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Female priest renounces ECUSA orders after embracing biblical teaching on gender roles

June 8, 2006

It was a careful study of the Scriptures that led Alice Linsley to see the light of a complementarian view of gender roles after 18 years as an ordained priest in the liberal Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA).

It was a careful study of the Scriptures that led Alice Linsley to see the light of a complementarian view of gender roles after 18 years as an ordained priest in the liberal Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA).

The revelation led Linsley to recently renounce her orders.

In an interview with Virtue Online, Linsley said the ECUSA’s 2003 consecration of Eugene Robinson as the first openly homosexual bishop began to raise grave doubts in her mind as to the overall direction of her denomination. Linsley resigned as rector of St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Lexington, Ky. the Sunday after Robinson’s ordination.

From there, her close study of Scripture led her to see that texts which seemed to limit the office of bishop or elder to males are not “culturally bound” as she had been taught two decades ago during ordination.

“Throughout my 18 years as a priest in the Episcopal Church USA I have had nagging and periodic doubts about women and the priesthood,” she said. “I never felt free to discuss my doubts openly because dialogue in ECUSA on questions of gender and catholic orders has been difficult and unfruitful.

“I began to reconsider the question of gender and the Episcopal Church’s claim to have ‘catholic orders’ after the consecration of V. Gene Robinson, the first partnered homosexual to become bishop in the United States.

“It was apparent that ECUSA is not catholic because it has departed from the most fundamental principles of the historic catholic faith. Of the 3 churches that stand in the catholic tradition: Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Anglicanism, only the Episcopal Church USA ordains women and homosexuals to the priesthood.”

Linsley said the issue regarding gender roles and the priesthood came down to God’s design for men and women in the church as revealed in Scripture and not whether or not a woman had the ability to skillfully carry out the office.

“So the issue for me is not the ability of women, but rather God’s design for the sexes and how, as a faithful Christian, I am to understand that design and its boundaries,” she said.

Linsley said a closer, more careful study of the first book of the Bible led her to rethink Paul’s teaching on gender distinctions. She began to realize that Paul, in his writing on gender roles, was merely articulating the permanent gender distinctions found in the Hebrew Scriptures in general and the book of Genesis in particular.

Linsley said her own embrace of female ministers arose out of the failure of men to lead in her own family and congregation. She sees much irony in the views of evangelicals who give lip service to the authority of Scripture but undermine it by allowing culture to interpret the Bible.

Not only has Linsley rejected the ordination of women, but she also sees the ECUSA’s embrace of homosexuality as sinful and outside the pale of historic Christianity.

“…Today, after 25 years of research on Genesis, I have come to a different conclusion. Paul’s thoughts on gender are formed by his biblical Tradition. He recognized that the Hebrew Scriptures teach a permanent binary distinction between men and women. This binary distinction is fixed by God as much as the distinctions of east and west, night and day, and hot and cold.

“When we ignore the binary distinctions established by the Creator for our benefit, there is disorder in our thoughts and actions, and humans become lost. This suggests strongly that Paul’s teaching on gender was not merely to address a social problem limited to that time and place.

“Paul wanted gender roles in the Church to reflect God’s order in creation as a way of honoring the Sovereign Creator. After all, does mankind have the power to change night to day, or east to west? Choosing to have sexual relations with a same sex partner is defiance of God’s sovereign order of creation. It is not a new thing. It is as old as the first rebellion.”


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