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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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Speaking from experience

Sophia escapes – by the naked pastor

We quote a senior pastor of the church.  He responds to a number of issues raised.

Those supporting women’s ordination have been accused of impatience, that their protests have been untimely and that they should wait for the process to play itself out.  Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebhuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that equality is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in any action that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from lack of equality. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of women with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see,  that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

I had also hoped that those between the poles of the debate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for women’s ordination. I have just received a letter saying, “All Lutherans know that the Church will ordain women eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely rational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will.  Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of people willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of equality and transform our pending LCA elegy into a creative psalm of gender equality. Now is the time to lift our Church policy from the quicksand of gender injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

I have talked to several people who have said that they believe women should be ordained. However, they don’t want to fight the issue because it’s merely a distraction and there are more pressing matters such as saving the lost. Others say they don’t want to risk offending Lutherans in other parts of the world. Even others add that we should let the consensus process play itself out. They always end with their belief that the church will eventually ordain women so let’s just not worry about it now.

You will see certain church leaders trying to paint those, who wish for women’s ordination to happen now, as taking an extreme position that is out of harmony with the rest of Lutheranism. However, though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?  Perhaps the LCA is in dire need of creative extremists.

So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of many, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for this century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than equality, I beg God to forgive me.

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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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