Office of believer and women voting

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by timfost, Mar 25, 2018.

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  1. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Currently in my denomination, we practice male headship voting at congregational meetings. However, there is some opposition in my denomination to this as some would like to see women being allowed to vote, myself included.

    I have written in detail about this in relation to the RCUS position paper on the subject and have submitted to my church's spiritual counsel. They also agree with the position I've taken and my pastor and one of my elders is on a committee to study the issue.

    I've been "drafted" to assist in further study of the issue. Specifically, we are looking at the office of believer and how this relates to the roles of both men and women in the church.

    If some good reading materials come to mind on the subject, please inform me so that I can further study.

    Also, there seems to be a difference in how the Continental Reformed churches view church authority in relation to the "general office" in contrast to the churches of English/Scottish Presbyterian heritage. Insight and/or resources on this issue would also be helpful.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Guido's Brother

    Guido's Brother Puritan Board Junior


    The Canadian Reformed Churches discussed this issue for decades. Finally, a decision was made in 2010 to allow individual churches to have women voting if they wanted to. At Synod 2010, there were majority and minority reports on the matter which might be helpful to you. You can find them here (in volumes 1 and 3 of the Synod 2010 reports.
  3. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Professor

    My question would be....What exactly is the congregation voting for?

    I say this because I can imagine many congregations voting on issues that should be left up to the elders.
  4. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    For the purpose of this thread, they are voting for officers.
  5. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

  6. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Yes, this link has been very helpful to me. In fact, a year and a half ago while I was vacationing in Vermont, I met with Travis and we talked a little bit about this. However, I'm looking for something to lay the groundwork for this study as it regards men and women in the church generally so that I can consider women voting in the larger context of their roles as believers.

  7. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    According to Aileen Black's book, Gilfillan of Dundee, the Burgher Seceders in Scotland granted female communicants the right to vote in 1751 (pp 15-16).
  8. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks for that. Rutherford also argued for it in 1646!
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  9. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Thanks for pointing that out, Tim. Do you recall specifically where Samuel Rutherford made the argument?
  10. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    I remember that Ursinus has something about the office of every believer as a prophet, priest, and king in his commentary on the Heidelberg catechism. But ... I wonder if it even requires so much as that? Thinking of Acts 17 and the way the women are specifically mentioned in connection with Berean nobility -- women too are supposed to make sure that they only accept a ministry that lines up with the Scriptures (even if the minister is an apostle)! They are obligated to reject false teachers, even if their husbands were to accept those teachers. Voting on church officers does not seem so much an exercise of authority as an exercise of every believer's nobility -- to make sure what we submit to lines up with God's word?
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2018
  11. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

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  12. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks for this. Although I'm familiar with Ursinus's comments on the Christian anointing, I didn't think about applying the doctrine to this issue until a few hours ago when I was reading the Canadian Reformed report on the issue.

    And yes, I agree, women voting isn't a matter of authority at all. Authority is granted to individual officers. Congregational voting, like congregation singing, is a corporate action. A corporate action neither regards men or women as individuals (Gal. 3:28) and because of this cannot be a matter of authority. Otherwise, women would not be allowed to sing in worship since they "teach and admonish" (Col. 3:16).

    You're going to become a member of the RCUS very soon, correct? :)
  13. Guido's Brother

    Guido's Brother Puritan Board Junior

    Herman Bavinck was also in favour of women's voting (both in church and society) -- see Ron Gleason's biography, page 415.
  14. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    Uh...Tim...I don't think you're a woman. Heh.
  15. John Yap

    John Yap Puritan Board Freshman

    I guess this issue would be voted by the males? Hmm
  16. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    True, but I have six daughters. :)
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