What war on women?

27 May
What war on women

Putting the lie to equality

Those who stand against the equality of women within the Church use language such as this: (Cyber Brethren link)

God’s good order does not envision nor permit women to exercise the ministry of “headship” in the family, nor the ministry of oversight involved in the offices of the priesthood and episcopate as they are understood and practiced by Anglicans. This is in no way detrimental to women for God has an equally significant, different, and complementary ministry for women in the family and in the Church.

While there is no reason to doubt their intent, there is significant reason to doubt their logic.  While they propose that a ‘complementary ministry’ (a term commonly used in the US), is ‘equally significant and different’, and  ‘is in no way detrimental to women’, that view takes no account of the violence committed against women throughout broader society.  The graph above relates American statistics, demonstrating that female deaths from domestic violence far surpasses deaths from Afghanistan and Iraq.  Women are still treated violently in Western society, let alone Middle Eastern society.  The philosophical foundation of conservatism is the same in opposing women’s ordination and maintaining subservience in the home.

Why are such statistics instructive when discussing women’s ordination?  Opposition to women’s ordination does not arise simply from a literal reading of Scripture, it also arises from social mores and traditions that have long placed women somewhere down the social ladder.  It would be a challenging philosophical contortion to attempt to support equal opportunity in the work place while denying women ordination.

While conservatism may be a healthy anchor for the ship in a storm it has much to answer for in resisting justice issues throughout the ages.


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7 responses to “What war on women?

  1. Sandra Wittwer

    May 28, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    And the whole argument turns to utter garbage in light of the statistics: 1 in 5,000 children are born inter-sex (not clearly male nor female); and that’s just the start of the variations on the theme of sex and gender. But that’s another story.

    • Katie and Martin

      May 28, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      Certainly Sandra the issue of LGBT involvment and leadership in the Church is a big issue that we are yet to face.
      We understand that the Commission on Social and Bioethical Questions (CSBQ) have completed a study on the issue but was not allowed to publish their documents on the LCA website. It contains some degree of nuance and an understanding that sexuality is not simply a male or female matter, but rather that our sexuality lies on a spectrum.

  2. Michael Lockwood

    July 4, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Dear Katie and Martin,

    You have tried to make a correlation between the kind of conservative Christianity that opposes women’s ordination and domestic violence. Do you have any data to support this, or is it merely supposition?

    Several recent studies, including a 2002 study by Ellison and Anderson in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion have found that regular attendance at Christian worship correlates with lower rates of domestic violence. A more recent study by Wilcox (“Soft Patriarchs, New Christian Men,” p 181-83) measured the difference between liberal and conservative theology by comparing 5 groups of people (religiously unaffiliated, active conservative Protestants, nominal conservative Protestants, active mainline [i.e. liberal] Protestants, and nominal mainline Protestants). Of these the active conservative Protestants had the lowest rates of domestic violence, whereas the nominal conservative Protestants had the highest. I am not aware of any other studies that have looked at the effect of theology on domestic violence, so unless you can enlighten me, this is the best data we have to go on.

    So who is your target? Nominal conservative Protestants do have a higher rate of domestic violence than the other groups. That statistic would support your case, except that such people don’t bother to study their Bibles, are more likely to distort conservative theology than understand it accurately, and don’t get involved enough in the church to actively oppose women’s ordination. Those who actively appose women’s ordination are active conservative Protestants, and they have the lowest rates of domestic violence, significantly lower than active mainline Protestants.



    • Katie and Martin

      July 8, 2013 at 2:19 pm

      Interesting stats, Michael. Thanks for the contribution.
      Whether or not DV is committed by avowed conservatives or progressives is not the issue for us. Conservatives primarily are about maintaining the status quo – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Progressives hold that the system is ‘broke’, ex. women continue to be abused, discounted and marginalised, PM Julia Gillard had to endure considerable sexism from conservative colleagues, media and the public, women still experience the glass ceiling today.
      Women are fighting the values of history where they were simply the property of males. It seems only a few breaths ago that women in the LCA could not be congregational chair, read the lessons, be a lay reader, serve communion, be a congregational representative at district and national synods, lead Bible studies and so on. Such policies were clearly discriminatory and were the philosophical undergirding of violence in all of its forms. Conservatism for too long had women being submissive to men and deferring to them.
      Whether or not it is conservative or progressive men (and sometimes women) who are violent to their partners, their attitudes are supported by values from another era. That’s why we reckon it’s time to move on.

  3. Christian P.J. Bahnerth MTh., PhD.

    July 12, 2013 at 9:03 am

    K&M you wrote; “women in the LCA could not … read the lessons, be a lay reader, serve communion”. Scripture obedient women can still NOT read the lessons, be a lay reader, serve communion, for this involves speaking in the congregation of the saints, c.f. 1 Cor. 14:33b-38. However, Dr. Martin Luther wrote that where capable and/or willing males are not available they may and, IMHO indeed must proclaim the Word of God. where there is a dearth of capable and/or willing males the Word of God must indeed be passed on. Ignorance of the Lord’s commands has its own consequences; 1 Cor. 14:38 and Matt. 7:21-27.


  4. Katie and Martin

    July 12, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Fair point Barney – if you interpret Scripture literally.
    We quote another post from this blog: Reference

    “Note how recently women were granted various responsibilities in the LCA (a post from this blog)

    1966 voting at congregational meetings
    1981 being delegates at Synod
    1984 being a member of church boards and committees
    1984 included in the guidelines for reading lessons in worship
    1989 assisting in the distributing of Holy Communion
    1990 being lay assistant as an alternative to elder
    1990 being chairperson of a congregation
    1998 being synodical chairperson
    2003 lay-reading”

    It seems to us that your position is contrary to current LCA policy and we’re uncertain as to where this places you in the community of the LCA. The Church is undergoing reform but it is unlikely to revert to earlier understandings of gender and power relationships. In the end however, it is not our hermeneutic that places us in or out of the Christian Church or the LCA. We are mature enough to be able to live with each other in diversity.

    Barney, there is a dilemma. It seems to us that you can either quote Scripture as the only infallible source of God’s word, or you can quote Luther as one who interprets Scripture. You can’t have it both ways. If Scripture is the absolute unchanging decree or will of God, then you must bend over backwards to keep all the laws – just like conservative Judaism, except a N.T. equivalent. Any interpretations from Luther or others would need to be shunned. If you wish to quote Luther, then you leave open the door for interpretations of Scripture and the horse has bolted.

    It also seems to us that you are deferring to an ancient manner of interpreting Scripture. “In the Middle Ages (before the Copernican understanding of the planets orbiting the Sun, and before Darwin’s Theory of Evolution) the Bible was interpreted according to church beliefs and traditions. There was little or no attempt made to determine the original meanings of the Scripture. Difficult passages “were interpreted as having a figurative meaning, so that they convey, through a kind of code, deeper truths about God, the spiritual life, or the church. Reference This reference goes on to detail different understandings of Scripture from that time onwards.

    • Barney

      July 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm

      What? War on women?

      In my opinion there is NO war on women; however, it seems to me that there is instead a war on God’s Word. In this insidious war, God’s Word is bypassed, circumvented or ignored by introducing ‘rules of men’ [people] by people who for a different agenda wish to, or are coerced to change the created order.
      It has been said on this blog that: “It would be a challenging philosophical contortion to attempt to support equal opportunity in the work place while denying women ordination.” This statement only holds any value if one accepts that one is “in the world as well as of the world” rather than the Christian notion that believers are “in the world but NOT of the world.” Furthermore, it compares compliance with rules and regulations in the workplace with compliance with the Word of God. For Christians there is only one choice; follow the King of Kings and that includes compliance with His rules and commands, not those of the prince of the earth.
      Whilst the LGBT issue is not directly related to the ordination of females and its consequent disobedience of the Holy Scriptures; the LGBT issue will raise its head more vigorously where females are ordained or in any way permitted to take an unauthorised part in the Divine Service. The events in the Uniting Church, the ELCA and – to a different extent – in the Anglican Church are a clear example of that.
      Now to the white-anting of God’s Word on the subject of the disobedience to God’s Word through Paul in his epistles; in the practice of letting females take an unauthorised part in the Divine Service. I use the word unauthorised here as in Matt. 7:23 where in the KJV series of Bible translations it gives us “lawlessness”. There is no authority in the whole of the Holy Bible that permits, encourages or otherwise enables women to speak in the congregation of saints. There are cases in both the Old Testament and the New Testament where women were recorded as having a leading role in secular situations. Among those examples we find;
      1. Deborah vs Barak, Judges 4-5; not a sacerdotal situation but a secular incident where the weakness of a male General required the support from a strong woman who was both a Judge and a Prophetess [note NOT a priest].
      2. Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-44 12:1-8; Again not sacerdotal, but supporters of Christ Jesus, welcomed Him in their house, and fed Him and likely His companions also.
      3. Joanna; the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance. Luke 8:3, these women provided for our Lord from their means in a social setting.
      4. And the un-named woman who anointed Jesus in the house of Simon the leper Mark 14:3-9.
      There are of course more examples of women who served God, but the example is there; they served God, but not in the place of God.
      I thank you for including the 9 “achievements” for women in the LCA. Having a closer look at the list identifies these 9 in 2 categories. (1) Administrative functions outside the conduct of the Divine Service and (2) actions which have a direct influence on the conduct of the Divine Service, require the participant to have a speaking role and are hence against the Holy writ. For instance;
      1. Administrative functions
      a. Voting at congregational meetings (1966)
      b. Being delegates at Synod (1981)
      c. Being a member of church boards and committees (1984)
      d. Being a chairperson of a congregation (1990)
      e. Being a synodical chairperson (1998)
      With a to d above I fully agree; however, e above must be clearly defined to ensure that there is no misunderstanding about the secular role or otherwise.
      2. Actions which have a direct influence on the conduct of the Divine Service.
      a. Included in the guidelines for reading the lessons in worship (1984). Hence, being permitted to read the Lessons. The reading of the lessons in the Divine Service is a dis-obedience to God’s Word c.f. 1 Cor. 14:33b-38 and 1 Tim. 2:11-12.
      b. Assisting in the distribution of Holy Communion (1989). Again, this cannot be done without speaking!
      c. Being a lay assistant as an alternative to elder (1990). Calling an apple a pear does NOT change the apple, it is a cunning wordplay. An Elder is an Elder and the permitted actions and functions are clearly described in our doctrinal papers, our Constitution and By-Laws. And finally.
      d. Lay Reading by females. (2006). This is the greater error of them all, particularly since it was introduced on the sly as an administrative matter requiring only 50% of the votes, I have the strongest doubt that if it was introduced considering close attention to the Word of God it would have passed the 67% required for theological decisions. The Lay Reader reads the service prepared by his Pastor, and as such with authority under Pastor’s supervision c.f. 1 Tim. 2:12, this authority is NOT available to women and should never be practiced by Bible believing females.
      It seems to me that some prefer the obedience to current LCA policy above the obedience to God’s word. Here I remind the reader of Article II of the Constitution of the LCA, which is derived from our Doctrinal teachings i.e. the Book of Concord, I refer here more precisely to the Formula of Concord, Summary:
      “1. We believe, teach and confess that the only rule and norm according to which all teachings, together with all teachers, should be evaluated and judged (2 Timothy 3:15-17) are the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and the New Testaments alone.”
      Those who wish to be known as Lutherans would do well to take notice of that.
      The Blog also contains the statement: “If Scripture is the absolute unchanging decree are will of God, then you must bend over backwards to keep all the laws … “ Now this statement comes as a surprise from one who is prepared to break the Word of God, is God’s word only applicable if it suits one’s agenda or is it like: Psalm 33:9-11 (NKJV);
      9 ”For He spoke, and it was done;
      He commanded, and it stood fast.
      10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
      He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
      11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, …”

      I can enlarge on this but this reply has become long enough.
      In HIS love and service


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