Ministry (37): Ordination of women—the justification
“The apostolate decides that women can be entrusted with ministerial authority.” This decision was taken after extensive discussion of the biblical findings. Here is the detailed justification.
The doctrinal basis rests on two pillars: on the nature of human beings and on the need for salvation of human beings. The question of whether God makes a difference between the sexes is pivotal? Because ordination confers the authority to speak and act in His name.
Same nature, same dignity
The answer is to be found in the fact that human beings are created in the image of God. It “brings up the fundamental relationship of man to God and the relationship of God to man”, it says in the essay on the ordination of women in the Special Edition of the Divine Service Guide 3/2022.
In this respect there are no differences between man and woman: both are directly related to God Himself. So they are both equally created in the image of God. “In anthropological terms this means that man and woman, woman and man are of the same dignity and have received the same mission from God.”
Equally in need of redemption
God created man and woman as perfect beings. But the fall into sin has damaged them—and both in the same way: because both are afflicted with original sin and the propensity to sin. Both therefore exist in a state of separation from God and are unable to live a sinless life.
“Woman and man are thus also in equal soteriological need,” the essay emphasises. Man and woman are both sinners and are in equal need of God’s gracious care and of redemption.
In fact, God’s love and care applies to all human beings: Jesus Christ died for all human beings—meaning it applies equally to both men and women. And the salvation He has acquired applies to both of them together.
Equally one in Christ
“If human beings can receive salvation irrespective of their gender, then they can also be involved in mediating salvation irrespective of their gender,” it says, stating one limitation: insofar as the mediating of salvation occurs through word and sacrament.
Here the Special Edition of the Divine Service Guide makes reference to Galatians 3: 28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Word and sacrament, church and ministry—all of this revolves around Christ. And in Christ there are no men and women, but rather only human beings.
What Apostle Paul addresses here is the “fundamental fact that all the believers together form the body of Christ”. This “must be clearly expressed as the principle and foundation of the church and of the mediation of salvation”.
Finally, two aspects concerning the “universal priesthood of believers” are mentioned. On the one hand, every Christian, whether man or woman, is called to profess the Lord and proclaim His gospel through word and deed. Secondly, both men and women will serve alongside Christ as the royal priesthood in the future kingdom of peace.
The essay comes to the conclusion: “Not only are women and men alike called to the universal priesthood of believers, but both can also be called to spiritual ministry. Therefore, women can likewise receive blessing, sanctification, and authority through the mediation of the apostolate.”
There are objections to this justification. The Apostles have discussed this intensively. And this is what the next part of our series will focus on.
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