Tag Archives: leadership

The Testosterone Behind Male Leadership

Testosterone - there are differences between male and female leadership

Women today have greater access to the halls of education, sport, power and leadership, however, there are still many barriers to them following their calling, not least of these being a dualistic theology. On the one hand it is maintained that male and female are equal in the eyes of God, but on the other hand this equality, it is asserted, does not extend to ordained ministry. While this distinction is odious, with the CTICR (Commission on Theology and Inter-Church Relations) some ten years ago, having declared that there were no theological objections to women’s ordination, there is a new emphasis on avoiding a split within the LCA. For this new purpose women’s ordination continues to be blocked. Interestingly, another focus against women’s ordination for some years was the ‘fatherhood’ of God, which amused theologians from the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America). The goal is to avoid women’s ordination, it is only the means to the end that changes. Presumably the theory is to postpone women’s ordination for as long as possible in the hope that the issue will go away.

While President Mike Semmler may not be the chief protagonist against women’s ordination in the LCA, he is arguably the most significant in the way he exerts influence and in the manner that he has chaired General Synod. While
1. he asserts that he has not made his opinion on women’s ordination public, and
2. his expressed concern is that of maintaining unity within the Church,
his actions clearly indicate his oppositional attitude to women’s attitude.

It was disappointing how he chaired the 2009 General Synod. When it came to the vote on women’s ordination in the LCA, he vigourously counselled from the Chair that if delegates were at all unsure they must vote against the motion. If delegates were not present, their absence was counted as being against the motion, and informal votes were counted as being against women’s ordination. These are not healthy signs of a well-functioning democracy.

Such a leadership style is not new. Through history men, in the main, have manipulated power and process to achieve their desired ends. It seems that, in general, women and men have a different perspective on many things. Is there a hormone induced difference between male and female? This reading would suggest so:

In addition to brain differences, many essentialist theorists argue that hormones play a large part in explaining the disparities between men and women. Testosterone, the primary male hormone, floods a boy’s body at puberty and induces the growth of body hair, the deepening of the voice, and the development of muscles. Testosterone is also responsible for aggressiveness, sexual desire, and competitiveness. Both men and women produce testosterone, but women produce about 70 percent less than men. Thus, according to journalist Iain Murray, “Testosterone is crucial in making men men—literally.”

Similarly, women produce a large quantity of a hormone called oxytocin, which promotes bonding and affiliation. According to researchers, both men and women produce oxytocin, but women produce it in greater quantities. Moreover, researchers contend that testosterone counteracts the effect of oxytocin, while estrogen, the primary female hormone, enhances it. Oxytocin promotes affection within relationships, but it is most known for enhancing the maternal instinct. Scientists maintain that oxytocin is released during childbirth and breastfeeding and is responsible for creating a strong bond between mother and child. The fact that women are more affected by oxytocin than men, according to experts, helps explains why women are often better nurturers and caretakers than are men. Male/Female Roles | Introduction

We are concerned that our Church leadership had predetermined goals before General Synod commenced. To achieve these goals, when delegates were working from a model of democracy, was always going to take a level of manipulation from the Chair. We assume such an approach was seen by the male leaders to be strong leadership, however, another view on this style of leadership is to label it as more typically male. Gender Differences and Leadership If we consider a more female (oxytocin driven) style of leadership, which includes process, consensus and building relationships we have a stark contrast in styles and a revealing view into what the LCA might look like with female leadership in the form of women clergy.

The consequences of the outcome of leadership style is an increased cynicism within the Church and a decreased faith in due process and lay involvement. We need a genuine pastoral leadership from the Chair of our General Synod. When the Chair becomes partial and enters or manipulates the debate, delegates begin to lose their democratic choice and their spirit. The Chair needs to establish a brutal impartiality and, especially in the church setting, provide strong pastoral support to those from opposing points of view.

It is humbling to view/read Bishop (ELCA) Mark Hanson’s pastoral address to delegates at their Eleventh Churchwide Assembly. This was in regards to the delicate topic of gay and lesbian ordination within the ELCA. The LCA needs such leadership.  Leadership that reflects Christian theology of reconciliation, growing together, process and consenus.


Posted by on November 27, 2010 in politics, sociology


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Is Women’s Leadership in the Church a Primary Issue?

Mimi Haddad from Sojourners,

suggests that the answer is often, ‘No’, with the primary issues being understood as “those that focus on the gospel, evangelism, and the leading of the lost to Christ”.

Haddad tells the story of Emily, who is alienated by the church’s attitude to women and consequently loses her faith.  She asserts that, “One’s biblical position on gender clearly advances or diminishes the good news of the gospel”.

When people find the presentation of faith as illogical and unjust they re-examine Scripture and find that, “The differences between egalitarians and complementarians (those who support a male model of authority) run deeper than a difference in interpretation or personal preference. Egalitarians and complementarians present differing worldviews, and this is why so many of us challenge gender-hierarchy as God’s ideal”.

Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) of which Mimi Haddad is president,” is devoted to showing individuals like Emily — who have left the church, or who refuse to marry, or who have joined other religions — that scripture does not extend authority to men just because they are male. Rather, leadership and service is the product of God’s gifting, one’s intimacy with God, and one’s moral choices”.

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Posted by on November 5, 2010 in sociology


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TIME Photos: A Brief History of Women in Power

TIME magazine reviews female national leaders in recent history

Women have been in leadership much longer than this slide-show indicates, however, it highlights how the LCA dismisses that  women are increasingly respected in the world today for their leadership and intellect .

The article, New Swedish Parliament most gender balanced ever, is likewise, a reminder that there is a decreasing mysogeny in the secular world.

Sadly, the church doesn’t always lead the world on matters of principle and ethics, despite Jesus life-changing revelations, that righteousness was not primarily about religious activities, but justice.  The following reflection, from, on the parable of the sheep and the goats, points out that Jesus was not altogether impressed with religious leaders’ piety.

The sheep at the Father’s right hand will be invited to inherit his kingdom because they fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked and visited the imprisoned.

Conspicuously absent from the list are supposedly religious activities, such as prayer, fasting and pilgrimage. Jesus insists that those five deeds and others like them are religious activities. “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40b).

Jesus never emphasised rituals, dogma or religiosity, but he was always strong on human relationships.

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Posted by on September 23, 2010 in Uncategorized


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