So often when the issue of women’s ordination comes up the traditionalist response is to circle the wagons and defend itself with the Law. How dare a woman even think of usurping the Office? It’s bad enough to have a lay man reading lessons and/or assisting with distribution. A woman? Perish the thought! The idea of a woman in the chancel for any reason except receiving the Lord’s Supper is practically blasphemous, her presence there almost desecrates the holy space. Women are to be seen and not heard. Women are not to be in any positions of authority, ever. And we should just get used to it, because that’s just the way it is.
Maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. Maybe I’m particularly “feminist” to see and hear things that way. But the tone and the implication is definitely there: women’s ordination demeans the Office of Holy Ministry.
I see things differently and so rarely (if ever) hear it the other way around – women’s ordination demeans women. Everything gets stuck around defending the Office from the onslaught of women’s ordination that the women get forgotten. I’ve gotten beyond being offended when I see or hear about women in the Office. Now, to me, it’s just sad. And even more sad are the men who defend it.
There are so many issues that feed into this problem and so much that could be talked about with it, but I’ll just save that for the book one day. 😉
Suffice it to say that women have been particularly set apart to be receivers – even our anatomy is designed to receive. And it truly breaks my heart to see women to think so little of themselves and of the vocation of lay-woman that they aspire to (and obtain) that of pastor. The Office of Holy Ministry is dignified apart from the specific sinner in it, male or female. But like a law student who strips on the weekends or that transgendered man who had a baby a few years ago, it’s just sad when women turn from the dignity of the vocation of laity to that of pastor. It’s beneath them.
“The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (St. Mark 10:45) Laity are the ones who are served, and it’s very difficult to receive others service – even (especially?) that of the Lord God Himself through the means of the pastor. If the pastor needs any assistance, it should be men who sacrifice their receiving time for the sake of the rest of the laity’s receiving. Women (and children) should be the last ones expected to sacrifice in such a way, men should do everything necessary to avoid that situation – not because the women are in any way less capable of assisting in the leadership of the service, but to guard the sanctity of their precious vocation.
So I think we need to find a new way of talking about this issue. One that is less defensive, one that is more Christ-centered. One that is more Lutheran.