Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Commending to You: "Half the Church: Exploring and Embracing Gender Inclusivity in Churches of Christ"

I'm late with this link, but I highly recommend checking out the new online resource, "Half the Church: Exploring and Embracing Gender Inclusivity in Churches of Christ." It contains a recorded panel conversation (from ACU's annual conference Summit) of women sharing their experiences in churches of Christ as women, and the problems and solutions raised in the process. I had the opportunity of participating in something similar last summer (2009) at the Christian Scholars Conference in Nashville, and it was an enormously affecting experience, as it seems this was as well.

Along with nationalism and violence, the question of gender -- as it relates to leadership, worship, charism, ministry, partnership, marriage, witness, culture, the very substance of the good news we proclaim -- is one of the most pressing challenges for the faithfulness and vitality of churches of Christ today. This new resource succeeds precisely because it recognizes that the most important, the very first thing we must do -- particularly when the "we" in question are male -- is to listen to the actual women who have endured and undergone so much in our churches. Only by listening, by creating space for the Spirit to move our hearts together in unity and creative response, may we be given to move forward in healing and, by God's grace, to the profound kind of transformation called for by the gospel.

1 comment:

  1. Recently, I expressed a supportive thought at this link. Evidently, it was too supportive. It was removed. I believe I struck a dissonant chord. Two points to which I called attention in my supportive comment was the church's capitulation to culture. This was not to say the point from culture on gender inclusivity is misplaced, but that it ought hardly be the strong suit for the church in her course of action.

    Second, it is not that we (the church, or men, specifically) ought listen to women, but that we (the church, men) ought to listen to the scriptures. Our sisters, too, ought to speak to the subject with the authority, influence and modeling of the scriptures. I was not surprised by my experience interacting with female priests on the CNN Belief blog. What I learned from those leaders was an appalling disregard or inability to speak with the authority of the scriptures. Mostly it was rants and mantra culture sound bites.

    What the church is on the brink of doing (restoring?), and I have not seen this developed from the scriptures among our brethren, is a fuller realization of the priesthood of believers. Unfortunately, it is with an understanding which treads no further than the well-tracked path of culture. The term priesthood of believers as employed in the NT and applied to the believers in Christ is not gender limited, gender biased; terms very much a product and millennial-speak of American culture. Although the Aaronic priesthood was gender biased the lessons from within that single gender bias holds much for the church to learn.