A friend this past week pointed me to an August 6, 2017, online Atlantic article headlined “Hillary Wants to Preach”. That is what the former presidential nominee reportedly told her pastor recently, having previously told a former Newsweek editor that she wanted to become an ordained Methodist minister.
We might like to debate whether Hillary’s character is suited for the Office of the Holy Ministry. Indeed, Bible passages such as 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-16 seem to require one’s character be considered. But, like it or not, we must also consider something else that those same passages at least imply: that the person to be ordained be male. (The New Testament’s limiting the Office to men, following the Old Testament, is perhaps most explicit in 1 Corinthians 14:33b-36 and 1 Timothy 2:12.)
Now, a dear female friend of mine from undergraduate studies, who perhaps in some ways is better-qualified for ministry than I am, immediately went on to become an ordained Methodist minister, so for a long time I have had to deal on a personal level with at least one woman in another religious tradition’s claiming the Office into which I years later was ordained (confer Revelation 2:20). But, even if we grant Wikipedia’s more than one-century-old precedent and an increasing number of “churches” ordaining women, the weight of the Biblical and historical evidence is still against women in the Office.
The matter is not simply one of gender, for neither are all men well-qualified personally and spiritually to be pastors. Rather, the matter is primarily one of the Lord Jesus Christ’s institution and so also the certainty of our forgiveness. As anticipated by Old Testament, He, Who died on the cross for our sins, only set men into the Office that He gave for representing Him and thereby distributing the benefits of His death through their purely preaching His Word and rightly administering His Sacraments.
No offense to Hillary or other women intended, but if we want to be sure we receive Jesus’s gifts, we best receive them from men His Church has put into the Office.
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.