Women today have greater access to the halls of education, sport, power and leadership, however, there are still many barriers to them following their calling, not least of these being a dualistic theology. On the one hand it is maintained that male and female are equal in the eyes of God, but on the other hand this equality, it is asserted, does not extend to ordained ministry. While this distinction is odious, with the CTICR (Commission on Theology and Inter-Church Relations) some ten years ago, having declared that there were no theological objections to women’s ordination, there is a new emphasis on avoiding a split within the LCA. For this new purpose women’s ordination continues to be blocked. Interestingly, another focus against women’s ordination for some years was the ‘fatherhood’ of God, which amused theologians from the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America). The goal is to avoid women’s ordination, it is only the means to the end that changes. Presumably the theory is to postpone women’s ordination for as long as possible in the hope that the issue will go away.
While President Mike Semmler may not be the chief protagonist against women’s ordination in the LCA, he is arguably the most significant in the way he exerts influence and in the manner that he has chaired General Synod. While
1. he asserts that he has not made his opinion on women’s ordination public, and
2. his expressed concern is that of maintaining unity within the Church,
his actions clearly indicate his oppositional attitude to women’s attitude.
It was disappointing how he chaired the 2009 General Synod. When it came to the vote on women’s ordination in the LCA, he vigourously counselled from the Chair that if delegates were at all unsure they must vote against the motion. If delegates were not present, their absence was counted as being against the motion, and informal votes were counted as being against women’s ordination. These are not healthy signs of a well-functioning democracy.
Such a leadership style is not new. Through history men, in the main, have manipulated power and process to achieve their desired ends. It seems that, in general, women and men have a different perspective on many things. Is there a hormone induced difference between male and female? This reading would suggest so:
In addition to brain differences, many essentialist theorists argue that hormones play a large part in explaining the disparities between men and women. Testosterone, the primary male hormone, floods a boy’s body at puberty and induces the growth of body hair, the deepening of the voice, and the development of muscles. Testosterone is also responsible for aggressiveness, sexual desire, and competitiveness. Both men and women produce testosterone, but women produce about 70 percent less than men. Thus, according to journalist Iain Murray, “Testosterone is crucial in making men men—literally.”
Similarly, women produce a large quantity of a hormone called oxytocin, which promotes bonding and affiliation. According to researchers, both men and women produce oxytocin, but women produce it in greater quantities. Moreover, researchers contend that testosterone counteracts the effect of oxytocin, while estrogen, the primary female hormone, enhances it. Oxytocin promotes affection within relationships, but it is most known for enhancing the maternal instinct. Scientists maintain that oxytocin is released during childbirth and breastfeeding and is responsible for creating a strong bond between mother and child. The fact that women are more affected by oxytocin than men, according to experts, helps explains why women are often better nurturers and caretakers than are men. Male/Female Roles | Introduction
We are concerned that our Church leadership had predetermined goals before General Synod commenced. To achieve these goals, when delegates were working from a model of democracy, was always going to take a level of manipulation from the Chair. We assume such an approach was seen by the male leaders to be strong leadership, however, another view on this style of leadership is to label it as more typically male. Gender Differences and Leadership If we consider a more female (oxytocin driven) style of leadership, which includes process, consensus and building relationships we have a stark contrast in styles and a revealing view into what the LCA might look like with female leadership in the form of women clergy.
The consequences of the outcome of leadership style is an increased cynicism within the Church and a decreased faith in due process and lay involvement. We need a genuine pastoral leadership from the Chair of our General Synod. When the Chair becomes partial and enters or manipulates the debate, delegates begin to lose their democratic choice and their spirit. The Chair needs to establish a brutal impartiality and, especially in the church setting, provide strong pastoral support to those from opposing points of view.
It is humbling to view/read Bishop (ELCA) Mark Hanson’s pastoral address to delegates at their Eleventh Churchwide Assembly. This was in regards to the delicate topic of gay and lesbian ordination within the ELCA. The LCA needs such leadership. Leadership that reflects Christian theology of reconciliation, growing together, process and consenus.