Is the LCMS Becoming a Feminist Synod?

No. The LCMS is not becoming a feminist synod. It already is.

The LCMS has long abandoned the order of creation. We followed the path led by the feminist movement of the world in women ceasing to submit to their husbands and thus demanding the right to vote apart from their husband’s headship. There should be no surprise at where we are since that convention at Denver in 1969.

Many congregations have women lectors, that is women reading the lessons from Scripture, even though Saint Paul writes under inspiration from the Holy Spirit, “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. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” (I Tim. 2:11-14) He also writes, “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” (I Cor. 14:33-35)

I know these Scripture passages don’t conform to the norms of society. They are not politically correct. But these Scripture passages are for the church – for believers who hear the voice of their Good Shepherd. Christians will follow and believe what God says because we know that He knows better than we do. He’s created us and instituted the church for us, so it is not ours to change His institutions regardless of how the world changes.

I have never heard of this happening in the LCMS, but up here in Lutheran Church-Canada, the daughter synod of the LCMS, we even have female seminary professors. We have women preparing men for the ministry. They are teaching them Old and New Testament theology, and pastoral counseling. How someone can construe this as not teaching men or exercising authority over them is the old, “Did God really say?” question once again.

We have women distributing the elements of the Lord’s Supper in many congregations. They lay their hands on men being ordained into the ministry. They teach Bible classes, teach through writing devotionals and books, teaching at pastors’ conferences and conventions.

Is it any wonder we have emotion-driven “contemporary worship,” “comfort dogs,” and “church teddy bears?” Men have abdicated their role as spiritual heads of their houses and their congregations and women have usurped that role which is not only not given to them by their Creator but explicitly forbidden them.

Does Scripture say anything about women teaching? Yes, it does. In Titus 2 we hear concerning older women, “They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”

Women are to teach their own children and grandchildren as Lois and Eunice taught Timothy when he was a child (II Tim. 1:4). They are to teach the young women, and specifically in Titus, it says they should teach the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands.

So we don’t have women’s ordination? So what. That is no victory. That’s not even forbidden in Scripture! Yet, we have present in our midst all those things that are forbidden by Scripture, and think somehow we are on the high moral ground over the ELCA or NALC because we don’t have women’s ordination? For shame.

Repent. Who are you to raise yourself above the Word of God? “Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” (I Cor. 14:36-38) Yes, the Holy Spirit says through Saint Paul that if you do not recognize these commands to be from the Lord, you are not to be recognized. You have broken fellowship by your error. I pray that you will repent and cease from following the feminism of the world and turn to the truth of God’s Word.

About Pastor Johannes Nieminen

Pastor Johannes (John) Nieminen serves Zion Lutheran Church in Melville and Trinity Lutheran Church in Neudorf, Saskatchewan, Canada. After a decade-long foray in business following his undergraduate degree, he attended Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary in St Catharines, Ontario, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 2014. He is married to Lydia and they have been blessed with three children: Ethan, Summerlee, and Jacob. His sermons are posted weekly at


Is the LCMS Becoming a Feminist Synod? — 42 Comments

  1. Good article. I have a question concerning this issue. In, the Bible, God establishes lines of authority. Christ over the church. In the civil realm, govt rules over people parents over childre, and husbands over wives. So is a wife who rebels against the authority of her husband guilty of sin?

  2. Thank you for a clear confession.
    As someone who has been speaking against such practices in his congregation for years (to generally no avail), it is encouraging to be reminded that I’m not alone in believing the Scriptures.

    Whenever we have a lady lector, I find it very distracting. Knowing I can’t do much in the middle of the service, I try to pay attention to the lessons independently of the speaker. But usually all I can hear in my head is, “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches…for it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.”

    Lord, have mercy. Grant us repentance.

  3. Please explain how the ordination of women is not forbidden in Scripture.

    I have also wondered about some churches can justify women reading the Scripture lessons with the exception of the four Gospels. If this is not teaching, then why stop at the Gospels? If it is teaching, then it should not be permitted.

  4. By allowing women to take the vote ‘away’ from men in the congregations of the LCMS at the Denver Convention of 1969 the men gave the women the Office of the Ministry because it is the ‘vote’ of the local church in the Synod-District which creates the ministry in that locality and decides who, what men will fill that office in that local congregation.

    So if you give ‘the women’ the power to create and fill the office, having authority over the office and the ministry how can you keep women from ‘filling’ the office by being ‘called’.

    Those who pushed for this leading up the 1969 knew it would eventually allow women to become pastors and the theologians who did not speak up to warn the church it was destroying the ministry because
    God ignores the these usurpers are doing in the functions of the office by those women who say they will fill it.

    Also by denying the Order of Creation and totally teaching against it but doing things that are against this Article Of Faith, I.e, voting… etc, this article of the faith has become a ‘major’ article of faith because by not defending and teaching it for 50 years!, the Article of Justification has been denied, why?

    Because when a woman is dressed in ministerial garments and is facing the Alter she is representing the church to God but when she turns around and faces the congregation she is representing the God(head) to the souls facing her.

    The true God has revealed Himself as “Masculine” and Jesus was conceived as a male gender spirit-soul and body so as to represent the true God to us in His “ministry”.

    To call and ordain women is to deny the true God and worship a false god as has been revealed in the ELCA by saying god is gender-neutral.

    This ‘god’ has not sacrificed His male body as a gender-neutral false god, no forgiveness can be gotten from “it”.

    The Church of the LCMS has now gone to far in not defending and teaching the Order of Creation that women will be “officially” called even as they are now doing so many particular functions of the office.

    It will take only one other “Kieschnicker” president to be voted in to start the process of making women ‘official” candidates for the office toward congregations.

    It is already ‘here’ so why officially deny calling these “Deaconesses” into the ministry in the LCMS.

  5. @Loren Zell #1

    God says that the husband will rule over his wife in Genesis 3:16. Ephesians 5:22 and following says, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

    So, yes, a wife who rebels against her husband is guilty of sin because she is going against the Word of God. The only exception, as in all cases of rebellion against authority, is if the husband is demanding something that is against the Word of God. In that case, she is to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

  6. Can those with woman lectors and those with out walk together? I think they can if they realize that there are different God pleasing ways to enjoy Gods gifts in worship. are woman lectors the best practice, I would say no it leads to confusion and mistrust. however to call it heretical is a miss application of Gods word in my understanding of the applicable text. Walking together in God word is not easy but it is possible for those who hold to Gods word above their own. I respect your position but disagree with some of your conclusions. I fail to see how you make the connection that reading is teaching. one can argue that remaining silent is in reference to teaching and questioning. if not then all vocal female participation is prohibited including singing and liturgical response, I do not think that is the case you make but, I think you make a connection that is not there. but am always glad to listen, read and learn. I pulled this from my face book response but wanted to engage in conversation here as well. Brother and BJS thanks for all you do In Christ Robert

  7. Maybe a better question would be should anyone but the pastor being reading the text?

  8. Is this meant as satire? Like some religious version of “The Onion?” Or do people believe this shit?

  9. I think you have forgotten about Mary who had chosen the better part. Also, Phoebe the leader of the house church. Also, Mary Magdalene the apostle to the apostles and chosen by our Lord Jesus Christ. I guess you have forgotten Philip’s 7 daughters who prophesied. Also, that there is no verb in Ephesians. And that head is better translated source as in head of the river. Or source of love.
    In Christ, there is neither Male or female. Keep seeking and the truth will set you free, the Rev. Gail Hart

  10. The Pastor should be reading the text. If he’s not capable (e.g. laryngitis) a male Elder can fill in.

    [And I’m not suggesting that there should be such a thing as a female “elder”.]

  11. Thanks for you response pastor, to my somewhat rhetorical question. My point was that the issue you bring up is also an issue in the home, as, inho, women wear the pants in many Christian homes. Its also in issue for wives who are rebellious. Are they not putting their own salvation in jeapardy by continually breaking the fourth commandment and being unrepentant?

  12. @Pastor Johannes Nieminen #4
    Did minimal “research” last night. One source from (wild guess) Wheaton College wrote a very densely concise paper. His bottom line is that natural selection proves evolution to be false. Ok, but that’s not my question. Another unidentified source claims natural selection came about after the Great Flood. Well, maybe, but is that the Lutheran position? My question is/was based on the premise that natural selection is a result of man’s fall from grace. I don’t know.

    But as it relates to your article, has feminism adopted its current militancy from the presupposition that natural selection i.e., ladies choice in the animal kingdom is to be the model for human beings? Is feminism in any form God’s plan? I don’t think so. But is it just one manifestation of the curse? Perhaps it is as if God were to say “OK, Eve, you want to be in charge, it’s your bag now. And Adam, as Eve was coerced, but you just went along with it willingly, and disobediently, we’ll see how you like it this way.” I don’t know.

    I do know it’s broken, and I don’t need any part of it on Sunday mornings. I don’t need a woman with her feet up on the desk in the office of the keys, because they can abuse power worse than any papist.

    So, now my questions are perhaps more complicated than need be?

  13. Fantastic article, John. You make a great point saying, “So we don’t have women’s ordination? So what. That is no victory.” On paper, we don’t have women’s ordination; but in practice, women are carrying out the functions of the pastoral office. We don’t give them albs and stoles (actually, some even do that), but we allow them to do something clearly forbidden in Scripture!

    It’s always interesting to ask pastor’s who let women read, distribute, teach, etc., why they women can’t be pastors. Sometimes they try to come up with a reason, but it’s absurd. Most of the time, they admit the truth and say that women should be pastors. In my own Circuit, pastors have said, “I see no reason in the Bible why women can’t be pastors.” Anyway, thank you for your article. I will be sending it to all the pastors of my circuit.

  14. You make the same error as so many “conservative” clergy, almost all male, have for centuries. In the passage in Ephesians so often quoted, scripture through Paul in 5:22-24 specifically addresses women directly in telling them their roles in respect to their husbands. It is not meant for nor directed to husbands and since you and I are unlikely to ever be wives it is not directed to us. Vs 25-33 ARE specifically directed to husbands, you and me, and we are told, in a nutshell, to love our wives as Christ loves his Church. Christ loves us so much He gave his sinless life for us, something we clearly cannot do. Jesus love for his Church is perfect, perfect love required of us in this passage yet of which we sinners are incapable. Much as Jesus in John gives a new command to love each other as He loved us. ( the passage that Pastor Scheer was recently so dismissive of ) We are incapable of this love and only forgiven this failure by God’s mercy. But we still gotta try.
    This part of Ephesians has been used forever as an excuse for millions of men to subjugate and abuse their wives with tacit and even overt support of male clergy. Perhaps it’s time to teach this scripture in its entirety and context ( see vs 21) rather than simply using it for control. And as men and husbands and followers of Christ acknowledge our real responsibilities, clergy or not.

  15. @St. Stephen #10

    The Fall into sin is certainly the reason the strong prey on the weak. Whether it is strong men preying on weak women, strong women preying on weak men, or any other case. This is why we have abortion and euthanasia. If that is what you mean by natural selection, yes, it is as a result of the Fall.

    There are repeated cycles throughout history. There’s a saying, “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. Weak men create hard times.” We are at a time of weak men heading into hard times.

  16. @Mike Matthews #12

    It is funny that you accuse me of misapplying a text I don’t even use in the article.

    There is an old Latin saying: abusus non tollit usum. It means abuse does not cancel use; that the misuse of something is no argument against its proper use. That there are men that abuse their wives is not an argument against God’s institution of marriage or the headship of the husband, nor is it an argument against God’s instituted office of the ministry into which He only allows men.

  17. I was a church treasurer for 4 years. I would never do it again, and am a big advocate for women returning to supporting roles, not leadership ones. I, myself, would rather men run the church than women.

  18. I read the article and I have to say,”WOW”. I disagree with it in a number of ways. I have not seen any of our seminaries have Sem profs who are women. We may have some in the Decon. Program. Also we may have some help in areas of family life likenat Doxology.
    I also don’t think that having women voting in congregations is wrong. We have them vote because they are members of the church. Also your statement About us being an emotional driven church because we have comfort dogs and contemp. Worship. I believe women should not hold the pastoral office and that husbands are the head of the home. But that does not mean they are only a scribed to a role of submission. They have many gifts to serve the church with. I know Scripture has many areas where women served the church and in roles with men.
    I also wonder why you wrote this article. It seems to be grinding your ax on a personal issue. Affirming the view of Scripture is important in what one says but in how one says it it reveals other things.

  19. @Rev. Gail Hart #12

    I have forgotten about none of those women. Not one was a pastor. Mary’s good portion was sitting and listening, not preaching. That Phoebe is called a servant in no way suggests that she was a minister or a leader of the house church. Mary Magdalene was sent by Jesus to tell of His resurrection to the apostles does not make her an apostle. Philip’s daughter’s prophesied, yes. That makes them prophetesses. Finally, there is a verb in Ephesians, you just have to see the whole structure starting in v. 21: submitting (verb) to one another out of reverence for Christ: wives to their husbands, as to the Lord… children to your parents… slaves to your masters.

    You have to play word games and twist passages of Scripture to get them to say what you want, while you ignore the clear commands of Christ to keep silent and remain quiet.

  20. I reread your article and I listened to a number of your sermons. I see you are not part of the LCMS. Maybe our sister church in Canada. It is also the tone of your article that is a concern. I am reminded of what J.A. O. Prues III wrote in the book A Confessing Theology For Postmodern Times. ” At Times, the term confessional has come to denote little more than a label for a particular political position. Much mischief has also gone on in the name of “Confessionalism.” At Times it has come to be little more than a label to be used for “putting someone in their place,” or to provide an escape from actually listening to what a person is saying. A great deal of unkindness and judgmetalism has gone on under the label “confessional.” But there is nothing confessional about meanness of Spirit.” (P. 31) I think your call to say that the LCMS is a feminist synod is in line with this meanness.

    Again to quote Dr. Prues – “Ironically, the “A-confessional” and the “Hyper-confessional” positions share one thing in common: neither engages in an in-depth exegetical, historical and theological study of the confessions. Neither consistently uses the confessions as a guide for solving the challenges facing the church today.” (P. 31 & 32) I would encourage you as Dr. Jeff Gibbs instructed us to research the issue. You pointed us to the resource “Women in the Church” by Andreas Kostenberger, Thomas Schreiner and H. Scott Baldwin. They book spends a lot of time on the use of the workd in 1 Tim. They also don’t believe in women as Pastors. This is so you can understand the lanugae and cultural background. Also you need to spend sometime in the CTCR documents. They address the issue of women voters something you think we get wrong. Also you may want to think of your reasoning for the tone of meanness. I think you really have something driving this issue on a personal note. Who calls out the Comfort Dogs.

  21. This certainly should be one of the issues that the LCMS discusses with WELS and ELS in their continuing meetings going forward. For the three Synods speak of themselves as confessional.

  22. @Pastor Johannes Nieminen #19
    It’s funny you appear to have forgotten your citation of Ephesians’ 5,22-24 in your response to Loren Zeil. This is the misapplication to which I refer. Would point out again that selective citation of this passage by men, to whom it is clearly not addressed, while failing to cite and emphasize the far more difficult directive given to us perpetuates and excuses abuse. In your response 22 you once again refer to Epheians 5 but skip over 25-33 completely replacing it with… Don’t you like it? The selective and partial citation of this portion of scripture hardly constitutes “proper use”

  23. Pastor Nieminen,
    I was very happy and also encouraged to read your article. Feminism, I suspect, will be remembered as one of the main tools of destruction against society as well as the Church. From our post modern enlightenment we have Humanism and Scientism (the theory of evolution), these work together to remove the necessity for a creator. And then of course Feminism, which distorts the creation itself. If only there wasn’t so much pride involved. I can’t imagine the humility that would be required to admit to one’s self, and then repent before God, that such a view of the world with regard to the roles of men and women is simply contrary to scripture. And if that wasn’t bad enough some might have to admit this error to their congregation. But these admissions must surely pale in comparison to the mighty act of faith that would be required to admit it to their wife. Thank God and thank you for the courage that it must have taken to write this article.
    PS – My lovely wife of 20+ years happily shared this article with me.

  24. …wow.

    So can a woman teach her own son?

    Can a woman sing in Church?

    Can a woman disagree with her husband at home and have her own opinion?

    Can a woman lead a bible study with other women?

    According to what you wrote, there is no room for any of those things…

    And I still find it laughable that you think someone reading what someone else wrote constitutes them asserting authority over someone else… is that not what slaves used to do? Is that not a role of a servant to read someone elses decree?

    I honestly don’t think you believe what you wrote, cause I cannot understand why a woman couldn’t sing in church, join in reciting the Lords Prayer together with the church, or even raise their own son in a godly way.

    Again… wow.

    I worry you are speaking beyond the scope of scripture, and your own words and scripture quotation can serve as a warning to yourself as well:
    “Repent. Who are you to raise yourself above the Word of God? “Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” (I Cor. 14:36-38)”

  25. @Bill Pavuk #11

    It’s not at all surprising that such High school level exegesis and immature whining would come from a child so young. This in truth is how many of our adolescents here in the more rural and “backwater” places of the LCMS view the world. From the outside one might surmise it to be a lack of education but in truth, it is a form of “Spiritual back breeding” that we have become guilty of. A better question is why do the men of this site allow Our children to give such a poor representation of our Synod to the rest of the Christian world. My apologies that we have offended You

  26. Something I genuinely wonder about is this: if there were prophetesses in the Bible (Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Anna, the women disciples present at the first Pentecost, the daughters of Philip, certain women in Corinth, etc.), sharing messages directly inspired by God himself (how much more “authoritative” can you get than “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says”?), and often doing so in public worship spaces (Anna in the Temple, the Corinthian women during actual worship services–that’s why Paul told them to cover their heads, remember?), then why is it wrong for women to be lectors?

    If simply reading the Bible aloud in church is “teaching,” then surely uttering actual prophetic messages is far more obviously so, is it not?

    If God never wanted women to be “teaching” men, then why did he inspire prophetesses? Huldah certainly “taught” Josiah! Anna certainly “taught” “all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (which you would think certainly included men as well as women)!

    I genuinely wonder about this.

  27. It is a great sadness to read of such a level of infidelity to the House of God, as My companions and I do see in Your Sir. As we Your Elders sit here reading this manifesto of Your discontent. We sit and we do thus examine You, Sir. Since You seem to be so intent on drawing attention to Your infidelity to the House of God. The level of Your Pride, Sir. That You cannot see that You are guilty of the very exact thing You rail against. You are Lutheran Church-Canada: “Daughter” Synod of the LCMS. Yet In Your immaturity You sin grievously against Your Mother and the Parent house which gave You birth. What sort of Man are You? That being the Child of the House, You think You are in position to rise up at Table and correct Your Mother in public? Thereby causing great public scandal to all and for the very House that bore You and the Mother that nursed You at Her breasts. You, Sir, are indeed the very spiritual example of a woman not knowing Her place in the House of God. For You are the very daughter who is teaching and speaking in Church, for You think to be in a place to “correct” You Mother Synod publically and in Her own house. You forget Your place, Sir. The LCMS is Your Mother, and by Your very Words You violate the commandment of God: “Honor Your Father and Mother”. You are the Spiritual example of the son who, in the physical world, upon seeing His aged or infirmed Mother suffering with dementia out naked in the street, not only does not rush out to cover His Mother and bring Her in, but instead gets on the computer to all His friends and neighbors, publicly degrading His naked Mother in the street by making fun of Her. You, Sir, are Ham, Son of Noah, who instead of “covering” His Father’s nakedness during an error in personal judgement, finds both self justification and satisfaction in exposing it. Wretched Son of this House You are, Sir. One so unfaithful to the Mother who bore Him that You rejoice in publicly exposing Your Parents shame and Your Mother’s “mistakes” as You see them. For all the LCMS has done for You since its inception, one who would be born after so many years of Her Spiritual Labor. For all She has suffered and labored these many years since Her inception, for all the blood sweat and tears She has raised to God for those who would come behind, this is the loyalty She receives from one of Her Sons in the Hour She needs Him most. In the Hour of great decisions and much turmoil, this is the treason that You, Her Son, presents back to Her in the very hour of Her ordeal. For all that She has done for You, this is what She receives in recompense for a perceived error in judgment on women lectors. I do not know what sort of line breeds a man like Yourself, Sir. To think that for a few perceived errors in Protocol You have the right to rise up and smack Your Mother across the face in Public. But You are not well received to give Your opinion in the private matters of Your Elders, nor is Your “daughters” mind welcomed to speak and teach and correct the Men of Our house. Listen to Yourself, prattling on to your Mother how She needs to “repent” to Your personal liking. Here you mother labors, in the great hour of Her crucifixion, and this is the comfort she receives from one who has been raised to the Pastorship only because of the many years of Her sacrifice on your behalf. It is You Sir, the “daughter” of this House, who needs to repent and keep silent in the House of Your Mother. Until then, Sir, do not think that the majority of us hold You in communion with our altars.

  28. @James Gibbs #27

    Brother, please take my reply in the kindest of tone.

    In regards to an appeal to the prophetesses: such offices have ceased.

    Hebrews 1: Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

    1 Corinthians 13: Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

    There are no prophetesses let alone prophets in the Church in this age. We do, however, have the Office of the Pastor which is entrusted with the work/task of preaching and teaching the Word of God in the worship assembly. This office is reserved for men who meet the qualifications laid out in Scripture. It’s a bit of a stretch to appeal to an office that no longer exists in order to make the case for female lectors in the congregation. Certain works of the Holy Spirit that were taking place in the early Church are no longer with us and therefore we shouldn’t appeal to them to justify modern innovation and customs.

    Considering the number of people claiming to be prophets and prophetesses on the internet these days… I’m glad that God has chosen to speak to us through His Son in this age.

  29. @Rev. William Ringer #28

    Dear Brother Ringer:

    Thanks for your kind response.

    I think I understand what you are saying: only men can be pastors, and the office of prophetess has ceased, so that ancient office can’t mean women should be lectors, since we have pastors to read the Scriptures now. Have I summarized what you said accurately?

    I tend to agree with you about genuine prophecy, tongues, etc. no longer happening today. When someone today calls himself a “prophet,” I am immediately very, very skeptical. It seems that 99.9% of those folks are pretty obviously charlatans—their doctrine alone tends to let the cat out of the bag (Deut. 13:1-4), not to mention frequent failed attempts at predicting the future (Deut. 18:21-22).

    At the same time, though, I am not sure we can prove definitely from the Bible that extraordinary gifts completely ceased after the NT era. Heb. 1 can’t mean, “Now that Christ has come, there will be no more prophets,” since, in Acts 2, Peter quotes Joel as saying “Your sons and your daughters will prophesy,” there are several prophets specifically mentioned later in the same book (e.g., Agabus and the daughters of Philip), plus, didn’t Paul tell the Corinthians to seek the gift of prophecy? As far as I Cor. 13, Paul doesn’t give a specific time when “prophesies…will pass away,” so I don’t think we can nail it down very specifically.

    I have also heard the argument that once the canon of Scripture was closed, the need for direct revelation ceased. It seems logical–but, at the same time, the same Jesus who told the rich man in Hell (through the mouth of Abraham), “They have Moses and the Prophets,” also sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost who (at least in NT times) continued to directly inspire prophets and prophetesses. In other words, if the OT was sufficient for Jesus’ contemporaries (“They have Moses and the prophets”), then why did God continue to send prophets and prophetesses?

    So the timing of when (or whether) God ceased to bestow the gift of prophecy seems unresolved. God can certainly do miraculous things whenever he wants to, so I guess I am not ruling anything out!

    It seems to me that the case against women lectors rests on four points: (a) only pastors should read the Scripture lessons in church; (b) being a lector is a form of teaching, and women are forbidden to teach men; (c) “women should keep silent in the churches” (i.e., during public worship); and (d) the order of creation means women lectors are being insubordinate toward men.

    I find problems with each of these points (which I would be glad to have you guide me on, btw).

    “Only pastors should read the Scripture lessons in church”—I have read that the custom of reading the Bible aloud during Christian services was carried over from synagogue worship. It was not commanded by Moses, but evolved over time among the Jewish people. So it is a human tradition—a very ancient tradition (Jesus did it in Nazareth), and one I think is salutary, but a tradition nonetheless. So I am unsure how something which is not divinely commanded must be done only by the pastor!

    “Being a lector is a form of teaching, and women are forbidden to teach men”—aside from the whole “Is reading the same as teaching?” issue, Biblical prophetesses certainly taught men in certain circumstances (as I elaborated in my previous post). This is one reason why I think the example of prophetesses is still relevant. If it was OK for King Josiah to listen to Huldah’s teaching, why can’t I listen to Scripture lessons being read by a woman?

    “Women should keep silent in the churches” (i.e., during public worship)—first, no one thinks this command is absolute. We all agree female worshipers can and should vocally sing and pray with their fellow Christians during church services. And, again–the Biblical example of prophetesses relates to this. Anna proclaimed Christ in the Temple courts. Paul seems to sanction the Corinthian prophetesses speaking during worship, since he instructed them about proper attire while doing so. Again, if the women in Corinth could publicly proclaim direct revelations from God during the worship service in a way that was seemly and glorified God, it seems to me OK for a woman today to read aloud something God inspired long ago (i.e., the Bible lessons).

    “The order of creation means women lectors are being insubordinate toward men”—well, if there is something ontological about men and women, dating from God’s placement of Adam and Eve in Paradise, that makes women speaking during worship intrinsically wrong, then why did God ever inspire prophetesses in the first place? Why didn’t he just inspire prophets? Are we saying God allowed and directed women to speak in public worship during Biblical times, but now it is totally forbidden? Why would he do that, if such speaking was always and everywhere wrong?

    I hope I am making sense. I welcome further insights from you.

    P.S. I, too, am glad God speaks to us through his Son—in the Holy Gospels!

  30. @James Gibbs #29

    Sure, I see where you’re coming from. It’s always a matter of what direction you want to chase the line of thought.

    I think the argument I was making is a bit simpler: Women Prophetesses were not lectors and women lectors are not prophetesses. Appealing to the office of the prophet in order to justify a man made office in the church is a stretch. Yes, women did carry out certain offices in the Old Testament. There were prophetesses in the earliest era of the church… but, they weren’t lectors. They are two completely different things. One was an office established by God that existed for a time and for a distinct and clear purpose (prophet/prophetess). We can’t even speak of the lector as holding an office.

    This is why I bristle when people appeal to prophetesses and judges and other well regarded women in Scripture as examples for permitting Women’s Ordination. Even if there were still prophetesses among us… they still wouldn’t be pastors and they wouldn’t be lectors. They would not be preaching nor would they be consecrating or assisting in the distribution of the Eucharist. They’d be prophetesses.

    The subject of lectors has to be treated as it is without appeal to something it isn’t. It’s a man made function where a person reads the Word of God before the worship assembly. To be honest, lay readers aren’t necessary nor are they commanded or instituted by Christ. People are arguing over whether or not women should read when the real question is why are the laity going up into the chancel and reading the Scriptures when the Pastor knows how to read? That opens up another can of worms. What is set forth in the article is an appeal to what Scripture does state. We should consider that and ask ourselves, does the creation of a man made ‘office’ or function in the Divine Service overturn the Word of God?

    Why did God ever inspire prophetesses in the first place? For a purpose in that place and at that time according to His Will. A job was given and a task fulfilled. God gave the office and called who He willed into it. There is only one Divinely Established office in the Church at this time: The Office of the Pastor (and it is reserved for men per the qualifications set forth in Scripture). When God begins sending prophets and prophetesses back into our midst… we can sort out who gets to say what and when to maintain good order in the Church. But, I suspect that such offices have ceased and have been out of commission for quite some time.

  31. @Rev. William Ringer #30

    Thanks for the additional thoughts, especially your making your argument simpler. That helps me understand where you are coming from.

    I guess my main concern with the original article by Pastor Nieminen is that he takes what I consider verses about women not being pastors and applies them to women lectors, comfort dogs, etc. If prophetesses aren’t lectors, then neither are pastors lectors. So, if prophetesses don’t justify women lectors, neither would a male-only pastorate justify banning female lectors.

    As far as why have lectors when the pastor can read–well, we really don’t “need” Communion assistants, acolytes, or any of those folks. I remember my mother telling me how, back in the 1950s when she became a Lutheran, the pastor did all the Communion distribution without any assistance whatsoever. It took “forever,” she said. He even communed himself!

    I think the church has the freedom to establish auxiliary offices such as lector, Communion assistant (a.k.a. eucharistic minister in some churches), acolyte, etc.

    I also think some folks’ opposition to women or girls doing these things is driven largely by fear of the slippery slope (to women’s ordination), and I can understand that concern.

    I’m also concerned that, among some in the church, opposition to women’s participation in certain things can be driven by not just Scripture, but good old-fashioned sexism. Some folks start with Paul’s verses about women not being pastors (which is fine), but then go on and decry the entire feminist movement (without qualification), the 19th Amendment, etc. That, to me, is worrying.

    As I said elsewhere on this site, tell most LCMS Lutherans that men and women are equal in worth and dignity before God, but that God restricts the pastoral office to men, and they will listen with respect. But some want to go beyond that, and espouse some pretty far-out ideas, all in the name of “the order of creation.”

    I’m not sure either of us has persuaded the other, but thanks for the dialogue!

  32. @H. Jensen #35

    First of all, I like your little picture with Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

    Second of all, we don’t call pastors to “be in the chancel.” We call them to preach and to administer the sacraments, regardless of where those things take place. Even having chancels is a man-made tradition, so it is hard for me to see how “women in the chancel” would be wrong.

    Third of all, if we only call pastors to “be in the chancel,” then we shouldn’t have laymen assisting with Communion distribution, the pastor should commune himself, we shouldn’t have acolytes, and the pastor should do everything that an altar guild does (set up Communion, clean up afterwards, etc.). And, if a congregation wants things to be that way, that is their right. Just don’t tell your fellow Christians that they are sinning by letting the laity help out in all of the ways I just listed.

    Fourth of all, the LCMS has said it is OK for women to do auxiliary offices “in the chancel,” even being lectors, so when you say “we,” you are referring to a minority opinion in the Synod. You don’t speak for me.

    Have a pleasant day.

  33. @James Gibbs #36

    Technically… we do call pastors to be in the chancel. It’s one place that we would very much like them to be, though there are other locations of importance as well. We could consecrate the elements up in the choir loft… but, we’re just playing games at that point with what we call particular space in a building. Christ does not command that we have a chancel of so many cubits with an altar of specific dimensions crafted from specific wood types or adorned with jewels and gold. This much you are correct about. However, considering that in the Sacrament of the Altar we have in our midst the very presence of the crucified and risen Christ in flesh and blood… we ought to treat such a space as the Chancel with the highest reverence and regard. Considering that we hear from the Pulpit preaching and from the lectern teaching, these too should be treated with reverence and regard as from them flow the very Word of God. The Divine Service is not flippant pageantry. Even if the Chancel is man made, it is still sacred space and it should be treated as sacred space, with awe, wonder, and the deepest respect.

    Carrying out duties such as cleaning, putting up flowers, setting up and cleaning up the communion vessels… these are not the Divine Service, though they are worthwhile and God pleasing tasks carried out. Nor is there authority being exercised over anyone in carrying out these functions.

    You continue to conflate things without them having any meaningful commonality or connection. There is a dramatic difference between cleaning the communion vessels and standing in the chancel while reading the Scriptures to the assembly. One is fine and God pleasing as is any duty one faithfully carries out. One requires teaching and exercising authority over a man in the Divine Service. I despise this dismissive notion that ‘it’s just reading’ and it isn’t ‘teaching’ so what’s the big deal?!?! Reading is by nature teaching just as it is by nature learning. It is the communication of information, it is the taking in of information, processing of that information, and by the grace of God retaining that information. Plain and simple. That’s why men shouldn’t throw away the instruction manual on how to assemble complicated devices. Language communicates knowledge and information. Reading from the chancel is teaching the assembly – it is communicating vital information to the people of God from the Word of God. End of story.

    As for laymen assisting in the chancel, the Apostles set the precedent of appointing men to assist in the ministry. We maintain that. We should not have ‘lay-servers’ as some congregations seem to do. We should have elders/deacons serving in that position of assisting the pastor. Men who meet certain qualifications and criteria to assist. Even then, I still maintain that in most cases the pastor should be the one reading the Scriptures as he is ultimately the one who is tasked with teaching, preaching, and administering the Sacraments in the Divine Service. In addition, the pastor should commune himself unless there is another pastor present who can do so.

    If the Laity want to help out: Go to church, support your pastor, hear the Word, learn the Word, receive the Sacrament, share the good news with your neighbors, invite them to church, fellowship with one another, visit each other, call each other, reconcile with each other, help maintain the facility, help in the kitchen, help in the rec room, pull the weeds, plant flowers, paint the sign, volunteer for positions and boards, help in the community, be a good steward, and the list goes on. There is plenty for the laity to do. They have no shortage of work to do. God has given them their vocations. Let the Pastor have his which is also given by God.

  34. Bro, you are knocking down, belittling, and dismissing various ministries led by the faithful baptized. Thanks for cheapening other’s vocations and service to God. Way to go. (Insert slow clap….)

  35. Addressing the roles of men in the LCMS needs to be a top priority.

    As a layman in the LCMS, I appreciate this article. This egalitarian mind set is frustrating. At times it appears we have shepherds that are willing to scattering the sheep, for the purpose of being “relevant” and “inclusive”.

    Jesus honored women and empowered them for ministry, but when it came to selecting those for positions of leadership, and authority, he chose only men. This includes the Divine Service, men need to lead all aspects of the service, etc.

    Sadly, we are in this position because the average layman is biblically illiterate and has no idea what it means to be a Confessional Lutheran. Were we wrong to limit these ministries to men, until the enlightened 1960s and 70s showed us a new and better way —no.

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