13 May 2010

Women of the Kingdom

I was raised in a very conservative Protestant Christian tradition. A tradition that has a very high regard for the study of theology but which also views the bible as verbally inspired, inerrant and infallible in all matters, including matters of history and science. You'd probably not be surprised to learn that this tradition does not countenance the ordination of women on the ground Scripture teaches that men have headship over women and may therefore not be taught or led by women.

One of the joys and delights of being a Methodist is that women achieved full equality in the Church some decades ago. The US Methodist Church gave full clergy rights to women in 1956 (although some prior historic Methodist denominations had ordained women in the 19th century) and I believe that the British Methodist Church first ordained women to ministries of word and sacrament in the 1970s (although women had been admitted to the office of Local Preacher long before that).

It's also been my experience in British Methodism that men can often be quite fierce in their defending the equality of men and women before God and in our respective roles in the Kingdom. As a woman raised in a "headship" context, I know that I sometimes feel that I dare not get too worked up about the issue for the emotional toll it will take on me if I focus too much energy on the issue. I therefore appreciate men like my colleague, Dave Warnock who speak out forcefully on the subject of equality.

One of the frustrations of being a Methodist, however, is the often widespread view that the matter of women's equality and ministry has been "settled" long ago and that "no one" believes in headship any more and "no one" believes or acts as if women are inferior.

I invite those who think that this is a minor matter to read the following article: Women of the Kingdom by author and house-church promoter Felicity Dale. (Hat tip to Allan Bevere.)

Far from using language that suggests that these attitudes are in the past, Dale says that "the Holy Spirit is beginning to change sexist attitudes".

Which Methodist or other mainstream Protestant Christian would think that anyone in the 21st century would say something like
  • “Of course, we’ll put both your names on the front cover. This book is far too important to have been written by a woman!”
  • "God will use a woman—but only when there is no man available to do the job."
For every Methodist or other mainstream Christian who thinks that the matter of the equality of women does not need to be addressed, I suggest you read this article and then search for other articles on the subject of complimentarianism and the ordination of women. We need to keep speaking about these issues for the sake of every woman who believes that God thinks she is "less equal than others" simply because she is female.


Doorman-Priest said...

It is disappointing to think that battles have been won and to have to keep skirmishing.

DaveW said...

Good post and thanks.

PamBG said...

Thanks, Dave. DP, what I find depressing is that we say that our Good News is that God is "for" everyone and that we are defenders of human dignity and righteousness. Yet how many people "in the word" in this day and age would come up with "This book is far too important to have been written by a woman"?

John Meunier said...

For me the irony is that most of our churches would cease to function without women. As the post you link points out, women are the trail blazers in so many places.

But, then I recall that the 10 largest churches in the UMC are led by male senior pastors. Our practice may not be up to our talk.

dwilson1707 said...

Well, it’s amazing. The miracle has been done. Hat’s off. Well done, as we know that “hard work always pays off”, after a

long struggle with sincere effort it’s done.
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