RSS

Category Archives: women’s ordination

Theocracy or Democracy?

Women’s Suffrage League secretary, Mary Lee. National Museum of Australia.

Women’s Suffrage League secretary, Mary Lee – co-founder in South Australia. National Museum of Australia.

The National Museum of Australia reports on the passing of legislation in South Australia granting women the vote and the right to stand for Parliament on 18 December 1894.  That makes it over 122 years that South Australia was the first electorate in the world to give equal political rights to both men and women.  This is even more surprising when remembering that it was only 14 years earlier, in 1880, that women were permitted to undertake degrees ref.  The systemic/structural barriers to women’s participation in colonial Australia are hard to imagine from this vantage point. Sadly we have their echoes in the Lutheran Church of Australia today.

Today the Lutheran Church of Australia (with its historical home in South Australia), is among the last in the world to recognise women as equally gifted and equally capable of pastoral leadership. The following was one of the arguments against women’s suffrage on the Museum’s page.

Many parliamentarians felt that women were not emotionally or intellectually capable of properly participating in politics. Others also felt that women were stepping outside their traditional roles and that giving them the vote would undermine a husband’s position in the family. Ref

The social restrictions on women were broad and central to all existence.  The restrictions were based on a foundational belief that women were incapable of taking part in society on the same basis as men, and were often based on fear that women would compete with men.  Rather than face any competition they chose to legislate against women’s participation.

In the 19th century, Australian women had very few legal rights. Once married, these rights were further limited as they were transferred to her husband. Married women surrendered all property to their husbands and any wages earned. Husbands were the sole legal guardian of any children from a marriage and could remove them from a mother’s care at any time, even bequeathing their care to other people in their will.

Before the 1870s, women were not able to file for a divorce and, even after legislation was changed in the 1880s, it was still difficult. Rates of abandonment were high and deserted women were usually forced to find paid work that paid up to two thirds less than a man for doing the same job.

Without the support of a trade union they often suffered unsafe and unregulated working environments in the sweated clothing trades. Trade unions resisted women’s involvement in the workforce, believing it would drive down rates of pay for men.

This 19th Century reasoning sounds rather like the arguments today against women’s ordination.  However, today in the LCA, we’re not even playing by the same democratic rules of the 19th Century.  It takes much more than 50% of the vote of the people for  women’s ordination and clergy have a disproportionate voice and vote.  Clergy have often proudly asserted that the LCA is not a democracy.  Instead we have to suffer the condescension of the system and its clergy who have deemed that laity should not have an equal voice nor vote at the national Synod.

Isn’t it time that the LCA debate whether it wishes to stay a theocracy (def: a system of government by priests claiming a divine commission) or whether it wishes to work as a democracy, respectfully valuing the voice of the laity?

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Free But Not Free

What if women’s ordination gets up at the coming LCA National Convention in Rochedale?

After the celebrations the next phase will be the delay before ordination.

To our knowledge there has been negligible preparation for a positive vote.  Bishop Henderson however has issued a warning that it will take some time for the LCA to prepare for WO – despite the generations of discussion.  Despite a potential positive vote women will still be in the wilderness, presumably for a number of years.

The delay will be akin to the granting of freedom to British slaves in 1833.  It took five extra years until 1838 for for “enslaved men, women, and children in the British Empire to finally became fully free after a period of forced apprenticeship following the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833.” link  Despite it being a huge moral victory, 46 000 British slave owners, mainly in the West Indies, still had to be paid off for losing their slaves. link   Why is it that the oppressed are forced to pay for the institutions’ lethargy in facing issues of justice?

Ironically, the ELCA this year celebrates 45 years of women’s ordination.  Other protestant churches have also been ordaining women for many years.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 8, 2015 in history, women's ordination

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The un-civil rights of Christians

bWe

(From bWe Baptist Women for Equality’s Blog)

Today in church, I felt like I was the “N” word. I am a woman. I don’t live in the First Century, but what happened then still rules my church culture today.

My soul cried out. Tears came to my eyes. I wanted to kick, scream and throw something.

(Read More)

Today the church badly needs a Christian Civil Rights Act. But don’t hold your breath. As long as Christians think they can continue to keep women from preaching and in submission to all males, they will do so.

But don’t hold your breath. As long as Christians think they can continue to keep women in submission to all males, they will do so.

 
 

Tags: , ,

Lutheran Church in Chile makes it a LWF full house in South America and the Caribean

There is reason to celebrate when all Lutheran World Federation (LWF) churches in Latin America and the Caribbean now ordain women.
We were listening to RN (ABC Radio) this afternoon which was reflecting on soldiers returning from WW1. It was around the time that workers were agitating for a 40 hour week.  It related how the media labelled the workers as traitors when striking for a reasonable length to the working week. There wouldn’t be many today who would begrudge workers a 40 hours week, but for the wealthy and the wielders of power it was a threat.
While freedom of speech is a necessity for a democracy, you have to wonder at the freedom of the Murdochs of that time to spread their fear and conservatism that angrily opposed the workers who were doing their best to eek out a living in tough times.
We continue to long for recognition of women in the Lutheran Church of Australia, knowing that, women’s ordination will quickly be forgotten as a divisive issue.
Roll on General Synod 2015.
All LWF Member Churches in Region Now Welcoming Women as Ministers – See more at: http://www.lutheranworld.org//news/lutheran-church-chile-ordains-first-woman-pastor#sthash.QcIMVk1V.dpuf
All LWF Member Churches in Region Now Welcoming Women as Ministers – See more at: http://www.lutheranworld.org//news/lutheran-church-chile-ordains-first-woman-pastor#sthash.QcIMVk1V.dpuf
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Jimmy Carter on how male church leaders have overwhelmingly interpreted Scripture

President Jimmy Carter

President Jimmy Carter

Some cultures are humble enough to acknowledge that they have exploited, abused and murdered indigenous peoples.

Some churches have the honesty to admit that their actions have been abusive and that they have not done the will of God.

Some men are able to stand outside their gender privilege and proclaim the injustice of how women are treated.

Jimmy Carter, you are a blessing to all humanity.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 7, 2014 in theology, women's ordination

 

Tags: , , , ,

Richard Rohr: learning from midrash

Richard Rohr reminds us of the ‘yes and no’ approach to Bible study, learned from Jewish tradition, where it was called midrash.  In community we learn from each other and respond to invitations to go in different directions by those in our midst.

Yes, And. by Richard Rohr

Yes, And. by Richard Rohr

Jewish Midrash

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I think we learned the Sic et Non approach in the early Christian period from our Jewish ancestors. They called it midrash. Midrash was a different way of coming to truth. It was simply where you get together and look at Scripture in an open—but faith-filled—way: It could mean this; it could mean that. It might challenge you in this direction; it might invite you in that direction. [1]

Jewish midrash extrapolated from the mere story to find its actual spiritual message. We all do the same when we read anyway, but Jesus and his Jewish people were much more honest and up front about this. Fundamentalists pretend they are giving the text total and literal authority, but then it always ends up looking like what people in that culture would want to believe anyway. (Remember, good Bible Christians in the U.S. Confederacy and in South Africa were quite sure the Scriptures justified oppression and enslavement of black people.)

To take the Scriptures seriously is not to take them literally. Literalism is invariably the lowest and least level of meaning. Serious reading of Scripture will allow you to find an ever-new spiritual meaning for the liberation of history, the liberation of the soul, and the liberation of God in every generation. Then the text is true on many levels, instead of trying to prove it is true on just the one simple, factual level. Sacred texts always maximize your possibilities for life and love, which is why we call them sacred. I am afraid we have for too long used the Bible merely to prove various church positions, which largely narrows their range and depth. Instead of transforming people, the Biblical texts became utilitarian and handy ammunition. [2]

[1] From Sic et Non; Yes, And webcast recording (MP3 download)

[2] Adapted from Yes, And . . . : Daily Meditations, p. x

Gateway to Silence:
Yes . . . and . . .

Of course, we make the association with women’s ministry (or lack thereof) in the Lutheran Church of Australia, in which this blog’s authors reside.   Decades of Bible study on this matter within our communion surely have given understanding that literal use of Scripture to prove various church position erodes its power to transform people. “Let darkness, failure, relapse, death, and woundedness (be) our primary teachers, rather than ideas or doctrines.

We can live with each other. In fact, we must. We are family – a family of diverse experience and world view. We can love each other and not pretend that we are identical. We are, after all, not so different to the sit-coms that have family seated around the Christmas table, rubbing up against each others prejudices and making faux pas to be laughed about in coming years.

By loving each other in our difference, we will grow together toward places yet unimagined.  God’s work is surely not complete – there is more in store for each of us.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

 

 
 

Tags: , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: