Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Schism in the Church? Maybe. Maybe Not.

Tony Jones has called for people to leave the church:
The time has come for a schism regarding the issue of women in the church. Those of us who know that women should be accorded full participation in every aspect of church life need to visibly and forcefully separate ourselves from those who do not. Their subjugation of women is anti-Christian, and it should be tolerated no longer.That means:
  • If you attend a church that does not let women preach or hold positions of ecclesial authority, you need to leave that church.
  • If you work for a ministry that does not affirm women in ecclesial leadership, you need to leave that ministry.
  • If you write for a publishing house that also prints books by “complementarians,” you need to take your books to another publishing house.
  • If you speak at conferences, you need to withdraw from all events that do not affirm women as speakers, teachers, and leaders.
I appreciate the sentiment and the boldness that he expresses here.  I see it as a challenge for people who haven't or aren't doing anything about the issue of women to stand up and do something.  There are many people out there who need to see that it isn't an issue to be glossed over; it is about real women with real callings from God who are being held back by other Christians.  

But I do see some difficulties with it.  Although I share his disbelief that this still happens (see my comment here, plus, I never really even knew this happened until early 2000s, and only later learned the word complementarian), it's going to be harder to accomplish than not.

Point 1:  It's not easy to leave a church, especially if there are not that many to choose from in your town.  It's even harder if you have familial ties to it.  And a church that may not officially let women hold positions of ecclesiastical authority is actually one in which I saw men and women working together to lead the church.  Really.  In the Catholic church in which I grew up, the priest and the director of religious education always seemed to me to be a team, working together.  I never saw any indication of hierarchy.  Even though he led mass, she was always participating too, and girls and boys were both allowed to be altar girls and altar boys.  

If one feels he or she cannot leave a church, then one should not sit idly by and should continue to push for women's involvement.  Nominate them as elders/deacons--even if it isn't "allowed".  Keep suggesting opportunities for women speakers.  Give everyone you know a copy of "How I Changed My Mind About Women In Leadership".  Educate others who just don't know.  You don't need permission to have your own small group, so buy the book and discuss it with others.  

Point 2:  Make sure you can line up a new job first.  

Point 3:  This would work for someone who is a popular and established writer.  For me, not so much.  If I was offered a book deal, I'd probably take it no matter what!

Point 4:  Probably the easiest for those who speak for a living, but still definitely a fearful step to take.  

Is Tony's idea totally feasible?  Nope.  But it's a call to action to those who aren't acting.  What will you do?


Jenny said...

I think his advice is lot like the kind you're likely to hear around election time. People want to pretend that a perfect candidate exists, one with whom you can agree 100%, but everyone knows that's not really true. Sometimes it's better to make the most of where you're at.

AmyS said...

The landscape is much more complicated than he seems to assume. I am a pastor in a denomination that doesn't ordain women. I preach, teach and lead in a local congregation, but there are only few other congregations in our family of churches (in the U.S.) who "allow" women to preach or serve as pastors. Most endorse a complimentarian theology of sexuality. Should I cut and run, or stick around and work at "being the change"?

Kelly J Youngblood said...

Good analogy! Then you often end up voting for the lesser of two evils, so maybe it's similar with this?

Kelly J Youngblood said...

I think you are doing so much already by being there! Good for you! I'd love to hear more about how you became a pastor in a denomination that doesn't ordain women. Would you consider writing a guest post for me?

AmyS said...

Let's talk. I'll email you :)

Kelly J Youngblood said...