Last weekend I heard a 17-year-old girl deliver the sermon at church. It was excellent! In fact, it was one of the best sermons I had heard in the last 12 months. Her sermon was about the fact that God can use anyone for good - even a young person. I have heard that this young person is interested in studying theology and I can imagine she would make a very good pastor. But, of course, the organisation she most probably would end up working for wouldn’t ordain her - after all, she is a woman.
During a conversation about this girl’s future, I made the comment that, by the time she gets to the age where she might complete her study and want to be employed as a pastor, we are going to have to do something about the discriminatory practice of not permitting women to be ordained, even though they may be functioning in exactly the same capacity and with the same gifts (given by God!) as men.
In response, the person I was discussing this with said something like, ’I don’t think she would worry about being ordained. She will just get on and do what she wants to do, working around the issue of ordination. Not being ordained won’t stop her.’
This conversation reminded me of one of the most irritating things I hear said about women’s ordination. It usually comes from those who disagree with it. I’m particularly irritated when I hear it from ordained men. They say: ’It is not necessary to be ordained for a woman to still engage in ministry. They can still serve God with their gifts - so why worry about ordination? Just get on with their ministry. Why make trouble fighting for women to be ordained? It only distracts from the real task that needs to be done.’
If this is true that women can minister without ordination (and, of course, I agree that it is), then I think there is a way of solving the whole "problem" of women’s ordination. I suggest that we stop ordaining men as well! After all, if women can serve God just as well without being ordained, surely men can, too. It would give those who perpetuate the discrimination against women an opportunity to prove that, indeed, they can minister just as well without the recognition that comes from ordination. And we could stop the debate over women’s ordination overnight. Everyone would be treated the same and we could move on with ministry without the issue of ordination distracting us from the main task.
Now - I wonder how that would be accepted. Maybe we’d discover all of a sudden that ordination is "essential" for a whole host of reasons -- but only for men, of course!