Ordination in the PCA: the only distinction between men and women...

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On Wednesday afternoon at the PCA’s 42nd General Assembly, the Cooperative Ministries Committee presented five critical issues that require study and subsequent recommendations. You might not be surprised to learn that the first has to do with the role of women...

The role of women in the PCA – particularly, giving women a greater voice and more visible roles, while maintaining the denomination’s position on male ordained leadership in governing.

The elders of the PCA approach the definition of their leadership like a defeated husband. He vaguely remembers there are verses in the Bible that talk about his wife’s submission, and femininity, and silence, and gentleness, and busy-ness at home, but he’s married a woman whose father trained her not to submit, not to be feminine, not to be silent, not to be gentle, and not to be busy at home. His heart’s desire is for his wife to be busy at home, but since she can’t have that he’ll figure out the required breadth of argument both to affirm her (and her father's) desires and hold on to some little authority. He’ll begin arguing like an egalitarian when it comes to giftedness: men and women alike have gifts of administration, and teaching, and leadership, and so on and so forth. He'll figure out ways for her to have “a greater voice and more visible roles,” all the while basically satisfied because he will retain one thing that is his own: ordination. She’s happy and he’s happy for a number of reasons: 1) she’s happy, and 2) her father’s happy, and 3) he’s retained some vestige of Biblical distinction by means of ordination. 

What happens if she asks for ordination? What will her poor husband do?

I think he’s safe; she won’t ask for ordination. Oh, she’ll accept it when he hands it over but for now she doesn’t care about titles and offices and symbols. She has actual authority and couldn’t care less about the trappings of authority. “Bless his heart,” she thinks, “he really does look good in those robes…and he better have figured out how to convince the session to allow me to serve communion.”

We often say that the PCA’s stance is this: a woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do. I think the following might be closer to the truth: a woman may do anything an ordained man may do but without ordination

The result of this de facto egalitarianism is to deny the biological and theological factors of Biblical sexuality. It is a rejection of the Bible’s teaching on sexuality except for a relieved adherence to Paul’s direction that the offices of the church are reserved for men. It is part of the same ironic project of the feminists—to kill femininity. 

Imagine if the statement of the CMC was phrased this way:

The role of women in the PCA—particularly, giving women a more feminine voice and more feminine roles, while maintaining the denomination’s position on biblical male headship.”

Would that not allow us to give a more biblical answer to the issue? Instead of trying to wedge as much masculinity into femininity, we’d be loving the two sexes God created and called good. We might be open to a Biblical answer that requires giving women a lesser voice (which I hear is precious in the sight of God). 

The PCA does not understand that feminism destroys femininity; it is war against wombs and children and fruitfulness and nurture and domesticity and deference. When the church shaves down the differences between men and women to ordainability alone, and then follows the feminists’ lead in praising only masculine callings, it lays waste to femininity. 

But it sure is fun to play dress-up...

Andrew Dionne is the pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Spartanburg, SC. He and his wife Sarah have six children. Read more from Andrew here.