Z - Archived Bloggers & Columnists
Hailed by many as a significant moment for the recognition of women in Australia's history and public life, I was listening with interest to public news radio as the leadership challenge unfolded and the result emerged. Of course, the politics of the situation are rarely clear cut-and extend significantly beyond issues of gender--but one of the aspects of response commented on a number of times by the radio host was the difference in opinions between the different media formats.
The more traditional form of phone-in callers were split in their response between support and criticism of the new prime minister, text messages were more supportive, and comments on the program's Facebook site were overwhelmingly enthusiastic about a woman taking Australia's "top job." The suggestion was of a significant demographic differentiation in their initial responses to this news.
And it's that same demographic grouping--and to an extent, generational grouping--that will now be asking the question of their church in Australia about how a woman can be a leader of the nation but continues to be barred from being the national leader of the church.
Increasingly, there are generations and demographics within our church for which our continued denial and non-discussion of full recognition and empowerment of the calling to ministry and leadership of women in the church. And while the church continues to fail on this issue, the perception of the relevance and importance of the church and its message will continue to be damaged.
The damage of entrenched patriarchy and its associated ideologies, awkwardly propped up by poor use of Scripture, to the cause of the kingdom of God should not be underestimated: "The debilitating DNA of patriarchy-hierarchical organisational structures and their marginalisation of the powerless--is tenacious, and to shake it loose will take an enormous amount of intentional, humbling work. But shake it we must, because the reality is this: hierarchy (command and control) fails to move the reflexive souls of new world citizens, regardless of gender or race. It simply ensures their absence. And in case we haven't noticed, there are now a plethora of spiritual experiences waiting for them outside the cloning parlours of big churchdom" (Sally Morgenthaler, "Leadership in a Flattened World: Grassroots Culture and the Demise of the CEO Model," An Emergent Manifesto of Hope).
The election of Australia's first female prime minister as a reminder of our responsibility to recognise women in leadership is not about the church rushing to be like the world. Rather it embarrasses us, when we remember we should be leading the world in championing and demonstrating inclusiveness, equity and opportunity for all people. As many in our societies work to remove walls, we need to ensure the walls we maintain as a church are based solidly on the best of our biblical understanding, not on power, politics and cultures of the past.
Log In to Post a Comment. Log In | Register