Clergy, Laity, Men and Women

Historically Lutheran’s correctly said that said there is no divine distinction between clergy and laity.  The pastoral office is a divine institution, but the pastor himself is no different than a layman.  He is given no indelible mark in ordination as Roman Catholicism teaches.  While no one in the LCMS would argue for an indelible mark, we are making a fundamental distinction between clergy and laity.  Women cannot read the lessons or distribute the sacrament because they are not clergy not because they are not males.  We take this position so as not to run afoul of the spirits of our age egalitarianism and feminism.

This is not how Luther saw things.  A Christian father has a divine call to preach the Gospel and even administer the Sacrament. “’Nor must the fact be overlooked that the office of the church is not confined to the public services in God’s house.  It is also exercised by the head of the family.  He has the call to teach his family the Word of God.  This is not a provision for emergencies; the call to teach his own is given right in and with the estate of head of the household.’” (Luther in Luther on Worship, 117) “Luther even maintained that the housefather is fully entitled to administer Holy Communion.  But he did not mention this right among the father’s duties, because he considered the Lord’s Supper a public service of the congregation.” (Ibid. 118)

By saying the fundamental distinction is between clergy and laity rather than where God created it between male and female we are doing, I should say ‘undoing’ several things: 1) We are subtly undermining the priesthood of all believers.  2) We are encouraging fathers to abdicate their churchly duties in the home.  3) We are ignoring a fundamental distinction in creation and exalting a manmade one.

It will be easier to ordain women with our new understanding.  I mean if the only reason women aren’t to read the lessons or distribute the Sacrament is because they’re not clergy, well then, make them clergy.  Ordain them.  But if the reason they aren’t to do these things is because it conflicts with the created order, you have to first overturn the created order.  That’s hard to do, but the feminists and gay marriage crowds have been pushing in that direction for a long, long time.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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