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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Half the Sky

I'm off to church in a wee bit, having just read a trilogy of stories about the international status and concerns of women in this morning's NY Times Magazine.

A Woman's Crusade
by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn is here.

The Gender Agenda
by Mark Landler is here.

A School Bus for Shamsia
by Dexter Filkins can be found here.

There are many other articles in the magazine, with titles like Why Women's Rights are the Cause of our Times, and X Factor Philanthropy.

I commend them all to you in the highest of terms and with this comment:

It's about damn time! Seriously.

I also commend this blog post to you by my old buddy PeaceBang. Check out "Why the ELCA Vote is Nothing Much to Cheer about: A Single, Straight Pastor's View."

Girlfriend defines the term "uppity woman" which is why we love her.

Think these two articles are not related? Think again.

Scripture is absolutely chock-a-block filled to the brim with reasons and rationale why women, who have always represent uncontrolled sexuality (think Eve and the snake in the Garden), must be subdued and controlled by men.

The church has been a bastion of patriarchy, with marriage as its centerpiece - a reflection of God's relationship with the world.

When the Prop 8 and Right Wing Nut Fundgelicals talk about "Marriage Equality" being a threat to "Traditional Marriage Values," many of us have scratched our heads and said, "What? How?"

Indeed, as Ms. Conroy pointed out to me just the other day, in the almost 8 years we've been at St. Paul's, there has not been one divorce.

Not. One.

In eight whole years.

Well, so much for Ms. Conroy and my threat to "traditional marriage values."

That's not the point. The threat to "traditional marriage values" is its role and function in the maintenance of the dominant male paradigm of power.

Which is why the ELCA statement is so clear about LGBT pastors needing to be in a relationship.

It's a little cultural Valium to calm their religious anxieties.

Meanwhile, the Revised Common Lectionary promises an interesting if unintended commentary about all of this from John 6:56-69.

Jesus offers a teaching about the true meaning of his presence at the Eucharist and the disciples respond, "This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?" (6:60)

But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, "Does this offend you? (6:61)

Oh, pul-ese, Jesus! You've just told the disciples that the Eucharistic banquet you have just established is one of the most intimate things they can do to be in, well, "communion" with you and each other and God.

You said, "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them." (6:56).

And, as John points out: "He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum." (6:59)

You thought no one would take offense? I know. It's like thinking about "unpartnered" LGBT clergy living in the rectory or parsonage, and the possibility that they are in there, in the rectory (for Pete's sake), having (gulp!) "sex outside of marriage."

You know, just like their hetero counterparts.

Can't get more offensive than that - except, of course, that the 'ick' factor of homosexuality significantly raises the bar for many.

Just the way an 'uppity woman' in Pakistan is offensive to her husband. Disturbs the cultural paradigm of power and illusions of control.

I have no illusions that anyone in my sleepy little summer chapel is going to preach on this theme. I, on the other hand, will be pondering all these things in my heart - while I'm in the pew as well as while I'm at the beach with my grandchildren later this afternoon.

As Blessed Margaret over at "Leave it Lay Where Jesus Flang It" would say, "G'won, go to church!"


Brother David said...

Sorry, Madre, I think your amiga PB is way off the mark here, in a lot of things. And in my NSHO in regard to UUs, those folks would not know fidelity in a sexual relationship if it struck them in the face like a cold flounder. When I was finishing my last years of seminary in Seattle, I lost all respect for them with all their bed hopping and partner swapping. And being openly proud of it!

I see the move by the ELCA as putting everyone on a level playing field. They are expecting all of the clergy and perspective clergy to be monogamously faithful if partnered, and not sexually active if single, regardless of whether they are straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans.

Matthew said...

Actually my understanding of the ELCA is that one may enter the ministry single (straight or gay) and become partnered/committed/married, whatever. What the ELCA avoided and clearly does not want to address yet is the appropriate time when one should start having sex when one is in a dating relationship. For straights, historically, the answer was the wedding night. Probably few straight single pastors wait that long but it is not talked about, certainly not with your parish. with gays, the answer would be trickier. Many states don't recognize gay marriage and same sex blessings are new to the church. Therefore, the church does not really want to talk about the appropriate sex lives of single people and at what point in dating one may start having sex.

I contrast this with Judaism, which has explored this issue for a number of years and in some depth. Several branches of Judaism have "done the theology" of sex and dating. The goal of that theology was providing guidance to Jewish college students and other singles but it would apply to a single rabbi as well.

Even so called gay friendly churches do not want to have this conversation. I know a gay friendly Episcopal rector who told me he gets uncomfortable when teens ask him when its "okay" for them to have sex and under what circumstances. We don't want to go there clearly.

it's margaret said...

I got to preach this morning --preached about being offended.... said we were to stay put where we were offended... because when we are offended the Spirit is at work.... I mean, being a Christian isn't for wimps!

Blessings on you, dear sister.

susankay said...

Patriarchy sucks!

(and wouldn't the little homophobes find THAT offensive)

Muthah+ said...

David, I read the ELCA as do you. Matt, I think you are right about dating. NOBODY seems to want to touch that hot potato. But Eliz. is right on target about the patriarchal crap that lingers no matter what. It takes those of us who know better to point it out constantly.

I wrote my ELCA bishop that the hard work is just beginning.