Over the years, pastors have expressed differences of opinion regarding women's head coverings and the wearing of wedding rings. Do we need one teaching and understanding on this issue?

Here the questioner requests the impossible. While recognizing that differences of opinion have existed for years, he pleads for one consistent teaching. I'm reminded of a training convention for local church elders which I conducted in West Jamaica. Several hundred participants, including a significant number of women elders, listened as a man enquired whether it was custom or doctrine that demanded a woman wear a hat to church. My tongue-incheek answer was that in my culture it was custom, but that in his culture, it appeared to be both custom and doctrine. Then I closed the subject with admonition that in matters of women's hat styles and dress preferences, men ought to remain silent!

Issues regarding wedding rings have been debated among Adventists for decades. Wearing or not wearing a wedding ring is entirely a personal conviction of the individual, and no pastor or elder may impose his or her personal views on anyone else.

Using specific Bible passages, is it possible to prove—without bias—that women should be allowed to preach in church?

First, let me state that it is nearly impossible to answer any question without bias because our opinions are formed by our backgrounds, cultures, spiritual experiences, or educational training. I'm sure the questioner believed I would be biased since my wife had just preached an excellent sermon at that Bible conference.

The simple answer is No! There are no texts that command women to preach in church. Proof-texting our way to answers, however, may be the weakest approach to finding truth.

Scripture and our own denominational heritage provide ample examples of women preaching. For example, the Samaritan woman at the well was the first individual that Jesus commissioned as a public evangelist. She got amazing results. Mary, fresh from meeting Jesus at the tomb, was the first to preach His resurrection. Her results were not as great; although her message was understood, it was not believed. Jesus later scolded His disciples for refusing to believe her proclamation. Priscilla held such an esteemed leadership role that she instructed other preachers, and our own Adventist heritage has relied on the effective preaching and writings of Ellen G. White.

If you still need a proof text, try Galatians 3, in which the apostle declares "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." The church's polity decision not to ordain women should not be confused with the Lord's call for every believer to proclaim His word.

Does our doctrine require that a man marry a woman that he has impregnated after the church board has disfellowshipped them?

The timing of the board's action has nothing to do with the issue except to remove the church board as party to the discussion. Furthermore, the church board is never authorized to remove any individual from membership. That discipline can only be administered by the church in a business session.

Specifically to this question, however, premarital sexual relations are a sin. They are also a reality. Perhaps the church should offer more premarital education, especially to young people, with the goal of avoiding sinful situations rather than punishing sinners.

The answer to sin is repentance, confession, forgiveness, and walking in new life. Marrying an individual with whom I have sinned does not atone for that sin. A marriage certificate does not move immoral behavior from the "prohibited" column to the "approved" column. That would be salvation by works.

General Conference Ministerial Association