[personal profile] thecosmicdance
This thought provoking macro from Secret Histories.



Well, "the king wanted to get divorced" wasn't really the whole issue. The Vatican really was shockingly corrupt and abusing its power over Europe at the time, and a king saying "no, some foreign power is not going to tell me how to run my own country" was an important step on the road to democracy. It's also the reason we have the Bible in English. We have to consider that.

I would say that it’s not so much that they’ve had difficulties accepting gay marriage (at this point in time), but that their difficulties accepting gay marriage, while ironic, have not been as strong as their difficulties accepting women priests. I mean, where I come from, the Anglican position on gays is considered unchristian in its softness. A lot of conservative evangelicals, especially in the US, believe that any compromising on the subject of not only gay people’s right to become priests or have legal marriages, but to be acknowledged as worthy of human rights, is a massive failure on the part of any church. At least Anglicans acknowledge now that a gay person can still contribute worthwhile things to society and don’t send them off to reeducation camps- or flip out because an openly gay person is the spokeswoman for a reasonably priced suburban mall department store.

But it’s very interesting, yet not at all surprising, that the CoE has been more accepting of the possibility of allowing openly gay men to hold positions of authority than it ever has been of the possibility of women doing the same. It speaks to a certain stereotype about British men being able to take or leave women in general.

But then, men in general, when given the opportunity to form groups with power, will elevate other men over women every time. Gay men can be misogynists too (see: 1970s glam rock scene). It's that little boy inside so many men who has his head easily turned by offerings of power over women. Because, well, power. Over women.

And even when women are given more opportunities, traditional expectations of women often crush those opportunities anyway. I mean, in the church I grew up in (in the Wesleyan tradition), women have always been allowed ordination. Our missionary books were filled with stories of women pastors, there were “inspirational romances” about women pastors, we were all told we could be pastors if we wanted, but how many of us ever did it? And even among the woman pastors I’ve known, how many did I know who had positions of real authority? Not enough that it becomes a total non issue. How many of those women who are allowed ordination have ever come from the specific congregation I grew up in? Oh, that'd be none.

They've had four pastors since I've been there and not one of them has been female (nor were any before my family started attending). The congregation has existed in various forms for decades. They have never even auditioned any women and there are no ordained women who serve or have ever served, as elders or on the pastoral staff. There are women on the board but they're not ordained. And most of the women, period, are either housewives or have traditional "mommy" jobs as nurses and teachers and social workers. Maybe a secretary or two. No cops or executives or college professors or principals or doctors or lawyers or soldiers or even a real estate agent. Almost no women with positions of authority over other adults and/or independence in the secular world. When women don't have those sorts of roles outside their home and outside of church, they'll never have them in church either. And vice versa.

And despite the fact that these women can become ordained and even rise to the highest level of denominational power (and a few have, just not ones I've ever met), they still never escape smirky references to the "women's submission" clobber verses and hurtful debates about their roles. It's humiliating to sit in a congregation and have a pastor say with an embarrassed smile, "Now, I know you ladies will have to forgive me for preaching on these verses today"- nudge nudge, wink wink these aren't my words, they're Paul's so you can't blame me.

This denomination is a little over 100 years old and women were ordained from the start, so why are they still talking about this like it's up for debate? And since most Wesleyan churches have encouraged women in leadership from the startwhy the hell is it so hard for all these people?

Photobucket
(from Methodist Memes)

If there is anything that could make me turn one hundred percent neo pagan tomorrow, it's the fact that this issue is considered settled in the pagan world. Sure, there's sometimes some annoying heteronormative stuff you have to navigate, but women are as human as men, as intelligent as men, as brave as men and as capable as men, full stop. Talking about God as a female presence is not only not considered bordering heresy, it's not even a subject for debate. Sometimes men have their powers , and women have *theirs*, sometimes men and women share power, but women's powers by themselves, even when not held in check by a man, are not naturally and inherently evil. Sometimes they go the other way and treat women as more special than men, but the point I'm driving at is that because a power balance is vital to most pagan beliefs, no one would dream of implying that men need to control women's power or that to have a woman in power over men is The Worst Idea Ever.

I think it's the only group of religions/philosophies on earth that just naturally assumes women are not responsible for everything bad that happens in the world.

Modern pagan men also do not feel the need to constantly interfere in women's issues, even when they don't care for women. Crowley didn't want to join Gardner's Wicca group because he "didn't want to be bossed around by a lot of women". Crowley was a jerk, and yet when he decides he doesn't want to be bossed around by women, he goes off and does something else he'd rather be doing. Wicca is now one of the largest and fastest growing Neo Pagan religions, so large and fast growing, in fact, that it's often treated as the generic brand name for all neo paganism and witchcraft. A group that appeared to be run by women with power of their own wasn't what he felt like being involved with, but he also didn't seem to think that the very existence of this group was a threat that had to be crushed immediately by any means necessary.

If he'd been a Christian he would've. Can't let that sort of thing stand. Remember that post I did about boycotting? A lot of the organizations and companies boycotted in the past by the modern Christian Right involved women's products and women's social networking. And it's all about the idea that women meeting in groups unapproved by conservative churches will start telling women that they're human beings with rights who didn't bring evil into the world, and that might lead to women with sexual autonomy. Which is not really a Biblical issue, but a fear that they will lose out on all the comforts they get from controlling women. So it's best to make sure women don't go around forming groups outside the influence of conservative churches.

A lot of that comes from the initial struggle between Christianity and paganism. A lot of older pagan cultures (although they were often patriarchal when it came to secular law)had powerful goddesses that threatened the new Christian regimes. And the new religion, once it became legal in the Roman Empire and female leaders got shut out of the decision making processes, didn't leave as many options for women who didn't want to cloister themselves away and never have sex again. Women were the ones they feared losing to paganism the most, and they never figured out that this was probably one reason why.

So in the back of every powerful conservative Christian man's mind is the thought " if we let women be archbishops, we'll all end up defiling our cathedrals with orgies and human sacrifice and people will abort live newborns just because they changed their minds and gay bikers will roam the streets raping everyone and the world will end in flames. Also, we might have to install more tampon machines in the bathrooms and maybe my wife will think she can be an archbishop too and then dinner won't be on time."

Christian women, of course, don't usually want to ruin everything, they just want their fair share. If women can preach, then women should have the right to be promoted to higher levels of authority.


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thecosmicdance

May 2013

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