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Background

Contrary to what some are claiming, the issue of women’s ordination is NOT a cultural issue to be settled by the cultural readiness of the different regions of the world church. It is not even a political issue to be decided by petition drives, public opinion polls, referenda, or surveys. Rather, the question of whether or not to ordain women IS a theological one. As such it can only be settled on the basis of biblical authority.

The Bible clearly teaches that both men and women are equal in the sight of God, and both have been called to the soul-winning ministry. At the same time, the Scriptures also teach that God has assigned different roles to men and women. Within the equality of male and female, God calls men to be spiritual leaders in the home and in the church.

Thus, for more than 100 years, Seventh-day Adventists have been unanimous in their view that no precedent for the practice of ordaining women can be found in Scripture, nor in the writings of Ellen G. White and the early Seventh-day Adventist Church.

By the 1970s, however, this established position began to be reversed in favor of ordaining women as elders and pastors. In the course of the turmoil, the worldwide church—at two General Conference sessions—rejected requests to ordain women.

First, in 1990, at the General Conference session in Indianapolis, Indiana, by a margin of 75 percent to 25 percent, the world church voted "NOT to approve ordination of women to the gospel ministry." The actual number who voted against women’s ordination was 1,173, while 377 voted for it.

Similarly, in 1995, at the General Conference session in Utrecht, Netherlands, when a request was made by the North American Division to "vest each division the right to authorize the ordination of individuals within its territory," 66% voted against it, while some 24% voted for it. The actual numbers were 1,481 (against women’s ordination) and 673 (for it).

In both instances, the world church made it clear that the issue of women’s ordination is a theological issue, not a cultural one.

Recently (on April 7, 2010), the leadership of the world church again overwhelmingly expressed their opposition to women’s ordination. Consequently, they made it clear that the issue of women's ordination will not be added to the agenda for the 2010 General Conference session in Atlanta, Georgia. Echoing the sentiments of the worldwide church, the General Conference president stated that “of the church's 13 world church divisions, only three [are] willing to accept a change in the current policy of not ordaining women to pastoral ministry, and eight divisions reporting the move would negatively impact membership.”

On the strength of the pulse of the world church—a pulse that is undoubtedly based on a theological understanding of the issue—the GC President concluded that there was "no basis whatsoever to bring to the [Atlanta GC] session any measure. . . . We felt we could not begin to address that question. Given the sentiments, the responses we got back, we have to leave it there."

Despite the official position of the church, there are agitations and strong campaigns in certain quarters of the church to ordain women. Those who are pushing the practice argue that the issue is cultural, not theological. Others in their rank who concede that the issue is theological maintain that new biblical and historical evidence support women’s ordination! Sometimes, the one-sided nature of discussions by those pushing the practice do not allow for opposing views. And in some cases, church members are not informed about available resources that support the church’s biblical position.

This website seeks to respond to this need, clarifying the issues that are at stake in the ongoing debate over women’s ordination. The specific objectives of the website are:
  1. To show that, within the equality of men and women, the Bible also teaches role-differentiation in the home as well as in the church.

  2. To offer biblical and historical reasons against women’s ordination.

  3. To respond to the attempts by pro-ordination scholars to re-interpret the Bible and Seventh-day Adventist history to justify the ordination of women.

  4. 4. To provide additional resources for those who desire to uphold the church’s biblical position on the subject of women’s ordination.
The ultimate goal of this website is to educate church members on the truth about the legitimate role of women in ministry. In this way, they can effectively respond to those who are trying to make the issue a cultural one or who are seeking to settle it by petition drives, public opinion polls, referenda, or surveys.