A Forbidden Issue: Restless Eves or Reckless Adams?
We cannot conclude our investigation of searching the Scriptures without dealing briefly with a touchy issue which often makes any discussion on women's ordination an explosive encounter. I will refer to it as the "forbidden" subject of "restless Eves" and "reckless Adams." Some would call it female- and male-chauvinism. Both of these attitudes permeate much of contemporary society, and both tend to muffle Scripture's testimony of the complementary relationship between women and men.
How has the spirit of "restless modern Eves" influenced attitudes toward Scripture? To what extent is this restlessness a response to reckless modern Adams? In this setting, how has "culture" set up barriers to prevent women from giving full expression to their ministry? How can we recapture the "true womanly dignity and nobility of character" that has been sacrificed as restless Eves have "left undone the very work that Heaven appointed them" ( Patriarchs and Prophets , p. 59)?
The Spirit of Restless Eves
Ellen White was well aware of the feminist movement of her day when she wrote concerning the attempt to ignore or even reverse God's divine arrangement on headship: "Eve had been perfectly happy by her husband's side in her Eden home; but, like restless modern Eves, she was flattered with the hope of entering a higher sphere than that which God had assigned her. In attempting to rise above her original position, she fell far below it" ( Patriarchs and Prophets , p. 59).
Restless modern Eves reason that the role differentiation God established to govern the complementary relationship of male and female equality makes men superior and women inferior. Believing themselves deprived of their true womanly dignity, some modern Eves seek "self-fulfilment," "equality," and "human justice" by trying to be like men or by aspiring for roles that are assigned to men. In order to be free from the supposed "second-class" status resulting from gender
role differentiation, some radical feminists have fought against the marriage institution and child-rearing, which they believe confine them to certain roles. Others have taken issue with organised religion, notably Islam and Judeo-Christian religions, whose teachings of male headship they interpret to mean that women are slaves to men through submission and obedience. Regrettably, these worrisome aspects feminism are slowly migrating into Christianity.
Feminists within Christianity who may not go this far in their war against marriage and organised religion still do make the effort to re-define God along gender-neutral lines. They want to get rid of the alleged offensive (i.e., "sexist," "male-oriented" or "patriarchal") language in the Bible and replace it with a gender-inclusive terms which blur the male-female distinction. Accordingly, "Son of God" becomes "Child of God;" "Son of Man" becomes "Human One;" "heavenly Father" becomes "heavenly Parent;" and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is transformed into a goddess named Sophia.  To declare gender distinctions as obsolete, restless Eves adopt an attitude which denies the full inspiration of the Bible and which utilises higher critical methods of its interpretation. 
To them, the Bible is the product of a patriarchal, male-dominated (androcentric) culture. Maintaining that some parts of the inspired Scriptures are prejudiced against women's rights and aspirations, they hold that Paul's prohibition of a woman "to have authority over a man" (1 Tim 2:12; cf. 1 Cor 11:3, 8, 11; 14:34) and his statement that an overseer/elder be "husband [aner] of one wife" (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:6) are "culturally conditioned." By pitting Paul's "neither male nor female" principle (Gal 3:28) against his headship principle, they seem to suggest that there are degrees of inspiration in the Bible--the less inspired parts being tainted with human errors and contradictions. Thus they consider any passage of Scripture that does not uphold the principle of "equality"--redefined to mean the absence of role differentiation within the complementary partnership of male and female relationship--as sexist and biased, and therefore not inspired.
Ellen White warned against this spirit: "There are some that may think they are fully capable with their finite judgement to take the Word of God, and to state what are the words of inspiration, and what are not the words of inspiration. I want to warn you off that ground, my brethren in the ministry. 'Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.' There is no finite man that lives, I care not who he is or whatever is his position, that God has authorised to pick and choose in His Word. . . . I would have both my arms taken off at my shoulders before I would ever make the statement or set my judgement upon the Word of God as to what is inspired and what is not inspired" (Ellen G. White comments, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary , 7:919).
Regrettably, in their effort to "deculturise" the Bible, Christians influenced by the "restless modern" spirit approach the Bible with suspicion and scepticism rather than with an attitude of trust and submission to Scripture's
claims. To such, "The Bible is as a lamp without oil, because they have turned their minds into channels of speculative belief that bring misunderstanding and confusion. The work of higher criticism, in dissecting, conjecturing, reconstructing, is destroying faith in the Bible as a divine revelation. It is robbing God's Word of power to control, uplift, and inspire human lives" ( The Acts of the Apostles , p. 474). Recognizing the dangers involved, Ellen White urged believers, "Brethren, cling to your Bible, as it reads, and stop your criticisms in regard to its validity, and obey the Word, and not one of you will be lost" ( Selected Messages , 1:18).
Since the Bible in its entirety is the inspired Word of God, we cannot pick and choose--cafeteria style--from Scripture the teachings we find palatable to our tastes. "Do not let any living man come to you and begin to dissect God's Word, telling what is revelation, what is inspiration and what is not, without a rebuke. . . . We call on you to take your Bible, but do not put a sacrilegious hand upon it, and say, 'That is not inspired,' simply because somebody else has said so. Not a jot or tittle is ever to be taken from that Word. Hands off, brethren! Do not touch the ark. . .. When men begin to meddle with God's Word, I want to tell them to take their hands off, for they do not know what they are doing" ( Ellen G. White comments, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary ,7:919-920).
God speaks to all students of the Bible when He says: "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word" (Isa 66:2 NIV). As we approach Scripture, we must not come with the spirit that possesses restless Eves, that is, the attitude that seeks to correct the alleged mistakes or biases of the Bible writers. Rather, we must be willing to learn from the Spirit of Christ, the One who inspired the Scriptures: "In the presence of such a Teacher [Jesus], of such opportunity for divine education, what worse than folly is it to seek an education apart from Him--to seek to be wise apart from Wisdom; to be true while rejecting Truth; to seek illumination apart from the Light, and existence without the Life; to turn from the Fountain of living waters, and hew out broken cisterns, that can hold no water" ( Education , p. 83).
The Attitude of Reckless Adams
To a large extent the restlessness of modern Eves results from modern Adams's recklessness--a term denoting one who is careless, heedless, irresponsible, rash, foolhardy, imprudent, thoughtless. We cannot therefore discuss how women have aspired to roles for which they have not been fitted without calling attention to how men have been reluctant, if not renegade, in the judicious exercise of their true headship roles.
Abuse of Headship. Reckless Adams have misunderstood the true biblical concept of headship, which is leadership in self-giving service (Mark 10:42-
45; Luke 22:24-27; Jn 13:13-16),  misinterpreting it as dominance or control of women. What God originally instituted to be a blessing to humanity has sometimes been transformed into an oppressive structure of abuse and exploitation of women.
Ellen G. White spoke out strongly against such abuse. "The Lord Jesus has not been correctly represented in His relation to the church by many husbands in their relation to their wives, for they do not keep the way of the Lord. They declare that their wives must be subject to them in everything. But it was not the design of God that the husband should have control, as head of the house, when he himself does not submit to Christ. He must be under the rule of Christ that he may represent the relation of Christ to the church. If he is a coarse, rough, boisterous, egotistical, harsh, and overbearing man, let him never utter the word that the husband is the head of the wife, and that she must submit to him in everything; for he is not the Lord, he is not the husband in the true significance of the term" ( The Adventist Home , p. 117).
She prescribed the cure for the attitude of reckless Adams. "Husbands should study the pattern and seek to know what is meant by the symbol presented in Ephesians, the relation Christ sustains to the church. The husband is to be as a Saviour in his family. Will he stand in his noble, God-given manhood, ever seeking to uplift his wife and children? Will he breathe about him a pure, sweet atmosphere?" ( ibid. )
Unfortunately, history documents how women have often been treated as second-class citizens in a male-dominated world. The Christian church rarely did better in its negative view of women. Some misinterpreted Paul's prohibition of a woman "to have authority over a man . . . For . . . Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner" (1 Tim 2:12, 14 NIV) as an indication that women are temptresses and seductresses of incautious men. Thus, they have argued, women should be veiled and silenced, performing their God-given roles only in the home. This distorted view of woman's "place" in society fails to recognise that, outside the ordained roles of priest, apostle, elder and minister, women have always had a legitimate place in society and ministry. 
Failure to Measure Up. In addition to the abuse of the headship principle, the restlessness of modern Eves may, in some cases, also be traced to the incompetent and mediocre ministries of some who have exercised authority as elders and pastors. How well do reckless modern Adams measure up to their calling? Bible-believing Christians who rightly insist that an elder or pastor should be the "husband [aner] of one wife" must also take seriously the other qualifications: "Here is a trustworthy saying: If any one sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and
see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgement as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap" (1 Tim 3:1-7, NIV; cf. Titus 1:5-9).
Measured by these standards, can it be denied that too often modern Adams have been reckless? Is the restlessness of modern Eves an echo to some degree of a crisis of male leadership? a protest, perhaps, against the abuse and distortion of the headship principle? Is it a commentary on the ineptitude, incompetence, arrogance, laziness, greed, and mediocrity that has plagued some of the ministry? Or might it be an indictment of the poor preaching and teaching of elders and pastors, and perhaps their lack of courage, dedication and spirituality? If so, is there any better time than now to repent, confess, and remedy the abuses, inequities, and failures of men that have given credibility and power to the call for women's ordination?
Injustice. Much of the agitation for women's ordination will be quieted if the men who have been called to leadership roles make a genuine effort to rectify the years of denial of fair wages and other financial security to women who have laboured faithfully in ministry. If "the elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching," and if "the worker deserves his wages" (1 Tim 5:17, 18 NIV; cf. 1 Cor 9:7-12), what about the faithful women labouring in ministry? Ellen White used several strong terms to describe the denial of just wages for the labour of women in ministry. She called this "making a difference" (discrimination), "selfishly withholding . . . their due," "exaction," "partiality," "selfishness," and "injustice." She said, "the tithe should go to those who labour in word and doctrine, be they men or women" ( Evangelism , pp. 491-493).
Fairness and equity should not depend on ordination. Ellen White protested the injustice of denying women workers their full due. "Some matters have been presented to me . . . . If the Lord gives the wife [of the minister], as well as the husband, the burden of labour, and if she devotes her time and her strength to visiting from family to family, opening the Scriptures to them, although the hands of ordination have not been laid upon her, she is accomplishing a work that is in the line of ministry. Should her labours be counted as nought, and her husband's salary be no more than that of the servant of God whose wife does not give herself to the work, but remains at home to care for her family? . . . As the devoted minister and his wife engage in the work, they should be paid wages proportionate to the wages of two distinct workers, that they may have means to use as they shall see fit in the cause of God. The Lord has put His spirit upon them both" ( Ms. 43a, 1893,published as Manuscript Release #330 in Manuscript Releases 5:323,324, emphasis added).
Discrimination against women has much the same effect as racism, a sinful practice that has "created in its victims a sense of inferiority, defeatism, resentment, and a determination to get even. It has despised, beaten, wounded, robbed, bruised and left unconscious people of other races, while those who are in a position to show compassion and bind up the wounds of the victims of racism, like the priest and Levite in Christ's parable of the Good Samaritan, have passed by on the other side. Worse still, racism has murdered many innocent people just because of the shape of their noses, the colour of their skins or some other physical features."  Practising oppression based on gender is no less offensive to God than doing so based on skin colour or nationality. Taking moral responsibility for the restlessness of some modern Eves means that we--reckless modern Adams--have to repent and correct the wrong practices that have led to this.
A call to biblical fidelity summons us not only to reject the unbiblical practice of ordaining women as elders or pastors, but also to reaffirm women's legitimate role in ministry within the framework of biblical guidelines. We still have work to do to remove any obstacle that is "liable to discourage our sisters from qualifying themselves for the work they should engage in." Their ministry is important. "In many respects a woman can impart knowledge to her sisters that a man cannot. The cause would suffer great loss without this kind of labour by women. Again and again the Lord has shown me that women teachers are just as greatly needed to do the work to which He has appointed them as are men" ( Evangelism , 492, 493).
"Cultural" Barriers to Women's Ministry
In addition to the abuse of headship and the failure of men to live up to the demands of their calling, certain cultures have also contributed to the restlessness of modern Eves. In speaking of "culture" in this context I do not have in mind a sociological definition, such as a group's identification with certain political structures, be they "patriarchal," "democratic," or "non-democratic" systems. Instead, I am referring to culture in the theological sense--understood as a community's fidelity to the truths revealed in Scripture. Thus defined, it is not altogether difficult to explain why some cultures relate to the women's ordination issue in particular ways. 
There are "cultures" (churches, conferences, unions, divisions) in which the biblical meaning of "ministry" as any service rendered by a person to advance the work of God  is restricted largely to the pastoral ministry. Where such a view of ministry prevails it is not uncommon to find another deviation from the biblical understanding of ministry: rather than perceiving ministry as a servant-leadership role that empowers and nurtures church members (1 Cor 4:1; 1 Thess 2:7), these cultures will tend to view ministry in terms of power, status and privileges to be enjoyed (1 Pet 5:1-3). Accordingly, church members are led to believe that the only way a person can do the work of ministry is to be an elder or pastor. Besides, any biblical restriction regarding who can
fulfil these roles (e.g., the headship principle) is interpreted to mean a limitation or control of a person's desire to work in the ministry, if not a denial of the person's "rights" "privileges" or "status" as a Christian.
Therefore, in the "cultures" (churches, conferences, unions, divisions) where "ministry" carries the narrow meaning of "pastoral ministry," those who seek "empowerment for ministry" believe it can only be found when one is ordained as an elder or pastor. As a consequence, there is confusion about what "lay ministry" and "women ministry" are all about--a fact that may account for both a diminishing participation of lay persons in the work of ministry and a restlessness of modern Eves in those cultures.
By contrast, in areas where the true meaning of ministry (i.e., any service that is carried out by any church member in a God-glorifying manner) is upheld, the ordained elder/pastor is not viewed as the only "minister" with the gift of preaching, evangelising, counselling or administration, etc. (Rom 12:4ff.; 1 Cor 12; Eph 4:7-13). Though he serves as leader of the church, he understands his place as the first among spiritual equals; he is one "minister" who has been called upon by the church, through the act of ordination, to provide a servant-leadership of protecting the church and empowering all of its members for their respective work of "ministry" (Luke 9:1; 1 Cor 4:19-21; 2 Cor 10:8; 13:10; Philemon 8-10). Wherever this true meaning of "ministry" is captured, the tendency for the elder/pastor to think of himself as the "senior" pastor, or even to talk about "my church" or "my pulpit," is greatly minimised. When the ordained elder or pastor does his work well--not as a reckless modern Adam--no restriction, other than that found in Scripture itself (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:6), is placed on what women can do in ministry. This might explain why, in these "cultures," there is explosion in church membership as well as a decrease in the spirit of restless Eves.
The above analysis suggests that overcoming the "cultural barriers" to women's role in ministry must begin with a recovery of the true meaning of ministry. The emphasis on pastoral ministry (not lay ministry) as the essence of ministry will have to be corrected. First, those holding headship positions as elders/pastors need to be reminded of the biblical doctrine of the "priesthood of all believers." This doctrine recognises that since the church is a worshipping community (a priestly people called to offer "spiritual sacrifices" of praise and prayer) and also a witnessing community (a missionary people called to declare the "praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light"), every church member--whether man or woman--has been called to a ministry that is of no less importance than the pastoral ministry (1 Pet 2:5, 9-10 NIV; cf. Rev 1:6).
Second, while there exist "varieties of service [diakonia = ministry]" in the church, so that every believer has a "ministry," church members (i.e., those who are not part of the pastoral ministry) must also be reminded that elders and pastors have been given a special oversight responsibility in the church (Heb 13:7, 17, 24; Acts 20:28-35; 1 Thess 5:12-13). They "rule well" (1 Tim 5:17; 3:5) if, in their capacity as "pastor-teachers," they are able to channel all
the gifts of the church members toward the work of ministry.  The "priesthood of all believers" is not, therefore, a justification to diminish the importance of the pastoral ministry; nor is it a reason to show contempt or disrespect to the pastoral ministry. To do so is to display the spirit of Korah, Dathan and Abiram (Num 16; 26:9-11).  As Ellen White explains, the pastoral ministry is "a sacred and exalted office," "the highest of all work." Those "who belittle the ministry are belittling Christ" (Testimonies for the Church, 2:615; 6:411).
Once these "cultural barriers" to ministry are removed by recapturing the biblical understanding of ministry, it will be clear that the restriction of the headship role of elder or pastor is not a limitation upon women's role in ministry. On the contrary, converted women--whether married or single--will come to realise that there are unlimited ministries in which they can be involved in advancing the cause of Christ: "Wonderful is the mission of the wives and mothers and the younger women workers. If they will, they can exert an influence for good to all around them. By modesty in dress and circumspect deportment, they may bear witness to the truth in its simplicity. Thy may let their light so shine before all, that others will see their good works and glorify their Father which is in heaven. A truly converted woman will exert a powerful transforming influence for good. Connected with her husband, she may aid him in his work, and become the means of encouragement and blessing to him. When the will and way are brought into subjection to the Spirit of God, there is no limit to the good that can be accomplished" ( Evangelism pp. 467-468, emphasis added). 
Capturing this broad meaning of the gospel ministry, Ellen White wrote, "There are women who should labour in the gospel ministry. In many respects they would do more good than the ministers who neglect to visit the flock of God" ( Evangelism , p. 472). "The Lord has a work for women as well as for men. . . . The Saviour will reflect upon these self-sacrificing women the light of His countenance, and will give them a power that exceeds that of men. They can do in families a work that men cannot do, a work that reaches the inner life. They can come close to the hearts of those whom men cannot reach. Their labour is needed" ( ibid. , pp. 464-465, emphasis added). Where such ministry develops into regular, full-time labour, these women will be greatly encouraged if adequate financial provision is made for them (ibid., pp. 491-493).
The question is, within the complementarity of the gifts within the church, are women willing to perform their unlimited ministries under the appropriate headship of men? Will reckless Adams repent of their recklessness so that they may encourage restless Eves to perform their ministries in the true spirit of "mothers in Israel"?
The Ministry of True "Mothers in Israel"
As we have seen, the real issue in the debate over women's ordination is not whether women can be in ministry, preaching, teaching, counselling, nurturing,
helping, or exercising their gifts of administration (1 Cor 12; Rom 12:4-8; Eph 4:7-13). The crucial issue is whether, within the partnership of an equal relationship between male and female, women are willing to exercise their gifts in a manner consistent with the teaching of Scripture. Will they labour in ministry without aspiring for the headship role of ordained elders or pastors? Will the women who are seeking to labour in ministry follow the example of the godly women recorded in the Bible (a challenge for which men find a parallel in the lives of godly men recorded in Scripture)? These women of old were not actuated by the principle of self-advocacy that is prevalent in the spirit of our restless modern Eves. Instead, they exhibited a spirit of self-denial in utilising their God-given gifts within the framework of biblical guidelines.
Some of these women braved the hazards of missionary outreach work by accompanying Jesus and the apostles as they taught in various places (Luke 8:1-3, 1 Cor 9:5). While Mary, Joanna, Susanna and others "ministered" (diakoneo) by contributing from their own means to support the work (Luke 8:3), Peter's mother-in-law and Martha "ministered" by preparing meals (Luke 4:39; John 12:2). Others like Jochebed and Hannah laboured quietly in their homes, believing that rearing a future Moses or Samuel was as much ministry as the work of evangelists, preachers, and church administrators.
In the Bible record, when the men defaulted in their headship responsibilities, some women also ministered by exercising temporary leadership in a way that was consistent with the biblical guidelines. Over against the foolhardiness of Nabal (1 Sam 25), Abigail "lost no time" in averting a crisis (1 Sam 25:18ff. NIV); against Barak's vacillation and spineless leadership, Deborah the prophet emerged as a "mother in Israel" (Judges 5:7) who not only performed the function of judge but accompanied Barak to battle (Judges 4);  against the prejudice of the disciples, the Samaritan woman was raised to preach the gospel to an entire village, preparing the ground for a bountiful harvest of souls (John 4); against the greed of Judas who betrayed his Master for thirty pieces of silver, Mary expended her savings of a typical year's worth of income on a perfume to anoint her Lord for His burial (John 12:1-8); against the cowardice of the disciples locked behind doors for "fear of the Jews," Jesus commissioned Mary with the good news of His resurrection (John 20; cf. Luke 24:9, 10, 22); against Demas' worldliness and betrayal of Paul (2 Tim 4:10), Junia chose imprisonment with the apostle (Rom 16:7; cf. Acts 8:3);  and against the behaviour of some elders greedy for money, not eager to serve and lording it over the church members (1 Pet 5:1-4), Phoebe served admirably as "a servant of the church. . . [and] a great help to many people, including me [Paul]" (Rom 16:1, 2 NIV). 
These godly women exercised their leadership within the framework of biblical guidelines. Consequently, they did not aspire to ordination as priests, apostles or elders, even though the recklessness of the Adams of their day could have been cited as justification for them to display the restless spirit of modern Eves.
History will indicate that the faith and prayers of women have helped to make Pentecost happen in every generation (Acts 1:14). In our own Seventh-day Adventist church, Ellen White is another example of a woman who was not actuated by the self-advocacy spirit of modern Eves. "No one has ever heard me claim the position of leader of the denomination. I have a work of great responsibility to do--to impart by pen and voice the instruction given me, not alone to Seventh-day Adventists, but to the world. I have published many books, large and small, and some of these have been translated into several languages. This is my work--to open the Scriptures to others as God has opened them to me. . . . I thank the Lord that He gave us the privilege of acting a part in the work from the beginning. But neither then nor since the work has grown to large proportions, during which time responsibilities have been widely distributed, has anyone heard me claiming the leadership of this people" ( Testimonies for the Church , 8:236, 237). 
These noble examples of unique leadership by women are warnings to reckless modern Adams that if they are reluctant or renegade in exercising their God-assigned roles as leaders in their homes and churches, God can raise some temporary Deborahs to do the work. Similarly, the beautiful examples of these godly women speak to restless modern Eves the truth that even in this sinful world, Christ's transforming power is able to help women fulfil their Heaven-appointed roles "in accordance with God's plan." Because these women in Bible times did not succumb to the flattery "of entering a higher sphere than that which God had assigned," they did not sacrifice their "true womanly dignity and nobility of character" ( Patriarchs and Prophets , p. 59). Are we reckless Adams and restless Eves ready to respond to the heart-searching questions posed by God?
"Where Are You," Adam?