Archive for April 22nd, 2017

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#thingsonlychristianwomenhear

April 22, 2017
2012-02-11 10.48.18

Church Toilets, Perth, Western Australia

In the last 48 hours the hashtag  #thingsonlychristianwomenhear has gone viral in the english speaking world. Women in christian ministry like me have bucket loads of examples of sexist comments they have encountered over time, and we have been posting them on social media like its page 47 of a Tim LaHaye book.

There’s been lots of  ‘I can’t believe someone said that to you’ comments – though this is the point we are trying to make. This kind of gendered put down and dimissal is stitched right through the lining of the church.

There have also been some valiant attempts by men for solidarity.

Sydney Baptist missiologist Mike Frost went this direction. I get what he’s trying to do here. He wants to bust off what he sees as a facade of spirituality or theology or biblicism or hermeneutics that covers dirty old fashioned sexism. I agree, using theology or scripture to cover up a sociological preference is foul play all round. Where that is happening by all means call it out.

But contrary to Mike Frost’s take on the #thingsonlychristianwomenhear

I think it’s important not to just lump all ‘sexism’ together. The things christian women hear in the church have a particular impact because they occur in a theological context. This ought not be dismissed.

When I encounter sexism in the secular workplace a humanist material line of reasoning, or at very base, a legal framework can address the issue.

For example:’Don’t say ‘let’s the girls to go down and get us some coffees while we nail the final detail on this proposal.’ That’s inappropriate exclusion of participants in the decision making on the basis of gender. It’s not legal.

In churches and christian contexts, there are those who claim exemption from legal responsibilities on theological grounds. and to raise objection to sexism necessarily draws forward the backdrop of spiritual and theological conversation. It always gets spiritual, which is to say, it gets personal.

So it’s not ok to just say ‘that’s *just* sexism, let’s not be sexist any arright?’ without acknowledging the theological content that protects the sexist practices. Because 100% of the people who would differentiate fitness for leadership, moral trust and gravity on the basis of gender, do not think they are being sexist, they think they are being faithful to the revealed and impermeable Law of God.

The discussion IS theological, and until we can find a way to respect that, we will be ever frustrated.

I understand that in some communities, women are not permitted to preach on theological grounds. I would not expect to preach there. I want churches to make their decisions theologically. I don’t ever want to be one to argue for accommodations to some other ideology.

I am placing my bets on Jesus as the incontestable Risen Lord of the cosmos and the kingdom he proclaimed, inaugurated and calls us to incarnate as one in him. I expect my gender policies to conform to this reality.  And so I don’t want churches to deviate from their spirit led and scripture formed convictions either.

But I do want to call out the theological cross currents in the communities I have served in that espouse a robust, faithful egalitarian reading of scripture, yet speak and behave in sexist ways that contravene that theology. Not because its 2017 and sexism is so 1950s (cos its not) but because God. Because God in Christ reconciling all in all. Let the world argue for social conventions and revisions, but let the followers of Jesus make their decisions theologicially.

In the end, for my own faith and practice,  I’m confident in faithful readings of scripture that make it clear spiritual service and leadership is given to the weak, the unsuspecting, the unworthy and the ignoble – but I guess if that means men, it means men…