That Gender Thing (Again)
March 31st, 2008 by Sonja

Married To The Sea

Well … that’s pretty damn offensive, isn’t it?  Grabs you right by the lapels, shakes you up … and screams in your face.  But it doesn’t happen in the Protestant Church, so it’s meaningless for us … right?  We can laugh at it and go home.  Those foolish Catholics … if only they’d let their priests get married, they wouldn’t abuse children anymore … they could have sex when they wanted to.

I’ve got some news for you.  It’s not about whether or not the priests get married.  Child molesting is almost always about power.  It’s about institutions.  It’s about turf wars.  We have the same problems painted in different colors here in Protestant-land.

Keeping women out of the priesthood, out of teaching, fighting these gender wars … it’s about power.  It’s about institutions and it’s about turf wars.  You can layer the color on as thick as you want, but the base problem is that the men who are in power do not want to share.  For them it has become a zero-sum game and when women win, they lose.  They cannot see any other outcome.

Most of the battles currently being fought in the Church are ultimately about control.  They are about who will control the information.  Who will control the people.  Who will control access to God.  What a mind-rape.  It’s offensive and bears the mark of being against God, if I’m not mistaken.

God does not manipulate.  She is not overbearing.  He does not beat us up.  God is love … anything else is a clanging gong (have you ever heard one?  It will bend you double in pain).  God is love.

11 Responses  
  • jeremy bouma writes:
    March 31st, 200811:42 amat

    whoa buddy! Consider my lappels grabbed! I esp resonate with control of info comment as I have been burned by one too many self-proclaimed biblicists….good thoughts!


  • Patrick writes:
    March 31st, 200811:42 amat

    “it’s about power”

    Absolutely. That is why I think there has to be a wholesale re-examination of power and hierarchy in the church. Because it’s about power, it fixes nothing to let a woman in charge. She uses her power in the same ways. I’ve seen it happen. People, men and women, are left on the outside while the insiders run the game, elevate favorites, and make decisions–and theology–that secure their position and power.

    The whole system needs to be undermined and fixed. Which is why I’m quite neutral on whether to allow women as priests. I don’t think there should be any priests, whether the official Catholic kind or the unofficial Protestant kind. We are all priests, all the believers… I think I read that somewhere.

    Until our communities reflect that in organization more than rhetoric, it’s the power that’s going to deflate the mission.

  • Sonja writes:
    March 31st, 200812:18 pmat

    @jeremy … it is an offensive visual isn’t it? hard to get past, but when you begin to think about all the mind games and power grabs/turf wars that church has become about … it’s just sad. It’s no longer really about gender, although that’s the latest iteration. The gender issue is just a symptom of a much deadlier disease.

    @patrick – you’ve got it and described the disease. Can we name it yet? I’m not sure. But we’re getting there …

  • Patrick writes:
    March 31st, 20081:41 pmat

    “Can we name it yet?”

    Atheism. People don’t really believe in the God they say they believe in, nor do they believe what he has said. So we have to organize, and hide our lack of faith that God really can work.

    It was Saul’s sin. And that sin abounds, and abounds, and abounds. People play at a faith they don’t really have. So they need symbols and structure and power in order to make it feel like there’s something going on they can see and touch.

  • Julie Clawson writes:
    March 31st, 20084:22 pmat

    Because it’s about power, it fixes nothing to let a woman in charge.

    The number one excuse keeping women from leading/teaching anywhere.

    I understand the need to redo structures but do you have to continue to screw women while you sit around and do nothing?

  • Patrick writes:
    March 31st, 20085:03 pmat

    Well, it’s not doing nothing if I’m screwing the women….

  • Lori writes:
    March 31st, 20087:01 pmat

    OH MY!!!! There are few things that make me gasp, but I didn’t see that coming;-) Is this really a gender issue or a I have all the power and hell no I’m not gonna give it up issue? In my experience it is the latter.

  • Patrick writes:
    March 31st, 20087:12 pmat

    Lori, that’s more of where I was coming from. My context has included a lot of women as teachers and leaders, so that is more assumed for me. And women keep women out of power as much as men do. It’s wanting to join an exclusive club and that club excludes men and women. So, for me at least, it’s a matter of seeing how a woman leader can equally undermine women and men, just as a man leader in churches undermines many of the men and women.

  • Mike writes:
    March 31st, 200811:43 pmat

    Boy if that isn’t the truth. I simply cannot see why women are regularly kept out of positions of leadership within any congregation.

    Sorry, but admittedly, I got a good belly laugh out of the comic and I even sent it to a couple of like minded people in my congregation.

  • brad writes:
    April 1st, 200811:53 amat

    “Letting” women now be leaders who can “do unto others what was done unto them” doesn’t change the issues of power, just expands who is in power, doing the same oooooold things. We need a complete paradigm shift from the base on up, not simply tweaking the hierarchy and expecting some changes to thereby trickle down. But let’s face it, rarely does anyone in power willingly give up their position in order to let others in, let alone actually lead the way to a radical shift in paradigms. Hmmm … Jesus did both …

  • Patrick writes:
    April 1st, 200812:40 pmat

    Brad, I think that’s why there needs to be a lot more stuff directed at non-leaders. Right now way too much ministry stuff and ministry emphasis is leader oriented. We create expectations, we speak to expectations, we massage expectations and then expect leaders to change. We have to not go about changing leaders but go about changing expectations from those who are not in charge.

    Which is what, I think, Jesus did. He skipped the hierarchy, and went straight to the people, re-creating expectations and involvement, which worked really well for a little while until a new hierarchy developed.

    The church has no real power. The only power leaders have is the power people give them. So we don’t look to have people give up power, we look to empower people and make sure they don’t give their power to a select few. That way women, not just a woman, and men, not just a man, become who they are called to be.

    That’s how I see it at least. Though the working out of this practically is certainly a developing task.

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa