that we to (albeit by grace) incarnate Christ. What a priest is said to do in that He stays in persona christi, is what theosis is. And is something all Christians are called to do, to be, "little christs". To limit women to the priesthood on this basis, is to basically say to them, "I as a male, incarnate Christ more deeply than you." Finally, The priest is not only the image of Christ to the Church, but He is the image of the Church to God. The priest assumes up both the masculine Christ and the feminine Church, and stands in the place of both.

Without exception, every word used to describe the pastoral ministry in the NT, and every word to describe the priesthood in the OT, is masculine. Unlike English, where gender is typically non-existent in nouns, in Greek and Hebrew, the gender is built into the word (and inflected according to gender). Scripture only uses the masculine versions of those words when speaking of the ministry.

I am ignorant of Greek and Hebrew, so I can't really comment on this, except to say that I am unsure whether the feminine or maculine form of a word indicates that the subject is feminine or masculine. Like I said I am ignorant of Greek and Hebrew, but from what little I remember from French, it is not that way. And Biblically, if this were true, (other than in a couple places in John), the Holy Spirit would be feminine.

Women clergy were ministers that only the pagans had - and in fact, in the first century Roman Empire, there were as many pagan priestesses as priests. Again, those who worship Yahweh/Jesus are different (which is what the word "holy" means).

I'm not sure I agree with that. I'm still in the process of studying the female's place in Scripture and in the early Church. It's a heavy subject so I probably won't have an opinion on it for awhile.

Original sin came when Eve lusted after something that was not hers to have, and when Adam abdicated his responsibilityy to protect his wife from the evil one.

But my desire to feed Christ to people is not a disordered lust. It's my desire for Christ. We all crave Christ and once sought, in turn seek to give Him to others out of what we first acquired. My movement toward Christ, has become one and the same movement I have toward the Eucharist. I seek after Him in the Supper, and once acquired, I wish then to give Him to others through that same Sacrament.


If you have urges to seek ordination as a presbyter (lit: "male elder") in the Church that worships Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, these urges are sinful, and you need to repent of them.

I will never repent of my love of Christ and my wish to feed Him to others. To embrace Him so completely, that I die to myself and become Him to the world, to be "in persona Christi". Do you realize what you have? Do you realize the joy I would have, if I were as blessed as you to be as united to Him as you are? To be able to place Him on the mouths of others? No you don't. Not really. Because then you could never say to another who desires that kind of joy, to repent.

They are no different than having carnal lusts directed at a man who is not your husband. A better analogy is that these urges are akin to lesbianism - a distortion of the vocation you have been given by virtue of the sex God created you.

My husband is Christ and yet I cannot give my husband to the world?

Your merciful Father has given you many, many ways to serve the Church. Priestly service is not one of them. Like the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, it is simply off-limits to you. Why did God design His kingdom that way? I don't know - but I know I must submit to it, and not try to make God submit to me.

You will never be able to consecrate bread and wine and give the Body and Blood of Jesus to the Lord's people - just as I will never be able to give birth to a son or daughter. I am no less a person because I cannot give birth, nor are you any less because you cannot serve as a pastor. God has plans for all of us.


But the son I want to give is Christ, why can't you as a priest who officiates at the altar every sunday understand this?

.....

You don't understand what you have, for how could you deny it to any other Christian if you did. I didn't read all you wrote toward the end. I'm sorry. It's too painful. Thank you for responding to me.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Cheryl:

I don't know why you keep bringing up pants. She was wearing a miniskirt. It was immodest. She was bending over the coffin with her butt almost exposed. In this case, pants would have been more modest. My original point is that people whose line of work brings them into houses of worship - be they Christian, Jewish, Moslem, or Pagan - ought to have some cultural sensitivity.

Of course, our sanctuary is God's. But I have been appointed as a presbyter there. My parishioners (and notice I said *my* parishioners not to deny they are God's, but rather to emphasize my *relationship* with them - they obviously aren't my slaves) have a sense of "ownership" (stewardship) of the parish. When something is broken, they fix it. When the building needs insurance, they pay it. When a sermon needs preached, I or the senior pastor do it. It is *our* church until the Lord gives it to those who will come after us.

It is *my* church in the sense that I am the presbyter/bishop (along with the senior pastor) in that place. It is *my* responsibility to maintain decorum there. Of course, we all own the Liberty Bell as Americans, but if you try to lay a finger on it, you'll be arrested. As the pastor, I have the say over the standard of modesty being exhibited in my church. I'm not going to allow someone to strut around the church naked. I am in charge. I'm not going to shrug and say "Oh well, it's not *my* church, it's *God's* church - and wait for God to take care of it.

As far as your argument that *anyone* is eligible for the office of the ministry based on the fact that the Church doesn't require us to be Levites or circumsized is exactly how feminists sophists argue it. However, we have been released from the requirement of circumcision and the Church has been expanded to include Gentiles. Jesus Himself included non-Levites among the ministers he ordained, and St. Paul ordained both Gentiles and uncircumcized men (as testified by the Book of Acts). Can you cite an example where Jesus ordained a woman? St. Paul? St. Peter? Any apostle? In the Book of Acts? Anywhere in Scripture? Any historic example anywhere of any catholic priest or bishop ordaining even one woman until people began to doubt the literal reliability in Scripture in very recent history?

Either you are right, Cheryl, and every Christian pastor from Jesus and the apostles through the 20th century has been wrong - or you are the one who has it backwards. Ministry is a vocation, not a right. You may want it with all your might - just as a man may wish to have intimate relations with another man as if he were a woman - but that burning desire in your heart doesn't make that desire godly or right.

The Church is the bride of Christ, she is always referred to in the feminine in Scripture. The pastor is the head of his family, the congregation. Paul speaks plainly about women submitting to masculine authority - that is, unless you want to "re-image" Paul along the lines of Wicca-influenced feminist theologians. Frankly, my reason tells me that women can "do the job" as well as men - but Scripture says something else. I must rely on infallible Scripture over and against my fallible reason.

So cite me some Scripture to convince me that women should be ordained. Give me a dominical, apostolic, or even post-apostolic example prior to the advent of skepticism and feminism. It's no accident that, without exception, "churches" that "ordain" women refuse to call homosexuality and abortion sinful. In fact, most celebrate these deviancies from God's Word as a right, as noble, as something to be proud of. That's why I use the term "gender-bender." Conservative Episcopalians who are fighting homosexual ordination and blessing ceremonies are reaping the whirlwind they sowed when they bucked both Scripture and tradition in the 1970s by "ordaining" women. The same "inclusive" arguments are used by Bishop Robinson and his supporters today.

A woman that wants to be a pastor really wants to be a man. Just as a man who wants to be homosexual really wants to be a woman. Both are rebellion against what God has created. That's why I call it "diabolical." These kinds of "gender-bender" sins are not diabolical because they're sexual, but rather because they are idolatrous - attempting to remove God from His throne and place oneself on it (which was Lucifer's sin).

Again, you approach ministry as something *you* want. It's not about *you.* The word "ministry" literally means "service." Paul describes his pastoral status as being a "slave of Christ." Slaves don't get to pick out what tasks they want to do, nor do they have the right to whine to their master because he won't let them do a different work.

There are many ways for women to "feed Christ to their neighbor" that don't involve preaching and administering sacraments. Just as there are many ways for men to serve as loving parent without carrying a child in utero for 9 months and experiencing the wonder of giving birth and of nursing.

Different sexes, different roles, both sexes important and indispensable, all roles (vocations) necessary.

You need to accept yourself for what the Lord created you to be. You seem to be under the delusion that the priesthood, the office of the holy ministry, is some kind of exalted status. It isn't. For by virtue of your baptism, you have a priesthood of your own - not to preach and administer sacraments - but to hear God's Word, to pray, to give comfort to your neighbor, to confess Christ before all people, to teach your children the holy faith, and to strive to be a faithful servant in your own Christian vocation.

Look at how many times you say "*I* want..." in your post. Maybe you should ask the Lord what *He* wants. That's what it means to be a servant.

I appreciate that this isn't the most pleasant conversation we could be having, but the times in which we live have made it necessary. Thanks again for writing.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Was Hannah wrong for telling God what she desired?

Should Eli have told her "God has made some barren and some to bear fruit. It isn't the part of a slave to decide if she's barren. I can't have children either. Does that make me any less of a person? No, repent of your evil desire, and submit to the Lord's will, like a good slave."

You say "it is proper for a woman to bear children, but not to consecrate the Sacrament." I don't know I agree, God never tramples on our desires. But I'll grant it. It only implies that it would be wrong for a woman to seize the priesthood, not for a woman to desire the priesthood.

And anyway, to desire to be a physical icon of Christ is to desire something good. But in Christ all things are "yes." Perhaps she is to fast, but to simply repent?

"Blessed are the hungry for they shall be filled."

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Matthew:

When our desires are in harmony with the will of God, then God grants us our desires. As we pray in the Our Father: "*Thy* will be done." This was our Lord's prayer at Gethsemane.

There are times when we earnestly desire something, we pray for it, but don't get it. He is not a Genie who simply grants wishes. He is Almighty God, and we are His servants. We children often rebel against Him and think we know better than He does.

The women's ordination debate always makes its way to this point: *my* rights, *my* desires, *my* wants. It's about perceived injustice, unfairness, and keeping women down.

"God *never* tramples on our desires"? Are you kidding me? When our desires are sinful, God opposes them and calls us to repent. The fact that we *feel* our desires are in accordance with His will is of no use. Feelings can deceive - Scripture doesn't. God even struck down what seemed to be a well-intentioned effort to keep the Ark of ther Covenant from hitting the ground - because Uzzah 2 Sam 6) was not authorized for that ministry (also check out Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10) and Miriam's attempt to wrest the ministry from Moses in Num 12).

Yes, indeed, "Blessed are the hungry" - those who hunger and thirst "for rightousness." Jeffrey Dahmer's hunger is not something God was talking about here. Not every hunger or desire is godly.

Once again, the conversation gets back to pleasing the self instead of seeking the Lord's will. God could not be more clear than he is in His word regarding the vocation of godly women, just as the Church has obeyed that will until the ministry was treated as a *right* by secularized nations that saw the holy ministry as a job subject to the laws of the state over and against the Word of God.

We're all entitled to our opinion, but how about settling the matter with the Word of God? If you can find an instance of "Episkopa" or "presbutera" in Holy Scripture describing the work of even one woman disciple, I would be inclinded to agree with you that the entire Christian Church (which Paul calls the "pillar and ground of truth") has been in error for nearly two millennia.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Fr. Hollywood

I see a couple of problems with your method. First, "No man knows the thoughts of man but the spirit of man." It is very insulting to attack someone's desires, particularly because you don't know them. I have been to L'Abri where Mardi Keyes argues for women's ordination. I thought she was confused, but if she was confused, she was confused in Scripture, and seeking Christ. To compare such people to Jeffrey Dahmer or Lesbians is simply inappropriate. Uncharitable.

"Love is kind."

Remember the other beatitudes. "Blessed are the meek" and "Blessed are the peacemakers." You cannot make peace with such haughty answers which assume to know the thoughts of man (as if you were her spirit). And you will not convince me you are being meek. I understand feminists can be obnoxious. I understand they often attack Christ's Church. I'll grant for the moment Cheryl is the High Priest's servant. Why are you cutting her ear off? And what if she is a Christian seeking to know Christ in Word and Sacrament? Then you are offending the least of these. "A bruised reed he shall not break?"

And that leads into my second observation. Perhaps if you treated me with such bombast it would be acceptable. But a twenty six year old girl? Have you no honor?

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

1 - Talk to the funeral home director about the attire of for funerals. This is the beauty of competition - the director knows that if he ticks you off, you may voice your displeasure to your people and they might go elsewhere. The funeral home assists and serves the Church for a funeral - they know that.

2 - Concerns rights, desires, and the office of the Public Ministry. As regards one's vocation - we have no "rights". Right now I am single - I have no "right" to be a husband. Now, God may see fit to place me in such a vocation - (the current plan is August 4th) - but until then, I have no right to that.

Then are are desires. Desires tend to be wrong more often than not in sinful folks. Just because I desire something doesn't mean that it is good - in fact the first sin is couched in terms of desire - Eve saw that the fruit was desirable.

Moreover, focusing on desire can be bad. No matter how much I want give birth to children, it isn't going to happen. That's not who I am, that's not whom God has made me - and to desire such a thing is to despise the Lord who made me.

Rather, we live out our vocation - a vocation to which we were called by God. Our vocation isn't our doing (we lie to our children when we say, "You can be whatever you want to be" - God will call you and make you into whom He wishes you to be -- and while He may give you options, He's still the one doing the calling).

We are to follow the God's lead in our life. Quite often that isn't what my sinful flesh desires. But it is what God has given to me to be and to do - hence - it is where I am to go and what I am to do.

3 - A rule of thumb. If you want to be a bishop - yea, it's a good thing, but you don't understand the burden that the office holds. Delight in your own.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Matthew:

You confuse "love" with simply allowing people to do harmful things without correction. It's a big problem in our culture - which leads to postmodernism (in which words mean nothing), selfishness (in which people focus on themselves over what is true and godly) and finally confuses good with evil and evil with good.

Cheryl posted to my blog, not vice versa. She came to me looking for a debate.

The fact that feminists can be obnoxious is irrelevant. One of my favorite scholars is Camille Paglia. I think she's brilliant. She is also a lesbian feminist athiest - and can be very obnoxious. She would be far less entertaining and provocative were she not so "obnoxious". People who can't handle her acerbity should avoid her lectures. Of course, there are many things I disagree with her on - and on those points I have no choice but to confess what is true, what is taught by Scripture and Mother Church. But it doesn't take away from my respect for her scholarship. I've learned a lot of things from her.

Once again, this is my blog. No-one is forcing you, or Cheryl, or anyone else to read it. You all have engaged me and challenged my arguments (for which I'm grateful). But you simply cannot come into my "home," and engage me in discussion, and then accuse me of being bereft of honor because I debate with her or you.

If my argument is faulty, tear it to shreds. Cite Scripture, the confessions, and church history. If what I say is wrong, it should be a piece of cake to disprove.

But I notice you have no argument against *what* I'm saying, but you don't like *how* I'm saying it.

I'm not arguing in an emotional way, but a rational way. There is a direct correlation between a church's attitude towards homosexuality, abortion, women clergy, and the infallibility of the Scriptures. It's simply a fact. I have not been unkind to Cheryl in the least. It's the content of my argument that she finds offensive.

Finally, I find it insulting that you call Cheryl a "girl." If she's 26 years old and theologically astute enough to debate against ordained clergymen, I don't know why you want to treat her as a juvenile. Deference toward the weaker sex is one thing (of course, I would gladly open the door for her or any other lady regardless of age), but to belittle her intellect as you have done is something entirely different. She's not eight years old.

Finally, being "confused in Christ" is a strange concept. The Arians, who denied the divinity of Jesus, were very devout. We all know Athiests who put Christians to shame with their behavior and care for their neighbors. And yet, being "nice" and holding false doctrine with heartfelt zeal doesn't make it any less diabolical. The devil typically doesn't present himself with fangs and claws. He is seductive. He's "nice." The arguments for women's "ordination" are very appealing - especially to our sense of fairness, of deference to women, and of the church's need for nurturing pastors. It makes good sense right up unto you run into the Lord's prohibition. Ditto for "gay" blessings and all the other gender issues dividing the church today. It would be so much easier for us "mean old" conservatives to let anyone do anything they want. But we're not called upon to take the wide road, but the narrow way.

The problem with those who are "confused" is that they lead others to confusion. Confusion is not the realm of God, but of Satan. If these arguments are not refuted, others will be led to confusion.

Again, can you or Cheryl give me an example of a women pastor in the Scriptures? Can you find any even theoretical examples of women clergy in the Bible for instance with Paul using the words "episcopa" or "presbutera"? Can you give me any examples of women who were ordained by the apostles, or by those whom the apostles ordained?

Matthew N. Petersen said...

I don't know that I want to reply to everything, but one point only. I think my refering to Cheryl as a girl is a dilectical thing. In the Northwest (where I live) everyone is a girl. I'd call my mother a girl. It doesn't necessarialy mean child (though it can.) "Lady" and "woman" are almost never used and sound weird. So, perhaps in the South I would have been insulting her, but in my English that's just how we say female.

Lutheran Woman said...

Thank you all for such well thought out comments. This kind of thing is what I have been looking at for some time now.

saxoniae said...

The Jesus First propaganda sheet that was mailed to the delegates this week slammed Higher Things and recommended that the delegates vote out anyone associated with it (in favor of those who support the synod's national youth gathering). Outrageous.

saxoniae said...

Pr. Petersen, you should ask Cheryl to marry you. Whenever I see one of you post on a blog, the other follows up soon after. :)