This morning I received news that on June 13th the 2007 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) voted 112 to 70 to remove the word "male" as a requirement for holding ecclesiastical office in the church. The vote clears the way for women to become ministers, elders, deacons and ministry associates in the Christian Reformed Church. While lauded as a "tremendous moment" by supporters, its hard not to wonder how this group, like so many others in our day, can take a position that is clearly contrary to what is taught in the Scriptures. The Christian Reformed Church which has been slowly moving away from biblical orthodoxy for years has merely taken another step which makes it difficult to take it seriously as Christian community that is shaped by the Word and led by the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, if it does not live up to its name as "reformed" it will eventually cease to exist as a viable expression of the body of Christ. In my experience, the only reason the church continues is because of its growth from within by means of "covenant children" which is another major distortion of the Christian faith. Evangelism beyond the "confirming of covenant kids" is almost non-existent and I cannot see why anyone would want to get involved with the group unless it is because of their family and cultural background. Most folks that I know who become Christians leave the Christian Reformed Church looking for more solid instruction and a more vibrant Christian experience.
In the New Testament women are free to participate in the life of the church in many ways. But until Jesus returns at the end of the age there are particular responsibilities entrusted to some men in terms of leadership in Christ's church. We do not have the option of adjusting the teaching of the New Testament to suit the spirit of the age in which we live. Even though some theologians have become incredibly creative in their search for a way to dismiss the normative nature of clear biblical injunctions in this area, their attempts are most unconvincing. One thing I have noticed is that churches in this area where I live who have gone down that road eventually end up closing their doors one by one. Churches with a woman's name on the sign as pastor are at the end of their life cycle. While I am sure there are exceptions to the rule this tells me that what is laid out in the New Testament is not for unenlightened people who did not know what we smarties "know" today, but it is for all God's people until Jesus comes and make all things new. It is never the path of wisdom to pretend that we are wiser than God, no matter how "sophisticatedly reformed" we imagine ourselves to be.