In time past, when I have noted the hermeneutical similarity between the pro-w/o agenda and the pro-homosexuality agenda, certain proponents of the former have taken great offense. Yet, their umbrage notwithstanding, none of them have actually negated the facts of the matter.
And if, as they claim, the two issues have no parallel, then why do certain WO advocates keep associating the two?
Bear in mind that this association is coming from within their own camp by WO advocates. Take for instance this recent comment from Loren Seibold, the executive editor of Adventist Today that I will quote in part below.. The context of his statement is the vote of the United Methodist Church. This church, in 1972, asserted the following:
"Homosexuals no less than heterosexuals are person of sacred worth, who need the ministry and guidance of the church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship which enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. Further we insist that all persons are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured, although we do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching” (Social Principles).
In 1984 another statement was passed:
"Since the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church” (Fidelity in Marriage and Celibacy in Singleness).
What happened at their latest General Conference is that delegates from around the world passed (53% to 47% opposed) a plan that means that their current statements about homosexuality, same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ individuals has remained the same.
Now, with that said, let's cue Mr. Seibold's commentary:
"....I followed with interest the news of the United Methodist Church’s General Conference session in St. Louis—in particular, the discussion of the church’s relationship to lesbian and gay people as members, participants, married couples, and clergy.
"To those of us who are supportive of LGBTQ people, it was a disappointing outcome. I would expect that of my denomination, but I was hoping for a better outcome from the Methodists.
".... "Many commentators noted that the UMC General Conference vote against gay people (someone will object that I’m not nuancing it sufficiently, but when it comes down to it, that’s precisely what it was) was swung by the developing world delegates. Writes Methodist theologian and author William Willimon, “Many African and Asian delegates, who come from vital churches full of Holy Spirit-induced innovation, joined the conservatives in dictating to the North American United Methodists the boundaries of our mission and the scope of congregational formation.”
"That is, of course, precisely what we say about the San Antonio vote against women’s ordination. There’s an important difference between the Methodists and us on this point, though. Only about a third of their membership is from a non-Western context. Ours is closer to two-thirds. This ought to tell you most of what you need to know about where we’re heading on any of the cultural questions that divide us
"..... The Biblical arguments for excluding gay people are weak—weaker than the arguments for excluding unkind, gossiping, angry, prideful and hurtful people. But even if those arguments were stronger, I would not accept them, any more than I accept the Bible on stoning and slavery” [End Quote].
The article continued on to question—among other things—the usefulness of General Conference, in full session, to make a good decision. Yet in all of this I would note what is conspicuously absent. There was not a single Word from God from the Holy Scriptures or the Testimonies explaining that homosexuality is no longer a sin.
Instead we see an argument that it was the culture of the developing world that hindered 'progress’.
As one commentator wrote to the Washington Post,
"The Bible says that homosexuality is wrong. Why do you expect the church to say anything different?"
Anyhow my point here is that Mr. Seibold is marking a clear parallel between the two agendas, as his article clearly attests. Thus the two issues have an observable parallel. It is this parallel that must give us pause. There is a deeper issue here, as Edwin Reynolds notes:
The main issue is not actually ordination or even the role of women, but it is hermeneutics, how we interpret Scripture correctly. Many are proposing a revision in our hermeneutics. The official hermeneutical position of those favoring the ordination of women is called "historical-cultural principle-based hermeneutics" as opposed to our long-time established hermeneutic from the Reformation called the "historical-grammatical method," which takes the language of the text very seriously, reading the text literally unless clearly meant not to be taken literally (as in symbology or metaphorical or figurative language).
The new (liberal) hermeneutic insists we cannot take the text at face value because the text was culturally conditioned and we have to read behind the text the various cultural issues which drove the writer to say what he did, assuming that the human element was more significant than the divine, and that the writers were guided by their (patriarchal) culture more than by the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Now that we are in the last days, the Holy Spirit is leading the church to reread the biblical text in such a way as to see behind the text the cultural factors and rule them out so as to be guided by the principles that supposedly are more important than the text.
For example, male headship was due to a patriarchal culture in which men needed to maintain control of the women so as to keep control of their families and of society, but now we understand that that was an unjust system that needs to be changed.
The principle of social justice is greater than the text which supports a patriarchal system, so we read the principle instead of the text and change the interpretation of the text so as to be in harmony with our
advanced modern cultural understanding of the important role of full egalitarianism as a more just system for society and for the church.
By stripping the text of its inferior cultural trappings, such as male headship or dominance, we can read God's ultimate intent for the modern church, namely, full egalitarianism, which means that there should be no role differences between men and women. After all, the texts that support such a complementarian system carry the baggage of patriarchalism which needs to be stripped away in order to reveal the truth of full egalitarianism.
This is a low view of Scripture that would result in many other changes, including rereading the texts so as to invalidate a literal seven-day creation, substituting in its place the keeping any one day in seven instead of the seventh-day Sabbath. It further allows for homosexuality and gay marriage, doing away with our biblical eschatology based on a rereading of the prophetic passages, and so forth and so on.
This new hermeneutic being proposed would do away with most of the foundations of our church.
It is the hermeneutic used by liberal churches to reject the doctrines we have held as a church, and I believe that it is the point upon which the shaking will take place in the church. So much depends on our hermeneutic for interpreting Scripture.
See what is already happening among the loudest proponents of this new hermeneutic, the Spectrum and Adventist Today crowd and the religion professors at La Sierra University and so forth, namely, those who call themselves Progressive Adventists.
You can't change Adventism unless you change the hermeneutic upon which our doctrines are founded.
This issue is the testing ground for whether or not the Church is willing to adopt a new hermeneutic—one that will result in many other changes if this one succeeds in getting accepted by the Church.
Trust me on this. Or if not, start asking questions for yourself, and you will soon discover that what I am telling you is true.