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The abyss between faith and women’s empowerment

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Paparella was horrified. “I realized, they don’t want me to think. After that, I just didn’t see how faith and women’s empowerment could be reconciled.”

This quote comes from a post entitled, “I believe you”: The Silence and the Shame of Sexual Violence in the Church, by Catherine Woodiwiss.  It reflects on how campus leaders and student Christian leaders’ masculinised view of God gave them little understanding of women’s points of view within the church.

What is it about the misogyny of the church?  Why is still ruled by the boys when most of its members are women? Why does patriarchy seem to persevere longer in the church than in society?  Is it based on such verses as Gen 3:16? …

16 To the woman he said,

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”

It is somewhat unsettling that some take this verse, and similar others, as prescription for how women might be treated.   It’s unsettling because it reflects a view of God as domineering and lacking in compassion.  It’s unsettling that some readers of this blog take an anti-intellectual view and insist on using the hermeneutics of “it says it in the Bible so it must be true”. It’s unsettling that the heritage of Luther and The Confessions is boiled down to proof texts.  It’s unsettling that a panorama of theologians in the last century is dismissed in favour of the most basic, simplistic tool.

We don’t believe that many people hold that view of God.

It does however make sense to view this verse as sin being enacted, rather than God’s prescription for relationships.  Ruling over another person may be the language of empires, but it is not the language of relationships.

If the Church is unable to accommodate a view of women as gifted, enabled, empowered, equal and pastoral, then the Church is not a safe place for women.  Under such circumstances we could not encourage women (or those supporting them) attend LCA congregations.

For the LCA to have a future there is no alternative but absolute equality for women and men.

While this, no doubt, is shocking for some who correspondent with this blog, living with diversity should only be as shocking as visiting the local bank, supermarket, school, accountant, music shop, opticians…, for diversity in Australia’s cities and towns is a reality which is never to be reversed.  No congregation should ever be forced to call a woman and no congregation should ever be forced to call a man.

 
 

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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.

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

 

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