Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Revelation and the Ordination of Women

"I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols."
-Revelation 2:20

In its proper and most common sense, a prophet isn't someone who tells the future, but rather simply proclaims the Word of God. Under the New Testament, that means a preacher, proclaiming the Word of God and teaching the church. As the Head of His body, the Church (Eph. 5:23), Jesus didn't leave His sheep without shepherds. Rather, He established government within the church, according to which (Eph. 4:11-12), "...He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ..."

One of the requirements our Head laid out for a teacher is in I Timothy 2:11-12, "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet." So, not sexism, not patriarchy, not tradition, not the Pope, but the divine Head of the Church, has determined that a woman is not to teach in His Church. Notice how exactly the actions of Jezebel in Revelation 2:18-29 are the opposite of the expectations in I Timothy. Therefore, He has a controversy with this Jezebel (probably not her real name, but rather an analogy with the original Jezebel of I Kings 16:29ff) for usurping a place that isn't properly hers. This rebel in the pulpit leads her people to spiritual adultery (perhaps with the literal kind as a consequence), and Jesus holds the sinful toleration of her against the church of Thyatira. He warns of the judgment that will fall, not just on Jezebel, but on those who approve her ministry (verse 22). Think of the Christian Scientists, founded by Mary Baker Eddy, and the Seventh-Day Adventists, founded by Ellen White. Not every heretical group is founded by a woman, of course, but every church founded by a woman is heretical. "You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?" (Matthew 7:16).

While the controversy of Jesus is with the female pastors, notice His anger at those that tolerate them. He doesn't offer to allow the excuse of political correctness. He doesn't pat anyone on the back for modernity. He doesn't say that social pressure makes it OK. He judges them for rebelling against His government in the church.

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