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International Women’s Day: call for gender equity

International Women’s Day: call for gender equity

Lelanda Lee, member of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council calls for gender equity on this International Women’s Day. She writes in Patheos:

The women from my Berkeley Women’s Group have been celebrating International Women’s Day annually since before I joined them in 1971. I moved away in 1975 and have made it back rarely since then, but Suzann, our convener, has called me every year on March 8th to remind me that I am one of them, remembered and loved. Sisterhood is like that.

The world is far from achieving gender equity for females explains the Executive Director of United Nations Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, on March 6th in an Associated Press interview. Then former first-lady of the United States, Hilary Rodham Clinton, said, “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.”

Chester Cathedral: Jesus and the Samaritan woman
Chester Cathedral: Jesus and the Samaritan woman

I think of Jesus as a feminist, holding women in the same regard as men, in a time when society did not share his sentiments. In addition to Jesus’ preferential option for the poor, I also think he had a preferential option for women, revealing himself first, after his resurrection, to women. Perhaps Jesus meant to honor the women by showing himself to them first, or maybe Jesus trusted the women to believe the miracle of his resurrection.

One small step towards gender equity takes place in the Church of England as the Rt Rev. Libby Lane begins her ministry as a bishop of the church. The Manchester Evening News reports:

The Church of England’s first woman bishop will preach her first sermon today as she is installed in her home diocese – on International Women’s Day.

Libby Lane was consecrated as the eighth Bishop of Stockport at York Minister in January but today’s ceremony at Chester Cathedral will mark the formal beginning of her ministry in her diocese.


posted by Ann Fontaine

photos by Ann Fontaine


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Fr. Gregory Tipton

There is much at stake here. But how we go about it matters.

I’m not sure Jesus had “preferences.” That has become a popular grammar in the last few hundred years after the breakdown of certain Traditions. After formal and teleological causes were removed from these Traditions Dialogue, they could no longer talk about souls or purpose.

Before that breakdown a “human being” was a “soul and a body, where by soul we meant the animating principle of life consisting of three conceptual parts that were distinct but inseparable: intellect, passions, & appetites. And the body being the aggregate of material parts and causes (e.g. organs, bones, vessels, etc.)” After that breakdown human beings became “self-expressing agents with preferences that make choices and have experiences.” The problem with articulation is that you fall back into the “God’s freedom talks” of Nominalism (or their children in The Reformation). In that Dialogue God’s own Will was so arbitrary that He essentially became just a will, without rhyme, reason, purpose, or desire – just preferences. The problem here is those talks fall back into the trappings, the logical contradictions, of Euthyphro’s Dilemma.

But as our beloved Anglican Richard Hooker pointed out, The LORD is infinite by nature. For an infinite Being to act would result in an infinite act. Creation is finite. Therefore God must have “limited” His own act, and yet it could not be that He denied his nature. Purpose, God acts with Purpose which His Divine Intellect conceives, and to that End, his action stops. Thus Creation. With purpose and intent formal and teleological causes are present. So being made in the image of God includes those: includes souls and purposes.

Without those, we are left with an arbitrary will, and thus the development of the language of “preferences.” The problem here is some people like strawberries, some like torture. Who’s to say who’s right? It’s just a preference. Even with God. To this god, being made in the image of god is to also have an arbitrary will, to have “choices” and “preferences.”

The poor have a place in the Order of things, they are His beloved, not his preference. He has sent them an invitation and calls them to blessedness — purpose language — not preferential language. They are humbled in spirit by having to beg and being broken — formal cause language (soul) — not preferential language. In short, there is a reason for things. I’m not sure we are wont to stretch the preferential grammar over The Gospel. It makes the LORD capricious.

What’s further at stake is whether we begin with The Trinity in Theology proper or with Anthropology. Once we begin redefining “Human,” and we say that “Humans” were made in the image of God, it’s not too long until we begin to redefine God under the guise of a “new revelation.” If God is Alpha and Omega, all theology ought begin with a discussion on The Trinity. From there we can discuss essence and personhood. Under Personhood we can begin to parse out gender as a distinct aspect of what it means to be “human.”

I was very happy to see y’all use equity instead of equality though. Someone’s been reading the Psalms 🙂

Peace be with you,

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