Life, the Universe, and Everything, from the Outside In

Women Clergy: An Open Forum

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For a change of pace, this time the post is not answering any questions, or even claiming to have any answers. Instead, this is entirely about drawing out other people’s points of view on a topic hot enough to prompt America’s biggest Christian bookseller to stash a music magazine back for under-the-counter sales.

A recent conversation with my African pastor brought some things to light in my own thinking about the differences in our cultures, between the West and the more traditional societies, and one of these touched on the current interest in Women’s Ordination. Now,
A certain 19th Century evangelist pointed out that men and women were both present in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit fell on them. How was the promise of Acts 1:8 different for the women on whom the Spirit fell than the men on whom the same Spirit fell?

Paul wrote, “I suffer not a woman to teach or usurp authority over a man…” Was this originally to disadvantage women for societal reasons, or to recognise the dynamic that God had predicted in Genesis 3, or to keep the new Church from gaining the wrong kind of profile in the early communities, or..?

If Genesis 3 is the key, does that mean that women must never be set in any position of authority outside a women-only context, or that that dynamic needs to be kept in mind, or does it only apply within the marriage?

Is it possible for us to have women as preachers but not pastors, or pastors but not priests, or as priests (as elders) in an evangelical, but not priests (as celebrants) in a more sacramental setting?

Should women be expected to cover their heads before praying in the assembly, or, as one group maintains, should they cover their heads at all times and never make a peep?

Is this an issue of equal access to God, equal calling to further the Gospel, equal access to employment advantages, or a matter of putting everything and person in their proper place as if Church is all about obeying rules for rules’ sake?

My answer? A lot of Christian leaders far wiser than me have been quite adamant on this question in a number of different positions, so it’s a pretty safe bet that whatever I toss into this discussion will be just that- for the discussion.


Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 21 September, 2008 at 22:54

Posted in Uncategorized

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