One of those famous old philosophers was known for his insistence upon "defining the terms" in order that people might accurately address a topic without either party sliding out of corners by altering or confusing the definitions of the terms being discussed.
I see that this altering or confusing of terms seems to be playing a major role in conversations regarding this topic, with people having different definitions for terms such as "ministry" "minister" "ordained" "laborer" etc.
One group defines all Christians as laborers, or ministers, in keeping with 1 Peter 2:9, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;"
Therefore, they say, all Christians are to be ministers to their fellow man. All Christians are part of the ministry, but not all Christians are to fulfill the role of an ordained pastor.
The ordained pastor, they say, is a specific part of the church structure, or hierarchy. The position of an ordained pastor within the organized church body is entirely separate from the Gospel work and ministry that every believer is called to.
Thus, saying that all believers should be part of the ministry, or Gospel work, is a true statement, whereas saying that all those in the ministry, or Gospel work, should be ordained pastors is a false statement. Otherwise you're concluding that all believers should be ordained pastors.
We must separate "laborers," "ministry," and "Gospel work" from "ordained pastor," for they are not one and the same. We needn't be ordained pastors to partake in the ministry of spreading the Gospel. We needn't be ordained pastors to be laborers in the harvest.
Case in point: Ellen White, who we all accept as having such a vital and important ministry, as being such a powerful worker in the spreading of the Gospel and as being such an effective laborer in the harvest, yet who did not think it appropriate to be ordained.
The other group will point to verses such as Luke 10:2, "Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest." and conclude that by not ordaining women we are thus sending fewer labourers into the harvest.
So, you can see that this group has defined "laborer" as meaning "ordained pastor." Therefore, they say, by not ordaining women we are hindering the Gospel work, or ministry.
But if taken to its logical conclusion, that would mean that every baptized member of the church should be ordained, so that we can all be Gospel workers or ministers to the fullest degree. Otherwise, if we do not ordain every baptized member, are we not then hindering the work?
But was Jesus Christ really referring only to ordained pastors or elders as "labourers?" Or, was He actually referring to all believers as "labourers?" And if so, is it really those who are refusing to ordain women based on lack of Scriptural support that are hindering the work? Or, is it actually those who are displaying an attitude of rebellion from the organized church body and who are creating dissension that are hindering the work?
Of course there are those who refer to this issue as "women in ministry," such as our beloved brother, pastor Doug, who are simply defining "ministry," in this instance, as meaning ordained pastors and elders. I think it would probably be wise not to use the word ministry in that sense, only because the opposition clings onto that word and cries, "You're refusing to let women be part of the ministry, or Gospel work...you're refusing to let women be labourers in the harvest!"
So, in conclusion, if we force participants in this discussion to define their terms, we can quickly set aside this false notion of the ordination of women having anything to do with the Gospel work, for we can then easily see that a "labourer" is not defined as an "ordained pastor." (In fact, I'd imagine that most of the labourers in the harvest are not ordained pastors.)
And if we have defined our terms and dismissed this first faulty argument, we can then begin to concentrate on the true issue: Is there Scriptural support for the ordination of women?