Tell the Women Who They Are

Mrs. Emily Carder

From one of the Confessional Gal's best weapons, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, by C. F. W. Walther, "Thirty-fourth Evening Lecture; September 11, 1885; page 349. "Contempt for pure doctrine is contempt for the truth; for the pure doctrine is simply nothing else, absolutely nothing else, than the pure Word of God. It is not, as some would think the doctrine adapted to the systems of dogmaticians that has been accepted by the Church."

Man, Woman no longer needs you. What God brought forth and established in His ongoing activity of creation has been replaced. Woman may now act on her own to conceive and bear children. The very act made possible by the differences in the God-created physical structures of Man and Woman is no longer necessary for the continuation of human life. Moreover, with the advent of cloning techniques, it may soon be possible for Woman to reproduce herself, thereby no longer needing the donation of the one thing she could not provide for herself and therefore required of Man - his seed. Man, Woman no longer needs you.

Such was the cry from some quarters of the feminist camp with the report of the successful cloning of a sheep. While this may represent the most extreme of the feminist views, it is nonetheless the acute manifestation of a general malaise known to women when they discard their God-created identity as Woman in their attempt to step into the God-given position of Man. In so doing, in reaching out to be independent of Man, Woman instead finds her hands not stretching out, but back -- to choke herself. For in her effort to arrogate the place of Man, these women are repeating the mistake of that first woman, Eve, who sought equality with her Creator. And now, disregarding the Word of her Savior, Woman steps into the place of Man by assuming the Office of the Holy Ministry, which Christ instituted for His means and purposes, to be administered by a few called men. Once again today Woman is questioning the Word and the will of God. And, just as that first man, Adam, participated in Eve's sin, so, too, have men today joined with women in questioning the legitimacy of God's Word.

Couched within the argument supporting the feminist ideology is a question of ancient form and roots: "We are all equal in Christ, so there's no difference to God if we are male or female. Right?" The lie within the half-truth is difficult to discern. It hides buried in a tangled web of emotionally charged issues such as child and wife abuse, rape and social and political equality. Many Lutherans in the Missouri Synod simply give up the attempt to untangle the question and discover the lie for what it is, and so acquiesce to a theology they understand as a social or political situation. Too often what is doctrine is seen as polity; what is theology is understood as tradition. This is why t`he greatest threat to the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod is not from women who would assume the Office of the Holy Ministry. To now, the Missouri Synod has preserved the Divine Office from women seeking ordination, but the battle testing the strength of her resolve has yet to be engaged. One must wonder, though what the answer from Missouri will be when the lines are drawn and she must declare a stand? Will Missouri tell her women what they may do? Or, will she tell her women who they are? You see, it is by knowing who, and Whose, she is that Woman will know what she may do. Just as it is not for Woman to hold the Office of the Holy Ministry, even so it is incumbent upon the men of that good office to proclaim to women who they are so they may know how they may serve. That having been said, let me make it clear that the greatest threat to Missouri lies in the lack of theological awareness of her laymen and the laxity of some of her clergy. To understand the truth of this, let us look at the Creation and its theology, which debunks the half-lie that is feminist theology.

Feminist theology, with its egalitarian promises, interprets the =91image of God' as gender distinctions, not as Man's and Woman's individual relationships with and dependence on God; and, founded in philosophy and anthropology, its proponents have persuaded Woman that she wants independence from Man, and wants to be relieved of the burden of his authority. Citing abuse to Woman in the name of Man, feminist theology then blames the patriarchal society of the Old Testament on the order of creation, that order which God proclaimed "Very good". Claiming that the message of the Gospel, Christ and Him crucified, can set the limits of Man's and Woman's relationship with God, feminist theology re-structures the order of creation. The order of creation has now been used to establish Man and Woman as partners with God, able to decide what is God's will for them with their own knowledge, and not through His Word. God's order of creation has now been used to establish this autonomy, for it is through His creation and by His order that God has worked Redemption. Therefore, according to feminist theology, God is not recognized as Creator, and He is not recognized as the One who sets limits. Life is not dependent on God, and His Word is not binding to Him or to Man and Woman, who are left to decide what is truth, what is myth. Questions concerning the origin of man and doubts relating to the bodily Resurrection of Christ give evidence of this. Thus, feminist, or modern theology, in the words of Gustaf Wingren, Creation and Law; translated by Ross Mackenzie, Concordia Theological Seminary Press, FT. Wayne, IN, 1987, page 125, makes "The whole faith in Christ [...] anti-human, while belief in Creation [...] continue[s] to be denied."

Whatever the feminist theologians may claim, God's Creative, Redemptive, and Sanctifying activities in our lives, as well as the life of the Church, are not separate, one from the other. For, says, David Scaer in his article in the Concordia Theological Quarterly, "Sacraments as an Affirmation of Creation", October 1993, page 248, "... every work of God recapitulates an earlier work from which it derives its form and substance. Creation anticipates its redemption and sanctification, and redemption and sanctification presuppose the creation." Therefore, to deny the Creation is also to deny Redemption and Sanctification. With what promise, then, will the proponents of such a theology leave its adherents?

It is in Creation where Woman first appeared by the work of God, and it is the details of Creation which commences the debunking of feminist theology. Woman, God's creation, was many things to God and Man, and she was important specifically because she was created uniquely distinct from Man. She was the answer to the first prayer of Man and thus God's gift to him; as Man's counterpart, his helpmeet who would work with him within God's plan for them, Woman was the means through which God would continue His ongoing process of Creation; she was the first to sin and was Man's companion in their punishment; finally, Woman is the instrument through whom God offered the hope of eternal life and restoration of His own image in Man and Woman. God has a specific plan and purpose for Woman to fulfill His will for His creation. Woman is precious and valuable to God.

Woman -- the answer to the first prayer of Man, and God's gift to him -- and Man are the result of the creative and imaginative mind of God. Brought to life by His command, with His shaping, and with His own breath, they bore on them His image which, contrary to the beliefs of feminist theology, depends on Him as its source and cannot exist apart from Him. While Genesis 1 speaks of the creation of Man and Woman as single effort of God, Genesis 2 provides God's own personal attention to detail. Man, created first, has responsibility and privilege. He is to be God's steward in creation, and the earth is his to subdue.. He may eat freely of any tree of the Garden, save one. He is not to be idle; God has a plan for him, part of which is that Man procreate.

The first directives, subduing the earth, dominion over the animals, procreation, and eating of the trees, God issued so that His ordered Creation would be a blessing to Man and Woman. The command against eating from the Tree of Knowledge defined Man's and Woman's relationship with God: Do this and you will continue to live in communion with me. Fail this and you shall die. Contrary to what feminist theology asserts, Man and Woman are not partners with God in His creation; they are His stewards, following His order, His will, His way. God, as their Creator and superior, has the right to set the limits of the relationship. In issuing the command concerning the Tree, God reveals a fundamental aspect of His nature. In his July 1977 article for Concordia Theological Quarterly, "Man Made in the Image of God and Its Relationship to the First Promise", pp. 20-35, Scaer's analysis of the command about the tree helps us discern this. Says Scaer, "In attaching his Word or command to the Tree, God for Himself is making a commitment from which He cannot, does not, and will not release Himself. To put it bluntly, God does not, and cannot go back on His word." God's will is bound by his Word, and His Word is bound by His will. In this way God has tied Himself to His creation; for, the order of creation is also a product of His Word and His will. Thus, it is the way God wants things to be. Inasmuch as God has tied Himself to His Creation by His Word and will, when feminist theology denies belief in Creation, it does, in essence, deny God Himself.

This binding of God's Word and will to Creation is also seen in other ways, because, in spite of all the work accomplished, Creation is not complete. Man is alone; he has no counterpart, no helpmeet to accomplish God's will in creation. Man discovers this when he names the animals and finds no one like him. Therefore, causing Adam to fall into a deep sleep, God takes a rib from his side, and creates Woman. In rejoicing for this wonderful gift from God, this new creature who was his other, Man thanks God: "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Thus, by God's will and order created first and independently of her, Man is the head of Woman. However, Man and Woman are not independent of each other, as feminist theology would have it. She is taken out of him; both are products of God's Word and will; and, in this way, like the rest of the Creation, are bound not only to each other, but also to God, their Creator.

The creation of Woman signals the culmination of God's creative work, and the establishment of His ongoing plan of life: Man and Woman would depend upon each other to cooperate with God's will for His Creation. They would become 'one flesh' once more and new life would begin in the Woman's body. Procreation would not result from an unilateral act of either; Man and Woman would need each other to bring forth the new life God willed. And so, according to God's order, just as Woman had come from the body of man, now men would come from the bodies of women, without yielding headship. Woman, in giving birth, would become God's intended means for, and bearer of, new human life to enter the world. God's work ended and His order established, God pronounced all that He had created "Very good," and rested. It is this order, the order of creation which God pronounced "Very good," along with all of creation. What, then, in Creation requires re-interpretation or transcending with the love of God for mankind expressed in Redemption? What in His creative activities speaks of an angry or unloving God?

The importance of Woman to God's creative plan, notwithstanding, God communicated his Word through Man. It was to Man God issued the command about the tree. And it was Man whom God held accountable for the breaking of this command. Although she shares equally with Man in the benefits and gifts of Creation, Woman is nonetheless subordinate to Man. She was not created independently of him. Man, formed first, was called to life with God's own breath; and, Woman, taken from Man's side, was formed from the living flesh and bone of Man. But she does not breathe with his breath. Indeed God called her to life with His own breath, also. Genesis tells us that God "brought her unto the Man," thus putting her into his charge. But, while he has stewardship of her, Woman is not Man's possession. What she is is God's creation and His gift to Man. As such, Man is responsible to God for her care, but she is not to replace God in his life. If Man has authority over Woman it is because God gave it to him. If he abuses such, it is because of sin. A theology which proclaims the independence of Woman from Man is contrary to God’s Word. In fact, for Woman to be independent of Man and to cast off his God-given authority over her, is for her to strike, not at Man, but at God the Creator. Thus, feminist theology, while proclaiming God vocally, denies Him quietly.

The order of creation is not the order of Woman's relationship to Man. It is the order of God's relationship first with Man, then God's with Woman. Horace Hummel, in an article for Concordia Journal, "The Image of God", May 1984, page 86: writes, "...the differences between the two sexes is a part of the order of creation. Man and woman share equally in the divine image. The primary accent is a vertical one, the relationship of both vis-a-vis God, not, as such, their horizontal relationship with each other." Woman's relationship to Man does not come from Man; it comes from God. Thus, her relationship with Man is a response to her relationship with her Creator. And, if we agree with Hummel, we must conclude that Woman's discontent with the authority of Man is not rooted in the things of Man; instead, the seed of her discontent is planted in her broken relationship with God.

The order of creation, the physical distinctions between Man and Woman, their joining as one flesh, and the prohibitions against eating from the Tree of Knowledge are commands, orders of ‘the way I want things to be' issued by the Creator of all things. They are God's gracious gifts, given for the benefit and for the good order of His Creation. On page 28 of his July 1977 article, Scaer points out that "Man may freely eat of the trees of the garden, but he may not freely disregard the command of God. Free will operates within the condition of the command. It is not to function in such a way as to question the legitimacy of the command." The validity and application of the command are not Woman's to question; the command was from God, her Creator. Nor is equality with God hers to claim, as feminist theology’s description of Woman as God’s partner would argue. Yet, In just this way, in entertaining the question concerning the command, and in acting of her own free will, Woman is the first to sin. Assuming Man's headship role over her, and God's over him, she leads man therein and, consequently, is Man's companion in their punishment. The serpent, asking a slyly-worded question, "Did God really say?" and offering a promise, like that extended by some modern theologies, 'to be like God', seduces Woman. To paraphrase Scaer, Eve chooses Creation over the Creator. Abandoning both his headship of the Woman and his submission to God, Man follows woman into sin. And so, the image of God in Man and Woman is lost; for, free will is not to be used over that which God retains dominion, His Word.

Declaring that Christ's new order abrogates the old, proponents of feminist theology propose that Gospel should reinterpret the order of creation and re-structure it. They claim that God's love first of all negates or abolishes the old order in favor of a new order which places the accent of the male-female relationship not on the vertical, as does Hummel, God to Man, God to Woman, but on the horizontal, Man and Woman to each other. This alteration in perspective, from Hummel's vertical to feminist theology's horizontal, shifts the focus of the relationship to the creature and from the Creator, where it belongs. The loss of the image of God in Man and Woman occurred as a result of just such a realignment when Woman and Man chose Creation over God.

This realignment could and did occur because Man and Woman were created in the image of God and possessed free will; they are able to choose either God's will or their own way. They do not have absolute free will; instead, they are bound by who they are, and whose they are. They are not God but are made a little lower than the angels. They cannot create. Only God can create, therefore only He can issue commands about His Creation. However, being God's stewards means that Man and Woman may exercise their free will over those things which God has given them dominion and the right to subdue: the earth and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. As long as Man's and Woman's will remained within the command of their God, their wills would be bound to God and they would remain in His image. They would retain their free will. Unwisely, Man and Woman exchange free will for a will in bondage to sin by exercising it, as Scaer says, "over and against divine things and not over and against earthly things for which the free will was made and for which it is sufficient."

Having forsaken freedom for bondage, Woman becomes man's companion in punishment which is characterized by banishment from Eden, hardship in labor and childbearing, and, finally, death. Life will be hard. That for which they were created, would not be their joy, but their burden. The earth would not be subdued without struggle, and in the end would reclaim dominion of their bodies. Woman would bear children, though in pain, and she would now view her submission to Man, her husband, as burdensome. Having no God-given authority, Woman is indicted for no sin. Neither her speaking to the serpent nor and her eating of the fruit is mentioned by God as He sends them from his Garden. But Man, the head of Woman, is found guilty on three charges: he has submitted to the usurped authority of his wife, eaten of the fruit, and disobeyed the command of God.

Finally, Woman is the instrument through which God offers hope of eternal life and the restoration of His image in Man and Woman. In the punishment of the serpent, God holds out to Man and Woman a promise. One will come, born of Woman, and the Seed of the Creator, who will conquer their foe, the serpent. Eve, the first woman, believed this promise, and looked for its fulfillment in the birth of her first child, Cain. Surely Adam, the first man, believed her when she exclaimed "I have gotten a man from the Lord." for her words are written for us to remember in Genesis 4, verse 1. Eve's words at the birth of Cain looked forward to Christ, the Seed of the Promise, the Author and Finisher of our faith. But that firstborn child of Adam and Eve was not of God's Seed. He would not restore the image of God in Man and Woman. That first child was Cain, and Cain brought with him death in the form of murder.

Proponents of modern or feminist theology have declared themselves freed from the Law, which we all are, but freed from its curses, not its responsibilities. Nor are we free from the accountability imposed by the created and fallen order of this world while it yet stands. Our lives are not lived in a vacuum. We do not come from out of nothing, which is what we are left with when Creation is nullified. It is by God, and only by God that we exist, and it is to Him we are responsible for that existence. By proclaiming a new order of creation feminist theology has constructed a Savior who destroys the order which God established as a part of His creative process. Acceptance of the Theory of Evolution, either in whole or in part, have aided the efforts of this false theology to re-write creation, and ignore God's Word.

No problem, these false theologians say, the Bible doesn't really mean to tell us the truths of God, it merely tells us about God through traditions and customs, tales and myths to teach us about religion. We are left now with the freedom to decide our own way. When the Creation is re-created by the cross of Christ, the Old Testament histories are separated from the New Testament. Woman's God-created uniqueness is uncreated; she is as man. Her special and God-given contributions to God's redemptive history in His people are not to be found in the Bible narratives. The history of Woman in the Bible is declared to be Man's account of his own religious history; not God's history of His Creative, Redemptive, and Sanctifying activity with and for Man and Woman.

I cannot emphasize this enough , Creation is not a past event in our lives, nor is belief in it to be denied in word or action, no matter what feminist theology says. The events of Genesis speak to us from God's Word today. On page 127 of his book Wingren puts it this way, "We all belong to the humanity whose origin and fall is described in Ge. I-III, and whose salvation is intended when the New Testament kerygma is proclaimed. The unity of the Bible is to be found only in the fact that it is now being preached. The one who hears the Gospel holds together in his own person the first and the last sections of the Bible, for it is his history which is narrated on the first pages of the Bible, and his future which is described on the last pages." Creation is God's means by which He effects His will today, just as it was in the Old Testament. When Creation is denied or viewed as a past act of God and not relevant for today, its order, and the history which proceeded from that Order are negated or are seen as custom or tradition of no applicable use for the present age. God's history of Woman, starting in Creation, is her history for today. To deny Creation and thereby deprive Woman of her Scriptural history is to encourage her, as feminist theology does, to view herself as functional, and a victim of Man, existing only for his needs and purposes. It is God's Word which shows that Woman is valuable to God for His intents and purposes.

As with the nullification of Creation, endeavors to gender-neutralize, or even feminize, the language of Scripture in an attempt to avoid references to God as Father have their roots in a more ancient source than debates about the social malaise purportedly caused by patriarchy. What is there to be blamed in it? Patriarchy is the result of the promise made to the Father of the Chosen Nation of Israel by the Father of All the Nations of the Redeemed. That promise is kept in Christ. Knowing that simply lays bare the deceptiveness of these efforts which all hark back to 'did God really say'. Even more simple, though, is the source after which all fatherhood is named: God is the Father because the Christ is His Son. The denigration of any ethnicity, sex or person by another is due to sin; but, changing God's Word is not the solution. Changing God's Word is part and parcel of the original sin.

At the foot of Mount Hermon Christ stood with His disciples, men whose history included all that we know as the Old Testament. These were men who knew the Creator through His Word; who knew of the Promised One; whose lineage could be traced back through the generations of the patriarchs. It was from these men that Christ asked, "Who do you say that I am?" And Peter, declaring what would later become the creeds of the Church replied, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter could not have made that confession, that Christ was the Messiah, the One Promised of God's Seed and Woman's body, if he could not also have confessed, as the Church would later, "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth." Confessing God as Creator is confessing Him as Father, and it is to confess that He created all that He proclaimed "Very good", including the order of creation. It is this Creation which He restores through His redemptive work on the cross.

By bestowing free will on Man and Woman, God granted them the ability to choose either His way or their own way. Thus, God gave to Man and Woman the very faculty which could be used against Him in sin. Yet, when God created Man and then took Woman from the side of Man, He created the means through which His Gift of Salvation, His Son, would come into the world, and restore what was lost through sin. What feminist theology does not seem to understand is that Woman, as God created her, is an integral part of God's plan. In Creation Woman was the one through whom God would continue human life; thus, making her a partner to God, relegating the Creation to fiction serves to deprive Man and Woman of the promise. The order of creation is the order through which God works Redemption and Sanctification. God's work of Redemption presupposes His order of creation, and anticipates Sanctification. Kurt Marquart parallels Paul when he makes this comparison, "Given the reference to Genesis 2 in Ephesians 5:31, one may at least draw attention to the parallel between the creation of Eve and the new creation, (II Cor 5:17) of the church. As Adam's bride was taken out of his side while he slept, so the Second Adam's Bride is brought into existence by means of the spirit, the water, and the blood (John 5;8), which correspond verbatim to what issued from His sacred body when He began His three days sleep in death (Jn 19:30-34)."

Paul's words in Ephesians 5, "23 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything", have been assigned by some to be mere analogy, and that as men and women are both members of the Church, both are in a sense Bride, so either may be in Christ's stead in the church. However, no women are among Christ's disciples; none are invited to the Last Supper. No women are present when Christ said to his disciples, "and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." No women are present when Christ speaks what we call the Great Commission just prior to His Ascension. Christ chooses men to be in the Ministry, to be 'in his stead' as His representatives and caretakers of His Bride. This is in the same manner in which He works throughout His Creation, Redemption, and now Sanctification in His people. The authority of His Word is given to Man; Woman is His means for bringing New Life; Man and Woman together share in the benefits and blessings of His grace. As Eve, called 'Mother of all living', so, too, as the Large Catechism says, is the Church called mother, "the mother that begets and bears every Christian through the Word of God." Christ begins the Office of the Ministry through His apostles. The male/apostolic Ministry is what Christ ordained it to be, for His purposes with the Church for the Means of Grace and the birth of New Life in the New Creation. As Marquart says on page 166, "A church which ordains women into the public ministry of Word and Sacraments, thereby certifies itself to be un-apostolic and anti-apostolic. Behind the apostle stands of course the Lord Himself."

Only by submitting (I know, there's that dirty word) ourselves, and our knowledge to the clear words of Scripture will woman be able to find herself once more in Scripture and free from the Big Lie. Only by letting God tell His story His way will Woman be able to see that she has been a valued and important part of his plan from Creation when she was the answer to prayer, to the Incarnation when she was Theotokos, God-bearer, in Redemption when she was the first to proclaim the Good News, and in Sanctification where Woman serves her Lord in her life until the Groom comes again to claim His Bride. Only then will Woman know who she is, and Whose she is. It is then she will know how she may serve. I repeat, Woman will not know how she may serve until she knows who she is. Woman does not know who she is apart from knowing Whose she is. That knowledge cannot come from herself. It cannot come from Man. That knowledge can only come from God's own Spirit working through the Word of God.

Those who proclaim liberation for women are, in truth binding her. The subtle lies within the half-truths of their arguments deceive her once again, as she looks to the objects of Creation which bind her will, rather than to her Creator, in Whom is her freedom. Such lies are defeated only by the clear, solid, enduring, efficacious truths of God's Word as He wrote it, not subjected to man's reason and rationality. Such lies are the reason why the Missouri Synod needs men who are Confessional and pastoral, men who are ever vigilant and can endure faithfully, men who, by God's grace, possess a righteous zeal pertaining to the things of God. It is incumbent upon these men to tell women who they are in relation to God as their Creator for, without a clear understanding of Who her Creator is, Woman is left to her own counsel, to her own knowledge, which is like the Fall all over again. Tell women that they are created by God with a particular intent and purpose, and that God pronounced her creation "Very good"! Tell women that their sex matters. God's plan is not carried out in androgyny! Tell them that they are in bondage to sin and cannot free themselves by looking either to feminist or other false theologies or social trends! Failing that, Woman finds herself where she wants to be found, and being of a will bound to sin, she will continue to seek her own way, to disregard the things of God.

Abortion statistics are easily proof of this, as are the feminist claims that Woman no longer needs man. Both extremes, independently taking new life into her womb, and willfully extinguishing life from her womb are actions of those who believe they command life and death. They are actions of women who do not know God as the Creator. Christ said "I and the Father are one." (John 10.30) Since The Father of Christ is the Creator, those who have an error in their understanding of the order of creation have an error in their understanding of their Creator, and, as a consequence of that, an error in the understanding of their Savior.

Contrary to what feminists and feminist theology says, Man, woman does need you. Both the women of this Church, and the Woman who is the Church need you, just as you need them. Woman today, more than ever needs the men of Missouri to stand firm, stand strong, stand together and be not contentious, nor contemptuous of the truth, but Contenders for the Truth! Theology is not policy. Theology is Christology. Doctrine and practice are not tradition and custom. Doctrine and practice are Confessional statements. What is your Confession? Who do you say that Christ is? We are all called to have an answer to those questions. Whether it is the women of this church, or the Woman who is the Church, unless Woman knows who she is in creation, in Redemption, and in Sanctification she will not be able to answer as Peter did, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Men, tell the women who they are, so that they may stand beside you, not in your place, not in the stead of men, but as the Woman God created them to be, and proclaim with you, and with Peter, and with the whole Church of God, "He is the Christ, the Son of the living God."