Thursday, June 12, 2008

It's Time to Get Political

I hate years in which the General Assembly and Presidential elections coincide. Maybe it's because of the amount of tongue-biting I have to do.

Late yesterday the General Assembly agenda was posted. There are many, many things on this agenda on which I have an opinion (are you surprised?) but I shall refrain and speak only to one issue. And yes, it's the one you all know I will speak to as I have time and time again.

Actually, the way I was notified that the agenda had been posted [I had been looking for it for a month or so] was through one of my former students, a female, who emailed and said, in so many words, "Am I reading this right? Is the issue of the restrictions on women in ministerial leadership not on the agenda....again?" So, I quickly took a look. And she's right. What is there is a very helpful item about women on the Church and Pastor's Council. I very much appreciate the way this is presented (though it is wordy) and pray that reason will prevail...if the General Council even gets to the item, since it is item 13.

However, once again, the cry of both women and men in this denomination has not been heard and the talents and leadership gifts of women in this church will be at best, ignored, at worst, abrogated. Either choice will not only wound the called and gifted women of this church, but will also feed and cultivate the church's malady. I have written elsewhere that it is a violation of our Holiness-Pentecostal identity to discriminate on the basis of gender, ethnicity, or race.

Ironically, this morning I read an Op-Ed piece in the NY Times about the need for a "Sex Speech" in keeping with Obama's much needed and much lauded race speech. Many of the issues which Kristof raises parallel those in our church (and other churches). He writes, "Racism is deeper, but sexism may be wider in America today." I have seen great signs of hope in the COG in the last few years with regard to our racism. The General Council stepped up to the plate and made history by electing an African-American to a position of power in the denomination. But, as Kristof says, sexism may be a wider issue. Our racism was a deep cultural sin, for which we repented and made restitution. But our sexism is a wide issue, a sin against women and the Body of Christ, which is legislated by our polity.

Kristof continues, "Usually, the male is perceived as a better fit for executive posts — even among well-meaning people who are against gender discrimination, and even among women." He concludes, "But if Mrs. Clinton was hurt by gender, her problem wasn’t misogynists so much as ordinary men and women who believe in equal opportunity — but also are conditioned to think that a president speaks in a gravelly voice." Sadly, many in the COG are similarly conditioned. And the saddest part of this is that we are mirroring society, rather than providing a contrast-image to the world.

This is not about rights and privileges. It is not a liberal or conservative issue. There are numerous conservative evangelical and Pentecostal denominations which give full rights to women. This is about Holiness.

I could go on and on, but I won't. But you should.