Man and Woman Roles update

God be praised! I've been able to confirm from multiple sources that the WELS COP (Conference of Presidents) has decided not to replace the current Man and Woman Roles document with the proposed restatement "God's beautiful and balanced design for male and female," I know many including myself wrote letters to the COP on issues with the proposed restatement which include:

- The repeated use of "complementary" (24x) exceeding "head" and "headship" combined, as well as "submit" and "submission" combined. This might lead some to infer that the WELS are complementarians, which we are not.

- The fact that the language is not rooted in Lutheran theology (the original document goes through creation, the fall and justification as pretexts to headship; the new document does not) and instead latches on to the modern catch-phrase of servant leadership (which is derived from the business world).

- It is conciliatory and limp-wristed. Matthew Cochran did a good job teasing this out:

“Imagine a man watching his home go up in flames, but whenever he mentions water, he compulsively adds a reminder that drowning can be just as dangerous as burning to death, so don’t go crazy with those firehoses. That’s how the WELS statement reads."

- A shift in language regarding cultural relativism: the current document speaks of principles where the proposed restatement speaks of applications, which would seem to be a weakening of headship.

- Several statements are ambiguous, Matthew Cochran teases this out (in the section where he talks about pitting Phoebe against Paul)

- The proposed restatement deleted any mentions about voting and the exercise of headship, which is in line with what we see in churches restructuring governance to be consensus-based and WLHS' proposed bylaws revisions. I assume the pastoral brief will attempt to bridge the gap between our doctrinal statement and these new practices.

- The proposed restatement introduced the novel concept of authoritative teaching

Overall the document in an attempt to be overly winsome became more ambiguous and permissive, a seeming desire for friendship with the world (and, thus, enmity with God: James 4:4) consistent with the permissive use of a gender-neutral NIV11, a hymnal featuring an 'ecumenical' Nicene Creed, modern praise and worship songs from outside of our confession and the proliferation of contemporary worship (and 'multipurpose spaces') among some churches in our Synod (and highlighted by the Synod via WELS Connection). I know many of us are glad this new statement will not have the force of a doctrinal statement, but it will likely be the basis for the pastoral brief. 

Unfortunately, the headship cat is out of the bag with several churches in our synod allowing women to vote, with consensus-based restructuring of church governance, with WLHS' proposed bylaws changes, etc. I fully anticipate the pastoral brief will provide "applications" that justify existing practices, because no one wants to question Holy Mother Synod when she has spoken. (I, for one, thought we broke away from the Roman Catholic church and its infallible magisterium...)