Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Response to "Appetizers and Affairs" in Spectrum



Courtney Ray, a female SDA pastor joined liberal feminists everywhere in piling up a mountain upon the molehill that was Mike Pence's declaration that he didn't do lunch or dinner meetings alone with female colleagues. In an article entitled "Appatizers and Affairs" in Spectrum Magazine, Pastor Ray complains that "This type of thinking impedes women’s ability for upward mobility."  She further warns of dire consequences. asking, "What if by some blessing from God unforeseen event, Donald Trump doesn't complete his entire term?"

Note the crossed out bit. She wants us to know that she believes that the death of the President of the United States would be the act of a beneficent God. It was at that point that Ms. Ray lost me and lost my respect. There is a definite growing segment of our church that holds "progressive" beliefs and sides completely with Democrats. These are the folk who believe that conservative Baptists will one day rise up and pass Sunday laws and send SDAs to jails. They completely ignore prophecies that state quite clearly that there will be a world church and world government with the power to compel people to obey its precepts. Neither of those things are supported by conservative Baptists.

I'm one of those evil conservatives and I beg to differ. The type of government I support would be small, with limited authority over anyone's individual freedom and religious liberty would be held sacrosanct. I don't support the idea, recently proposed by some religious leaders that we should have a United Religions, a sort of shadow United Nations with the pope as its natural leader. Progressives and Democrats do. I know. I've heard them. I know Catholics that are frightened by that idea given that a recent papal bull stated that we need a world government with teeth, organized by industrialists, international political parties, trade unions and church leaders.


Now that scares me.  Mike Pence making sure he's not alone with a woman in a restaurant so some news photographer can whip up a scandal, doesn't generate any fear in me at all. I think it's very wise for a man and a political figure to be careful about such things. One merely has to add a third person to the meeting and everything's hunky dory. Pence is being respectful to his wife by not exposing himself to potential attacks by the very people that are attacking him for his innocuous declaration of faithfulness to his wife.

While I as a private citizen might meet in a restaurant with a female colleague, were I, say a pastor or politician, I probably wouldn't without including, not a chaperone to make sure I control my hormones, but a witness in case someone chooses to turn an innocent meeting into a public scandal for their own purposes. I know of a conference president who lost his job because he accompanied a married woman on a flight to an East Coast clinic where her husband was undergoing cancer treatment. He was headed that way anyway and she was thoroughly traumatized. He did the Christian thing and opponents in the conference used the incident to imply he did something illicit. Just the hint of scandal wrecked his career.

My wife trusts me implicitly and I would never violate that trust. But I do avoid compromising situations as far as possible, even though it's highly unlikely that anyone in the media would ever bother to impugn my character over who I was seen with in public. This is not true for the vice-president.

Pastor Ray's very position as a pastor is ironically threatened by recent moves toward increased authoritarianism on the part of the General Conference administration, which now holds the power to decide whether or not she can work as a paid SDA pastor thanks to the women's ordination vote at the San Antonio GC. That decision is to the SDA church what Obamacare was to the United States - a transfer of power away from the local and state governments and from individuals (conference, unions and local congregations) to the federal authorities in Washington DC (the General Conference at Silver Springs).  It's ironic that I, a small government conservative, support Pastor Ray's ability to be a pastor and yet feel so strongly am at odds with her over her attitude toward Mike Pence. Pence is doing nothing more than being respectful of the reputation of women colleagues and of his own reputation in a world where nasty individuals would attack him with the slightest provocation should they think they could use some innocent lunch meeting to bring Mr. Pence down. Unfortunately, Pence's belief in smaller less powerful government is opposed to the progressive idea/myth of a big kindly government that makes everyone safe and well fed. This puts him in a camp Ms. Ray obviously finds in opposition to her own political views.

Mrs. Ray should logically support the principles Pence stands for in decreasing the authority of Washington over local affairs when the vote at GC rejected that very principle and took power from Unions, conferences and congregations to ordain whoever they feel God has called to ministry in their churches. Big government and big church have consistently led to disastrous results throughout history. There's evidence that God practically had to burn down Battle Creek in order to dislodge an increasingly powerful GC administration which Sister White herself criticized for exercising "kingly authority" as she called it. Ray doesn't seem to make that principled connection, however, steadfastly defending the media and liberal slant.

Ray further opines:

  • If he (Mike Pence) runs in 2020, he's already excluded the possibility of any female running mates. The POTUS and VP spend lots of unsupervised time together. So obviously, a female Vice President for a hypothetical President Pence would be categorically out of the question regardless of qualifications. Men who think like this inadvertently (and sometimes intentionally) block women's upward mobility because of their insecurities.
Ray is wrong, of course. The president and VP are never alone. There are secret service everywhere to protect them.  If Pence were to need a private meeting with a female colleague or world leader, he'd have no problem at all because he'd have secret service with him who could vouch for his behavior. Unlike progressive icon, Bill Clinton, he wouldn't have to invoke secrecy to shut up his Secret Service detail. They could talk all they wanted to and could bear witness under oath that nothing hinky happened.

Pence obviously spoke as a husband and father. None of the straw man arguments offered by Pastor Ray hold up under scrutiny. I am certain Sister White would have approved of the Vice-President's policy. She often counseled ministers and SDA men to avoid the appearance of evil. We live in an evil world let's face it. We're coming down to the end of it now. We as Christians do not advocate creating a human utopia here on this Earth that would allow us to throw off caution in favor of some feminist ideal of how things ought to be. In a sinful world. We must instead tread carefully. In the new Earth we can run around with whoever we want, have lunch with anyone anywhere and not have to worry about appearance of evil. It just won't come up. I applaud Vice President Pence. Given Trump's history of corruption, it's nice to see a little principle in the administrations. We might like to be able to have an innocent meeting with a friend of the opposite sex without consequences and we could were we in the New Earth and sin were a distant memory.

Here on the old Earth, not so much.
Sadly we shall always have to worry about appearances till we go home. The devil our adversary walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Therefore, women can't run around dressed provocatively. Men can't have long meetings alone with women (or vice versa). Scripture says we are not even allowed to provoke our children to wrath. Paul says we shouldn't exercise our freedom to eat what we want if it might cause a weaker brother to stumble. 


While I sympathize with Ms. Ray's desire to remove stumbling blocks to women's "upward mobility", we shouldn't just cut loose from all proprieties, no matter how antiquated they might seem if we then pay the cost in damage to our reputations and our influence for good.  That applies equally to pastors and politicians.

© 2017 by Tom King

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