Weinstein, #MeToo, and the Ordination of Women

The tales of Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo campaign may seem far removed from the debate over the ordination of women. But they are not. They are all expressions of widespread mistrust between all sorts of people – and, of course, particularly between men and women. Most significantly, they are symptoms of an unwillingness to recognize and talk about the exercise of power in relationships.

Notice I don’t say, “an unwillingness to discuss the power of men.” That’s because I don’t believe the problem is entirely with men. Of course, there are sexually predatory, bullying men. My work as a counselor leaves me in no doubt that there is no shortage of physical assaults on women and harassment of them by all kinds of men in many different contexts both inside and outside the church. But I have also come across plenty of evidence of manipulative, controlling women who dominate, undermine, and infantilize their men.

At one level of analysis, some responses to abuse are clearly sound. Assaulted or harassed women should report to police or workplace authorities. There are men who need to be “called out” and some who need to be behind bars.

In the church, there are some men who need to recognize that their readings of scripture are smoke screens for justifying domination and encouraging men to control women and others whom they see as needing their guidance.

But the belief that men are essentially lustful bullies who are “only after one thing” is a sexist slur. It’s as destructive as the idea that women are – or need to be – compliant manipulative victims who are “asking for it.” In the debate over women’s ordination, there are similar slurs by women and men on both genders. “Women with vocations are feminist harpies,” say some. “Women are prevented from serving God by selfish, power-hungry men,” say others.

What is needed both inside and outside the church is for women and men to engage in open public dialogue and private, honest two-way conversations about the intricacy of gender relations. There needs to be more awareness that verbal messages sent either via technology or in person depend so much on tone and timing. Eyes, voices, and other body language all have their impact. The skill of active listening should be taught in school and in churches.

In a nutshell, we need to recalibrate the power relationships between men and women. Powerful men will need to modify the way they exercise their power. Women will need to learn to take responsibility and exercise authority in ways they may have seen before as alien.

The basic process of honest and mutual listening is a demanding and time-consuming process! But there is a great deal at stake. If those of us who call ourselves Christians cannot learn to practice mutually honest relationships between men and women, we shall have stones, not bread, to offer to the wider world. What is involved here is not peripheral to preaching and teaching the gospel, it is the gospel. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13.35

Helen Pearson is a counselor, psychotherapist, writer, and trainer from Wokingham in England and a longtime elder of Newbold Church. This article originally appeared on Helen and her husband, Michael’s, new website, Pearsons’ Perspectives. It is reprinted here with permission.

Photo by Jonatán Becerra on Unsplash

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8533
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I fully concur that more sensitive dialogue and proactive listening are needed between men and women in light of recent disclosures regarding workplace sexual assault and harassment. I appreciate this author’s dismissal of extreme categorization on both sides of recent controversies, whether inside or outside the church.

I believe that when such sensitive conversation takes place among us as a people, involving both unqualified affirmation of Biblical authority as well as the taking seriously of all reports of abuse and manipulation, it will at last be understood that the Biblical order of gender authority in spiritual leadership is neither definitionally abusive nor the inevitable facilitator of abuse. When the relationship of Christ to His church is acknowledged as the Biblical, Christian model of gender relations (Eph. 5:25), incidents and situations of abuse can more readily be identified and eliminated within the faith community. There should be a zero-tolerance policy toward such practices in both religious and secular settings, of course, but with Scripture as its supreme authority, the church is uniquely positioned to lead the way in demonstrating accountability and destroying the culture of concealment which facilitates the dreadful misdeeds that have lately come to light.

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Gender relationships don’t need more talking about the problem. No one changes habits and charateristics that are engrained from childhood by continually talking about it - contrary to general opinion. The way we treat others doesn’t depend on social rules or committees, but on how we see ourselves.

The anti-WO contingent see themselves as being in some sort of special category, in this case blessed by God in their supremacy. Women who put up with this kind caste system see themselves as the rib taken out of Adam’s side - forever simply a “helpmate”, and proud of it. It was well-known back in the sixties if you wanted to be a pastor’s wife, you majored in Home Ec. and minored in piano, and found your way to Andrews since those guys needed to find a wife before they went looking for a job. The problem wasn’t the men - it was lowering the expectations of the women. OK, social norms had something to do with all that, but still, the impediment was in how the women saw themselves.

This problem isn’t going away by talking someone or a group out of gender bias. Gender bias is removed by the expectations we carry with us as we interact with others. If you carry a broom everywhere you go, someone is going to put you to work sweeping something.

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Sirje –
You hit it! It is a person’s perception about themselves that is Critical!
Back when I was a kid, if a woman felt she wanted or needed to work outside the home, she had only about 3 career choices – Secretary, Teacher, Nurse. [of course there was always retail and factory]. And any “good” SDA went off to college to find a Husband. One shouldn’t be an Old Maid at 25, definitely NOT 30.
An SDA woman becoming POWERFUL and in LEADERSHIP is not seen as appropriate even today in 2018. Maybe in the Secular world, but definitely NOT in the Religious – SDA Denomination world.
So by our “Un-spoken” Behaviors we teach our young girls from Infancy NOT to think along these lines. And so, they cast themselves in that mind-set all their lives. And IF they see any woman in the Church becoming POWERFUL they believe this woman is acting very inappropriate and not very Christ-like, and out of synch with God’s WILL for that woman.
THIS is 2018 mind-set by a large share of SDA Females.

In my mind, I see the Holy Spirit crying each Sabbath. 65% of the SDA Church who have been Brain-Washed since early childhood to not use ALL their Spiritual Gifts as listed in several places in the New Testament.
The MEN will say, “God is no respecter of persons”. But, they REALLY Do Not believe it.

1/27 – Robin you bring up a very IMPORTANT QUESTION.
"Is EVERYTHING Written in the Bible for ALL TIME?"
Your quote regarding Paul’s writings when they REALLY appear to be more Sociological and
Cultural for the the time period of 40 AD to 60 AD.
And NOT for the 20th or 21st Centuries.
Just like in the Hebrew Bible. There was the Sacrificial services in the Tabernacle, later the 2 Temples [and the additions by King Herod]. But as one reads the prophets, God said he DID NOT REALLY WANT those and would like to have gotten rid of them One place said they made him nauseated.

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You did not touch on the widespread, pervasive, spousal abuse (wife beating ) endemic in Adventism.

More appropriately exposed by women pastors in whom the abused wives confide.

All of this, together with the heinous, heretical “.headship”. dogma, the WO issue which is splitting the church, can be attributed to the intemperate, politically incorrect, and inflammatory, misogynistic statements by Saint Paul.

His “wives submit yourselves to your husbands” has been a handy pretext and cover for wife beaters in the two millennia since he made this pernicious pronouncement.

His “.women should not talk in church” gives handy cover to those opposing any role for women in the church.

His homophobic statements have led to misery for two millennia of gays.

His emphatic endorsement of slavery,”.slaves obey your masters “, led to the suffering of multiple millions of slaves over two millennia.

Paul has caused more misery on this planet than Hitler and Stalin combined. At least those two despots only impacted their own generations.

We have a major problem addressing male/female relationships, both in the church, and in society, as long as Paul’s epistles are recognized as being in the canon of scripture. Why are they there, when their impact has been so notoriously negative??

His inflammatory injudicious pronouncements seem at total odds to the loving compassionate Christ, as depicted in the gospels.

Response to Paul 62
The God I believe in treats everyone as equal, male/female, gay/straight,
nor does He emphatically endorse human trafficking.

Should you choose to believe in a misogynistic, homophobic God who actively sabotages human rights, that is your prerogative.

Multiple millions believe in such a God. He is the Allah of Sharia Law!

The scriptural,canon was originated by Catholic popes/ priests /monks.
Since the Catholic hierarchy, to this day is fervently misogynistic and homophobic, it does not surprise me that the monks of old, retained deleterious statements that should have been edited out—because these negative views aligned with their narrow prejudices.

I do NOT accept statements in scripture which belie a loving God, and attribute these to the Catholic influence.

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Have you ever read this book?

I have to disagree. We need to talk more about it, and face-to-face rather than in virtual space.

Consider the 1934 study by sociologist Richard LaPiere, who traveled the U.S. with a Chinese couple. They visited 251 hotels and restaurants to see how people treated them when racism against Chinese people was rampant. To his surprise, the couple was denied service only once. Shortly afterward, he sent questionnaires to all 251 establishments, asking whether they would serve “members of the Chinese race.” Remarkably, 92 percent said they would not, and only one establishment said it would; the rest were uncertain. The point? We become much more open-minded and tolerant during personal, real-life interactions than we do in virtual or theoretical exchanges.

Let’s befriend those with whom we disagree.

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So Paul’s message wasn’t from God? Should we just disregard Paul’s writings? Or was God misogynist?

Who allowed such hate into the bible?

Why indeed. Let’s delete Paul’s writings from the canon because surely such politically incorrect statements could not come from the One we know is. Who’s with us?

You keep adding to your answer.
Paul didnt write in the Quran. So YOU decide what parts of the bible to believe? Its the Catholics fault? What if God was the author of all of it?

Read https://record.adventistchurch.com/2018/01/19/was-paul-a-misogynist/

Listen and learn,

Please join Lounge to have a real discussion.

Exactly correct, Helen!

Talk of men’s rights to lead congregations or alternatively of women’s rights to lead the same is just a futile power game. Such talk will only ever be a dramatic monologue and a chasing after wind. In such a scenario there will be no talking with one another, but instead a talking past each other.

Far better to acknowledge God’s right to choose who will lead. And perhaps a great way to symbolize this is to also acknowledge that God, not the denomination ordain (or appoint) individuals to leadership roles. I say God, not the denomination, yes, and this means not the General Conference and not the Unions. A plague on both your houses for allowing yourselves to be drawn into such scuttlebutt ie. gossip and rumour.

Thus I believe the UK with Ireland Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army has it correct when he commissions Salvation Army Cadets - "With gratitude to God for your calling into the paths of sacred service, and for his empowering and gifting in your life by which you are ordained as a minister of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, I now commission you as an officer of The Salvation Army…

Notice that one’s ordination arises out of a divine calling to serve, and out of one’s divine empowering and gifting. None of this has anything to do with humanity or any ecclesial organization. Apart from the fact that mere mortals are tasked with the role of discerning who those called, empowered and gifted individuals are.

The matter of dividing the world and the church into hierarchies and castes and pushing yourself above the status of others is the way of the world. But Christ taught otherwise.

Colin Bulley authored the book, The Priesthood of Some Believers: Developments from the General to the Special Priesthood in Christian Literature in the First Three Centuries. This is one of very few detailed examinations of the egalitarian ethos of the early church and the change toward hierarchy that took place as it accommodated itself to the traditional religious expectations, as well as to hierarchical society and the Roman state.

Interestingly, nearly all sectarian movements from the time of the early church on began as lay movements, acknowledging little distinction of status between leaders and led. Most all of these have drifted toward being controlled by a clerical hierarchy. Some of these groups are well known to us - Waldensians, the reformation churches and sects, the Methodists, the Pentecostals and we ourselves. One outstanding exception to this drift from an all lay ethos is The Salvation Army. They have struggled many times to understand and maintain this “all lay” ethos and at times capitulated to it. The road to an egalitarianism between the genders has not been without it challenges.

I appreciate the structure of the Adventist movement, when it is rightly conceived as “wheels within wheels,” and smaller cogs driving bigger cogs for the smooth operation of all.

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Robin, reading your post reminded me of a 101 year-old ex SDA elder I knew, who came to believe that Jesus was a super-magician/illusionist!!
A misguided or twisted exegesis of Scripture often speaks of deeply troubling personal experiences* that may become pathological over decades of unhealed hurt and pain, culminating and
understandably finding expression in rage, loathing and hostility.
Long-sought Shalom only comes in surrender, in the arms of a compassionate God who emptied heaven that we might be reconciled to Him (and each other) and made wholly new persons in Jesus.
*(resulting from misdeeds of individuals or corporations/institutions, whether faith-based or secular)

Poor Paul …Getting all of the flak.

Then he said to the woman,
“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband,
but he will rule over you.” Gen 3:16

May the SDA gender conflict infighting continue.

SERIOUSLY
SOME OF OUR FAMOUS ONLINE SDA LESSON GROUPS
recently commented on DAVID as rapist a and misusing his power
yet basheba well knew where the KINGS view was and quarters
and also we don’t know what there all night conversation and interaction and dynamic was when they lay down together
may be she liked him and wanted the KINGS attention

takes two to tango
and to piggy back this Hollywood theme with biblical doctrine is kind of madness no matter what the topic is - its Hollywood VANITY FAIR

intil someone was there laying there how can we add or take away meaning of bible
ELLEN G WHITE does not add meaning or take away

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Robin, I sense your pain over some of Paul’s expressions. According to the things I"ve been reading it appears we have two SDA churches: the one that reads the Word to “see what it says”, and the other to “know what it means.” I suggest you join the latter because when you get to the deeper meaning you discover Paul was not anti-WO or hostile to women. God is really pretty neat, nice, and all the other positive adjectives we could ever assign Him.

i wish i could believe that dialogue was the answer…i actually don’t think there is an answer…WO is in our time what circumcision was in the apostles’ time…it eclipses everything else, and splits congregations to a point of no return…somebody has to take leadership and enable WO and headship to coexist, regardless of the fall out…there’s no other way…

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