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Women in Office

In a recent issue of Christian Renewal (Nov. 21, 1983), attention was called to an old article which had appeared in the Grand Rapids Press back in December 2, 1972. The quote points to the length some will go in order to promote “women’s lib.” What was reported in that article is today being done, with a greater degree of refinement, in churches of Reformed persuasion. The article was titled: “Church Women’s Celebration Calls Eve’s Apple Episode a ‘Free’ Act.” It states:

The forbidden “apple,” that storied old lure to human sin, got a new, honored place at a worship service here—as the fruit of freedom. 

Church women dreamed up the idea, and celebrated it. They also communed by sipping apple juice. And they joined in affirming the “liberation of apples.” 

Declaring they rejected “man’s traditional interpretation” of the Adam and Eve story, the congregation of Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopal, United Church and various other Protestant women chanted in unison: 

“We affirm that it does not convey truth to us about apples, and certainly not about ourselves. We hold that Eve performed the first free act.” 

“Ah-woman,” someone added, instead of the usual “Ah-men.” 

The ecumenical “sister-celebration,” held at the Washington Square Methodist Church here recently, was part of a spreading women’s crusade for fuller rights in church affairs. . . . 

. . . “We as women feel it is time that the church repent of sexism and be reformed,” said the Rev. Barbara W. McCall of New York, executive of the United Church Task Force on Women, which sponsored the service here. 

It began with readings of the Genesis account of humanity’s creation and “fall,” the first defiance of God as portrayed by the eating of forbidden fruit—on Eve’s initiative. Actually, the story never mentions “apple”—a mere elaboration of folklore. 

“We were told that we were agents of evil, corrupters of perfect creation,” intoned the leader, the Rev. Tilda Norberg, of Staten Island, N.Y. 

Chorused the female worshippers: “We fell for all that.” 

“We were told that we were subordinate beings, derived from man, not uniquely created,” the leader said, and the worshippers responded: 

“We fell for all that . . . . We confess that we bowed down to that old ideology. . . .” But they vowed to seek “the liberation of the whole human family and all creation . . . .”

Women taking part in the various readings, including a “litany of praise for women reformers,” included (list of women leaders) . . . . 

“Here is the juice of the apple,” the leader invited. “Drink deeply of the ferment of freedom.” The women quaffed the juice, ate bits of bread, saying: “We celebrate Eve’s first free act. Let all creation rejoice.” 

They also prayed: “O God, creator, we thank you for making us women . . . . We believe your words that in your time and place there is no male and female, no mankind or womankind, simply your people. Hasten the day of freedom when . . . . we will all be one, even as you are one.” 

They also sang a hymn of “My Mother’s World, instead of the conventional “My Father’s World.” Some of the revised words went: “She shines in all that’s fair; in the rustling grass I hear her pass. She speaks to me everywhere.”

Now, the above makes one to shudder. How can any, calling themselves children of God, so horribly treat Scripture? How can such openly deny the plain teaching of Scripture—making fun of the awful fall of Eve and Adam into sin? How can such profess to rejoice in the “apple” which Eve ate to her condemnation? How can such make a “communion service” of such sin? 

Yet, out of this sort of corruption has arisen the “women’s lib’ movement in the churches. And there is some real truth in what the women did in the article. Their action within the churches represents indeed the same sort of action of Eve in Paradise. She would not listen to the Word of the Lord but was ready to distort it and disobey. Nor would she have Adam to be her head. Now these “church women” seek to make Eve’s act of rebellion their “banner” to bring the church into full “liberation” for women. These call Eve’s act the “ferment of freedom.” How true—but the freedom of bondage, the liberty of hell. Surely the child of God, realizing the spirit out of which arises the “women’s lib” movement within the churches, as portrayed in the above article, would not want to be associated with that at all. 

Still, within the churches today, the cry—though not with the degree of godless mockery—is increasingly heard. Truly out of Eve’s rebellion has arisen a similar rebellion against the God-ordained order. Some of this has been reported in Calvinist Contact, Dec. 9, 1983:

More than 200 women and men attended the Conference on Women in Church Office held on November 18, 19 at Calvin College. The theme of the conference was “Partners in the Gospel.” 

Sponsored by six Christian Reformed Churches who have or have had women in office and the Committee for Women in the Christian Reformed Church, the convention according to a brochure, was intended to “develop a sense of unity among local churches and church members committed to the full use of women’s gifts.” 

. . . Friday evening keynote speaker Rev. Cleo Ludwick, RCA Chaplain at Pine Rest Christian Hospital, reflected on the difficulties she and her husband experienced when they faced changes in their relationship because of her desire to grow as a person . . . .

. . . The panel discussion that followed and that was entitled “The Church and the Process of Change” was started off by Dr. Louis Vos, Professor of Religion at Calvin College. He focused on theology and change. 

Vos referred to Galileo’s theory that the sun, not the earth, was the centre of our solar system. “In his days that was a theological question,” said Vos. “We say it isn’t.” 

Vos predicted that the same will be true of the question of women in office. “It will remain a theological issue as long as the church thinks it is a theological issue. The time will come when the Church says, ‘That is not the essence of the gospel’.” 

. . . (Kromminga) reminded the audience that in 1957 women were allowed to vote in Christian Reformed churches. The effects of change are slow in coming, but even when we resist change, we change,” he said. 

Kromminga got a delayed outburst of laughter when he ended his speech by saying, “The thought of change will make many of our present leaders turn in their grave. . .” 

. . . After the coffee break, a panel of 4 women church “officers” talked about their experiences. “Women on the Cutting Edge” was the theme. 

Beverley Meyers, Adjunct Elder at the Hope CRC Oak Forest, Ill., told the gathering that her work was like that of an elder, except she was not ordained, she could not vote. She thought of her three years of service as “a very tranquil time” because she experienced much support. There was a good deal of opposition from Classis, however. 

Judy Plekker, Associate Deacon at Calvin CRC, Grand Rapids, also has no vote and was not ordained . . . . 

Jane Vander Haagen is a full-fledged deacon in the River Terrace CRC in East Lansing, Mich. She takes up collections, explains collections, offers prayer and is a full voting member of council . . . . . 

(Rev. William Brink) said that he was not against women in office, but added, “we should not place our denomination in jeopardy. . . .”

It appears that today, more than ever, many “celebrate Eve’s first free act.” They have indeed drunk deeply of the “juice of the apple.” But, one can only cry: “Beware! Remember the consequences for Eve and Adam!”

Abortion on Demand

Bethany Christian Services of Grand Rapids, Mich. recently sent reminders to all of the local churches of the fact that on January 22, 1984 it will be 11 years since the United States Supreme Court issued a decision which declared abortion on demand legal in all 50 states. 

That reminder was struck home forcefully to me when, shortly after, I heard news broadcasts telling the American people that for the first time in many, many years, two criminals had been executed in one week. Great stress was placed on the fact that two were killed. Many saw this as the beginning of a bloodbath in this country—since more than 1,200 criminals are on “death-row,” awaiting similar execution. One commentator asked if the American people could indeed allow such a terrible bloodbath. Remarks were made about the dehumanizing results of such executions. It was pointed out that we ought not to take life so lightly. Some even claimed that such executions were murder. 

Then the announcement concerning abortions came back to me. It had stated, “The United States now has one of the most liberal abortion laws of all the nations in the free world. 4,000 children lose their lives to abortion every day.” And: “1.5 million children lose their lives to abortion every year—a modern day holocaust.” If these figures are accurate, and I have every reason to believe they are, that would mean that about 16 million lives have been snuffed out during the past eleven years. That is like destroying the population of five cities the size of Chicago! 

4,000 lives of babes who have violated no laws of our land are taken away within one week without benefit of trial, without a lawyer defending their “rights”—while two criminals, guilty of terrible murder, duly tried and judged worthy of death, are slain within one week, creating in the process untold cries of horror and prophecies of doom. What does that tell of the age and country in which we live? There is truly the calling of “evil” to be “good,” and “good” to be “evil.” All this God will judge!