The danger of not reviewing church policy is that too easily we can find ourselves being perpetrators of injustices and even violence against the voiceless and powerless.
If all women and men agreed that women shouldn’t vote then one could argue that no injustice or violence has been committed. There would be no genuine discussion as the situation would be seen to be a natural state of affairs. Of course, God and Scripture could be evoked to justify the general consensus and every interpretation of God and Scripture could show the many reasons why women shouldn’t or couldn’t vote. That is, if the exegetical energy was found to defend the status quo against a non-existent opposition. But, why would you do the exegesis if it wasn’t even under discussion?
Then, one day, a woman, somewhere, points out that the situation is unfair and she wishes to vote. On the one hand, there would be disdainful dismissal of this woman because she contradicts the obvious natural state of affairs. On the other hand there would be angry crowds pointing out that many things make if impossible for women to vote: God and Scripture, culture, science, tradition, family structure, biological difference, hormones, chemistry, women in general, social structures, good order, St Paul, every other saint, personal stories and folk wisdom proving the point, women don’t have time to consider such matters of import, a vote is never an intelligent vote when it is cast without knowledge … and so it goes.
All this from only a few generations ago in Australian politics, and, for women voting in the LCA, only a few decades ago! Oh, we are a sad, self-righteous people. Perhaps we were part of the problem or perhaps our forebears were part of the problem, but never-the-less the misogynist status quo was maintained by us or our families for far too long. Indirectly, at least, we are culpable.
Status quo is an unreliable judge of justice!
It took the Danish Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, in the 12th and 13th centuries (what other church was there!) to change the Scriptural – ancient Middle Eastern – world view that rape was vandalism against a man’s property. The Scriptural status quo, no doubt, seemed a natural state of affairs, but the Catholic Church, stepping out in front, wanted to create a peaceful and civilised society and help the weak, including women. (Read more)
Such significant leadership and so long ago! This, we believe, is the role of the church – to step ahead and forge the ways of justice and peace that Jesus would have us do. Without speaking and acting for the voiceless we are little more than a membership of those who are comfortable, or too comfortable, with our lives.
Who is the LCA trying to help today? Is it those with power or the disenfranchised? Reference
- Catholic Church Rules Gay Men Can Get Married — to Lesbians (jezebel.com)
- How religions change their mind (bbc.co.uk)