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Prayer Vigil for Women’s Ordination at St Stephen’s

PRAYER-VIGILSt Stephen’s Lutheran Church, 152 Wakefield Street, Adelaide, has a prayer vigil on the day of the debate on women’s ordination (Friday 2nd October, 2015).  Sorry for the late notice.  It will be held from 9am until 7pm.  Consider joining the vigil to pray for our Church, for our women, for our leadership and for delegates from around Australia and New Zealand. Thanks to St Stephen’s Working Party on Women’s Ordination for organising the day.

Further news, (thanks, Jeff): Doctor Andrew Pfeiffer has been elected Assistant Bishop.  The politics of that is interesting.  Doctor Pfeiffer went to Concordia Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN, USA (a seminary of the Lutheran Church – MIssouri Synod), to study for his doctorate.  Ever since, he has strongly opposed women’s ordination.  While at this stage he does not exercise much influence on this matter, in our opinion it is not healthy to sit too close to the LC-MS, which has removed clergy from their role of pastors for publicly supporting the ordination of women. Matthew Becker example  (Type “LCMS” into the search field of this blog – top right – for more on LCMS.)

Then there’s this official tweet today: “ requested that CTICR study the scriptural and theological understanding of subordination and the role of male headship in marriage”.  Sigh!  Male headship?  Are we really that out of touch with our world?   What a huge waste of energy!   CTICR studies its subject matter in fine detail and there will be months and months of discussion and debate.  It would seem more appropriate to be discussing how the LCA might offer leadership against the obscenity of The Coalition and Labor’s common platform of stopping the boats, or on climate change.

Synod has agreed to commit more resources to keeping children safe – a good initiative against domestic violence!   We understand that some people are maintaining that it’s still okay to hit children.  Ah, well!  Change comes slowly, but you knew that, especially if you are a woman in the LCA.

The #lcasynod Twitter feed today has mostly been official updates.  If you are at Synod your perspectives via Twitter would be appreciated.  Just include the following: “#lcasynod”  (without the quotation marks)

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2015 in politics

 

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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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The church changed perception of rape

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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What war on women?

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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Hey, mate!

Yesterday, Sunday 25th November was White Ribbon Day in Australia – a campaign to stop violence against women.

One in three Australian women have experienced physical violence from the time they turn 15 years old.

One in five will have experienced sexual violence according to these same figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

What is more, a woman living in this country is more likely to be killed in her home by her male partner than anywhere else or by anyone else.

Almost eight out of 10 female murder victims in Australia were killed by someone with whom they shared a domestic relationship.  Reference

Check out further videos in this series

Here is the pledge that Aussie men are encouraged to take:

I swear never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women. This is my oath.

This is also the pledge that those clergy, who are the hands and voice opposing women’s equality in the LCA, are encouraged to make.

At some stage in a girl’s life she becomes aware that being a pastor in the LCA is open only to her brothers. This relegation to the ranks of second-best, using the Bible as justification is spiritually abusive.  Girls are judged – without their participation – long before being born.  It’s no different to the Indian caste system – there’s no escaping, just the collusion of those with something to lose.  If you peacefully accept it and trust in good karma perhaps you’ll have a better incarnation next time.

As Christians we are not to trust in the justice of heaven, we are to live the justice of heaven.  We cannot wait.  We cannot expect women and girls to wait for some after-life reward, for that kind of piety is patronising nonsense.

There can be no excuse for violence against women and girls!  It’s that simple!  If you are using Scripture to justify your violence, then you have a choice: 1. discard Scripture or 2. reconsider your interpretation of Scripture.  No, there is a third option, discard your religion, for that is a better choice than using it to oppress your sisters.  Sacrilegious?  Not at all!  Using religion to justify violence is the sacrilege.

Feedback and suggestions are warmly invited.  We’d love to get your comment.

If you found this post useful, consider sharing it on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribing to this blog.  Better still, start your own blog and let us know so that we might subscribe.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2012 in sociology, theology, women's ordination

 

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Women – don’t look around when you’re singing!

Reply from Shirley Taylor of “bWe Baptist Women for Equality’s Blog”

Shirley Taylor lives and blogs within the Southern Baptist tradition.  Her stories of how women are theologically minimised and abused are an eye-opener.

Isn’t it intriguing how the different “Bible-based” traditions are concerned about different things? How astounding that the Church of Christ (USA) tells women that they shouldn’t turn their heads when singing in church for fear of preaching to men nearby.  Such practice and theology has its own internal coherence but they have lost touch with their women and the broader world.  What’s the ever-present message to women when they have to avert their eyes when singing their faith?  The practice sounds like one of the building blocks of domestic violence – if women can’t sing to men, they certainly can’t have their own voice at home.

Meanwhile the LCA’s version of repressing women’s ordination includes that:

  • women’s ordination will threaten our unity with the Catholic Church.  There is a certain irony in this.
  • women’s ordination is inspired by the second century Gnostic sect (Pr Greg Lockwood)
  • we ask what the angels think about women’s ordination.. (Pr Frazer Pearce)  (Current edition of Together)

It would be interesting to compare and contrast the issues that different fundamentalist denominations have with women’s ordination. So much for them being Bible-based.

Shirley’s blog is found here:  http://bwebaptistwomenforequality.wordpress.com/

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in politics, sociology, women's ordination

 

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Morven Baker reports on being asked to preach at a local church

Dr Morven R. Baker, D.Min., PCC-S, NCC, has been in practice for over twenty years in both institutional and private practice settings. She is founding President of Ashland Women’s Counseling Center, where she deals with the range of issues faced by women, but especially those arising from sexual abuse and domestic violence. A published author, Dr Baker is a popular speaker and teacher, having delivered classes, lectures, and workshops in the US and abroad. Source

We believe that the following comment is profound beyond words.  We include it for your reflection and as another reason to praise our loving, caring God.

Yesterday I was asked to preach twice at a local church on the subject of – now wait for it – sex, and how God intended it to be and how to get back to the Garden, where men and women were in partnership/companionship together.

Well, the bit in the middle was tough to talk about … how patriarchy was a consequence of the fall. I reminded the congregation that it was NEVER God’s plan for his children to leave the Garden and suffer the results of BOTH their sin. Remember, Adam was told about not eating from the tree before Eve was even created! Talked about some of the results of patriarchy …. abuse of women, pornography & its effect on the family, domestic abuse. Then the “second Adam”, Jesus, came and liberated women – “We are all ONE in Christ Jesus” – as Jesus wants us to return to the Garden his Father created. The response to both services was incredible. Men came to me and confessed things they had done, two elderly women came and shared they had been molested and felt too ashamed to talk about it before, people asked for help …. they want to change. They are hurting.

The amazing thing is that I am a female and was asked to do this by a male pastor. I was raised in a strongly patriarchal denomination in Canada, and my very elderly father is still very upset at me for “being disobedient to Scripture”. I told him that I loved him, but I believe that his interpretation of Scripture is wrong, and I am just doing what God has called me to do.

As it is with all the women who are longing to follow the call of God on their hearts. World wide. It is happening.

We welcome your response.  One of our responses is the giving of thanks for the man who invited Morven to preach.  Without him God’s grace would not have been revealed anew through Morven.

What might happen if such preaching happened at your church?  What hurts might be revealed?  What pleas for the assurance of God’s forgiveness would be heard?

I wonder what it is about confessing to another person, a woman, that is so powerful?

You may be interested in reading Morven’s Blog.

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