The church changed perception of rape

20 Jun
In the Middle Ages the church affected the views on gender roles. Pictured is a German woodcut of a 15th century wedding. (Photo: Freebase)

“In the Middle Ages the church affected the views on gender roles. Pictured is a German woodcut of a 15th century wedding. (Photo: Freebase)” ScienceNordic

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


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2 responses to “The church changed perception of rape

  1. Wendy K

    June 20, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    The church has at times had an encouraging history in leading the way on matters of justice. It’s time we led the way once more

  2. martin beach, Gimcheon, S Korea.

    June 23, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    I hear your pain and am deeply moved by yr obvious suffering. I can even understand your need to maintain anonymity in a church where sway seems to be held by an aging gerontocracy, and possibly also rabid misogynists. I’m not a woman, so in a sense it’s not my fight or battle. But I’m certainly a passionate man, willing to speak his mind for what he perceives to be an injustice, indeed even to the point of hypocrisy.

    In my life too there is a lot of unrequited pain & frustration, which is a blessing for me in the sense that it gives me a certain level of compassion not able to be reached by every person & their cat. I’m assuming here that you’re a woman & interested in ordination. I too am interested in this rite, having studied at Luther for 5 1/2 yrs, still 2 1/2 subjects short of a BTh. My father was a Pastor of the LCA & I certainly felt & still do feel a calling to ordained ministry. And I’m already 55, in my own kind of Korean Patmos, though I don’t cast aspersions on Korea by this metaphor. The reasons I was not able to complete my study & be ordained were 1. A hypomanic breakdown in may 81,
    2. My seemingly compulsive ability to shoot myself verbally in the foot due to some kind of laziness
    re. engaging my brain before I engage vocal chords.

    All this in spite of a wonderful & supportive mother, a father who was so passionate about his ministry, that his family often had to take a back seat to “the Lord’s work” as he used to put it. As the eldest, I found this hard to understand, esp in view of the fact that when there were only 2 or 3 kids, he took the time to play with my sis & I… (mum told me this; I wasn’t consciously aware of it). So when there were 4, 5, & 6 kids, he somehow felt he had to withdraw his family involvemnt & focus on his true calling. He wasn’t able to see as clearly as he might have, that having planted the seeds of procreation, his family was also part of his calling, or at least responsibility.

    Anyway, this situation was repeated all over the ELCA & UELCA in my father’s generation of pastors, so this experience has made me who I am today. I think I have something to offer, but sadly I’m becoming a little long in the tooth, perhaps even past my use by date in some senses.
    So I continue my ‘exile” on my “patmos” hoping one day to return to the LCA & complete what I consider to be my calling.

    O writer of the above article I’m responding to, I’m concerned that yr pain & suffering could be blinding yr judgement about what best serves the interests of women seeking ordination in the LCA. But as someone who lives in his own glass house, I’m in no position to throw stones. I want to encourage you to hang in there & keep fighting for this worthy cause. Not everybody wears their heart on their sleeve, & society tends to smile more on those types than on people like you or I, if my perception is correct. But society also often fails to recognize the importance for society’s very survival, of people who will do the Jeremiah, say what neeeds to be said, & get themselves thrown in with the shit in the cistern.

    I guess I can only speak for myself finally, but one the hardest struggles in my life is to leave room for the Holy Spirit to do her work (ruah is feminine). But this is vital for us who are awaiting eagerly the opening of ordination to women, & the consequent enriching of our ch’s ministry to Australians that will inevitably ensue from such a farsighted decision made by our dear LCA”s synod when it eventually happens. At this point I must loosely quote Luther from his Tischreden with his students over the lunch table…… This morning while I was doing my ablution I noticed that there were no feathers on my arse. Accordingly I was reminded that I’m not a dove & certainly not the Holy Spirit, so I must do my work & then stand aside for the HS to do the real work….. Actually I only know this quote by oral tradition, but I love it & am honored to share his name.

    May God allow that women will be ordained in my lifetime. KNowing the LCA as I do, this may not happen….of that I’m well aware, but lets continue to pray for it and wait on God trusting that it will be brought about in the “fullness of time”. (Hopefully before I shuffle off….^^)


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