The Conclusion of “Why?” by Mariet Hardy Freeland

The summing up is this. The design of God in the Gospel dispensation is the full restoration of woman to her original place as described in Genesis 1:26-28. God created woman because he saw it was not good for man to be alone – “a help meet for him.” Her place was by his side, not as a troublesome appendage, a mere toy or a cipher, neither as lord over him, but as a unit of equal value with himself. She lost her place in the transgression, but received the promise of final deliverance through her seed, which is Christ, which was verified in the full ushering in of the Gospel dispensation on the day of Pentecost.

But why this controversy? Why this war of words? Why should God’s church make void the law through tradition as did also the Pharisees? It must be admitted that some women have been called to devote themselves wholly to the work of the ministry – if we may credit their own testimonies and corresponding actions in acting as supplies in our own and other churches. Frances Willard heard the call and looked in vain for an open door to ministry in the M.E. Church, so turning, she devoted all her powers of being the promotion of temperance, in all of its departments, and has not worked in vain. Many others would have entered the Gospel ministry had the church of Christ recognized the fact that the way into the holy of hollies was made accessible to Jew and Gentile, bond and free, male and female, when the veil of the temple was rent asunder by the piercing cry on Calvary’s heights, “It is finished.” But other doors have been entered by them where they are doing nobly for the Master, realizing all the while, however, that they cannot there be at their best for God. There is a sense of restraint that keeps them back from perfect freedom. “We speak what we do know, and testify what we have seen,” and will no man heed our testimony? I repeat, many among us have been turned aside or hindered from doing what they might have done by our failure as a people to fully recognize God’s call to a woman as to man by applying the same endorsements to the one as the other even as the Prophet Joel indicated, under the spirit of prophecy, should be the order under the Gospel dispensation. And shall we continue to do so? Shall conferences continue to say by their votes, “Nay; Nay” to the women knocking for admittance at their portals. God help that it may not be so! Could you, my brethren, stand in woman’s place long enough to fully appreciate her situation, I am sure more than a three-fourths vote of yes would come rolling up from the conferences yet to be held. But if the reverse is true, who shall “countervail the King’s damage?”

Published in The Free Methodist September 5, 1984 issue. Mariet Hardy Freeland’s call for the annual conferences to vote in favor of ordination and ultimately have the annual conference delegates vote in favor of it at the 1894 General Conference did not succeed. In the end, women’s ordination was not approved in 1894. Women were granted the right to be deacons in 1911 and the right to be ordained elders in 1974.

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