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Category Archives: sociology

Today, SA women get the vote – 119 years ago

One hundred and nineteen years since South Australian women could vote in state elections!  One hundred and nineteen years since women were considered equal with men in public life.   source: Australian Geographic

It’s ironic, wouldn’t you agree, that women in the LCA so many years afterwards still cannot be pastoral leaders of congregations?

Mary Lee was one of the driving forces behind the South Australian suffragette movement. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Mary Lee was one of the driving forces behind the South Australian suffragette movement. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

ON TUESDAY MORNING, 18 December 1894, the division bells tolled 29… 30… 31. At 31 triumphant cries and applause echoed out of the South Australian parliament as tired campaigners celebrated. They had done it. South Australian women had won the right to vote by 31 votes to 14.

The bill had been debated until after midnight the previous evening. And, as with nearly every debate on the issue, women packed into the public gallery of SA’s parliament building to observe the proceedings.

South Australia among first in the world to grant women the vote

South Australia would be the first Australian colony to give women the vote, and only the fourth place in the world to do so, following New Zealand 18 months earlier. The bill that was passed also made South Australia the first place in the world where women could stand for elections. The right to stand for parliament and other liberal privileges was a clause that was attached to the Act by a councillor who had supposed that these additions would make the bill too radical for it to ever be passed.   (more)

When women are finally ordained, this last sentence highlights that there should be no compromises over women bishops.  If there are no barriers to women’s ordination, then there should be no barriers to women bishops.

 

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2013 in history, sociology, women's ordination

 

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It’s Time for a Schism Regarding Women in the Church

Reposting the first part of Tony Jones’ article on women in the church

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I don’t take this lightly. I very much take Jesus’ prayer for unity in the Fourth Gospel seriously. Our eschatological hope is that the church will be one, and that we will all be united in belief, practice, and love.

But sometimes we need to separate. We need to say hard words to those who are not living the way that Jesus laid out for us. We need to divorce.

The time has come for a schism regarding the issue of women in the church. Those of us who know that women should be accorded full participation in every aspect of church life need to visibly and forcefully separate ourselves from those who do not. Their subjugation of women is anti-Christian, and it should be tolerated no longer.

That means:

  • If you attend a church that does not let women preach or hold positions of ecclesial authority, you need to leave that church.
  • If you work for a ministry that does not affirm women in ecclesial leadership, you need to leave that ministry.
  • If you write for a publishing house that also prints books by “complementarians,” you need to take your books to another publishing house.
  • If you speak at conferences, you need to withdraw from all events that do not affirm women as speakers, teachers, and leaders.  Read more here.

Sadly, the secular world has discovered the gifts and talents of women decades ago, and there comes a time when enough is enough.  The time for talk is done.  The issue was settled long ago for most people. There is no good news in gender power structures.

It will be difficult for many people. It will cause broken relationships. But we have daughters, and the subjugation of women in the church needs to end in this generation.

 

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2013 in sociology, theology, women's ordination

 

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Pr Elizabeth Eaton, Bishop of the ELCA, interview on ABC America

Prior to Pr Elizabeth Eaton’s installation as Bishop of the ELCA in Chicago this weekend (recorded here), she gave an interview on America’s ABC TV network.  She touched on a number of topics but describes a Lutheran Church which reflects God’s unconditional embrace of everyone. We believe that the LCA is also called to witness to this astounding love and grace for all people.

Some of the interview is transcribed below.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America not only welcomes paradox (but) we embrace (it). We realise that God has created an incredibly diverse world and that diversity is a kind of a beauty and so we’re a church where everyone is welcome, we would say.  We also hold fast to this notion … that we’re loved by a God who wants to lavishly, unconditionally love every one of us. …  Since we have been loved in this way we are free then to love the world and serve the world. …

We believe that God loves us unconditionally.  God does not love us (as the Billy Joel song says) “Just the way we are”, God wants to call the best out of us.  And so in that freedom we think that we can take controversial decisions…When we say we welcome everyone, I think that’s very important. It was a costly decision for us (ordaining gay and lesbian pastors) but if it is the right decision then no cost is too high. But when we say we welcome everyone we also welcome those who disagrees with that decision.  They are fully members of our Church because we can agree on the cross of Jesus Christ. …

Lutherans have a specific way of reading the Bible.  We are not Biblical literalists – I mean, there are different lists of disciples, the mustard seed isn’t the smallest seed and it doesn’t mean that our Lord didn’t know what he was talking about, but whatever shows forth God’s love as it was revealed in Jesus Christ, that’s what key.  There’s a lot of stuff that is not as important.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Hermeneutics, sociology, theology

 

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The bitter truth

Just as in the case of slavery, women’s suffrage or anti-Semitism, those people currently blocking women in the LCA from ordination (or perhaps their descendants) will one day claim that they weren’t to know any better.  They will assert, just as those who apologise for the torture of Galileo in his support for the Copernican understanding of the Solar System, that the level of knowledge in society was insufficient for them to understand how much they had erred.

It seems to us that no-one can know all things and so ignorance should not be condemned.  However, in Jesus we have the principle of love, which guides who we are, what we say and how we act.  This principle guides us in how we interact with our loved ones and adversaries.  It is a principle that would have us embracing each other in our hurts and disagreements.  It is a principle that would have us working to respect and build up our adversaries, while clinging to our own beliefs.  If we cannot do this what can we take from Jesus, apart from personal piety?  If that’s what it is to be Christian, we shall be called shallow indeed.

The small clip from Intelligence Squared makes the point succinctly.

Here is the full debate on whether the Catholic Church is a force for good.  Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry argue passionately that the Catholic Church is not a force for good.  They are both atheists and argue convincingly that the Catholic Church has much to answer for.  We’ll leave it to the reader to find relevance for the LCA

If the Church is to be a force for good it needs to be leading the way, reconciling adversaries, living with difference, living with tension, accepting contradictions, embracing multiculturalism, embracing different metaphors for the Creator God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and living with different perspectives on the place of women within the LCA.

We cannot hope that this issue will disappear.  It’s not going to happen.  Would Jesus tell his sisters to be silent?  There is only one option.

Equality will continue to be an issue until it is so complete that it ceases to be an issue.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in politics, sociology, women's ordination

 

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BIC pens for women – Men and Women are Different after all

If only we had consulted Ellen earlier.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2013 in sociology, women's ordination

 

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Invitation from Pr John Henderson, Bishop

Pr John Henderson invites members to write to The Lutheran

Pr John Henderson, Bishop,  invites members to write to The Lutheran

We have been invited to write to The Lutheran with our views on women’s ordination.  You can imagine the many conservative pastors that will put pen to paper with their distinctive perspective on things religious, so it is useful that the voice of the membership is heard in this discussion.  Without that voice it will seem like the voice of conservative pastors is the only one out there, even though most LCA members are in favour of women’s ordination.

It is the voice of conservative pastors which is loudest against women’s ordination, and it is also that voice which is most strident and most intolerant of diversity within the LCA.

Don’t be a stranger.  Write to the Lutheran.  Express your thoughts on why women’s ordination is vital in your context.  While we don’t wish to compete in a letter writing competition and while letters cannot all be printed, it is vital that local voices are expressed in The Lutheran and heard by our Bishop.

Please be a part of this discussion.  Don’t leave it to others. Express your dreams and longings and leave your imprint on the LCA.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2013 in sociology, theology, women's ordination

 

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What good ole days?

While conservatives insist that the Bible would have women remain silent, (except for Sunday School and serving men), we suggest that the origins of that notion may be a little less clear.

At the same time as the following two newspapers clips (1950s) two Australian synods were negotiating very slowly towards union.   Is it surprising that the two synods did not include in their discussion the possibility of women’s ordination?  The clips demonstrate how women were treated as children at best.

The New York Mirror from the 1950s

The New York Mirror from the 1950s

The politics of the oppression of the female gender are vast and insidious.  In the first centuries after Christ women had a seat at the table of church leadership.  Christians remembered the relationships that Jesus had with women and they knew that it was not for them to keep women from pastoral leadership. 

Ah, but with the passage of time, time-worn traditions kicked in and women were once again relegated to lower status, and in some cases a status even lower than animals.

Thankfully in recent decades there is a new awareness about bullying in schools and workplace.  There is a new awareness of domestic violence, but it would be naive to say that women are given equal respect and access to power in our society.  Julia Gillard can vouch for that. 

Some time ago, at a domestic violence workshop an older man related the advice that was given to him on the day of his first marriage.  He was told by a respected elder that early in the marriage he was to give his wife a good thrashing.  When she asked what it was for he was to say, “Just so you know”.   Blood runs deep. It’s the stuff of tradition, power and even culture.  It’s the stuff of gender oppression. It is passed on easily from generation to generation.

That was just how it happened in those days.  Don’t believe it?  Talk to your elders and hear how people knew who were the wife beaters in their churches and social groups, how they didn’t talk about such things, how they couldn’t report it to the police because nothing would happen, how they thought it was somehow the woman’s fault and how “That was how it was in those days”.

Of course, misogyny is much more than wife beating – libraries have been written about the politics of gender oppression.The physical violence that was meted out towards women is for some only a few decades ago and for others it has never stopped. 

Violence against women persists today in many forms.  In our church, the Lutheran Church of Australia, misogyny is still observed in how men meet together in groups called Pastors’ Conferences, with many not even stopping to think that something is awry.  It persists in how Pastors’ Conferences will discuss women’s ordination in this current Synodical term without women even being present to provide some sort of accountability. It persists in those clergy and laity who can only read the Bible through the eyes of Law rather than Grace. It persists in how women don’t qualify for the same education at our Australian Lutheran College. It persists in how women cannot be pastors in an ailing church. It persists despite women being the backbone of our Lutheran Education system. 

It is shameful that our institutional Church, so proudly proclaiming grace as central to its creed and doctrines, manages to shield God’s grace from women when it comes to pastoral leadership.  

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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in history, sociology, women's ordination

 

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