A Plea to LC-MS Pastors

Editor’s Note:  This article was prompted by this picture and the conversation taking place here.

God forbids women to speak the lessons in church.  1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-38. Those who say that God doesn’t forbid women to speak the lessons in church (or read the readings, as people today say) appeal to current theologians in our synod to say that this is an open question or adiaphoron.  I don’t need to appeal to all the true Christian men and women until the 20th Century who support my position to refute them.  I appeal to the Scriptures alone, which the LC-MS in the 2nd Article of her constitution makes the sole rule and norm and source of our doctrine.

They argue against the clear Scriptures who say that it is not clear whether God forbids women to speak the lessons in Church.  Here are a few of their arguments.  1. That God’s prohibition for women to teach and his command that they remain silent and learn in quietness and all submission refers only to preaching, or only to the pastoral office itself. To this they add that the Church has had laymen speak the lessons to prove that it is not essential to the pastoral office.  2. That women singing in Church or girls reciting Scripture at a Christmas pageant means they are also allowed to speak the lessons in Church. To this some add the boys in the early Lutheran schools learning to speak the lessons at Matins and Vespers.  3. That letting women speak the lessons in Church helps them get involved and gives them an opportunity to serve their Lord.  4. The Synod has declared, pursuant to a CTCR document, that the Scripture is not clear and that this issue ought to be decided by the congregations.  5. Our condemning women lectors is divisive and asserting personal opinions as the Word of God.


  1. That God’s prohibition for women to teach and his command that they remain silent and learn in quietness and all submission refers only to preaching, or only to the pastoral office itself. To this they add that the Church has had laymen speak the lessons to prove that it is not essential to the pastoral office.


This denies the authority and clarity of the Word of God.  The lessons that are spoken to the whole congregation are what is taught.  It is not just a part of the teaching.  It is the foundation of all the teaching the pastor does.

God’s Word is clear that women are to be silent in the churches.  No such prohibition is given to men.  While most confessional Lutherans consider laymen speaking the lessons to be unwise and confusing these days, having laymen speak the lessons is not sinful and not forbidden, and in fact reinforces the teaching of Scripture that men are the head of their homes and as fathers are specifically told to teach their children. The early Lutherans were free to train young men to lead devotions in their homes, as seminaries are free to have students read the lessons before they are ordained. (Ephesians 6:4)


  1. That women singing in Church or girls reciting Scripture at a Christmas pageant means they are also allowed to speak the lessons in Church.


This argument does violence to the Scriptures.  Paul would not tell Mary not to sing her Magnificat, or forbid Hannah and Deborah theirs songs of praise, or exhort Miriam to stop singing with Moses.  Paul would not tell parents to stop teaching their children Scripture, as Moses commanded parents to do in Deuteronomy 6:6-9. Paul’s words that women are to be silent and not teach, but learn in quietness and all submission, do not do away with Scripture.

God’s Word is clear and it is only ignorance of the Scriptures that would confuse this issue.


  1. That letting women speak the lessons in Church helps them get involved and gives them an opportunity to serve their Lord.


This illustrates the exact problem very well.  Women should be involved in their homes teaching God’s Word, with the husband leading the devotions, as we see in Ephesians 6:4.  Having the women read the lessons publicly contradicts this very order of creation that God has established.

We should not listen to those who tell us that this is a good way to make a woman feel welcome or to get her involved.  It is not a good way because God tells women to learn quietly and in all submission.  A woman speaking the lessons is not learning quietly and in all submission.  We have to repeat this Word of God to them.  We have to speak God’s Word in 1 Tim. 2 and 1 Cor. 14 out loud and not be ashamed of it.  We need to say not ashamedly, but clearly, with gravity, and with fear of God.  We dare not explain God’s Word away.  You cannot hurt Christ’s Lamb by speaking Jesus’ Word.  Christ’s sheep hear His voice and follow him.  (John 10:27-28)

Look, brothers, at the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made us overseers.  We all see it. The broken families.  Children denying the faith in droves.  The husbands apathetic to the Word of God.  The pious wives struggling to teach their children with lazy husbands who gladly obey the feminist goddess who tells them not to rule over their wives with the love and mercy with which Christ rules over us. (Eph. 5:25-28; 1 Pet. 3:7) They need men to speak the lessons at home!

The carnage of lost souls alone must wake us from our stupor.  Now is not the time to politick.  Now is not the time to wait for the right people to gain leadership, and gradually lead people to accept God’s Word through power plays.  Now is the time to visit families and speak boldly what God says and trust that His Word will not return to him empty.  Now is not the time to trust in princes but in the Word of God. (Isaiah 55:10-11)  Remember, “In season and out of season!” (2 Tim. 4:2)


  1. The Synod has declared, pursuant to a CTCR document, that the Scripture is not clear and that this issue ought to be decided by the congregations.


The Word of God to which the Synod and all her pastors pledge undying loyalty cannot be changed.  The 2nd article of the LC-MS constitution says, “The Synod and every member of the Synod, accepts without reservation: 1. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the written Word of God and the only rule and norm of faith and of practice.

This Word of God is clear.  Women are not to teach, they are to be silent in the Churches and to learn in quietness and with all submission.  That is the Word of God that cannot be changed.  This is why this 2nd article of the Synod’s constitution cannot be changed.  God’s Word cannot be changed.

When people say that the Word of God is not clear here they are ignoring the pure Word of God and setting up man-made opinion in place of the Word of God.  It does no good to appeal to synodical theologians who disagree with the Word of God.  They are not allowed to teach as doctrines the commandments of men.  God forbids it. (Matthew 15:9)


  1. Our condemning women lectors is divisive and asserting personal opinions as the Word of God.


Pastors, you are not allowed to allow women to speak the lessons in Church.  It is not loving to allow them to speak the lessons.  It can be cowardice, pride, apathy, or wrong affections, but it is not love. Hurting their feelings will not hurt their faith because the Word of God cannot destroy the faith of God’s children.  That is impossible.  God telling wives to submit to their husbands doesn’t destroy their faith any more than God telling Eve that her husband should rule over destroyed her faith (Gen. 3:16), or any more than God telling husbands to love their wives destroys theirs.  God telling women to be silent in the church and not to usurp authority over men does not hurt their faith.  Neither does it destroy the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:3) The unity of the Spirit is created by the Word of God.  Destroying the unity of the Spirit happens when we disregard the Word of God, as when pastors do not obey their Lord when he tells them through His apostle that women are to be silent in the churches.

Those who have women teach and speak the lessons are causing division among us by setting up a practice contrary to the doctrine we learn in the Bible.  False doctrine and practice divides the Church.  In setting forth the above arguments, they are creating disputes and schisms that the Church has never entertained or been troubled by except by Montanists and other heretics.  And that raises the question, from where do these arguments come today?

They come from feminism, which denies that command which God gave to man when he spoke to woman, “Your husband shall rule over you.”  Some feminist theologians even argue that because the Son is subject to the Father when he submits all things to Him on the Last Day (1 Cor. 15:28), the word “submission” no longer means the willing service and obedience Sarah gave to Abraham when she called him her lord – 1 Peter 3:5-6), because this would apparently deny the equality of the Father and the Son.  But Christ Himself came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)  In making this argument, feminism assaults the final obedience of Christ when he hands all things over to His Father (1 Cor. 15:24-28).  It assaults the lordship of Christ and the example he leaves for husbands and wives in how they ought to live with one another Eph. 5:22-33)

These are the lengths some go to in order to deny the order of creation. Feminists assault the Unity of the Godhead and the lordship of Christ all in order to avoid teaching the order of creation.  And we see all over our churches the results overturning this order has caused.

But there are people telling you that you need to be patient, as if patience means not teaching and continuing to ignore God telling women to be silent in the churches.  When God tells pastors to be patient, he tells them to be patient in teaching (2 Tim. 4:2).  When a pastor doesn’t teach that women should be silent and thus not read the lessons, he is not being patient.  He is letting the devil teach Christ’s sheep that women should not be silent in the churches, as we hear all around us today.

We live on every Word that comes from the mouth of God.  There is a final argument some make, namely that this issue is not something we should worry about while there are other greater issues at stake.  What other issues?  Closed Communion?  We practice Closed Communion to protect Christ’s flock from the evil leaven of false doctrine (Gal. 5:9; 1 Cor. 1:10; 5:6).  If we allow the evil leaven in we are not practicing Closed Communion.

What other issues?  Is it that we cannot speak this Word of God until we speak other words that are more important?  But Jesus teaches us to keep all things he commanded us (Matthew 28:20), and we not only do not keep Jesus’ word when we have women speak, we are teaching against his Word, and opposing Christ Himself. I beg you to think soberly on this.

Is there another issue?  What of the broken families I mentioned above?  This is in large part caused by the spirit whose denial of the order of creation leads to having women teach and speak the lessons.  What of the Biblical ignorance we see all around us?  This is caused so often by the Word of God being softened so that people learn to ignore it and think it irrelevant to their lives, as it is being softened and downright ignored in the issue of women speaking the lessons.  What of the worship wars, and our attempt to get people who have adopted the worship forms of sectarians to adopt any sort of traditional order for the sake of Christian discipline and good order (1 Cor. 14:40; Eptiome FC X.3-5)?  But it is precisely in the context of forbidding women to speak in the Church that Paul in 1 Cor. 14 tells us to do all things decently and in good order.  If we cannot get this right, what order do we have?

Or is the issue that we would lose members if we speak God’s Word on this?  Because we know, as the children of God, that the remnant that remains when the Mammon is gone, when our institutions have utterly collapsed, when the walls of Jerusalem have, as it were, fallen, this remnant will obey God, and out of love for women, children, and God himself, not allow women to read the lessons.  The remnant’s men will declare the works of God to the generation following, with their women and baptized children speaking beside them and blending with their voice in a harmony that the devil can’t divide because God’s Word cannot be broken.  (Isaiah 40:8; John 10:35)

As the feminists hate us when we say, “Man up!”, so I exhort you, “Be men!” (1 Cor. 16:13) Tell our seminaries that you require them to teach this to our future pastors.  This is not an open question.  This is not something up for each congregation to do what is right in its own eyes (Josh. 17:6)  This is not something we ask the CTCR to give an opinion on.  We know the answer.  God’s Word is clear.  Our unity is not based upon the decrees of men, but on the Word of God that has so often shown us our own errors and led us out of darkness into the light of the truth of the Gospel.

We must obey God rather than men.  We must learn to love as men who obey God, who rule over their wives as Christ does, with love, and therefore do not permit Christian women to rule over other wives’ husbands. Women are to be silent in the Churches.  God says this.  He forbids them from speaking the lessons in Church.  Excusing this by saying that it was a part in a dramatic reading or with good motives or whatever else the devil conjures up to sully the simplicity of our faith is not to be tolerated or defended in the Church which submits to Christ in everything.  (Eph. 5:24)

Preach the Word, and risk all for it.  All we have is the Word of God.  Suffer for it, and you will love Christ’s flock.   Do not reduce God’s Word to a false gospel that does not give you a delight in the Law of God.  You are pastors, and God commands you to speak His Word on penalty of death.  That’s a threat, and not from me. (Ezekiel 3:18)  But hear also His blessing, “Those who turn many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.”  (Daniel 12:3)  Therefore, brethren, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven. (Matthew 5:16).





A Plea to LC-MS Pastors — 204 Comments

  1. Scripture has spoken. Or perhaps it is wishy-washy, vague and the entire Church on earth was wrong about this women’s issue for over 5000 years, treating gifted women unfairly. Perhaps we know better than the Apostles, Church Fathers, and Lutheran Fathers who did not allow it. How could the Disciples and all of them have screwed up so much from day 1?

    I don’t know how anyone can seriously believe that a woman serving Communion, and in the public Service giving children’s sermons, and reading the sermons and lessons of the Scripture -is NOT taking position of authority over a man and attending to the Office of preaching and teaching -which is forbidden in Scripture. I love my wife, my daughter and the women of my congregation too much to disregard God’s Word and dishonor women so much. Yes, it is also dishonoring the vocation of women!

    @RevJimO #95
    Brother, go back and read what you wrote. ‘Reading to someone is NOT teaching them anything’ ?! I’m sorry but that is absurd.

    Also, I have 24 boys in my acolyte corp and 0 girls. Teaching boys to serve as men, to serve and honor women, and because the VERY REASON FOR ACOLYTES is to nurture some who may be Called into the Office that they see what I do. Of course these boys just don’t light candles. Even my little grandson knows it would be really wrong and weird to have a girl/women vested in the Chancel area. (Quia subscription as both congregation and Pastor to the BOC -so vestments aren’t optional and even though it is EXPLICITLY stated there, people re-interpret it just like the Holy Writ.) So ironically, the issue of girl acolytes is not unrelated.

  2. @helen #99

    Helen, nearly all of Bach’s pieces written in that time of his life were to be sung during church services. He was the cantor.

    “If we just went back to the understanding that the chancel is reserved for the Pastor, as it was in my youth, we’d eliminate a lot of extraneous “stuff”!” I appreciate your wisdom and passion for this topic. I LOVED your closing remark “[Attendance was about 95% of membership. Instead of pleading for “more children” maybe there should be a campaign for more members to be present in a pew on Sunday morning. Who knows? All else might follow!]” I totally agree! The church should be more intentional to speak with and reconnect those who have been allured by the culture around them to stop living out their faith.

    Part of my confusion about this whole women teaching argument is that the photo that started this controversy was of a woman speaking 2 verses from the balcony, just as a female soloist would sing two verses as part of the St. Matthew Bach chorale from the balcony. She wasn’t preaching. Nor giving a litany. Nor even doing the entirety of a single reading. Just a small portion from the balcony. And it saddened me to see personal attacks against her, because of doctrinal positions argued without understanding the full context. Thanks for following up Helen! I love your passion for the Gospel!

  3. @helen #88

    Helen (and Pastor Prentice)

    Acts 2:42 has always served me as the immediate answer of the Church following Pentecost, regarding our debates about frequency of the Eucharist.

    Our beloved Confessions – Ap. XXIV:1 – likewise render moot the issue of frequency. As to those who for “whatever” reason disagree, please note the text says “The Sacrament is offered to those who wish to use it . . .” I never turned that into a “Thou shalt” – however, I did notice that once we had the Sacrament every week, attendance to the Holy Table grew. No one is forced to accept the Lord’s Body and Blood for forgiveness, but it is my duty as Pastor to have it available.

    As to Matins, which I love as do you, the Orthodox have a very neat and orderly way of handling it. Matins is at 8:30 or 9am, the Divine Liturgy with the Eucharist follow immediately. They don’t force anyone to come to Matins, or the Sacrament, for that matter, but the two times I saw it, the place was virtually packed. They did the coffee/food thing after the Divine Liturgy, which is, I assume, a boon to those who love Church potlucks! Heh! Seems that would be an easy solution for us who use the Divine Liturgy as well. FWIW Pax – jb

  4. 1st & 2nd Timothy was written by someone pretending to be Paul. It is not God’s words. It’s devil’s words. Therefore the idea that women should be quiet in the church is a devil’s idea.

  5. I speak not of the content you speak Mr. Prues, but your tone. I have read this thread, twice, and I have meditated and prayed because of the inner turmoil within my own being – as having been placed into the Office of Holy Ministry myself. I also researched; looked up and read your references; and gave more thought to this response which I am compelled to do.

    What troubled me most was how familiar your ‘arguing’ was, even in print. What was unsettling, to me, is your tone and how you thrust your point; as I too appreciate that it is in print and not face-to-face this discussion has gone on (yes, I have been nose to nose with a Prues and the conversation was indeed fruitless…) But the tone with which you thrust your “Plea to LC-MS Pastors” frightens me. I have seen it before. And it is radical.

    As I believe that Holy Scripture interprets itself: your points regarding the treatment of women severely lack the example of the Samaritan woman at the well. Oh how I fear for her very life had it been you who would have met her and knew her situation! As you repeatedly cast words of “prohibition”, “silent”, and even your use of “violence” in your so called “Plea”, it depicts a vein flowing through your Prues body to radically change not only millions of disciples; but overthrow a church body AND deny Christ’s command to love one another.

    The very idea to cast women in such a light as you’ve presented here, sets a tone of hate; and that is radically opposed to the love of Christ.

    And yes, I believe, teach, and confess what our Lord has spoken to us regarding women in the church… I just don’t use a whip.

  6. The author doesn’t even acknowledge that there are widows and single women in church.

  7. @Pastor Jordan McKinley #48

    ” We may yet witness the day in which God raises up sons of Luther from stones.”

    @mbw #90

    ” Unfortunately, I am afraid that only poverty, war and persecution will clarify this particular issue of natural law, even for the Lutherans.”

    It’s coming. The church beauracracy and denominations will fall as a winnowing continues.

    Possible outcomes:

    One or two geographically-located congregations will exist in large cities and one in each smaller municipality. This will force the truth of Word and Sacrament to be the focus.

    Luther’s correct exposition of Scripture will be highly valued yet his name will not be on the church, as he desired it not to be.

  8. @Rev. Weinkauf #101

    “I don’t know how anyone can seriously believe…”

    I teach a large group of men and women, on Sunday mornings, in a Bible class. Currently, we are working through Paul’s letter to the Romans – verse by verse; chapter by chapter. Almost every Sunday, I invite people to read sections of the chapter, out loud, and then I teach the explanation of what was read. It’s my position that such reading is, in fact, reading and only reading. My teaching is teaching. I distinguish between the two in Bible Class and in a public worship. The reading of the lectionary does not include extra comments by the lay reader. It does not ask for a short sermonette or commentary of what is read. It is not “noise” as you suggest. It is God’s Word being read, and it is part of our corporate worship to hear it.

    Regarding girl acolytes, we do not share the same belief or practice. We have both boy and girl acolytes; each of whom wear robes. In your setting, which you know better than any of us as the pastor there, it’s “weird and wrong.” In my setting, it’s neither “weird,” and certainly not taught as “wrong.” We know our setting better than you, because we are the pastors in our place.

  9. @Rev. Philip Rittner #105

    Brother, for one who speaks of tone in writing, perhaps we ought to examine yours. Let’s take a look at the language you choose to use: turmoil, troubled, unsettling, frightens, radical, fear, overthrow, hate.

    If this article is creating such anxiety for you, perhaps a cigar and a stiff drink will take the edge off? Or, maybe your usage of such language is for the purpose of ‘fear-mongering’ and/or creating a straw-man? I hope that is not the case, as I think you may be over-reacting. Maybe you’re letting your personal experience with a member of the Preus family cloud your judgment – a bit of bias leaking through on account of declaring someone guilty by association (in this case familial)? I have only personally met and spoken with one individual from the Preus family, and he was quite nice.

    Nothing written in this article is remotely controversial from a historical perspective regarding Church practice.

    If it had been written pre-1960, no-one would bat and eyelash at the content of the article.

    Relax a bit brother. And I mean that in the kindest way.

    @Germ Check #104

    This made my day. Ha.

  10. @Rev. Philip Rittner #105

    Rev. Rittner, your post constitutes conduct unbecoming a pastor in Christ’s church. You don’t engage in a theological discussion of the theological issues Rev. Mark Preus raised. Instead, you attack his person and smear his family. But perhaps you wrote in haste. Had you bothered to read the heading of the article you would have seen that the man you identify as “Mr. Prues” is Pastor Mark Preus.

  11. This thread is an example of why a misapplication of the law of love is the sworn enemy of the truth. “It’s not what you said, but how you said it.” This is the judgment from the tribunal of non-judgmentalism. “I have a problem with your tone.” In other words, “I’m more interested in my impression of how you said what you said rather than the content of what you said.” Sure, you can say that you read and re-read this thread and the Scripture passages. But if you are not coming to a knowledge of the truth, then what is the point of all your learning? (2 Tim 3:7)

    Further, this is clear that feminism has completely consumed so many of the talking points in what are suppose to be theological discussions. This was a plea given to Pastors, namely men of God who are called to proclaim and assert with boldness. But all true assertions are moot if they offend the sensitivities of women. Forget about whether such true assertions actually teach from the mouth of God what womanhood in general is, taken from the specific vocation of wife and mother. No, this is not how the effeminate tribunal of relevance and non-judgmentalism sees it. Every woman is her own individual, and true assertions cannot be true if they don’t satisfy the existential desires and needs of these individual women. If such true assertions do not apologize for not explicitly addressing the concerns of widows, single women, single mothers, women without children, etc etc etc, then they need not apply.

    It is amazing how feminism has taken hold of our LCMS culture more than we can even recognize. It has affected the way people argue. Having broken from the effeminate culture of the Papacy, which refused marriage (and therefore patriarchy) to ministers and insisted that such teachers of Scripture cannot assert what the Scriptures clearly say, but must submit the words God put in their mouths to the magisterium of Mother Church; we have now returned to an effeminate clergy who must seek the approval of their “tone” from the sensitive judgments of women, again throwing out the clarity of Scripture to rely on the magisterium of synod, which is more afraid of hurting the feelings of the ladies aid than standing on the same clear words of God their fathers stood on.

  12. @RevJimO #108

    I was always taught that God’s Word is a living Word. That it does what it says and that it does not return void. Therefore, it teaches, condemns, forgives, moves, changes, and creates whenever it is simply spoken, read or proclaimed word for word from the Bible. I was taught this in LCMS churches and schools, but with some of the diversity of teaching I have found among these institutions over time, perhaps I was taught wrong or maybe I misunderstood. But I don’t think so, Holy Scripture is so clear on these things it is challenging even for men to screw that up.

    I believe that the Triune God set up an order where Christ submits to the Father by veiling his glory in human flesh. I believe that Jesus called men to represent him as the groom of the church and take headship over their brides. I believe Jesus called his beloved sisters to veil their glory by submitting to the headship of their husbands. I believe this is how Christ has ordered his church and why he has chosen not to permit his sisters to be in headship over their husbands. I believe that when husbands disobey Christ and allow wives to be their heads they confess that Jesus is not their head.

  13. LCMS members’ confusion over the role of men and women in the church makes sense because as has been the case throughout the history of fallen man it is obvious we do not understand or accept our Lord’s teaching on headship, obedience and submission. God says I am your King. We say we want our own kings, bylaws and commissions. God says obey me. We say we don’t have to obey God because he didn’t really mean what he plainly said. God says submit to your husbands as the church submits to Christ and Christ to his Father. We say “liberation” demands that we do not submit, rather that we “freely” fulfill our own desires, slaves to sin that our old Adams are.

    Adam was the first to in effect say, “I don’t have to be the head of my wife Eve.” Adam the man was not the head of Eve he had to be, so Jesus had to take his place as the head man on the cross.

    Today our old sinful Adam still confesses, “I don’t have to listen to God’s Word. Anyone, including our wives, can get up and act in the stead and by the command of Christ, no submission required.” Or “You have no scriptural authority over me. I don’t have to listen to the clear words of Holy Scripture. I have the best hermeneutic scholars in the world not to mention the bylaws, the council of presidents or majority of delegates on my side.” The more things change the more they stay the same.

  14. @RevJimO #108

    It’s my position that such reading is, in fact, reading and only reading. My teaching is teaching. I distinguish between the two in Bible Class and in a public worship.

    But in public worship, the reader of the lessons is leading in the service.
    What you need to distinguish between, I think, is that prominence in the chancel and the seat in Bible class. I will read from the seat (and comment here); I will not read from the lectern.

    [I did it once because it was LWML Sunday and I was local president. I felt out of place.] Frankly I would prefer that the Pastor do all the lessons.

    I was accustomed to being “up front” in a public school classroom and at Zone and local LWML so speaking in public was not the problem.

  15. Sigh.

    Again, as with Pastor Rojas’ article several weeks ago, the number of comments here has gone far beyond what might be necessary with a very well-written, orthodox Lutheran article. But Pastor Preus obviously gored a number of oxen in writing it, and so – the deluge of comments.

    My take is that folks need to justify the things they are already doing, or a part of, and here comes Pastor Preus in clear teaching with clear words, kinda sorta getting folks all defensive. Norm, whom I know personally, and Pastor Scheer, are quite tolerant men, I must say. I do believe Brother Tim would have roared into the comments much sooner than did Pastor Scheer, so do not take advantage of Pastor Scheer’s good nature.

    As always, it seems, the simpler and clearer the article, the more the comments. Almost an unwritten rule at BJS.

    Until I got to Brother Rolf’s “comparison,” I was getting the yawns. I was on my night-cap brewski, considering a before-midnight bedtime. After I blew my beer at his little comparison between Bohlmann and the Sainted Robert, and cleared my sinuses, I decided to get a replacement night-cap and read the rest, chiming in as I did about Communion frequency by way of saying good-night.

    But it went on today, and has taken several nasty turns, and all I could think of are the Words of Our Lord – “It shall not be so among you.”

    Some folks need to take a deep breath and step back.

    Snide comments and ad hominem detract, not from the intended target, but from the one uttering or writing them. It is an immediate sign of insecurity and perhaps, a lack of thorough study or knowledge. While it makes no sense to lash out like that at a brother or sister in the faith, it happens, because our Old Adam’s are very good swimmers, to quote someone famous I can’t quite remember. Heh! Before you write, thrust his head below the water and hold it there for 30 seconds, take several deep breaths, and remember that we are all here to testify to the grace and glory of the Living God in Christ to a dying world.

    If something as simple and clear and orthodox as Pastor Preus’ article somehow has our goat bleating, then your first order of business is to examine what you believe the Scriptures to say – in truly honest fashion – without the coloring of “this is how I/we have always done done it.” Master that little trick, and comment-fests like this go way down in numbers to what one might reasonably expect they would be, eh Pastor Rojas? 😉

    Pax Christi – jb

    Pastor Jeff Baxter

  16. For those who think that the reading of the Scriptures is not preaching:

    Acts 15:21 (ESV)
    21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”

  17. Also here is some history on our drift on this subject:

    The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) commands that “Then shall the Minister read” the lessons in their services (pages 10-11, 20-21, 34, 42, 47). It also uses the language of “lessons” (pages 34, 42, 47, 159-161). The Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book of 1918 says the same. Lutheran Worship introduces the concept of “readings” into LCMS hymnals. It also removes the rubric commanding the public reading by the Minister, but maintains the command that the Minister pronounce “This is the Word of the Lord.” (page 140 for example). Hymnal Supplement 98 follows along the same, by only assigning the readings to an Assistant (page 6) and removes any indication that the Pastor should even announce the Word of the Lord. Lutheran Service Book follows in this same pattern of allowing for any assistant to conduct the readings.
    Non-LCMS hymnals also show some things, for instance in his German Mass, Luther has the priest reading the Scriptures publicly (AE 53:72-74). The Concordia Hymnal (1932 by Augsburg Publishing House) of the more liberal streams of Lutheranism both uses the language of “lesson” (page 401) and has the Minister conduct the readings (page 401). By the 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship this pattern had changed a little. The language of “lesson” is retained, but now a “reader” is the one given to read it (page 62). The pastor is assigned the reading of the Gospel lesson (page 63). The Wisconsin Synod 1993 Christian Worship retains the language of “lessons” (page 17) and maintains the use of a Minister to do so (page 17-18). The Evangelical Lutheran Synod’s 1996 Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary mirrors that of Christian Worship, maintaining the use of “lesson” and also the pastor proclaiming them (pages 45-46). Of special note in the WELS and ELS hymnals is that they assign the Gospel specifically to the pastor but do not specifically mention the pastor for the other readings, neither do they offer any other option.

  18. “The New Westminster Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship” says that the practice of lay readers came to be in 1972 after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council began to happen in practice.

  19. And that distinction between preacher and hearer is Biblical.

    Revelation 1:3 (ESV)
    3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

  20. Then of course there is the pastoral admonition of St. Paul to St. Timothy:
    1 Timothy 4:13 (ESV)
    13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

  21. To be, or not to be heterodox- that is the question:
    Whether ’tis nobler in the bond of peace to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous disunity
    Or to take arms against a sea of false practices,
    And by opposing end them. To leave- to walk away-
    No more; and by taking leave to say we end
    The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
    To the conscience. ‘Tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wish’d. To leave- to walk away.
    Perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub!
    For in that departing what dreams may come
    When we have finally rejected this mortal brew,
    This wresting of control must give us pause.

  22. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #119

    Just wondering for clarity’s sake. Are you also condemning female soloists singing part of scripture, like the St. Matthew’s passion which was performed by the church in 1700’s and beyond? Should women be trusted to respond in the Psalmody, or is that also teaching?

  23. @Average Joe #126

    That tired and pat response has been answered in the article and several times since. To sing is not to address the assembly and teach. It’s to participate with the saints together in the confession of Christ.

  24. @Elizabeth Peters #127

    How is singing any different than reading? How is reading not participating with the saints together in the confession of Christ as part of the priesthood of all believers? Do they not both glorify God?

    Sorry if I sound like a broken record, I just never really got an answer to my statement. Thanks for taking the time to respond!

  25. @Average Joe #128

    Of course they both glorify God. So does preaching the sermon. So does presiding at the Sacrament. So does the pronouncement of absolution. The pastor and people together glorify God. The difference is that the Pastor addresses the congregation in God’s stead to teach them. That’s what happens in the reading of the lesson, after which the pastor pronounces, This is the Word of the Lord. Singing is the confession of the congregation, what we call sacrificial in distinction to sacramental, whether sung by one or many. It’s perfectly appropriate for women to sing because they are part of the royal priesthood. It’s not appropriate for them to teach by reading the lessons because they are not called to teach and preach and stand before the congregation to speak with authority.

  26. I, too, wonder about this: is it alright for women to sing hymns (since they *should* teach)? I don’t understand point 2. “That women singing in Church or girls reciting Scripture at a Christmas pageant” is okay.

  27. @Elizabeth Peters #129

    So why is it appropriate for them to sing part of the lesson like the Psalmody? What makes the Psalms a confession? Are they not lessons from God’s word?

    I don’t mean to sound petty, and I apologize if it comes across this way. But it seems like we’re making overly legalistic lines on adiophra issues by forcing an over-reactionary paradigm on some scripture verses. The Lutheran church has felt comfortable with women singing part of the St. Matthew’s Passion Narrative (Gospel Lesson) for at least around 300 years, likely more than that. I’m having trouble understanding how singing automatically makes you in public confession, and where that’s found in scripture. Thanks again for your response.

  28. I may be wrong, but I think most LCMS pastor still reserve the reading of the Gospel for their office. Why have some pastors who have handed over the reading of Old Testament lessons and Epistles to lay readers not also handed over the Gospel lesson?

  29. What parts of St. Matthew’s Passion are assigned to women? There’s an interesting question. I believe they sing chorales, which are like hymns or dramatic responses of the soul to the words of Scripture. But the words of the text are always sung by men to my knowledge.

    But that aside, it’s not helpful to compare a woman speaking the word of God from the lectern to women joining their voices with the priesthood of believers to praise God by confessing their faith. What faith? The faith that rests on the authoritative word. Thus the one reading it should be one whom God permits to exercise authority. Paul’s words have meaning. All I’m hearing are arguments for imagining they don’t. It’s really quite silly to try to force the Bible to justify what folks are already doing.

  30. It would be ok if the ladies would chant the weekly lessons. Everybody knows that.

  31. @James Warble #134

    @James Warble #134

    @Elizabeth Peters #132

    I mean… Since every since there were cantors in the 1700’s who were responsible for assigning the text to song Lutheranism has felt comfortable with them taking part in it, and perhaps before that but the evidence isn’t there.

    @james warble
    A lot of Bach’s pieces are loaded with female vocalist solos reciting scripture (BWV 244 has female vocalists reciting Matthew 26:14-16,24-29, and much more beyond that. They sing the direct words of scripture). During the 1700’s music was extremely helpful for making sure that the Word of God could be heard throughout the sanctuary and it allowed the priesthood of all believers to share in there gifts. So the cantors would assign it to laity vocalists in music. There would not be “Gospel reading” like we currently have, but instead music like Bach’s oratorios. It is through this lens that the LCMS has historically seen the reading of scripture. As part of a gift that the Priesthood of all Believers shares. I understand struggling if it’s being communicated that woman are superior because they can and have the freedom to read scripture as part of the priesthood, but I struggle to see that being the case. Especially when the photo that caused this whole controversy was of a woman who was in the balcony dramatically reading 2 verses.

    The reason I keep bringing this up, is because if you’re going to be consistent with your teaching, you should condemn Bach and the historic Lutheran church for this practice. Recognition of the wider gifts given throughout the body of Christ is a good thing. Women gifted with beautiful voices can use their gifts to encourage the body. This isn’t a bad thing.

  32. @Average Joe #102

    Helen, nearly all of Bach’s pieces written in that time of his life were to be sung during church services. He was the cantor.

    Bless you, my son! I was somewhat aware of that. 🙂

    But did his choirs displace pulpit, lectern and altar, as I have seen choirs do here? Choirs are beautiful, in their place; I would even like them to sing Bach…from the balcony! [Or the transept.]

    I did not see the picture you refer to. Since the whole discussion has been about women in the chancel, I don’t see why a picture of a woman in the balcony would be relevant. [If I had seen it, I might have said so then.]

    Have a blessed Holy Week!

  33. @Average Joe #136

    Mr. Joe,

    No. The Christian Church reserved the reading of the lessons for pastors and men preparing to be pastors until the second great wave of feminism swept across the Enlightened world in the mid-twentieth century, a wave that has brought us the destruction of the family and the complete confusion of male and female roles in the world and in the Church.

    You should know this. The interpreting away of basic and abundantly clear Scripture that says women are to be silent in the Church could only happen in such a context. A woman is given by God the great and beautiful right to learn in Church, to confess the faith with her fellow Christians, and to be a helper to her husband if God so blesses her. She is not given to preside over the assembly. Reading the lessons is presiding. It’s taking a leadership role. This is as obvious a statement as that yellow is yellow. And there’s not much we can argue against those who assert that yellow is blue.

  34. Dear Average,

    Can it be demonstrated that women sang under Bach? I was under the impression that he used the boys in the school to supply treble voices for the performance of cantatas and motets in the church. Does anyone know for certain?

  35. @Elizabeth Peters #139

    @Weedon #141

    Female vocalists were common at the time, his 2nd wife was a court singer and its assumed that Bach used the best talent that he could at the time. Also, if you know his pieces, you know that it would be extremely difficult to train a boy to sing with the vibrato needed to adequately handle the solos. I don’t have definitive proof that he didn’t though, so technically it is possible (although I assume his manuscripts would NOT have been marked soprano but Treble.

    Elizabeth, the lesson wasn’t traditionally always read. That was actually adopted later. It used to just be sung/performed. This isn’t out of an idea of “The church is stealing the pastoral authority and teaching” or “I’m going to steal the pastoral role and leadership” but instead out of a recognition that the keys have been given to both the pastoral office and the church, so that we may all rejoice in the Gospel using whatever gifts we have been given. If we’re going to be legalistic about women’s silence in church why stop the line at reading the Gospel? Why not step to the confessions that they make? They’re both down the same biblicist mentality. Thanks for taking the time to reply!

  36. @Germ Check #104
    ->Germ Check.
    Where would you get the idea that Paul did NOT write the Pastoral letters and 1 Corinthians 14? One must substantiate statements that go against the Confession of the Lutheran Church and against the Lutheran Doctrine as in the Formula of Concord.

  37. I asked Daniel Zager, who would surely know if anyone would. He said I could share his answer:

    With respect to Bach’s performing forces in the sacred cantatas: we probably know the most about his Leipzig cantatas. Especially in his first three years in Leipzig (1723-26) Bach was particularly active in composing cantatas–on an almost weekly basis. His sopranos were for the most part boys from the St. Thomas school. Andrew Parrott, in his fabulous book The Essential Bach Choir, tells us that boy’s voices tended to break significantly later than is the case today, more like at age 17. Thus, Bach could have boy sopranos with quite strong voices, and with some years of musical training. Sometimes we look at particular cantatas and wonder if a specific aria could have been sung by a boy soprano. A case in point might be the cantata BWV 51 “Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen” (1730), scored for soprano, trumpet, strings, and continuo. It could have been intended for a particularly fine choirboy, or the part might have been taken by a male falsettist. Falsettists would have been known in the Leipzig opera company, which, however, by this time was no longer active. So the choice would not merely have been between choirboys and female sopranos; we must take into account as well the possibility of male falsettists (in our day we hear this type of voice most often in early music groups devoted to Renaissance polyphony). One notable female soprano known to Bach was Faustina Bordoni, wife of the composer Johann Adolf Hasse. Both were active in the opera company in Dresden, and we know that Bach would go to Dresden to hear Italian opera. But so far as I know there is no evidence at all that Bach had access to such well known and accomplished sopranos in Leipzig for his cantata performances. For the most part he depended on his students at the Thomasschule, the possibilty of an occasional male falsettist not being out of the question.


  38. @Pastor Prentice #5

    > in good order

    This is the entire thing. It is about what is NORMAL in the church.

    Even though rebels will always try to drive a wedge, as they do against all truth, there will always be a relationship between normal and normative. But to understand this requires good faith, which rebels and anarchists lack.

    What drove the feminist trends in the MO synod? Was it necessity?

    I don’t think so.

  39. @mbw #145
    Dear MBW,
    Good order…well, not easy, eh?
    As you can tell, we theologians differ on this issue. Ok, WAIT, The Book of Concord does not speak of it, assumes “good order” and the practice that was active in the Holy Roman Church. And we fall back to Holy Scripture (which we are debating the exegesis), yet, even Rome now allows for the practice, oops.
    Yes, the Council of Laodicia bans the practice (and female singing too, only canonical singing), we do not follow that, because it also bands having beers with the brothers.

    What drives the feminist trends? I think that comes because many of the ladies want to get involved more, not just outside but in the Church.

    I will continue to study, debate, certainly wish the brotherly exchanges would be “nicer”…

    Maybe in a few years, my ides of worship will take hold (remember, I debate worship from praise).

    Come into the Church, all ladies, be silent, no one really needs to sing anyway (men too). I chant all portions, just come into worship and be fed, Word, Sacrament (I do it all anyway). I will also pray for you all (write your requests down before).

    Hmmm, in reality, the only portions we agree the people should partake verbally in the service is the Lord’s Prayer (history I think) and Credal Confession. In reality, Confession and Absolution, well, “as of old”, in “good order”, you visit me first, we have Private Confession and we move on.

  40. @Pastor Prentice #146

    And we fall back to Holy Scripture (which we are debating the exegesis), yet, even Rome now allows for the practice, oops.

    It matters? When we are celebrating the fact that “Rome” hasn’t dictated our practice for about 500 years?

    [Rev. Fiene does sarcasm better, except when he tries it in the Federalist.]

    There are plenty of places for “women to get involved” outside the chancel. Come in, sit in a pew and sing, or sing in the choir. Despite “Average Joe” trying to make an issue of that, it has never been proscribed in the Lutheran church, even when the lyric is a direct quote from Scripture.

    The point is not what a woman is saying, but where she is saying it. She can speak or sing Scripture with the choir or the congregation. She does not need to be taking over the chancel. You look old enough to know better!

    [They ordained you, Rev. Prentice, and you attend classes and winkels, which shows a desire for continuing your education, and I appreciate that, because some SMP’s don’t think they can learn anything from their brother pastors. But spare me the “we theologians” till you can explain the New Testament from the Greek.]

  41. Please accept my apology to both Pastor Preus and your good readers for my remarks.

  42. @helen #147Dear Helen,
    01) First off, I am not SMP, DELTO is alternate route. I am just as ordained as all men in the debate.
    02) Now as to the learned-ness of that, you do not know what I have learned, or my knowledge of Greek and Latin, or Hebrew and German at this moment. Is it good, no where close to a Just, Scaer, Klenig, etc. OK…NO WHERE close…
    03) As for Rome, yes, we are Reformed, but we did not throw out all the good and common understanding. We still confess the Church catholic. We still accept Councils and all Holy Rome’s “good stuff”.
    04) Reminder, I am not SMP, I can come and be your pastor someday via call. That would be a hoot…eh? We would have some good conversations.

    Blessings to you and all…may your Holy Week be a blessed time as you and I and all look to the Cross, the throne where our Lord goes…to die, then on the 3rd day rise.

    Guten Nachmittag.

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