20 June 2004

Women in office

I’m a member of the Christian Reformed Church, which “ordains” women as pastors, elders, and deacons. (Erica and 20+ other women are ordained as pastors.) I usually use quotes around ordain, though, whenever I discuss the issue of women’s ordination and the CRC, because female clergy are not afforded all the responsibilities and privileges of the male clergy. Only two women serve as parish pastors, absolutely no women are allowed to be delegates to Synod (the national assembly), and each classis (“fleet,” which the CRC uses to signify one of its regional divisions) has the option not to ordain women.

The issue of women in office is hardly a CRC-only issue, however. Most evangelical and conservative confessing churches face difficulty with it. While some of this difficulty comes from legitimate theological qualms (e.g., honest biblical hermeneutics), it seems that most of it serves as a mask for misogynistic views. Case in point, this wonderfully untrue statement from Pat Robertson:

The key in terms of mental ability is chess. There’s never been a woman Grand Master chess player. Once you get one, then I’ll buy some of the feminism . . .

(Thanks to Fred Clark for noticing this and for his great rebuttal; check under “She came, she saw, she conquered.”)


Blogger Erik said...

Postscript, at 10:40 PM:

I should have made clear that, overall, I like being in the CRC. The denomination is theologically rigorous and usually doesn’t leap into things without careful consideration. Which makes their sham position on women in office all the more frustrating.

June 20, 2004 10:44 PM  
Blogger mutabilitie said...

Do "feminist" theologians also hold an egaliterian view regarding gender roles in your neighborhood of the Christian world? Great quote from P. Robertson! A potential response could be: have you ever met a great chess player who doesn't care about winning or losing, but playing in order to learn about the other person? The misogynist insight is a good one at times, I think. If afro-americans need a level playing field to advance in the academy, the least we males could do is stop objectifying our female students and peers so they have a chance too.

June 27, 2004 11:36 PM  
Blogger Erik said...

As far as I can tell, there are few “feminist” theologians associated with the CRC. Many female CRC-folk who feel drawn to ministry or theology jump ship to the Presbyterian Church USA or the Reformed Church in America, which are compatible with Reformed ecclesiology but more receptive to feminist views. And more theologically liberal women tend to chafe under the CRC’s conservitivism, anyway. This all isn’t to say, though, that there are no liberal / feminist theologians in the CRC. Just isolated pockets, usually in the same few congregations.

At least that’s my (hastily-drawn) perspective. To know the whole story, you’d probably need to check with people who are more current on CRC statistics than I am.

June 28, 2004 7:01 PM  

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