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High stakes in October 2018 at the LCA General Convention

Women’s ordination is again on the agenda at the LCA national general convention in Sydney (Oct 2018).  It’s been around for generations and has repeatedly been turned down, needing to achieve two-thirds of the vote at General Convention.

While many have already left the LCA in search of a more tolerant and inclusive denomination there may be huge ramifications in October if the LCA again refuses to ordain women.

When Lutheran school teachers from Australia and NZ met in Adelaide (2017), one of the guest speakers was Rev Nadia Bolz-Weber from the ELCA (USA).   She was an inspirational speaker, providing encouragement for those struggling to remain within this denomination that has persisted in excluding women from leadership.

It’s humorous to recount that when she visited Australia on an earlier occasion, certain conservative clergy sneered at the thought that Nadia might have something to offer them in the way of preaching.  After all, she’s just a woman.  No, she’s not just a woman. She is a gifted woman with a powerful story, who brings many gifts because she is a woman.   She is a woman who happens to be clergy and she has a well-honed ability to preach the good news of God coming to live amongst us.  Coming to share God’s grace, God’s forgiveness, God’s justice, God’s compassion  – all for those struggling in life in one way or another.

The response to Nadia Bolz-Weber was remarkable.  Many people were moved to tears and after her presentations the applause persisted and persisted. She answered questions that related some despair on the matter of women’s ordination.  No doubt there were individuals present who didn’t believe that women should be ordained, but we believe the response was an indication of what the people of the LCA think.

Australia’s contentious same-sex marriage survey was acted upon by Parliament in 2017.  Majority approval resulted in new legislation – contentious, yes, but that’s how it has to be to retain social stability. The alternatives are abusive and elitist, where those with power rule over those who have been marginalised.

There must be more evident democratic processes within the Church.  The majority view of the people should be enshrined in Church legislation. Currently an oligarchy and less than 40% of those voting at Synod, and logically (and generally speaking) the oldest and most conservative sector of the Church, have imposed their theology and their world view on the rest of the denomination – a recipe for revolution.  While some might argue that we have a theocracy that rules and protects our constitution, this is a fallacious argument as Church funding and the means for its very existence comes from individuals and congregations which ultimately can choose to withdraw that support.

Assuming no change of the voting proportion at the General Convention this year, these are the results of this theocratic gerrymander:

  • young people, other individuals and families gradually disappear from congregations and committees. (It has been happening for a long time.) Gradually, members, along with children and grand-children see no reason to continue to support a denomination that does not reflect God’s love or Biblical scholarship.
  • some progressive Church leaders leave the LCA, unable to remain in a denomination that pays no heed to God’s word on this matter. No one wants to live the rest of their life in a denomination that has lost its way.
  • with the loss of these individuals and families, the Church inevitably becomes more conservative and more out of touch with society.
  • some progressive congregations choose to break away from the LCA, no longer able to support an institution that continues to deny the need for democratic representation.
  • as the Church continues to lean right and away from social norms, rather than having more influence throughout its supposed faithfulness, the Church has less credibility in the manner it attempts to reveal God’s grace.
  • with the continued absence of women from leadership and reinforced male perspectives on relationships and power, the structures of domestic violence are strengthened.
  • women’s voice is reduced at all personal and committee levels of congregations, districts and national governance.
  • women are increasingly confined to gender-roles within the Church as men are lauded and women are disempowered.
  • the Church experiences a pious subjugation of women, with Scripture being used as a tool of subjugation, not dissimilar to the manner in which slavery was justified. Southern Baptist theologies come to mind.
  • general LCA theology leans further to the right on all matters, further alienating members who are engaged with society and grappling with evolving issues of justice and compassion.
  • the ensuing legalism and entrenched conservatism will have the LCA creeping closer to the sect-like Missouri Synod, and further away from the ELCA.
  • the decline of the LCA increases as congregations close.
  • the voice of the LCA becomes less significant on all matters.
  • the LCA becomes a small, insignificant denomination that retains just members who have been indoctrinated into a socially conservative view of the world, such as the Amish or Mennonites.

Without women’s ordination, without engaging with today’s issues and without something a little closer to democratic representation, the death or torpor of the LCA is assured.

On the other hand the LCA might embrace God’s ongoing creation and revelation, ordain women and have a decent go at speaking and living God’s word.

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2018 in theology, women's ordination

 

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She deserves nothing less from you

from Inspirational Quotes to Live and Learn – on Facebook

Are you waiting for women to pull themselves up to equality?  “It’s coming soon!”  “I hope those groups get their act together.”

It doesn’t work like that.  The marginalised cannot do it by themselves. It requires men and women of good will to speak and act on their behalf.

If it’s going to happen it’s going to need your involvement. The women are your sister, your mother, your daughter, your wife.  She deserves nothing less from you.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2013 in theology, women's ordination

 

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Feminism

“Any woman who says she is not a feminist, but wishes to be treated as more than a piece of seagull poo on the windscreen of life, has simply got the terminology wrong.”  Attributed to Kaz Cooke

Recent events in Australia and around the world – from the accusations of misogyny, to the sad and senseless death of Jill Meagher, to the shooting of young Pakistani girl Malala Yousufzal have sparked a wave of feminist debate about the right of women to be safe and to live their lives without fear of ridicule or harm.  More than 320 000 people have joined Jill Meagher’s Facebook tribute page (unsubstantiated) and almost 30 000 people gathered in Melbourne in her memory.

Feminism is not a dirty word.  It quite literally and simply means insisting that the political, economic, and social rights of women are clearly defined, established and defended as equal to men.  The feminist movement has always sought to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.  In short a feminist is “an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women“.

Over the decades, the feminist movement in Australia and indeed many parts of the world have campaigned for and achieved to varying degrees women’s rights when it comes to contract law, property ownership, right to vote and reproductive rights.  Further, feminists have advocated for women’s workplace rights, such as maternity leave and equal pay.

Sadly, the feminist movement has even had to work hard to ensure that women and girls are protected from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.  There are many who argue that while feminism has mainly been focused on women’s issues and rights, the very fact that feminists seek overall gender equality, means men’s liberation is a necessary part of feminism, and that indeed men have also benefited from gender equality.

I am confident that almost of my family and friends are 100% in favour of rights and equality for all.  Most of them want to see an end to gender-based discrimination in society, the home and the workplace.  Most, if not all of them, would agree that women should be free and safe to walk our streets and that young girls like Malala should be free to speak up about injustice.  And yet most of them would not call themselves a feminist.  I wonder why?  Reference: To be or not to be a feminist, Tish Champion, in AEU Journal SA, 44(7), Nov 2012, p19

We have every reason to be thankful for feminism.

As most people support the equality of women it can be said that most people are feminist.  However, some people will want to refer to something nasty that individuals have done in the name of feminism but that gives us no reason to dismiss feminism.  Plenty of wars, child abuse and domestic violence are carried out by Christians but that gives us no reason to dismiss Christianity.

Without feminism in the LCA women would still be barred from taking leadership roles in the congregation and from participating at District and National Synod levels.

You may like to review the growing freedom that women have had in the LCA.

 
 

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I am a Feminist. I am a Christian. No Disclaimer. – Angela Drylie

Christ as Holy Wisdom

feminism n (1895) 1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes 2 : organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests — feminist n or adjfeministic adj

I am constantly bemused by the number of people I meet who say “I’m not a feminist but…. [insert statement that implies the person making the statement believes in the importance of equality between men and women]”. Many of my friends, my uni mates, work colleagues, and wider family do not think they are feminists, yet believe in the equality of women and their right to fair treatment. Kelly Clarkson claims not to be a feminist yet protests against the “Old Boys’ Club” she is constantly up against in the music industry. Just who do all these people think a feminist is? Contrary to popular myth, feminists come in all shapes and sizes, ages, genders, sexualities and religions. You do not have to a) be a lesbian, b) be abundantly, unabashedly hairy, c) eschew makeup and all kinds of laughter (although if you so choose any of the above, that is entirely up to you). It is not a prerequisite that you hate men. In fact, you can even be a man and still be a feminist. In fact, you can be a Christian, even a Lutheran and still be a feminist. Heck, I even know some pastors who would describe themselves as feminist. I even would go so far as to describe Jesus Christ as a feminist. The Feminist even.

Sojourner Truth in 1851 argued: “that …man…, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? …From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.” While he was bodily on earth, Jesus consistently acted in a manner that affirmed the worth and equality of women. Christ advocated for the equal application of Jewish law to men and women (Jn 8:3-7). Christ appeared after his resurrection to women first and commissioned them to give statements about this (in those times women were unable to give evidence in a court of law) (Jn 20:13-18; Mt 28:8-10). He included several women within his close group, teaching them (Mt 27:55-56; Lk 8:1-3; 10:39, 42). Throughout the Bible, God ordains female leaders, apostles and prophets such as Miriam, Deborah, Anna, Mary Magdalene, Priscilla and Junia. The first chapter of the Bible highlights that both men and women were made in the image of God (Gen 1: 27). God even answers to names with feminine overtones – for instance, ‘El Shaddai’ can be translated as “The Breasted One” and has connotations of abundance and fertility.

Christianity in general has always been concerned with issues of injustice and oppression. Feminism can sit comfortably alongside other important social justice concerns such as disability, poverty and homelessness, exploitative trade practices, Indigenous rights and the rights of prisoners. Despite this, many Christians still seem loath to be associated with feminism. I think this is partly to do with confusing the arguments of some feminists with the arguments of the whole group. Christians are not a homogenous group. We are not all prudish, cross-wearing, Bible-waving, teetotallers (though again, if you so choose, that’s your prerogative). Feminists are not a homogenous group either. The stereotypes are merely stereotypes. There is only one criterion in order to be a feminist: that you think that equality and fair treatment of women is a good thing. So am I a feminist? Absolutely. Do I need to qualify that? No. Do you believe that equal rights and fair treatment for women is a good thing? Yes? You are a feminist.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2011 in sociology, theology

 

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