I have yet to read this recently released book by Portland’s Pam Hogeweide. My comments today then are in response only to the following promotional trailer.
While my own denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has been ordaining women since at least 1888, and we were the first mainline denomination to elect a woman as General Minister & President we are not without problems of gender bias.
How many women who are called by God and confirmed by the church, do not receive calls to serve churches because of systemic gender bias? What about subtle bias against women leaders in our churches that call women as elders and pastors? Do we name it, claim it, and do the hard work among God’s people to change it? Too often in my experience the answer has been no. The comment in this video about non-essentials and essentials of the Christian faith is particularly important to us. If it is an essential, we need to address the injustice directly and lovingly but address it we must.
Intolerance of women in positions of leadership is doctrine in many Christian bodies. In our drive to be ecumenical, do we too often throw women under the bus in the name of unity? Is our polar star of unity trumping God’s justice when we tolerate injustices against women? I do not suggest we refuse to talk to our Christian kindred who come to different conclusions about the scriptures. However, we need to be far more outspoken about the injustices inherent in that position.
Before we are able to speak with prophetic authority to other bodies of the church, however, we need to remove the log from our own eyes. Intolerance of women in positions of leadership is still practiced within a minority of Disciples congregations. (This is possible because we practice congregational governance.) What does it say about our commitment to God’s justice when we refuse to allow women to serve as elders or ministers within our own denomination? Are we accepting that which is unjust simply to avoid losing a congregation from the denomination?
So, before we get smug about our tradition of ordaining women since nearly the beginning of our movement, we need to address injustices within our own body.