Friday, August 29, 2008

Gafcon

I do not have an official opinion on the recent Gafcon Conference and Jerusalem statement. I had once supported the Anglican Network churches, but now, for a variety of reasons do not. I attend a small Anglican church which remains within the ACC.

The issues are much broader than just same sex blessing. There are facets of geography and ethnicity, conservatism and national identity. I can only express a personal experience. I saw that the major issue in my personal context was the role of women. I was not aware that our church had had any applications for same sex blessing ceremonies. I also was aware that a prominent member of our congregation had signed the statement of concern regarding the TNIV Bible translation. I could not agree that Christians should behave like this. These are internal issues and perhaps specific to my particular context.

I have come a long way from a fundamentalist background to a strong conviction on the equal ministry of women. This best recognizes the contribution that women have made throughout history, especially in the remote areas of Canada and Australia.

I have been deeply appreciative of the atmosphere at our local Anglican Seminary where the Native Ministries also has a home, and the campus Hillel group have a temporary home during their renovations.

I no longer view separation from fellowship with those who promote the same sex blessing to be high on the agenda. I have twice before in my life been in churches which split so this is just one more human driven fracture to my thinking. It is sad to see, but I am grateful to remain in the ACC at this time.

6 comments:

Janice said...

Suzanne, you wrote,

I no longer view separation from fellowship with those who promote the same sex blessing to be high on the agenda. I have twice before in my life been in churches which split so this is just one more human driven fracture to my thinking.

I've never been in a church that split. I've just done my own splitting. I left the Anglicans after I heard about what Peter Carnley (who was then Primate of Australia) said about the resurrection and went back only because Carnley had retired and because the move back seemed appropriate given certain family circumstances.

As far as women being subjugated is concerned I've taken the view that God puts us where He puts us for the good of the Kingdom and for our own good. I've learned to be content to view myself as someone in a position analogous to that of a slave. That is, the way human structures have been arranged in my lifetime is against my freedom in Christ but I will still do the best I can while waiting on God to release me rather than rebel violently even if the violence is only verbal. I am a woman, there's nothing I can do to change that even if I wanted to and where I've found myself there has been no opportunity to do anything other than teach children or other women. And that hasn't been so bad.

I'm trying to understand why promotion (or maybe condemnation) of same sex blessings shouldn't be high on anyone's agenda or why women's freedom in Christ should be higher. I think that's because those who want to argue that homosexual activity is sinful have plenty of clear (Ack! that word again!) Scripture to back up their case but those who want to argue that women may teach and lead adult men have to deal with unclear Scripture, a long tradition of female subordination and the sinful desire of men to dominate women.

It should be easier to to argue against same sex blessings, assuming that everyone involved in the argument has the same view of Scripture. So why shouldn't that be high on the agenda? But now I'm thinking that the real problem is our sinfulness and how deep-seated it is. Now I'm thinking that believing Scripture isn't the sum of it at all, at least not for those who run the institutional churches we attend. Maybe it's only believing Scripture up to where our own prejudices get affected. After all, the Sydney diocese makes a big deal about being sola Scriptura yet they argue for male run everything on the basis of a creation order they don't believe actually happened.

Have you got any thoughts on what I've written? I'm confused.

Bob MacDonald said...

The subjects can be confusing. I spoke about this yesterday and have written lots here. There are 2 main human reasons I support same-sex relations. 1. It is hypocritical for me to accept Britten and Tchaikovsky's music for examples and not accept their person. 2. It is clear medically that people can be born and live with both male and female parts. I have to accept that all of us individually are male and female. Disgust is not an adequate motive for morality.

The main reason in Spirit that I accept what God is telling me is that God in Christ has allowed me to accept myself through his death and resurrection. God raises us by this non-violent loving means at his own mercy seat to a responsible and responding humanity that no faith in rules or explanations can equal.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Janice,

I appreciate your thoughts and these things are confusing for me also. That is why it has taken me so long. The issue of women's ministry was not really the tie breaker for me.

Two things were tie-breakers. The statement against the TNIV is simply "reviling" and nonsense. So why did Dr Packer lend his name to it, and why has the pastor not requested that he take his name off?

It is a moral wrong. These men cite 1 Cor 6:9-10,

Or do you not know that the unrighteous[a] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:(A) neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[b] 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

But clearly we have every other kind of sinner within the ranks of the ministry. And reviling other people was an honoured practice.

The issue on women is more complex. I have no interest in becoming ordained in any capacity. However, I believe that women are not being treated as equals in the church and home and that it has serious negative effects on women. Women used to have a certain authority in the home, as mothers. But Bruce Ware is teaching that women have no authority anywhere, church or home. They are only to live as submissive assistants to their husbands and have a career only in a way that support the husband, not for their own purposes and not to serve God independently from their husband.

They are not supposed to use birth control regardless of their health. Women are saved by childbearing.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Bob

Thanks for your thoughts on same sex blessing. I am aware of homosexuals coming from very fundamentalist families. It is not, in my view, anything to do with liberalism. Life is more puzzling and more varied than we think.

Janice said...

Suzanne,

Thanks for your response.

I used to wish I could be the sort of woman who finds fulfilment in cooking, cleaning and the rest of the purely domestic agenda. If I had been that sort of woman then I might have been happy with my life while my career was going down the drain. After a while it hit me that no one expects all men to be, say, firemen, or mechanics, or sailors. Why the insistence that all women should be "home makers"? The only reason I can think of is that it suits men to have someone looking after all the domestic stuff for them so they don't have to do it.

That thought came too late for me to do anything much to save my erstwhile career. But what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts. I got what I really wanted; to be a mother to my children. What would have been good would have been a way to ease back into things once the youngest had started school but the world of work makes precious few allowances for women who wish to care for their own children while they're young enough to need such care.

I think there's something death-dealing about the world's refusal to acknowledge and support women's role as child bearers and raisers. There's something equally death-dealing in the refusal by certain professedly Christian men to recognise that women are not a homogeneous, perhaps robotic, lump of individuals created solely to serve men's physical needs. I wonder if these men ever really talk to their wives. Or if they do, do they actually listen to what she says? Maybe all these fellows managed to find and marry precisely the sort of woman who is happiest when confined to doing housewifely duties under their total supervision. I suppose it's possible, statistically speaking, that at least the leaders among them managed to do so. I think it's most unlikely that their followers would all be so fortunate, simply because there are more of them.

Certainly my own husband now deeply regrets his refusal, early in our marriage, to agree to certain requests I made that would have allowed me to keep on working as well as raising our children. It's not just the financial penalty he's paid. It's also that he's had to live for years with a moderately-to-deeply depressed wife and with the knowledge that had he been less selfish about his choices things might have been very different.

But all things work together for good to those who are called according to His purpose. Now the children are all grown up, my husband is willing to let me pursue whatever pursuit will make me happy and I have a big decision to make. Will I do a PhD or will I do a BTh? I'm leaning towards doing the PhD but it depends on whether the people at the local uni will be interested in the question I'm interested in asking.

The Exegesis Fairy said...

The problem, I feel, with both the same-sex blessing issue and the women's ministry issue is this: both sides can claim the Bible for their own.

Those against same-sex relationships can point to Scripture and say 'God says so here, here and here' and those for can point to Scripture and say, 'God says that male prostitution, sex as idol worship, breaking covenant with one's spouse and ritual uncleanness under the Holiness Code is bad. God does not prescribe behaviour for homosexuals who wish to be in a covenant relationship. He prescribes for heterosexuals, them being the norm. We discern that this is what we should do.' On women's ministry, there is the same problem, with the caveat that there are women in every office held by men in the Old testament except for 'King'. Judges, prophets, whatever. There are examples of male and female deacons, a female apostle, and women who evangelised, taught and followed Jesus during his earthly ministry. So I would say it's at least as 'clear' in both cases.

Gosh, those in favour have a lot more to say in this example, but you know what I mean.

I don't want a schism. I'm sticking with the Anglican Church proper, because I was a stranger and they took me in.

Scripture is not as clear-cut as people would like it to be, I fear. Jesus is Lord, the Son of God, the One who died for our sins and rose from the dead: check.

I disagreed/took issue with about five bits of the Jerusalem Declaration before I was halfway through the statement. So regardless of its stance on marriage, I'm not keen on it.