Why is the church effeminate?

Sister Aimee Battling Evolution GorillaA slight controversy has arisen over the attendance of women in the Manila Conference on Theology with Dr. Joel Beeke. The organizers have said that the conference is intended as a pastors’ conference, but wives of ministers who are attending may also come and benefit.

Some would probably wonder: If it’s a pastors’ conference, why is it for men only? Aren’t there pastors who are women? This is another area, in addition to worship, that the Reformed is distinct from mainstream evangelicals. To be sure, there are many churches, not only Reformed, that do not ordain women to the offices of the church–pastors, elders, deacons.

The Reformed argue from a couple of Bible texts. The first is, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (1 Tim 2:11-12). And the second is from 1 Corinthians 14:33b-34, “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. “

But many would vehemently argue from the perspective of modern egalitarianism that men and women are equal in the sight of God. The Reformed disagree.

Many others argue that prohibiting women from holding the three offices in the church is a holdover from Paul’s chauvinistic time and culture. We disagree.

And still many others accuse the Reformed of denigrating and devaluing women with this prohibition. Again, we disagree.

This controversy has many intertwining threads, and even if I do not want to be simplistic, here is my short take on it. I will let other more scholarly papers listed below argue for me.

Those who make the first and last arguments cite Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Isn’t Paul teaching egalitarianism in roles and relations here? No, because in the context of Galatians 3, Paul is explaining the believer’s movement from slavery under the Law to freedom under the grace of Christ.  Believers coming from all kinds of backgrounds are all equally children of God in Christ, a diversity in unity, and unity within diversity. This is why he adds later, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal 3:29). Paul was not taking about roles, but about all Christians equally as heirs of the promises God made to Abraham.

In the second place, 2 Timothy 2:11-12 certainly does not make Paul a first-century male chauvinist bigot in a male-dominated Greco-Roman-Jewish culture. He affirms that all men and women are created in the image of God (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10). He greets women as fellow laborers in the gospel (Phil 4:2 ff; Rom 16:1-15). What most egalitarians miss are the verses that follow:

For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor (1 Tim 2:13-14).

Paul was not making a command without any reason, so he follows his statement as to why, in the church, women should not teach or exercise authority over men with a “For…” Why? Because God ordered man-woman roles all the way back to creation! First, men have priority over women because Adam was created first before Eve, who was created as a “help-meet.” Second, it was Eve who sinned first.

Therefore, the priority and authority of men over women is not a matter of time and culture, but it is a foundational creation mandate that transcends all time, place and culture, just as marriage between a man and a woman (Gen 2:24), work and human dominion over creation (Gen 1:28), and perfect obedience to God’s law (Gen 2:16-17). Abuse of these creation ordinances, especially by men, does not of necessity make them wrong or obsolete.

To be sure, Paul also teaches that women have a most significant role in the church: that of teaching other women and children in the church and in the home (Tit 2:3-5). Why is this so important? Paul says, “that the word of God may not be reviled.” If there is no order in the church because the women and the children are raised without the knowledge of God and his Word, the church will be made up of ungodly men and women, eventually fall away, and so disgrace God’s name and holy Word.

Lastly, let this be a warning to churches that are in rebellion against this command. The slippery slope can be easily seen in these churches. They start with ordaining women deacons as “deaconnesses.” Since there are deaconnesses, why don’t we have women elders? Eventually, women pastors follow suit, as in many liberal churches like the PCUSA.

Who else is there to ordain? In the liberal mainliners, the slippery slope has become the bottomless pit. How about practicing homosexuals? Paul says this is the next logical step in the hardening (“giving up”) of the unrighteous to “dishonorable passions” (Rom 1:24-27). After these, who else is there in the egalitarian world to ordain in “Christian” churches? Unitarians? Masons? New Agers? A perfect fit for our present effeminate, pluralistic, amoral generation.

Below are two short but excellent articles:

“The Order of Creation” by R. C. Sproul
“My Credo as a Christian Woman” by Rebecca Jones


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16 thoughts on “Why is the church effeminate?”

  1. Just contributing my two cents:

    Ever wonder why Jesus incarnate was a man and not a woman?

    Ever wonder why Jesus didn’t include even one woman with the twelve disciples He chose to be the foundational leaders of His Church on earth?
    (BTW they were also simple fishermen and not from  among the highly educated intellectuals).

    Ever wonder why the four major and twelve minor prophets in the Bible were all men?

    Ever wonder why there were no women high priest?

  2. Arlene Truax

    We only have men elders and deacons at our church. The offices of elders and deacons require examination and ordination. My husband is a deacon at a Reformed Presbyterian Church. They are held accountable and they have a lot of responsibilities. Our system frees the Pastor from Managerial responsibilities so he could focus on preaching or teaching the Word of God. It guards the Pastor from burn-out. Many responsibilities are given to the ruling elders, teaching elders and deacons. We have a great church that uses the gifts of the members.

    The teaching elder has to be examined to be sure the doctrines he holds upholds Biblical standard. It’s good to see men taking leadership at church. God has made them physically sturdy and less emotional for the demands of the job. We practice church discipline and if a man just abandons his wife and children, it takes men to confront him.  Men are strong willed by nature and need to be encouraged and dealt with by other men.  A very arrogant, erring member (male) can just”run over” a woman deaconness when confronted.

    There is wisdom why Men should be on leadership–God made them that way. Men have more muscles and bones, they are more courageous,they are less emotional, they are not hormonal like all women are… (including me) so, they are called to lead, to work hard and provide for their family.  They go to war, they fly planes ,build bridges and can do the rough work.  When men lead, they make life easier and more gentle for women.  It is a blessing! Life is easier for me because my husband leads and takes on responsibilities.  Since I got married, I don’t have to brave the difficult things in life, my husband does–like a male bird that flies out ahead of the female bird to brave the strong winds! It’s easier for the female bird that follows after.

    We encourage men to become leaders and support them.

    Women are precious and can do many things at the church. At our church women are involved in mercy ministry to express their gifts, we make meals, make quilts or blankets, bake cake and fund raise for our church. We do scrapbooking, albuming, crafts or anything to help the church and edify one another. Women helping women, we help single Moms by baby sitting their kids. There are so many things that women can do.

    I think it is just the order of things after the Fall. Nothing is new. Women want to rule over men and are never content, that’s why life is harder for them. When men stop leading, the hard jobs fall on women and so women develop masculine muscles, they have their cake and eat it too!

    From a woman friend,

    Arlene truax

  3. I was actually waiting for at least one woman to comment before I own up to be “that” anonymous. Those are my words but I did not post them. I think Nollie did. I emailed that to Nollie and not the public.  But like someone in this blog said, it is about time that someone utter those words.
          I am sorry but I was not trying to make anyone focus on practical things.  But rather, I was pointing to the day to day workings of a local pastor faced with the realities of today’s world as  against the  pressures of what some say are the most Biblical, in this case that only “men” can be elders and deacons. No one among the commenters challenged the truth of what I said and I said a mouthful:  “The most numerous and most active group today are the women, men are miles and miles away. If we limit the elders and deacons to men only, we will be scraping bottom and will get mostly intellectual pygmies and leave out the intellectual giants.  Make a test in the church on Sundays: make the men stand up and then make the women stand up.  Look at them and see who’s got the most number and who’s got more brains and ability.” 
       Is this mouthful true or not?  Faced with this reality, what can a pastor do?  Sorry, I will not make do with the present, hoping against hope that some men will step up. Because I will not, repeat, will not work with “intellectual pygmies”, not when there are intellectual giants around.  God wants us to present before him always the “best” and never the mediocre.  Did God not foresee the context of the present world that is clearly the antitheses of the male dominated world of the past?
         Lastly, I comment on semantics. The title of Nollie’s post is “Why is the Church effeminate?”  That is not a question but a statement of fact. I disagree.  It is saying that the church is effeminate, so why is it effeminate?  It is not asking the question “Is the church effeminate?”  It is stating that it is so. I challenge that statement and also challenge women to speak up.  What do you say?
         Taking off from this, if there are more women in leadership position in the church today, that, I submit,  will not make it “effeminate” . I do not think so. But rather, THE CHURCH IS MANLY, inspite of being referred to as the bride of Jesus. It is Manly, because God created Man, male and female and also because it is the body of Christ. If you use the singular form Man, specially if capitalized,  as they did in the tagline “Reforming the Man of God” then you are using it to represent the whole genus or kind, both male and female.
         If men are bothered by what I am saying, then they should all step up and lead the church because Biblically that is what they are being asked to do. So that my day to day problem as a pastor will be solved.  If not, women will step up simply because the church will not wait for anyone.
         Debate?  Ok, let’s go for it.  Resolved that there are more women of leadership qualities than men in the church today.  Are you Pro or Contra? I will take pro, who are contra?

  4. By the way, for those who may be thinking that this is just a “minor” issue, I recommend that you follow the link below and read what has been posted there. The link will bring you to a blog wherein the document that states a most recent complaint against Metro NY Presbytery of the PCA concerning deaconesses is quoted.


    For those who are not familiar with Presbyterian church polity, a Presbytery is the governing body of all the churches of the denomination within a certain region. This governing body consists of all the ministers and all the ruling elders of the churches within that region. It is often the case that the region that a Presbytery covers would span more than just a couple of states. Especially in the case of PCA, Presbyteries would often have dozens of churches under their wing. I am hoping that with this information that I have provided, everyone would now have some idea just how big an issue this is.

  5. I heard about this topic because the invite to attend Dr. Beeke’s conference was also extended to us.
    First of all, I would like to ask all our Christian brother’s who are commenting on this blog to be more gracious when replying to others who are holding a different view from theirs.

    Reformed or otherwise, I believe mutual respect must bind the church of Jesus Christ.

    With regard to the issue of Woman Leadership in the church, I believe both camps (either pro or against Woman Elder/Pastoral leadership) polarize the issue by focusing on GENDERS ALONE.

    Now, polarization may not always lead to wrong interpretation but it often leads to false emphasis.

    Example of which was the use of Galation 3:28. While I do agree that this verse was about all Christians being equal as heirs of the promises God made to Abraham, it does not follow that Paul was not necessarily talking about church polity roles.

    Why? Because it was not Paul’s intent to discuss church polity in this verse. Why? Because he is taking about the equally of all Christian to the promised salvation made by God to Abraham.

    Therefore, any attempt to make Paul say otherwise (pro or against a specific church polity) is trying to argue something beyond what Paul intended to argue.
    The same was true when Brother Joel used 1 Samuel 13:13-14 to argue against pragmatism. While I do agree that it can be here observed that Saul sinned against Yahweh for burning the sacrifice himself, but to say the intent was pragmatism? Well, again that interpretation has to be crossed checked against the author’s intent.

    I know we are arguing doctrines here but I hope we can all be Christians  enough to recognize that we are all entering a conversation wherein everyone has their own bias, agenda, prejudice and framework (theology and ministry, orthodoxy and orthopraxy).

    For the unity of the body of Christ,


    1. Lance, thanks for the reminder about grace and mutual respect. When I critique, it doesn’t mean that I don’t respect the other side.

      But this issue is one of the most important issues concerning not only the church today, but also Christian families. Many schisms within large denominations have taken place as a result of this controversy. So the emphasis on gender is not misplaced. And it is our duty as Christians not only to teach the truth, but also to expose false gospels.

      True, Paul was not talking about church polity in Galatians 3:28. But this text, and many others, was forced upon the church only recently by egalitarians. The issue of women’s ordination was practically non-existent for the first 1,800 of the New Testament church!

      Throughout church history, women’s gifts in the church have been affirmed and utilized, but they were never ordained as pastors, elders, or deacons. It was very sporadically raised, and only by the unorthodox, such as the Quakers in the 17th century. All the Reformers did not allow women as officebearers. Only in the early 19th century did women’s ordination start making tiny inroads into the church, and not until the 1950s did the major denominations begin to ordain women. And, almost all of these denominations were already in the hands of liberals who reject the sole, inerrant and infallible authority of the Bible.

      Thus, for example, Galatians 3:28 was always studied in the context of salvation history, but never in a discussion of church polity until egalitarian liberals incorrectly used it to force the issue upon the church. From what I know about the history of liberal churches such as the PCUSA, Anglicans, Methodists, UCC, CRC, ELCA, etc., I believe that egalitarianism is only symptomatic of an endemic liberalism within them.

      This means that anyone who accepts the egalitarian position is effectively saying that the overwhelming majority of faithful interpreters throughout 2,000 years of church history have all been wrong on this issue.

      And in almost all cases, ordaining deaconesses was only the start of the slippery slope of ordaining women as elders and pastors. And then gays and lesbians. And then who else will they think of ordaining?

    2. This is what I said:
      “I believe that Saul may also have had practical concerns when, in I Samuel 13, he went ahead and made the burnt offering to God because Samuel did not  appear after 7 days.” [emphases mine]

      The words in bold (“I believe”; “may”) clearly shows that this statement is merely my opinion. I was careful enough to indicate that this was merely my opinion and yet you accuse me of believing that my opinion was the same as the author’s intent?
      In response to your question, “but to say the intent was pragmatism?” With all due respect to you sir, not once did I claim that this was the author’s intent. And, doesn’t Matthew Henry do the same, when, in his commentary, he said:

      “Perhaps he began to reproach Samuel as false to his word, careless of his country, and disrespectful of his prince, and thought it more fit that Samuel should wait for him than he for Samuel.” [Please take note that he begins his sentence with “Perhaps”]
      Here is the source of the quotation:

      Mr. Lance Filio, you ask me “to be more gracious when replying to others who are holding a different view from theirs” when it appears that this “graciousness” you ask of me is not something that you yourself would extend to the very person you are criticizing.

      1. Brother Joel,

        Sorry if what I posted angered you as showed by the tone of your response.

        I believe me when I say that it was not my (author’s) intention.

        I just used the irony between the content of my comment and what appears to be my intent to polarize the obvious my bias against the issue presented on this blog.

        I guess your post just confirmed what I said about being honest about one’s bias against the opinion of others. And from how I read your reply, it appears I was being ungracious to you as well.

        Well, I hope that demonstrate exact how people feel whenever their intentions are being misinterpreted.

        For what it’s worth, please accept may sincerest apology.

        Pastor Nollie,

        Appreciate the honesty. Now, I understand that your issue is not with the text per se but how the text was being misused to support egalitarianism. And, that you were just making a counter-argument against the unproper exegesis of Gal 3:28. I totally agree with you on that.

        God bless you, your family and your ministry.

        In Christ,


        1. Lance, I know that sometimes my critiques offend some people. With God’s help, I try my best to argue from Scriptures and not from feelings or culture. But I also try to be culturally sensitive, from the perspective of someone who has a 50-50 East-West orientation.

          In my three years of teaching in Silang, I have been known to be “dogmatic” and “uncompromising,” and had been misinterpreted and misunderstood. What’s so surprising to me was that those young minds found it easier to learn and accept Biblical truths than those who have been pastors for many years! For example, my students raised probing questions right after going to their first G12 meeting, while many pastors had gone to those meetings for months, even years, without discerning the false teachings of the G12 movement. I believe that heavenly reasoning from Scriptures is much more effective than human reason and logic.

          After I learned the Reformed faith, it was very difficult for me to shed my evangelical background and admit that most of my views—within the whole spectrum of Christian doctrine, worship and practice –were much lacking in Biblical grounding.

          I remember one commenter who was in complete shock when I said we didn’t have to do anything–nothing at all!–in our salvation. Not even faith and repentance come from us. And his logic was this: If we didn’t have to do anything to go to heaven, then it follows that we didn’t have to do anything to go to hell! I call that “logic” sheer foolishness.

          Some interpret my criticism of popular TV personalities like Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, etc., to be jealousy. It’s sad to see the complete absence of discernment among evangelicals, especially when they don’t see that Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer and their ilk are total heretics.

          Most evangelicals today have no idea of church history, and so they think that Protestant worship has always been this happy-clappy, hip-swaying, ear-splitting, romantic “praise and worship” and that the church is only 40 years old. Ancient, historic, liturgical worship is thought of as Roman Catholic.

          So I would dare say, as I’ve said before, that today’s evangelicals are NOT descendants of the Protestant Reformation because they have absolutely none of the Reformed doctrine, worship and practice. Rather, they’re children of the postmodern, post-Christian culture of the last 4-5 decades starting with the 60s hippie culture.

          Just sounding off my late-night thoughts. Your comments are much appreciated. Thanks.

        2. To Mr. Lance Filio,
          Your apology is accepted. However, I was not angry as per your suggestion. I believe that when we are engaged in argumentation in the public realm, such as the internet, we ought to behave as if we are participants in a debate. And, debaters ought to provide counter-arguments, not judgments on how their opponent is feeling. It’s funny how you were able to say that I was angry when I hardly see any indication of that in my comments. It’s almost as if you were making an ad hominem argument (which happens to be a logical fallacy) against me.  I was simply using rhetoric to counter your statements. Paul used rhetoric a lot as well and so,  should we say that he was angry every time he did so?

          Please allow me to give you some more unsolicited advice. In matters that are controversial, any comment or statement given about the matter is hardly neutral. In fact, I don’t think there is any middle or neutral ground. One may perhaps say that he is ambivalent about the matter but doing so does not make that person neutral. So, the moment that one makes a comment, whether he admits it or not, he has already declared which side he is on (not unless he was being vague or senseless) and that person must be prepared to defend his pick. Contending for the truth, like in debates, is not in itself an evil thing. As the name of Pastor Nollie’s blog states, “Doctrine Unites!” If we don’t make ourselves clear in terms of our commitment when it comes to doctrine, what then is our basis for true Christian unity? True unity is unity in truth for Christ is the Truth.

          And, there is no need to point out that people are biased. Of course there is always bias, for everyone has their own presuppositions. Let me use myself as an example. I, as a reformed Christian belonging to a reformed denomination (OPC), believe that Scripture, because it is God’s Word, is the ultimate standard and I also subscribe to the Westminster Confession, including the Larger and the Shorter catechisms, as my secondary standards for I believe them to be faithfully representative of what Scripture teaches. Those serve as my presuppositions and I am clearly biased against whatever that is contrary to the standards I hold dearly to. Now, just because I am biased, does that mean that I am not willing to listen to what others have to say? The answer is no. The fact that I am here debating with you shows that I am open to your arguments. If those arguments are in order and are convincing, because they happen to be arguing for the truth, then you will not find me disagreeing with you.

          P.S. Please be aware that Dr. Joel Beeke is a Reformed believer as well. And, in their denomination (Heritage Reformed), they adhere to the Three Forms of Unity (Belgic, Heidelberg and Canons of Dordt), which are harmonious with the Westminster Confessional Standards.

  6. It’s about time some one said it. This is more than women in leadership positions but men need to step up to the plate once again and take their rightful biblical place. To the burning fires with practical or relevant-do what God demands, after the proper order.

  7. Anonymous said:
    “It maybe the most Biblical way, but in the church milieu today, it is also the most impractical.”

    It is obvious that Anonymous wants to focus our attention on practical concerns. I believe that Saul may also have had practical concerns when, in I Samuel 13, he went ahead and made the burnt offering to God because Samuel did not  appear after 7 days. For its practical purpose, this act might appear to have been justified because, after all, Samuel didn’t arrive within the set time. However, read what Samuel said to Saul:

    “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” (I Samuel 13: 13-14)

    Saul had angered the Lord for presuming to know better. By offering the burnt sacrifice himself, Saul disobeyed what God has expressly commanded in 1 Samuel 10:8. And, notice how great the consequences were.

    What God has expressly commanded must not be violated no matter what the concerns are, especially in the area of leadership within the church. It would be presumptuous for us to conclude that it would be justifiable to have women elders in a church when there are no men that are able. Our Lord God is sovereign and, if it is His will to have leaders in that church, then the time will come that there will be men able to do the task. We must not be so myopic as to be so concerned for the present only. One must make do with the present situation without breaking God’s commands.

  8. Yes, it seems that in most churches, there are more women, and these women are more spiritually mature than the men in the church. This is the sad state of many churches in our day. Does this mean that we are to violate God’s commandment that only women are to be officebearers in the church? God forbid!

    We can even conclude from the Biblical account of Deborah and Barak and from a text in Isaiah that women leaders are a judgment on the church! Deborah was used by God as a judge and prophetess in Israel because the men were evil (Judges 4:1) and spineless (Judges 4:8), and so not fit for leadership. In Isaiah 3:12, the prophet laments the deplorable condition of Israel. Young children and women ruling over the people is a condition to elicit sorrow, “My people—infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your guides mislead you and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.” Therefore, God destroyed his people through the Assyrians and Babylonians.

    An anomalous, evil condition, such as Deborah’s assumption of Israel’s leadership, does not warrant abrogation and obsolescence of God’s commands.

    What, then, shall we do if there are no men in the congregation who are qualified to be church officers? The answer is similar to the Jewish situation after the destruction of the Temple. They can gather together in synagogues only if there was a “quorum” of ten men. Otherwise, there is no synagogue.

    Similarly, if an assembly does not have men qualified to be elders and deacons, it should not be considered as an organized church. This means that their meetings will be for Bible study, worship, singing and prayer, but not as a church with baptism and Lord’s Supper. A message delivered by an unordained person is not ministerial preaching, but only an exhortation. And since there are no elders in authority, members of the group would not have the benefit of church discipline for correction. The problem with today’s churches and even parachurches, many of them independent and accountable to no one, is that they function without warrant from the Bible since they only have self-ordained pastors and elders.

    And if we ordain women because they are more qualified than men to be pastors and elders, are we then willing to say that the more talented wife should be head over the husband?

    This may be “impractical” as you said, but isn’t practicality and relevancy the road that led many churches into the prosperity gospel and liberal heresies?

  9. It maybe the most Biblical way, but in the church milieu today, it is also the most impractical.  The most numerous and most active group today are the women; men are miles and miles away. If we limit the elders and deacons to men only, we will be scraping bottom and will get mostly intellectual pygmies and leave out the intellectual giants.  Make a test in the church on Sundays: make the men stand up and then make the women stand up.  Look at them and see who’s got the most number and who’s got more brains and ability.

  10. In the Presbyterian polity, there are only two officebearers: elders and deacons. The pastor or minister is the “teaching elder” and the elder is the “ruling elder” (shepherding the flock other than teaching and preaching). In the Reformed polity, there’s a slight difference in terminology: pastor or minister, elder, and deacon.

    There are no “bishops” because “bishops” and “elders” in the NT are identical officebearers. “Elder” is translated from presbuteros (1 Tim. 5:17; Tit. 1:5), and “overseer” or “bishop” from episkopos (1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:7). Luke called the Ephesian elders presbuteros (Acts 20:17) then later called the same men episkopos (Acts 20:28). As well, qualifications for both officers are identical (1 Tim. 3:1-7 = Tit. 1:5-9).

    Therefore, if the Bible says that the office of elder is reserved for men only, both pastors and elders should be men only. If a church prohibits women from being ordained as ministers, then it is inconsistent when it allows women elders because the office of elder consists of elders and ministers.

    My concern is that churches that ordain women elders are only a heartbeat away from ordaining women ministers. As I said in my blog, this is the unavoidable slippery slope that liberal and Pentecostal churches find themselves in after they start ordaining women as church officebearers.

    Note that I’m not talking about teachers of Sunday school and Bible studies, secretaries, choir directors, etc. I’m talking only about pastors, elders and deacons, the three offices ordained by the apostles.

    And note also that I’m not denying that many women are gifted for the edification of the church, as I mentioned in my article, like the women whom Paul greeted as “fellow laborers” in his letters. But their roles have a “restraining order”: they are not to be ordained as officebearers.

    I hope this helps clarify our Reformed Presbyterian polity, which I’m convinced is the most Biblical.

  11. While I do not agree that women can be ordained pastors, I nevertheless agree that they can be youth workers, church elders, and Bible teachers.

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