Monday, March 9, 2015

Men, power and women

Julia Baird's article of last week aroused a veritable torrent of responses. A couple of articles appeared in the SMH, one on women experiencing violence at the hands of their church-going husbands quoting (misquoting) scripture at them (and how is that loving?), another on women leaving evangelical churches as they are excluded from ministry opportunities due to their sex.

Both are terrible indictments of a church that fails to teach the scriptures to challenge society and has allowed itself to become absorbed by its society instead. The Anglican misreading of Paul's reference to people and heads stands out in this regard. The passage in Corinthians is far too complex and makes far too many connections with other texts to be amenable to such glib handling.

But others have agreed with my comments to Baird on the problem of power in the church. Here's a letter from the Herald in those terms (in case the link disappears):
Archbishop Glenn Davies' condemnation of violence against women  (Letters, March 3) is reassuring as far as it goes but it doesn't address the question raised by Julia Baird and others – to what extent does the doctrine of headship (wives' subordination to their husbands) condone and lead to violence against women? Based as it is on obscure and contested texts in the Bible, headship should have no place in our modern egalitarian society.
Andrew Macintosh Cromer
 On the other hand, however, I am a little disturbed when women who are interested in ministry often fall into the same conceptualisations of power and authority, and not service, that bedevil the church and give rise to the very problem they oppose.

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