On Acolytes and the Sexes

When addressing the feminist rebellion against God’s ordinance in creation, conservative Christians have typically sought to run right up to the line and stay as close to it as possible without crossing. Women can’t be pastors and can’t marry other women, but every other male space or trait or responsibility must be immediately surrendered to the world.

But this was never the wisest course of action when Scripture tells us to avoid temptation rather than courting it. It has not protected us from the world’s scorn, nor has it made us more pious, nor has it given freedom to anyone. It has served only to rob the younger generations of our identities as men and women.

Dr. Peter Scaer, a professor of mine when I attended seminary, wrote a great post on Facebook concerning the consequences of ceding the role of acolyte to feminist ideas of gender equality.

While we’re at it, now would be a good time to think about what we’re doing in the church. As we consider the demise of the Boy Scouts, which coincides with the War Against Boys, and the devaluation of manhood, we might rethink how we train and treat our acolytes. Has it really been a good thing to have our girls join the acolyte corps? Now, I know, we could say that this is not all that significant a matter, that it’s all candle lighting, but that would be dismissive of what our children recognize is a sacred task. The flame has symbolic meaning, as do the robes which our acolytes wear. They are doing something special in the house of the Lord. I admit, I still remember how nervous I was when I first lighted those candles back in 7th grade.

As the Duke of Wellington noted, “The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eaton.” So, also the future of the church will depend on our Christian boys developing in strong Christian men, the kind of men that can stand up and speak out, the kind of men who are trained to be the kind of leaders who recognize their duty, and the nobility of their calling, and are willing then to make the kinds of sacrifices necessary for the sake of their families and their church. Take these boys, and develop their manhood, and you will never regret it. They will be your defenders, may even lay down their lives for you. They will speak the truth, because it is the truth. Put them in submission to God, give them the tasks that are noble and fit their nature and aspirations. Make them your acoltyes, and make a big deal out of it, as a noble service. Not again, as a law, but in accordance with Lady Wisdom, whose voice is so desperately needed.

Read the whole thing.

Adiaphora (things neither commanded nor prohibited by God) are not matters of “do whatever you want” or “do whatever the world says,” but rather “do what is wisest.”  Dr. Scaer’s wisdom on acolytes is a small and wonderful way for the Church to learn to live out its repentance.

Hair can be all sorts of different colors–some natural, some artificial, some beautiful, some ugly, some modest, some garish.  Nevertheless, hair has to be some color, or it’s not hair at all.  Something similar could be said of masculinity and femininity.  There is a legitimate variety to gender roles, though some variations are certainly more sensible than others.  Nevertheless, men and women must have some roles.  There is no Law that says only boys can acolyte, just as no Law says that pink is a girl’s color and blue is a boy’s.  But once you’ve taken everything exclusive away from boys and girls alike, you’ve implicitly rejected God’s ordinance and embraced the lies Spirit of the Age.  The Church should know better.

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