What Samuel thinks of egalitarianism

Baby SamuelNo, not that Samuel. I was meditating on the similarities between ordaining female pastors/elders and 1 Samuel 15. Please note that this post is not an argument about whether or not egalitarianism is right, this post is a comparison of two issues, one ancient and one modern (yet mysteriously archaic).

The denomination that my family has been in for centuries (literally), now ordains women to teaching and leadership positions. Clearly God can do all things, and he may yet straighten out this denomination, but I fear this will end in shipwreck and complete loss.

My uncle and his family still attend a church in this denomination. He loves Jesus and is a shining example of true Christianity, and I mean that, I’m not being sarcastic, he really is a role model for me in many ways. He mentioned that this didn’t bother him at all, because “if no man steps up to lead the church, why not put a women in that place?” The simple answer is that it is disobeying God’s word. There are other alternatives to a lady becoming a teaching pastor over men in the church. The most obvious is that you don’t have a church there, because it is better to obey God than to do religious things in disobedience to him.

This issue bears so many parallels to 1 Samuel 15 that its unbelievable. Saul is commanded to destroy the Amalekites entirely – man, woman, child, beast – every living creature. But instead, he does the more “religious” thing and spares some animals in order to “sacrifice to the Lord your God.” (verse 15) God is so furious that he rejects Saul from being king. The importance of this rejection cannot be overstated. Look at God’s words through the prophet Samuel in vs. 22-23:

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has also rejected you from being king.”

Obedience is better than sacrifice. Obedience is better than worship. But God takes it up a notch: this is rebellion! This is like divination! This is witchcraft! (which Saul ironically seeks at the end of his life, see chapter 28 ) No, this is idolatry! You have rejected the word of the Lord because you thought you could be more holy! You thought your crappy sacrifices were more important than obeying God!

Rebel. Witch. Idolater. What will God say of those who disobey him so that they can have someone to lead worship? What will God say of those who disobey him so that church services can go on. Can it be anything better than rebel, witch, or idolater? No way, and the verdict today is the same: rejected. You cannot do better than God has commanded us to do.

It does not matter what the circumstances are. Were there spotless lambs and cattle that met all the sacrificial requirements? Was it the perfect day for a sacrifice in honor of God overcoming the Amalekites? Are there no men to lead the congregation? Is it the perfect location, church building, and group of people to form a church? It does not matter. Obey. You cannot be more pious and holy than God and it is the ultimate insult to think you can.

And the similarities between this and the Pharisees empty worship abound as well, but I’ll save that for another post.


2 responses to “What Samuel thinks of egalitarianism

  1. Justin Richter

    Parker, great post. I love your passion for the purity of the Church. One thing though, is women ordination really on par with Saul’s failure in 1 Samuel 15? And is a woman teaching the same as idolatry, witchcraft, etc.? I’m not sure scripture is as harsh on this topic.

    Your uncle said something along the lines as, “if a man doesn’t step up to lead a church then a woman should.” I think Judges 4 is an example of this. Deborah leads her people to salvation none the less because Barak was to scared too take charge. Is Deborah condemned? No. Was Barak rebuked? Yes. God doesn’t only deal with the black and white but also the gray areas.

    I have heard that the church in China has a lot of woman leadership mainly because there are more male Christians then female and also because of certain work situations. Are they in sin(i.e. idolatry and sorcery)? Probably not. But I think we should say that it isn’t what it should be.

    I look forward to conversing more about this. But I think a good website to check out is ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com. It is probably my favorite blog right now and it has recently covered this issue a lot. Check it out.

  2. Yo J, thanks for reading it man, I wasn’t sure if anyone even still stopped by here.

    I see what you’re saying and I think that you’re right that its not so simple as black and white. The example that really made me think hard about it was Elizabeth Elliot and the wives of the 5 guys who were killed by the Auca Indians. What were they supposed to do, right? And since Elliot is a reformed hero, no one can speak wrong against it. 🙂

    But I would add as a caveat that those were situations of extreme need (China, Aucas, Deborah). In my article above, I was thinking specifically of the willful disobedience of egalitarianism in the American church. These are not situations of extreme need where faithful women are trying to work themselves out of a job by raising up male believers. No. The egalitarianism that I have in mind is founded upon intentionally overturning the authority of the scriptures in this area.

    Let me tell you the specifics of the denomination that I referred to above, I think that will help clarify my position. This denomination has set a goal for themselves, they want X amount of churches planted with X amount of attendees by the year 2010 (I can’t remember the exact amount or year, but you get the picture). The amount that they chose is far beyond what their current attendance is. Because planting churches and making disciples is hard, they have been forced to take pretty extreme measures to meet their goals. For this reason, they decided to give in on their previous stance and allow egalitarianism.

    Again, I see an undeniable similarity between this and Saul’s action in saving some animals to sacrifice. They have established a seemingly pious guideline (sacrifice, more churches) that causes them to have to overrule God’s command in order to fulfill it.

    I hear what you’re saying about all the difficulty of applying this to various situations. I think that you’re right, its no so black and white. But in the egalitarianism that sets itself up against the authority of God’s word, I do think this applies. After all, who would’ve guessed that God would’ve gotten so mad about Saul just sparing a few animals (and one king) in order to do the apparently holy act of sacrificing them to God?

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