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Call me ‘apostate’

We are recently aware that some clergy and ALC students (future clergy) state that they would vote for women’s ordination if homosexuality was not an abomination.   Strange logic indeed, but of course the hope is that by blocking women’s ordination, the ordination of gay and lesbian people can also be blocked.

It is of some concern that pastors function under such reasoning.  The ethical base of such decision making is somewhat dubious. Restricting the giving of justice to one group of people because you are fearful of another group getting ahead would suggest a compromised values base and perhaps reflects a desire to manipulate one group in order to achieve aims with another group.  There is no room for continuing to support patriarchy in the name of impeding the leadership of homosexual people.  That is a debate that the LCA is yet to have, and yes, we do support the ordination of gay and lesbian peopel.  However, to delay justice to women is to deny them justice.

In response to the repeated claim that homosexuality is an abomination, it’s time that our theologically trained leadership showed a little more scholarship and wisdom.   These are people who have spent years studying Scripture.  They can do better than referring to ancient culture-bound phrases to prove their point.

Word Of A Woman reflects on this selective use of Scripture and how other texts are conveniently ignored.  Years of study at ALC should provide pastors with the theological skills to remain consistent in their use of Scripture.  Why is it not so?

I support several things the Bible calls an abomination and some it just says are wrong. GASP! Say it isn’t so!!! (I bet my friends from the beginning of the article probably also support some of these given I have seen their sideburns). That’s right lovelies, along with fully supporting my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, I also support:

  • Eating shellfish
  • Having sex with a woman (you are married to) who is on her period (if she is consenting, OBVIOUSLY)
  • The menswear look for ladies (hello, Diane Keaton)
  • Kilts for the dudes
  • Cutting your sideburns
  • Re-marrying someone you divorced (I have known several couples who have done this)
  • Marrying someone new after you get divorced
  • I am decidedly pro bacon, pepperoni, honeybaked ham, carnitas and pork chops.
  • Wearing clothing with more than one type of fiber
  • I am down with crop rotation (I come from several generations of farmers)
  • There is a bunch of stuff the Bible says you can’t touch, some are kind of gross but I am cool with you touching them (for instance I am for you touching a dead pig for the purposes of playing football)
  • Tattoos, even though I don’t have any
  • Long hair for men and short hair for women
  • Women praying with their heads uncovered
  • Women teaching men and/or boys and/or other women/girls (yes, even in church)
  • Women NOT being property of either father or husband or brother or dead husband’s brother
  • I am cool with it if you don’t want to marry your rapist
  • If your husband is getting mugged and you think you can stop things by grabbing the guys junk really hard…I promise I won’t cut off your hand
  • I won’t be mad if you don’t stone your kid for dishonoring you
  • I am even good with you working on Saturday or Sunday or even paying someone else to work by serving you lunch after church (I know I do)

Here is the thing, these two guys do not follow every instruction given in the Bible. They. Just. Don’t. They interpret. They pick and they choose. And I am sure they use all sorts of things to support their beliefs. So do I. So do I. I don’t know about you but when I read scripture, some things are crystal clear, some are blurry and some are downright opaque. The clearest thing I can find is that I am supposed to love God and love people, ALL PEOPLE. No if. No until. No unless. I just don’t think Jesus gives me another option.

BONUS: DID YOU NOTICE APOSTATE LITERALLY MEANS “RUNAWAY SLAVE” IN THE GREEK. I KIND OF LIKE THAT.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2013 in Hermeneutics, theology, women's ordination

 

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BIC pens for women – Men and Women are Different after all

If only we had consulted Ellen earlier.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2013 in sociology, women's ordination

 

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Invitation from Pr John Henderson, Bishop

Pr John Henderson invites members to write to The Lutheran

Pr John Henderson, Bishop,  invites members to write to The Lutheran

We have been invited to write to The Lutheran with our views on women’s ordination.  You can imagine the many conservative pastors that will put pen to paper with their distinctive perspective on things religious, so it is useful that the voice of the membership is heard in this discussion.  Without that voice it will seem like the voice of conservative pastors is the only one out there, even though most LCA members are in favour of women’s ordination.

It is the voice of conservative pastors which is loudest against women’s ordination, and it is also that voice which is most strident and most intolerant of diversity within the LCA.

Don’t be a stranger.  Write to the Lutheran.  Express your thoughts on why women’s ordination is vital in your context.  While we don’t wish to compete in a letter writing competition and while letters cannot all be printed, it is vital that local voices are expressed in The Lutheran and heard by our Bishop.

Please be a part of this discussion.  Don’t leave it to others. Express your dreams and longings and leave your imprint on the LCA.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2013 in sociology, theology, women's ordination

 

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Qld Lutheran Convention votes to progress women’s ordination

Bishop John Henderson from Asia Lutheran Communion

Bishop John Henderson from Asia Lutheran Communion

Qld District Convention met this weekend with a significant participation of women from other churches (Anglican Bishop and UCA Moderator) and from within the LCA.

St Peters’ motion supporting initiatives to encourage equal involvement of women and men in ministry passed without debate and without any objection.

After some debate and amendment to a second motion, Convention also voted, without opposition, to request Bishop John Henderson approach General Church Council about adding an extra day to General Synod in order that debate on women’s ordination be given sufficient time.

For the Convention service two women led the procession, two women read the lessons including the gospel, a woman lead the children’s address and four clergy, supported by four women, served communion.   Bishop John Henderson preached.

Scarves were ever-present.

Leadership is everything!

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2013 in sociology, women's ordination

 

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Jimmy Carter: Women’s Plight Perpetuated By World Religions

Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter as shown in The Huffington Post 28th June 2013

While it may seem harsh that Jimmy Carter blames religious leaders for mistreatment of women across the world, blame needs to be allocated amongst those who carry the power – blame for complicity, whether it’s active or passive.

Through discerning the times, leadership has the potential for prophetic leadership, to provide new direction guided by compassion and justice, to reflect on the best way to prepare membership for change.  If that opportunity is not taken up then leadership becomes part of the problem.

NewsATLANTA — Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter says religious leaders, including those in Christianity and Islam, share the blame for mistreatment of women across the world.The human rights activist said Friday religious authorities perpetuate misguided doctrines of male superiority, from the Catholic Church forbidding women from becoming priests to some African cultures mutilating the genitals of young girls.Carter said the doctrines, which he described as theologically indefensible, contribute to a political, social and economic structure where political leaders passively accept violence against women, a worldwide sex slave trade and inequality in the workplace and classroom.

via Jimmy Carter: Women’s Plight Perpetuated By World Religions.

Half the Sky is a sober reminder of the brutal treatment of women and girls all around the world – a highly recommended read!

Times have changed. Just a few decades ago women in the LCA were treated as children.  They could serve in no public way (Sunday School seemed to be acceptable), could take no representative role, nor could they take any role of leadership.

Before 1966 women experienced virtually total inequality in the Church, even though all members presumably would have accepted that “in Christ there is no East nor West.”

Note how recently women were granted various responsibilities in the LCA (a post from this blog)

  • 1966 voting at congregational meetings
  • 1981 being delegates at Synod
  • 1984 being a member of church boards and committees
  • 1984 included in the guidelines for reading lessons in worship
  • 1989 assisting in the distributing of Holy Communion
  • 1990 being lay assistant as an alternative to elder
  • 1990 being chairperson of a congregation
  • 1998 being synodical chairperson
  • 2003 lay-reading

Times have changed but women are still denied full inclusion.

The doctrine of the LCA has contributed to a political and social structure where presidents have passively accepted the inequality of women.  This is ironic in a system that values education so deeply and where girls are clearly taught, through Bible study and role-modelling, that they are equal in all ways with boys.  One cannot educate the young with values of equality and integrity and honestly expect them to fore-go their equality and calling later in life.

We suggest that religious leaders at all levels carry blame for the decades since union it has taken to recognise women thus far.  There will need to be a time of apology to women. The LCA will need to apologise, living emeritus presidents will need to apologise and congregations will need to apologise for having ignored women for so long.

We have learnt that the personal is political – a feminist phrase during the late 60s and 70s where ‘political’ refers to any power relationship – but the spiritual is also political, for spirituality can be used to repress or lift up.  Jimmy Carter is referring to the former. It’s worth noting that Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, were once members of the Southern Baptist Church.

The couple recently disassociated from Southern Baptists, citing its prohibition on ordaining women or allowing them to serve as deacons or in other leadership posts in local congregations. Ref

 

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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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The Sin of Exclusion – Richard Rohr

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Why is it that we value those who are like us and devalue those who are different? 

Maybe it’s women or lesbians, maybe it’s aborigines or gays, maybe it’s drug addicts or prostitutes, or maybe it’s another culture.  Is it that they don’t sound like us or eat the same food as us. Is it that they see the world differently? Is it that they value different things?  Do we read the situation as one where they are criticising us?  Is that why we have to circle the wagons?

Richard Rohr has some insights into the practice of excluding people.

The Sin of Exclusion

Those at the edge of any system and those excluded from any system ironically and invariably hold the secret for the conversion and wholeness of that very group. They always hold the feared, rejected, and denied parts of the group’s soul. You see, therefore, why the church was meant to be that group that constantly went to the edges, to the “least of the brothers and sisters,” and even to the enemy. Jesus was not just a theological genius, but he was also a psychological and sociological genius. When any church defines itself by exclusion of anybody, it is always wrong. It is avoiding its only vocation, which is to be the Christ. The only groups that Jesus seriously critiques are those who include themselves and exclude others from the always-given grace of God.  (more)

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2013 in theology, women's ordination

 

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God talks through a burning bush and a donkey

donkey

God speaks through a donkey

It still astonishes me that people who believe that God can speak through a burning bush or a donkey insist he can’t speak through an educated, articulate passionate woman. —Michael Frost

We are astonished that some thinking people insist that a book, or text, written thousands of years ago must be literally true in every phrase and word.

Regardless of divine inspiration, every phrase and word had to be ‘heard’ by humans, interpreted by humans and written on paper by humans.  These were sinful humans, like you and us, who lived in a certain culture, at a certain time, and who had a certain purpose in writing those words down.

Perhaps it would be useful to look into what some of those purposes may have been.  Perhaps we might get an insight into the intent and meaning of the author by understanding who the author was and what the social and political context was.  What were the threats to society?  Who had the power?  What authority did the religious leaders have?  Were there people who were stepping out of line?  Were there people who needed convincing of orthodoxy?  What did the authors have to gain if people accepted the text?   Who stood to win power, and who stood to lose power? Who stood to gain prestige? Answers to everyone one of these might give us insight into the text.

For us, we don’t think that the donkey story holds water. However, we trust that the story underneath does, because it is a part of Scripture.  What is the story underneath?  Let’s look at all those questions and then let’s talk about it.

Now, in regards to women, let’s trust that God is big enough to get past our simple understandings, and lets share God’s word in whatever ways the Spirit moves.

Final word for today in response to the opening quote:

What scares me even more is that they will allow these articulate, passionate, educated women (to) teach little children with innocent impressionable minds but will not engage with them themselves
 

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What war on women?

What war on women

Putting the lie to equality

Those who stand against the equality of women within the Church use language such as this: (Cyber Brethren link)

God’s good order does not envision nor permit women to exercise the ministry of “headship” in the family, nor the ministry of oversight involved in the offices of the priesthood and episcopate as they are understood and practiced by Anglicans. This is in no way detrimental to women for God has an equally significant, different, and complementary ministry for women in the family and in the Church.

While there is no reason to doubt their intent, there is significant reason to doubt their logic.  While they propose that a ‘complementary ministry’ (a term commonly used in the US), is ‘equally significant and different’, and  ‘is in no way detrimental to women’, that view takes no account of the violence committed against women throughout broader society.  The graph above relates American statistics, demonstrating that female deaths from domestic violence far surpasses deaths from Afghanistan and Iraq.  Women are still treated violently in Western society, let alone Middle Eastern society.  The philosophical foundation of conservatism is the same in opposing women’s ordination and maintaining subservience in the home.

Why are such statistics instructive when discussing women’s ordination?  Opposition to women’s ordination does not arise simply from a literal reading of Scripture, it also arises from social mores and traditions that have long placed women somewhere down the social ladder.  It would be a challenging philosophical contortion to attempt to support equal opportunity in the work place while denying women ordination.

While conservatism may be a healthy anchor for the ship in a storm it has much to answer for in resisting justice issues throughout the ages.

 
 

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Tales of a Male ‘Preacher’s Wife’

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Images from Sojourners Magazine

From Christian Piatt at Sojourners Magazine 2013

MY WIFE IS a pastor. Specifically, she’s the senior pastor of a prominent church in downtown Portland, Ore. I’m on staff too, but only part-time, and she enjoys telling people she’s my boss. Technically, I answer to the church board, but people get a laugh about the reversal of “typical roles.”

I get my share of “preacher’s wife” jokes, to which I have a handful of rote responses. No, I don’t knit or make casseroles. No, I don’t play in the bell choir. Generally, the jokes are pretty gentle, but they all point to the reality that few of us will actually talk about: We see the traditional roles of women as less important than those of their male counterparts. And so, to see a man who works from home most of the time and takes the kids to school while his wife has the “high power” job brings everything from the man’s masculinity to his ambition into question.

But regardless of the teasing I get, Amy has it a lot worse. One time, when she was guest preaching at a church in Colorado, a tall man who appeared to be in his 60s came up to her after worship. “That was pretty good,” he said, smiling but not extending his hand, “for a girl.”

Amy and I planted a church in southern Colorado 10 years ago, and we actually kind of enjoyed watching people’s expectations get turned on end when they met us. A newcomer would walk in the doors of the church and almost always walk up to me and start asking questions about our congregation.

“Oh, you’re looking for the person in charge,” I’d say. “She’s over there.” Then would come the dropped jaws and the wordless stammers as they reconfigure everything they assumed walking through the door. Amy’s even had people stand up and walk out in the middle of worship when they realize she’s about to preach.

SEX, FAITH, AND power have been long-time, if not always productive, bedfellows within organized religion. And from what I’ve seen as a “preacher’s wife,” Christianity is at least a generation behind the rest of the United States in figuring out our respective roles and limitations. Some churches would sooner shutter their doors forever than allow a woman to preach, and soon enough they’ll probably get that chance, given that the vast majority of people in seminary today are women. (more)

 

Sojourners Magazine – “Faith in Action for Social Justice”

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2013 in theology

 

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