Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Obsessions, Distractions, and Allowing People to Serve

A couple of days ago, Scot McKnight posted an article about the consecration of women bishops in the Church of England. Naturally, this is causing the usual consternation among those who don't believe that God wants women to serve in church offices (much less the really high ones!). The article discusses some of the usual responses: some people are leaving the church (it specifically notes how some bishops and priests are taking the Catholic Church up on an offer to allow them to transfer over to Catholicism, but I'm sure that many Anglicans are leaving for other denominations, and some members are no doubt leaving altogether under some "I can be a better Christian without the church" mindset), while others are choosing to "fight from within." It's a familiar pattern by now.

Likewise, the following paragraph from the article isn't really anything new:
The Church of England has been criticised for being obsessed with such issues at a time when families are struggling with economic hardship amid rising unemployment, higher prices and frozen wages as part of the British government’s attempts to rein in a record peacetime budget deficit.
While the argument that the church is "obsessed" with issues such as women's ordination — with the implication that they should instead be working on various other important issues — is hardly new, I find it to be more than a little disingenuous. Yes, there are many other deep needs out there, and yes, the church should be doing more about meeting those needs than they currently are. If anything, this only means that we need to be empowering everyone who feels God's call to serve in such areas to do so! I would argue that the argument of "obsession" should be directed squarely at those who oppose ordaining certain people to high office.

When I say this, I cannot ignore that the "obsession" argument has been used on other issues, as well, such as the ordination of practicing homosexuals in some denominations (including my own PC(USA)). I'm really not interested in taking those other issues on, but I will say that whatever valid arguments might exist against the ordination of women or practicing homosexuals or whoever else, the "obsession" argument is not one of them. If a person opposed to letting other people serve thinks that arguing about it is distracting from meeting other important needs, than that person should just stop arguing and go meet those needs!

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