How Ordaining Women Harms Ministry to Men


The problem with Progressives is they don’t have a subtraction key on their calculators. Those of us with a more cyclical view of history know that for every apparent gain there is something lost.

What follows isn’t speculative. These are observations. I ministered for 20 years in a denomination that ordains women. (While it is not the primary reason for my departure, it certainly was a secondary one.)

So here are just a few of the unintended consequences I’ve seen follow the ordination of women:

Scriptures that address men and their responsibilities as leaders disappear from the canon.

Obviously they don’t really disappear–except in “gender-inclusive” translations, of course. (Funny term that–“gender-inclusive”. Men and women and their respective roles are both addressed in traditional translations. What is really being done through “gender-inclusive language” is erasure. Men as men are eliminated from the Bible–more about that in a moment.)

The cognitive dissonance between what the Bible says and the practice of women’s ordination is too great to permit certain texts to be read from the pulpit. Not only do texts such as 1 Timothy 3:1-7 go silent, household codes like Ephesians 5:22-33 are no longer read. On the rare occasions that they are spoken of, it is always after a prophylactic, “this is just cultural”–as though cultures don’t ever reflect the real meaning of things, or in the case of the household codes, actually speak to the ordo salutis.)

Men are no longer addressed as men. They’re treated as androgynous beings.

I think this contributes to what could be called: the ontological argument against the need to minister to men as men.

You can’t really justify a ministry to men if they don’t really exist. This brings me to the heart of the problem. For the ordination of women to be justified real differences between men and women must be glossed over to some degree. The meanings resident in our bodies as male and female bodies must must be denied.

Maleness and femaleness cannot be admitted to possess meaning even in the daily order of a household or symbolically as they relate to the household of God, because such an admission could lead to sex roles. This is troubling at different levels. When it comes to interpreting the meaning of Christ the bridegroom, what to do? Clearly there is a notion of husbandly headship to it, no? And what about the natalism running through the doctrine of salvation–e.g., you must be born again, and so forth? That could lead to the observation that only women can be mothers and that the church is like a mother in this respect, and so on.

Men get the message that they are replaceable.

If men get the message that there is nothing intrinsically meaningful to being a man it follows that they can be replaced by women. For some guys their answer is, “Fine, have your wymyn’s church, I’ve got other things I can do.”

This is obviously a problem for anyone who thinks men are not socially constructed fictions but real creatures made by God with real responsibilities that only they can perform. But to imply this by calling men to perform their responsibilities opens up a can of worms for feminists and egalitarians. Obviously it raises the specter of the traditional division of labor in the home and in society generally. And that specter can’t help but haunt the household of God and bedevil the practice of women’s ordination.

Allow me to conclude with this caveat. There are some churches that ordain women that do have ministries to men, sometimes even ministries that tepidly speak to men about their responsibilities. I know that was the case in some places in the denomination I left.

But Generally this is because those churches draw their congregants from the lower-middle class where traditional norms die hard. But I’ve noticed that as time passes the vestiges of traditional roles fall away even here and men and women are addressed more generically. I’ve also noticed that those churches tend to promote a strong dichotomy between the body and the spirit. The spirit addresses us inwardly and looking to the body for guidance tends to be written off at “fleshly” thinking. For these reasons ministry to men tends to be down-played, and they even can be treated as somewhat embarrassing.

I have a great deal more to say, but I’ll pick up the theme another time.