No one will buy our theology of gender until we manage to articulate the theology of power which necessarily goes with it.
The Sydney Diocese is dominated by a theology of gender which is more biblical and common-sense realistic than the views which hold sway in most other church groups. And we employ more women ministers than anyone I’ve heard of.
And yet there is a widespread perception that our take on gender is unhealthy.
Why is that? Some will rush to blame the other guys for smearing us.
Here’s my view: our theology of gender is right. But where we fail is in articulating a theology of power. And that is an essential to a right and balanced take on gender. Without the running mate of a well-defined attitude to power in social settings, a theology of gender is a scary thing, and will never get elected.
It’s just too likely to be abused.
I think people sense that. Our view of gender is biblical, but they see our message as naive and dangerous.
I for one would not encourage any person to adopt and practice Christian views on gender distinctions unless they also adopt the distinctive and radical Christian approach to power. The one where it gets turned on its head, and becomes a suffering, serving, self-giving, self-denying force. Like Jesus.
Because the man or leader who gets gender distinctions without this is likely to become an abuser.
But that is the unbalanced approach we are inviting.
I went to Moore College. The subject of gender came up and was addressed from time to time. Featured in the third-year doctrine grilling we received as ordination candidates. That puts it on the ‘top ten hit list’ of issues we needed to have straight.
The issue of power in the family or church was very rarely and slightly addressed in my four years at college. There was certainly no attempt at forming an intentional, theologically grounded, pastorally worked through approach, with us. No questions about our view of power in the doctrine interview.
And we were the guys who were heading out to take up the reins of power across the diocese.