23.2.10

man's way to freedom

'...the presence of the priest provides coherence for the community to fulfil God's purposes in the world. That is why both sexes need to be priests: the community of Christ is the foretaste of one human community in which women and men take co-equal responsibility for the life of humanity and creation.'   (R. Green, Only Connect: Worship and Liturgy from the perspective of Pastoral Care, London: DLT, 1987)
p.121)

'...women and men will only be free if it resolved. It is the issue of the images of leadership within the Church and its liturgies...It is about creating changes in the way in which God is imaged within the liturgy. Radical changes are required in the power structures and leadership of the Church if it is to be faithful to the biblical vision of the co-equality in priesthood of women and men before God (Genesis 1:27; Galatians 3:27-8). The Church talks about itself as a servant Church, but it is very difficult to detect the operational effectiveness of that theological conviction. If we are to take the image of the Body of Christ seriously, we have to examine the fact that in most churches men still hold the leadership. That usually means they also hold the power. This is focussed sharply in the leadership of the liturgy. For that reason alone some men will need to offer themselves as the servants of women in the struggle to change the icon of leadership within the Church. It is bound to be a threatening process and will be met with much resistance: "For every women who takes a step towards her own liberation, there is a man who finds the way to freedom has been made a little easier (Nancy Smith)."' (R. Green, Only Connect: Worship and Liturgy from the perspective of Pastoral Care, London: DLT, 1987, p.98)

'We must expect that women will radically change our whole symbolic grasp of leadership.' (R. Green, Only Connect: Worship and Liturgy from the perspective of Pastoral Care, London: DLT, 1987, p.99)

 
No wonder the Church is in crisis. 
I am looking at symbolism and liminality for an essay and I am beginning to understand the pain that some men (and women!) must be going through as they let go of what they have always known and imagine themselves embracing the new. Let's face it, some just will not make it. I wonder how we make it easier? Paul, of course, writes about how we 'welcome ... [and are] not to quarrel over opinions' (Romans 14). How do we square this teaching with the issue of women in the ordained and consecrated offices and reconcile ourselves to one another for Christ's sake?

Any suggestions gratefully received ;-)

4 comments:

Rosemary said...

I’d like to understand quite what you’re asking Rachel. You entitle a post ‘Man’s way to Freedom.’ Well I guess that puts them in their place, they obviously have no plans for women?!

Then you quote Nancy Smith saying that “some men will need to offer themselves as servants of women in the struggle to change the icon of leadership within the church.” Wow, well I guess you feel no need to teach women that their support of their husbands is necessary to help them with their leadership .. so that puts men in their place again.

Then you talk of the pain some men and women must be suffering, although from which point of view you don’t make clear .. just that some won’t make the grade, and ask what should you do about it. Do you want to make it easier for them to leave? Well then I suggest you close ranks, make it absolutely clear that only those who support the full leadership of women, ie., that they should be in charge, are welcome members of your church. If we don’t believe such, would we please leave with no bother. I think we’ll understand that message.

If you wish to retain the services of those who don’t believe as you do, then I think you’ll have to bring yourself to support them, encourage them, help them in their ministry .. sounds Christian to me.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Hi Rosemary
Grace and Peace
The heading is taken from the quote by Nancy Smith.

The other words here are to be attributed to Robin Green.

In reply to some of the issues you raised:
'some won’t make the grade' is not what I am talking about. I am implying instead that it will be too painful for some to stay, which is lamentable indeed. And Rosemary, you are, of course, right about support and encouragement being the Christian approach.

I also think that some serious exegetical debate needs to happen with a lot of listening as evangelicals together work out what the scriptures are saying on this issue. You might like to read Tim Harris's responses above.

Rosemary said...

Ah .. more listening, now I wonder where I've heard that before? I'm sorry Rachel, I don't agree with Tim Harris. I don't agree with you as you know well. No, the question is, can we all be part of the same church? I did hope so, Archbishop Eames promised it was so, but the reality appears to be different.

David Ould said...

It's interesting that there's only one argument here that's from the Scriptures - namely this one:

"... faithful to the biblical vision of the co-equality in priesthood of women and men before God (Genesis 1:27; Galatians 3:27-8)"

Setting aside the problem that the notion of a sacramental "priesthood" is flawed (because the point I'm about to make relates equally well to the historical evangelical position on "headship", I would only observe that neither Gen. 1:27 nor Gal 3:27-28 have anything to say about priesthood/leadership in the church. They are generic (and useful) indicators of the equal value and status of women relative to men. At best the argument begs the question, at worst it actually ignores what the other side is saying.

Again, we can and should do far better - this is just more theological illiteracy.

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A little background reading on the two theological integrities in the Church of England regarding women in ministry.