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Tag Archives: misogyny

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?

 

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LCA Pastors Discuss Women’s Ordination With Not a Woman In Sight

Huffington Post July 8th 2015 - Attributed to Beladalorb.com

Discussing Women in Society – Huffington Post July 8th 2015 – Attributed to Beladalorb.com

“The conference was reportedly held in 2012 at the University of Qassim and was apparently attended by representatives of 15 countries. …The picture features row upon row of men in traditional keffiyeh and white thobes.” Huffington Post

Most rational people in the West would agree that such absolute exclusion of women demonstrates a misogyny contrary to human rights and destructive to society and religion.  Without women’s voice Arab countries will continue to treat women poorly and treat them as children who must be accompanied by a male family member when out in public – no drivers’ license, no international travel without a male family companion.

LCA pastors are currently meeting in Hahndorf, South Australia without any female voice.  It’s a funny old world isn’t it?  We are able to hold two disparate points of view without any cognitive dissonance.  While we condemn Arab society for its harsh treatment of women, the LCA, through its male pastors, is doing a similar thing.

The LCA has been discussing this issue for around 30 years in a country where women were among the first in the world to receive the vote. Yet, still we cling to this strange notion that we must cling to MIssouri Synod sectarian theology, while other most Western Lutheran churches already ordain women.  Strangely in the LCA there are women chaplains, women adult educators within Equip (adult education for educators in the Lutheran school system), women elders and so on.

It is time!  If the LCA is going to cease being a magnet for those dispossessed of their conservatism from other churches, thus entrenching our inability to adapt to the times, we need to reflect our intention of engaging with the world by creating policies that demonstrate compassion, integrity and justice.

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2015 in sociology

 

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Choosing hell over a misogynist heaven

sense

We would not worship a God who is misogynist.  It doesn’t make sense.  It doesn’t matter what verses anyone may provide as proof – it just doesn’t make sense that God is misogynist.

We are not interested in arriving in heaven to find that women somehow have a different role. We would refuse to participate with cliques, patriarchs, theocracies, boys’ or girls’ clubs or tradition.

We are interested in equality before God.

But, you insist, the Bible doesn’t allow leadership from women.  While we disagree, we do concede that there are verses that can be used to sustain an argument to support your thesis. So, how do we arrive at consensus on this divisive issue?  We don’t, for the time being – we should just live with each other, despite the tension. Agree to disagree. Grow together, over the generations.

This issue need not divide us, like the many other issues that we rarely highlight, but on which we disagree.  For instance, we rarely talk about or expect miracle healing, speaking in tongues, the handling of scorpions (Luke.10.19), the drinking of poison and the handling of snakes (Mark 16:18)… and so on.  They are contentious and too strange, too divisive or too confusing.

Then there’s the ‘texts of terror’ in the Old Testament that we can’t attribute to the will of God. We just don’t believe that God condoned the terror in the Old Testament: the slavery, the abuse, the rape, the murder, the racism …  We don’t name the violence for what it is.  We avoid the issue.  It need not divide us.

We have a God who is much larger than we imagine: more loving, more compassionate, more gifting, more affirming, more justice-centred than we might ever imagine.  Let’s not bicker on our understanding, for, by any measure, our understanding will presumably be sadly incomplete.

Whatever the reason, the LCA, in its youthful almost adolescent years, has clung to simplistic Biblical understandings and literal translations.  Increasingly over the years, many of us have confessed certain things but experienced a growing unease with the position of the Church. It is time to bring our beliefs and theology into harmony.  It is time to embrace a larger theology, a larger view of God and a larger view of each other.

It is with thanks that we celebrate the installation of Bishop John Henderson, who has declared that his ministry will be one of listening. Only in allowing space for voices to be heard is there any possibility that the LCA will be able to respond faithfully to the issues of today, and the concerns of those who come its doors.

Reference and inspiration    Bishop Desmond Tutu

 

 

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Ancient Athens and the LCA – the similarity between women and slaves

Women washing clothes in Athens

The similarity in attitude towards slaves and women in ancient Greece is uncanny.   Despite incremental recognition for women since that time, it seems similar ancient misogynist values still apply in the Church.

Their father controlled them before they were married

Their spouse controlled them once they were married… Ref

Women had very little influence, or power in Greek society and were not highly regarded until they could produce a child…

There was a disdainful attitude to women:

Euripides from his book ‘ Meda’ writes; ‘If only children could be got some other way without the female sex! If women didn’t exist, human life would be rid of all its miseries’   Ref

… and this was congruent to the attitude towards slaves:

Most ancient writers considered slavery not only natural but necessary. Ref

It is surprising that the birthplace of democracy was so inequitable towards women. Perhaps it created the structures for millenia of misogyny and racism, or perhaps it simply bolstered attitudes that were there in pre-Grecian society.

While this astounding, prophetic, self-congratulatory society was flawed at the core, we see the same flaw in the LCA with a despicable attitude towards women. While Lutheran theology has provided a significant contribution to the modern church, the chauvinist attitude of key LCA figures will be a thing of shame in the annals of history.

 
 

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The structures of hate

A Kentucky Baptist Church has voted to ban interracial couples becoming members of their congregation.  They can still attend church but can’t take any leadership, except for funerals. Read more.

The stated reason is that it is “intended to promote greater unity among the church body and the community we serve.”  Let’s build our unity while we exclude those we are uncomfortable with.  Let’s work with people just like us.  Let’s not face diversity.

Whatever the language, we’re a racist species.  We are clever in the way we justify our prejudice, our conservatism and our hate.   However, it’s racism and it’s obscene.

The LCA treats women in a similar manner.  ‘You can come to church but you can’t have leadership.  Anything else would detract from our unity.’  We create structures in our own image, rather than allow our gaze to fall on Jesus embracing despised prostitutes and criminals (and of course women).  Just as the U.S. south has not recovered from the racism of slavery, the LCA has not recovered from its isolated, antipodean, German misogyny, and it’s obscene.

There can never be a justification for slavery, and there can never be a justification for misogyny, not in anyone’s name.

via Kentucky Baptist Church votes to ban interracial couples.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 3, 2011 in sociology

 

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