So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Genesis 1:27-28).
Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression (I Timothy 2:11-14).
Christ is the creator of all things: “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). The order of creation was anything but random or arbitrary. Like God, who brought it all into existence out of nothing and fashioned it from that which “was without form, and void” (Gen. 1:2), creation was so ordered that the finest Swiss watch or most complex computer system pales in comparison. When Adam heeded the voice of his wife, Eve, who had followed the lead of the serpent (who is the seedbed of disorder and lawlessness) – a creature over which man had been given dominion – God “cursed” the ground/earth, and He warned Eve of her “desire” toward rulership over her husband (Gen. 3:16f). These two disruptions to the created order stand behind and serve as the foundation of the errors that have crept into our Synod; indeed, which have all but overwhelmed our current culture in general! While this cultural concern needs and deserves a thorough hearing in the public square, it is not the main point of this essay, except where it may intersect with matters in the Church.
Thankfully, in 1 Corinthians 14:33, St. Paul brings clarity to the Church’s life in this disordered world when he writes: “For God is not the author of confusion (disorder) but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints” (vs. 33). The disorder and lawlessness brought on by the serpent – as initiated in his subverting God’s order of creation by speaking with the wife rather than Adam – do indeed have a multitude of followers in the world, but in the Church the way of the Lord is clear: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). Earlier he also wrote this important admonition:“Let all things be done for edification (building up)” (1 Cor. 14:26). Included among the all things that St. Paul sets forth in this chapter as “the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37) is this prohibition: “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says” (1 Corinthians 14:34).
The disruption to God’s created order resulting from man’s fall into sin permeates our entire being and reveals our inbred inclination to sin against God. The Confessions of our Church put it succinctly in terms reminiscent of the First Commandment when they confess in the article on Original Sin that all who are naturally born are “without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with the inclination to sin, called concupiscence” (Concordia, AC II, p. 57). This is who we are by virtue of our conception, and there is no denying, ignoring, changing, or escaping it. This inbred absence of “the fear of God” and“trust in God,” coupled with the “inclination to sin,” in both man and woman is the root out of which every sin of omission or commission comes forth out of the heart (Mark 7:19-23).
When we consider this root-bound-heart-problem of man relative to the Lord’s warnings to Adam and Eve in the garden, we see the deep-seated potential for tension, friction, and even outright war for the sake of control. Adam’s passivity in family affairs, a gene still dominant in our own day, coupled with Eve’s desire for what was not given her, also a dominant trait in our day, has taken humanity down two roads which have became increasingly divided in the past two centuries, and there is little to suggest that these diverging roads are changing anytime soon.
Culture’s way, or the world’s way, is to live and let live, or in Biblical terms allow everyone do what is right in his own heart. This is nothing less than the Serpent’s and Eve’s way. The Church’s way, or more pointedly, Christ’s way, is clearly the road less traveled, and yet it is the way of the Order of Creation, and thus, it is the right way.
So, where does that leave us in the LCMS? The evidence set forth in the ACELC’s Fraternal Admonition and further expounded in the document, Service of Women in the Church (Order of Creation), testify that the LCMS has a lot of egg on her face! For as it stands today in the LCMS – as this document points out: “women may serve as elders, congregational presidents and vice-presidents, may assist with communion distribution, and publicly proclaim the Word of God.” How is this not in direct violation of God’s own commandment in 1 Corinthians 14:34, and I Timothy 2:11-14, quoted above?
Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions are clear: life within the Christian congregation is to be governed in accord with the doctrine of the Order of Creation. The Missouri Synod, composed of congregations and pastors, has a long overdue need to repent and return in doctrine and practice on these and other important matters to the One who alone forgives transgressions and calls us to order our lives to His way because He alone is: “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
As we continue in the way of celebrating the resurrection and ascension of the Lord of truth and life throughout this year of our Lord, 2014, I pray many will consider joining the ACELC and stand with us as a beacon on a hill during these darkening days of an increasingly pagan culture and this splintering Church visible which seems bent on jettisoning doctrine after doctrine in the name of political correctness, or sheer folly.
In these latter days, St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians serve us well:“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
Pastor Bruce G. Ley
Documents Chairman, ACELC