Gender inequity on our patch

Change is not easy, and brings fear, uncertainty and insecurity. The prospect of women’s ordination is no exception.

Congratulations to the LCA for encouraging this debate. It requires strength, courage and wisdom from the leadership: nationally, regionally and in every congregation.

The recent documents from the CTICR on the OWL website indicate that we continue to be divided. For many, ordination should be for both women and men, some can’t decide, and still others for men only.

I am the Executive Officer of a Family Violence Service and every day my staff listen and respond to horrific stories of women experiencing, or who have experienced, family violence. These women constantly live with fear for their own and their children’s lives. Many of these may be regularly:

  • unable to access money,
  • physically or sexually assaulted,
  • humiliated or threatened with harm to themselves or their children,
  • unable to worship freely, or
  • prevented from seeing family or friends.

Australia’s rates of family violence are high by international standards. The worldwide research is clear and unequivocal; this violence stems from the abuse of power and control and is fostered in a community where men and women are not treated as equal.

The LCA is at a crossroad. We must learn from the gender inequity on our patch and take responsibility. A vote for women’s ordination reflects our shared responsibility, our respect and encouragement for any member who feels called to be ordained. It is far more difficult for a church, where inequity is enshrined, to provide a place of comfort and refuge for the victims of family violence. Ordaining both men and women opens the full voice of humanity to share the Gospel, unfold God’s stories with a voice that may never have been heard, and provide further opportunity for love to come to life.

Comments 4

  • ‘So proper consideratin of the matter of ordination is predicated on fairness and interpretative justice’ and the CTICR have presented their submission upon this. This suggests a societal and very much human construct. How can this be a proper consideration for the matter of ordination? Much more is at stake when we pose this question instead ‘Does Scripture Permit’?

  • Thank you Ken, for your response.
    You ask a range of questions and I don’t think I can deal with them all.
    However, one in particular demands attention. You state:
    “Yet why do you turn to the Pastors to consider this purely on their interpretation of Scripture alone? What of the view of the laity?”
    Pastors have a particular responsibility as the called and ordained servants of God and of the Church, to faithfully hold to the Word, proclaim it to the Church and not allow alternate views to take its place. Of course lay people can, and should, also contribute. But, prime responsibility lies with the called and ordained servants of the Word. Without their commitment and support, the Church will be in a poor state if a position is reached that is not supported by them.
    It is easy to pass off difference of opinion on interpretation and therefore to arrive at a position that is not in keeping with Scripture. It has constantly been put that a position, because it is not liked, is then described as an “interpretation” and therefore as a reason for not accepting it. If that is how we deal with Scripture, then, anything that is not liked, is described as an interpretation and therefore able to be either ignored or bypassed. I do not and cannot support such an approach.
    The real issue is: Are we prepared to accept the Word of God for what it speaks? The issue is not a matter of individual and today’s world opinions.

  • Hello Wally,
    The original posting in this thread was titled ‘Gender inequity on our patch’. Inequity, taking the common meaning, talks towards a lack of fairness or justice within the LCA; in the way it has historically approached the issue of women’s ordination.
    I agree with you that the laity are the best avenue through which to share the Good Word to all who would receive the teaching that Jesus imparted during His Ministry. Yet why do you turn to the Pastors to consider this purely on their interpretation of Scripture alone? What of the view of the laity?
    Are the Pastors not also men who through faith in the Lord seek to promote both fairness and justice, as clearly laid down in the Gospels and the writings of St Paul?
    Is it not their individual understanding of fairness and justice that becomes the medium through which they painstakingly look to interpret Scripture? These Pastors are men of the 20th Century now trying to lead the Church through a time of increasing uncertainty and change into this new one; now having travelled with us all, some 18 years into the millennia.
    Perhaps I have misunderstood the fuller meaning of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. It is often referred to as the Passion of the Christ. From a Latin term which means, simply, ‘suffering’.
    We are all human and through His suffering Christ has indeed redeemed our sins. Do not all Christians feel Christ’s suffering as it echoes through the ages?
    In such knowledge we must not in turn sacrifice our God given human emotions – as it is our emotions which are the lens through which we perceive fairness and interpret justice. Especially when reading some pertinent Bible verses that have to be seen in their proper context; given that they were also written by men, some two millennia ago. God fearing men of emotion.
    Which is the basis the CTICR have presented their submission upon – for consideration by the forthcoming 19th General Convention of Synod. That is where proper consideration of the matter of ordination now lay.

  • This contribution joins the myriad of voices who choose to focus on secondary issues instead of Scripture when it comes to the question of ordination – as if these secondary issues will be fixed if the ordination of women is agreed to.
    Nothing is further from the truth.
    The writer also suggests: “Ordaining both men and women opens the full voice of humanity to share the Gospel, unfold God’s stories with a voice that may never have been heard, and provide further opportunity for love to come to life.” This too ignores the fact that the primary source and responsibility of sharing the Gospel rests with each and every Christian and is not contingent upon ordination. In fact, very often, the best person to share the Gospel is the lay person.
    It remains then for the pastors in conference next week to consider this issue on the basis of Scripture alone and not on emotive secondary issues which have the ability to skew our commitment to God’s Word.

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