The last two comments on 42: New Frontiers and Women (from Blue, with a hint of amber & Chris E) deserve a response and I have just realised two and a half months on that I don’t seem to have responded. Sorry guys.
The central argument of the two comments seems to be related. Bwahoa wrote:
an attitude of superiority toward members of the opposite sex ; also : behavior expressive of such an attitude
Bwahoa argues that "
scripture requires different roles for men and women so that (for example) women cannot be Church Elders. On the other hand we have a belief that scripture defines men and women as equal, that in Christ gender (and other) distinctions are broken down, that scripture reveals God as being passionate about justice and we see women in a variety of leadership roles in Scripture that are incompatible with an understanding of male headship.
My point is that both sides can (and do) claim to be holding true to scriptural principles. It is therefore wrong to claim that one side is ditching scriptural principles and therefore will not pray for healing etc.
My original argument was that when choosing between two seemingly conflicting scriptural requirements (male headship vs gender equality) then it is entirely appropriate, valid and valuable to look at wider factors to help decide which is the over-riding concern.
When choosing whether is it more important to follow Biblically based rules for gender roles or to follow biblical principals of equality and justice. I believe it is right to bring in other factors such as:
- The teaching and life of Jesus. Which did he require more. Following rules or justice and love?
- Which passages are focused more on particular contexts and which appear to be more general
Plus the ones that got me into trouble here.
- Which Biblical principle has the most potential for harming God’s people
- Which Biblical principle makes our communities look more like the God we worship
For me there is little doubt. Systems that lock power away from certain members of society have a history of causing abuse and harm (eg apartheid, slavery, racism). For me with my experiences there is no doubt that male headship falls into this category. It does not mean all men who claim male headship are abusers, but it does have more potential for that to happen.
looking with lust is wrong, sell all we have to feed the poor, … However, his response to those who fail is always to show mercy, offer fogiveness and to accept and include (eg tax collectors & zealots as disciples, restoration of Peter after betraying Jesus, …).
So Jesus does call us to perfect relationships and yet forgives and accepts us when we fail.
How is this relevant to gender relations. I am not entirely sure, but I repeat my belief that Jesus does not demand that women submit to men but to him. He will never abuse or cause harm whereas men have a long history of doing so.
Bwahoa, goes on to make some valid points that it may be unreasonable for me to suggest New Frontiers show there is room for other views on this subject. Personally I do think it is appropriate for a Chrurch to say this is what we believe but humbly recognise that not all others agree and that they will have fellowship with, work with and lovingly accept those who disagree. In fact I think all Churches should do this.