Saturday, April 20, 2013

Are we listening...

I found this article interesting in looking at submission outside of a biblical perspective, and it served to help me capture a few thoughts I have had about the topic of women's ordination. Two bits from the article that popped out at me are:

“I choose to serve my family and my husband,” says Reece, “because it creates a dynamic where he is then in fact acting more like a man and masculine and treating me the way I want to be treated.” NBC’s Brian Williams called it a “new and provocative take on how to keep a marriage together.”

But is it? "The Today Show’s" online survey asked the public on whether or not they agreed with Reece’s statement: “To be truly feminine means being soft and receptive and look out, here it comes, submissive …” The majority of its audience—a whopping 55%—agreed that embracing femininity and being submissive is the way to go. Only 19% disagreed.

A short while later, she defines and discusses submission:

"That’s what Gabby Reece meant when she used the word submissive. Admittedly, it’s a loaded term. But it doesn’t mean being less than, or subordinate to, one’s spouse. Submission means to defer to another person’s judgment, opinion or decision. It means you trust your partner. If that trust exists, submission is a no brainer.

And it goes both ways. “I’m just sort of surprised at the way people took the word ‘submissive.’ The idea of trying to make the lives of the people in your home, including your husband, better…that is a form of choice of service. I really believe in that idea that we should all make our lives, each other’s lives, better. And by the way, my husband lives by that same code.”

Funny, when we talk about husbands being submissive, or deferential, to their wives, no one raises an eyebrow.

Turn it around and women get heart palpitations.

I have been thinking deeply about why those who support OWN (Ordain Women Now--a Facebook page and group wanting women's ordination in the LCMS) support OWN. By that I mean, what is it that is behind this push to ordain women. I have no answers, but I do have questions that chase themselves about my mind.

Questions about the reception of faith, questions about truly understanding submission by both genders, questions about fear. Yes, fear. I mean, could it be that, at least in part, what is driving those who support women's ordination is this fear that women are not serving God enough, that the Church is harming women by minimizing their participation in worship and thus maximizing their fears over living godly lives, living holy lives, serving others ... enough?

It seems to me that the biblical arguments (both a correct interpretation of Scripture AND the incorrect picking and choosing and applying of verses to fit a point) are not actually the most productive starting point in a discussion/exploration of women's ordination.

It is my personal opinion that we ought to start with the whys and wherefores behind the desire to be ordained. For I suspect that a less-than-complete understanding of faith, of justification, of sanctification, and of the reception that encompasses all of that lies at the heart of this issue.

Back when I was in hospice training, our first lessons that followed a history of hospice care, were how to employ reflective listening. To actually really and truly reflective listen ON BOTH SIDES. I listen. I then tell you what I heard. You then tell me if I actually heard what you were trying to say. Once that part is achieved, you listen to me. You tell me what I was trying to say. I then tell you if you actually heard what I was trying to say.

What came out of reflective listening in hospice care were the fears and concerns and questions that lay beneath the oft terse, heated, and insensitive words that were flung about in the household, in the family, of the dying.

Another example of this came in my speech language pathology class that I took as an elective whilst doing my master's in literacy studies. The professor was very ... well ... strident in her opinion that most teachers did not look at or listen to their problem students. She demonstrated how most teachers overlooked evidence that students might have trouble seeing or hearing language because it was easier to classify the student who did not follow the directions written on the board as a trouble-maker rather than one who might need glasses. The same held true for the student who did not pay attention to or follow verbal teaching. Another troublemaker rather than a child who might have a hearing loss.

As the only non--speech language pathologist student in the class, I was horribly berated and oft held up as an example of teachers who are ignorant of and too lazy to learn the signs of vision and hearing problems in children. Sometimes, even the others in my class came to my defense, given how often I was the whipping boy. But I do respect the professor's point.

I oft make the same about the signs of sexual abuse in children. They can be spotted if you learn them and look for them.

So, what I am trying to proffer is that this article made me think about the signs and symptoms of spiritual struggle that might possibly be at least a part of what drives those who advocate for women's ordination.

And, just like the examples I have given, so often, not even the dying, the deaf, the vision challenged, or even the abused understand what is plaguing them ... for their existence, their struggles, their perspective is all they know ... until someone reaches out to them to listen, to look, and to help.

We believe, teach, and confess what our righteousness before God is this: God forgives our sins out of pure grace, without any work, merit, or worthiness of ours preceding, present, or following. He presents and credits to us the righteousness of Christ's obedience. Because of this righteousness, we are received into grace by God and regarded as righteous.

We believe, teach, and confess that faith alone is the means and instrument through which we lay hold of Christ. So in Christ we lay hold of that righteousness that benefits us before God, for whose sake this faith is credited to us for righteousness.

We believe, teach and confess that this faith is not a bare knowledge of Christ' history, but it is God's gift. By this gift we come to the right knowledge of Christ as our Redeemer in the Word of the Gospel. And we trust in Him that for the sake of His obedience alone we have--by grace--the forgiveness of sins and are regarded as holy and righteous before God the Father and are eternally saved.
~BOC, FE, III, 4-6 [emphasis mine]

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

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