On defending Marriage and the Sabbath

Ken Mindoro

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15 KJV).

Marriage is under attack, and no, it may not be what you think. Rather than discuss so-called “marriage” between homosexuals, which certainly is an attack on the biblical institution of marriage, let us evaluate the current debate within the Seventh-day Adventist Church regarding the ordination of women (WO) to headship positions once reserved only for men.

How does WO relate to marriage? “Every family is a church, over which the parents preside” (CG 549). When God created Adam and Eve and gifted them with the institution of marriage, He formed the first family. And in the first family God also created the first church. Therefore, any questions regarding authority in the church devolve into questions regarding authority in marriage.

Currently, there exists within the Seventh-day Adventist Church a three-way division regarding the question of ordaining women to pastoral headship roles. The basic arguments of each group are summarized as follows:

  1. The creation order of Adam and Eve, as well as differences in physical and reproductive attributes between men and women, provides a clear basis for differences in the roles that men and women hold within the family. Biblical male headship was established when God created Marriage. It was affirmed first through the Mosaic laws and practices regarding men in priestly roles and again later through Jesus’ earthly ministry. In keeping with God’s example, only men should be ordained to headship positions within the church.
  2. The Bible was written in a different time and culture, far removed from our daily experience. It must be interpreted through a culturally-conditioned approach in order to be relevant today. By taking its ancient cultural principles and mapping them out to a trajectory applicable today, we can align church practices with how modern society views the equality of men and women. The Bible’s principles, when applied to modern culture, allows for the ordination of women to headship positions.
  3. Although God originally set apart men both as heads of families, as priests, and as church leaders, this ideal cannot always be met today. Israel once asked for a king, a less-than-ideal style of leadership which God permitted. There exists with the church, a growing, vocal number clamoring for WO who have caused a debate threatening church unity. For the sake of preserving unity within the church, we should permit the ordination women to headship positions.

In the near future, another, far greater crisis will enter the church. At that time, the other God-given institution received in Eden—the Sabbath—will be under attack. Even now, there are already many in the world clamoring for unifying in Sunday worship. And as last day events progress, the call for Sunday worship will grow ever stronger. One day soon, “to secure popularity and patronage, legislators will yield to the demand for a Sunday law” (5T 451).

As the Sabbath has become the special point of controversy throughout Christendom, and religious and secular authorities have combined to enforce the observance of the Sunday, the persistent refusal of a small minority to yield to the popular demand will make them objects of universal execration. It will be urged that the few who stand in opposition to an institution of the church and a law of the state ought not to be tolerated; that it is better for them to suffer than for whole nations to be thrown into confusion and lawlessness. . . a decree will finally be issued against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, denouncing them as deserving of the severest punishment and giving the people liberty, after a certain time, to put them to death” (GC 615).

Imagine if, today, the church faced a debate revolving not around WO, but around our day of worship. If the three main positions regarding WO were applied to the coming Sabbath crisis, the various options might appear as follows. (Please note that this exercise is performed not to explain how proponents of any option currently believe regarding the Sabbath/Sunday question, but rather to render more clearly the principal argument behind each position.)

  1. God created the Sabbath as the capstone of the week of creation. He reminded humanity of the holiness of the Sabbath through the Fourth Commandment and even kept the Sabbath Himself during His earthly ministry. Even decades after His death, at the fall of Jerusalem, He expected His disciples to continue keeping the Sabbath (Matthew 24:20). Therefore, we should continue to follow that which God established and worship on the Lord’s Day, the seventh-day Sabbath.
  2. The Bible was written in a different time and culture, far removed from our daily experience. It must be interpreted through a culturally-conditioned approach in order to be relevant to us today. We must take its ancient cultural principles and map them out to a trajectory applicable to modern society. Although modern culture has changed its day of worship, the principle of the Sabbath, when applied to modern culture, can be kept even when worshipping on Sunday.
  3. Although God originally set aside the Sabbath as a sacred day of rest, His ideal cannot always be met today. God once permitted a less-than-ideal practice when Israel asked for a king. Threatened with death, there is a growing, vocal number clamoring for changing our day of worship. For the sake of preserving church unity, we should support worship on Sunday even though it is not God’s ideal day of worship.

The principle behind WO’s option #2 leads to nothing more than a blatant disregard for the Fourth Commandment. “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4 NIV). And even option #3, while acknowledging the truth, still promotes the practice of that which is not truth. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). Only one line of reasoning preserves the observance of the Fourth Commandment and keeps God’s Sabbath holy.

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much” (Luke 16:10). Our faithfulness in defending the first institution of Creation, marriage, prepares us to stand true to God in upholding the second institution of Creation, the Sabbath. We must beware the methods used to defend our beliefs, lest we open ourselves to still greater errors in the days to come. So long as our feet remain planted solely on the Word of God, we shall stand firm in the truth. We shall “stand for the right, though the heavens fall” (ED 57).

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Ken Mindoro is a family medicine physician practicing near Soledad, CA.

17 replies on “On defending Marriage and the Sabbath”

Some great observations and insights here!
Realizing how position two and even three when applied to our other doctrines could be easily used to destroy them, I wanted to rewrite some of the papers presented by advocates of those positions substituting the subject for sabbath instead of headship, but that would take too much time.
Cultural conditioning is a disingenuous escape hatch that can be applied anywhere as long as it is thought necessary. Thus it places Biblical doctrine entirely at the mercy of the theologian who may or may not revere the Sacred Writings enough to deal with them in integrity. If we allow for that kind of reasoning now, only the passing of sufficient time separates us from the abandonment of our other distinctive doctrines and other unpopular truths we currently believe.

Very true, Jordy, and so I thank you and the article’s writer for this timely observation concerning the false premises behind any and all “culture conditioning” of Scripture.
On this point, one of my favorite articles asked the following question at the Adventists Affirm website: “The key texts linking the headship principle with the teaching authority of elders and pastors are 1 Timothy 2:11-14 and 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35. Are these texts culturally conditioned to Paul’s time and place (the local situation in Ephesus and Corinth), as some proponents of women’s ordination suggest?”
And this three-part Bible study provided a conclusive answer for many of us who support Scripture’s full authority: “Clearly the instructions given in 1 Timothy are not meant merely for the local church in Ephesus, but for the whole Christian church….In light of these things, it is illegitimate to confine 1 Timothy to the local situation of Ephesus, and hence, to argue that the prohibition in 2:11-15 is of temporary or local application.”
Let’s keep praying for God’s intervention at our session in Texas!

Ken, Thank you for this timely article and the dangers that we face as a world-wide church. As we start the 100 days of prayer on Wed March 25th.to July 2nd may we seek unity at the 60th GC Session. Our larger problem that we are facing is the One Project. Please pray for the Bakersfield CA event that starts this Friday. May we pray for Operation Iceberg speakers and help others within our community of faith to see the dangers. WO and the One Project are all part of the emerging church assault and they are part of the Omega Rebellion at Ellen White warn us against. May God have mercy on us all.

What is Operation Iceberg you ask?
In my own words it is a pressing together of those who see the dangers that have been prophesied become reality, and they have now decided to uphold the banner of true faithfulness to Jesus, by confronting spiritually dangerous movements and developments like the emerging church in love and firmness.
Is where you can see for yourself what they are about.

Thank you all for your encouraging comments.
It has come to my attention that I made an error in my write-up. The section described in Position 2 above summarizes the NAD TOSC majority position rather than GC TOSC position 2.
There is a difference between the two pro-WO arguments employed by these groups which is worth highlighting.
The NAD TOSC majority position uses the principle-based historical-cultural hermeneutic (PBHC) to justify WO through the extrapolation of biblical principles to modern culture.
GC TOSC Position 2, on the other hand, builds its argument using the historical-grammatical hermeneutic. It argues that the NT “priesthood of believers” removes distinctions with regard to gender/race/class and as such, permits the introduction of WO. It sees the writings of Paul to the early Christian churches in Ephesus and Corinth (and the relevant passages in 1 Tim and 1 Cor) as referring to local situations, thus limiting their universal application.
To reflect the GC Position 2 statement more accurately, it may be helpful to revise what I wrote above. Despite these changes, the conclusions I arrived at previously have not changed.
2. God created men and women and did not arbitrarily restrict them from the possibility of performing roles than those originally assigned to them. Although the qualifications for the offices of deacon and elder are gender specific, they are not gender exclusive. As such, the Bible is silent regarding the prohibition of ordaining women to leadership positions. In the early Christian church, the Holy Spirit distributed spiritual gifts without regard to gender and women have even served God in such leadership positions as prophet and judge. Therefore, it is permissible to ordain women to leadership positions as long as they have the appropriate gifts.
2. God created the seventh-day Sabbath and did not restrict humanity from worshiping | 300 limit

Ken, perhaps so, but how can you be truly certain that the GC TOSC position 2 group is using the historical-grammatical method? How does one know that a person is not actually using a different hermeneutic to get to the initial conclusion and then claiming that they reached that conclusion by the historical-grammatical pathway? It appears to me that some are using a “parallel construction” approach. That is, they are landing where they plan to land with their conclusions but then claiming to have arrived there by the approved hermeneutic.
While there is no direct way to confirm what pathway has been used to reach conclusions, one may consider certain questions. For example,
1. Does an article outline the procedure by which it progresses to its conclusions?
2. How does a sermon or article deal with data? Have pertinent texts been ignored (biased selection/evidence blackout).
3. Have conclusions been overstated (lack of coercive evidence)?
4. Have conclusions been reached by overestimating the value of cultural reconstructions?
5. In the end has an article emphasized coercive evidence from Scripture or the speculative hopes of the theologian? Is the conclusion reached closely derived from Scripture, or based primarily on poorly, weakly or even unsupported assertions?
An example of such problems is seen in the extraordinarily poor July 2013 Ministry magazine article by Nancy Vyhmeister, “Junia the Apostle”:
Pr. Mike Lambert offered a short critique of the article here: http://ordinationtruth.com/featured/junia-the-apostle-really/
When conclusions offered seem starkly opposite those reached by others who operate on the basis of the historical-grammatical method, it is likely that there is a significant difference between the claimed historical-grammatical basis of the conclusion, and the fact of the hermeneutical operations which led to the allegedly historical-grammatical conclusion. Claims must be verified before being accepted at face value.

First a comment on Ken’s alleged “change.” Although Ken did go back and reconsider his “summary,” as anyone can see (by comparing just his first sentence, with what is actually stated by TOSC Position #2), his new alleged summary is still in reality a very sad misrepresentation of those in favor of women’s ordination. It is this type of frequent spreading of false facts that is precipitating much confusion within Adventism. I long for the day when we will all focus on rightly representing even those we disagree with.
Now to Larry’s comments: It greatly saddens me when fellow Adventists, instead of actually providing concrete evidence (with documented examples) of potential abuse of methods of interpreting the Bible, will rather raise questions which tend to undermine and impugn others and/or their attempts to labor as dedicated servants of God. Incidentally, I would urge/challenge anyone with an open heart to carefully read and reflect on the complete Position #2, and demonstrate (with actual examples) how and where (if at all) this document contradicts or ignores the voted “Methods of Bible Study” of the Adventist Church. Then, I’d urge the same type of study to be done regarding Position #1; and only then, can a fairer assessment be made. Personally, I have many friends on both sides of this issue — yet, my heart aches as I see how some are “treating” each other. What would Jesus do in this situation? That is the question . . .

Ron, it is a hard to take your comments about wishing for people to not misrepresent the views of others seriously when you so egregiously misrepresented Gerhard Hasel’s belief in your book on Women’s Ordination that it called for a public rebuke by his son, Michael Hasel.

Hi Phil, As a busy pastor I’ve not had opportunity to see the following comment you posted about me, which reads in full: “Ron, it is a hard to take your comments about wishing for people to not misrepresent the views of others seriously when you so egregiously misrepresented Gerhard Hasel’s belief in your book on Women’s Ordination that it called for a public rebuke by his son, Michael Hasel.”
This statement of yours took me by complete surprise, for more than one reason: (a) I am totally unaware of any so-called “public rebuke” by Michael Hasel; (b) I am rather surprised at the claim of having “egregiously misrepresented Gerhard Hasel’s belief,” when all I did was to simply make publicly available (with permission, as well as providing appropriate credit) what had been published (in the 1970s/1980s, I believe); (c) I am deeply saddened that a fellow Adventist, instead of contacting me personally (to establish facts), would publicly undermine my character in such a manner.
However, brother Phil, as I have become more involved in discussions on women’s ordination, I am learning to be more forgiving, since some of my “conservative” friends and acquaintances have become rather “strident” on this matter. Hence, while recognizing that I am a frail human, constantly in need of God’s grace, I take courage from Jesus who urged His followers to “rejoice and be exceeding glad” when wrongly treated.
I so wish ALL of us, on whatever side we stand on this matter, would treat each other the way Jesus would; and genuinely follow the Golden Rule. If I have in any way failed, even in this short post, please let me know, as I seek to ONLY rightly represent our Savior . . .

Just one more thing, Brother Phil,
Your comment about me (which as I noted, has no basis in fact, as far as I’m aware), also unfortunately, seemed to distract from the major point I was making about the alleged “summary” produced by Ken Mindoro.
Hence, I will repeat that here: Ken’s “new alleged summary is still in reality a very sad misrepresentation of those in favor of women’s ordination.” In fact, I was in email contact with Ken; and eventually he “admitted” that he put into the alleged “summary” his personal view as to what he is convinced Scripture says. This was the ONLY way in which he got his entire alleged comparison to work out, regarding Position #2.
I would kindly encourage anyone who is serious about becoming knowledgeable about the real truth of Position #2 to go and read it. For, if this position were faithfully summarized, it is not possible (as far as I have been able to see) how Ken could draw the conclusions he has done.
In brief, there is zero validity to what Ken has done (in relation to Position #2), as far as I have been able to find out. This is why I have labelled it a “misrepresentation;” and no one has pointed out that I am misreading Position #2. So, let’s be faithful to the facts, rather than simply promoting whatever will seem to support our personal positions {and I am “speaking” to myself here as well} 🙂 Keep focused on Jesus . . .

There is no misrepresentation of anyone here. When we distil all the tautology and redundancies and theological obfuscation we have two positions: we MUST officially institutionalize ordination of women as ministers and we MUST NOT take an official position to do so nor should we ALLOW anyone to do so. We are one people and must speak ONE thing. 1 Corinthians 1:10. The world needs a singular message from Adventists worldwide. One Bible must translate into ONE position for all whose authority is the Bible. Interpretation? How about a Divine Instruction? Do we have a Divine instruction to ordain women or a precedent. In fact do we have a gathering of women for spiritual purposes anywhere in scripture? Titus 1 verse 5 to 8 is gender specific. “Oh but it is not gender exclusive”. Yea? The fourth commandment is not days “exclusive either”. So we CAN, using that logic keep any other day Holy together with the Seventh. Thank God for the clause to labor six days. What we are saying is spacious reasoning is what we are having to deal with the GC’s position on this matter and other matters and those who are pushing the agenda for ordination of women will again find a hermeneutic to institutionalize conformity to humanism and feminism. This is the most brazen and open manifestation of what has been done to our church for decades, neutralize our spirituality with pseudo professional philosophical and academic reasoning and jargon, producing a mellifluous arsenic theology that makes us murky and muffled. We are saying nothing of importance to the world because we have just become its echo. And No it is not Christlike. It is treasonous. No dedicated service produces this impotent waffling. This is sabotage of clarity on very clear matters. The Bible is our example. There is no example for ordaining women to presiding over Holy things. Period. We must not be the first to do it. Not at this GC session. Not ever.

There remains the question of women being ordained as deaconesses and as local elders. Dealing with the last, this, so I understand, was sanctioned back in 1985, and at least it does not lend itself to fracturing the church—at least, if people from one milieu recognise that they can’t expect all to be like them! In fact, an elder’s authority is limited to their own local congregation. Such an officer would tend to be of mature years, and to have filled lesser offices with credit. This would NOT be true of a woman entering the ministry straight out of college, and still young enough to be the daughter of many of the congregation! Yes, I know she would be a probationer(“intern”), and it would be some years before she does get ordained, but she would still be a bit on the young side. As far as baptisms are concerned, in my 50 years as a SDA I have only witnessed ONE occasion when a local elder administered it, and that was because he spoke the candidate’s language. All the same I hope things don’t go wrong.

I am a former homosexual,& I thank God for getting me out of slavery to sin ,I no longer have those carnal thoughts ,I am free thanks to my Lord Jesus,his name has power,most people have not been able to believe that he is a God & that he can truly change even the most vile sinner into a true son of God,,,we just have to believe I him & he will do the transformation if we are willing to let him take over our hearts & unscramble our carnal minds,he’s given me victory over many things that I was enslaved to ,,the things I once disliked I now love & the things I once loved I now dislike..God is love & Jesus name & his word has supernatural power.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.