Why It’s A Justice Issue, Apart From My Not Liking Incense

Ashwin’s comments to yesterday’s post, with my responses following. I’ve deleted some of his comments for space; their entirety is in the comments section:

Ashwin — “I don’t agree that women’s ministry is a justice issue. Even if it is, it is not the most pressing justice issue in this broken world. And even if it were, it does not do for a Christian to demand his own rights. Christ has already glorified women as well as men. But Christ is male. He referred to God as Father. The Holy Spirit is also referred to as male by our Lord.”

Keely — It’s a pressing justice issue not only because all gender violence starts with gender discrimination, with patriarchy at its root. I am not seeking a pastorate for myself, but I’d like to think my brothers would demonstrate their love for me and for truth by defending my and every other woman’s Spirit-given call on her life. To do less is to insert oneself between the Almighty and one’s sister as judge, a position I’m sure you would argue is indefensible in the Church. As for the male designation of the Trinity, I’ll cover that later.

Ashwin — “What you should be doing is teaching men how to think like women. What you are doing is teaching women to aspire to be men.”

Keely — If you believe that the spiritual fruit in Galatians 5, the evidence of a vital relationship with Jesus, is “feminine,” you’ll be interested in my next post. But “teaching men how to think like women” isn’t such a bad idea; I would hope no woman aspires to be like any man other than Jesus. But to the extent that you’re correct in calling for a more gentle Church, you’d be accused here of being an effeminate, sentimental wimp calling for the feminization of the Church. I’d defend you, even if I didn’t agree with you!

Ashwin — “You are barking up the wrong tree. The way to end the abuses of the patriarchy is not to tackle them head-on. The way to tackle their abuses is to pray for them. The Holy Spirit will tackle them head on. We must preach Christ crucified on the streets. And that is enough. Railing against ‘male domination’ and ‘injustice and iniquity’ is right and proper if the Holy Spirit compels one – as He did the prophets of old. But to develop a systematic ideology devoted to vituperation is quite sad.”

Keely — The Holy Spirit compels every believer to rail against injustice and iniquity, which is hardly exclusive of prayer, evangelism, worship, and service to others. We are to expose deeds of darkness, be salt and light, speak truth, and witness for Christ’s liberating Gospel, a Gospel that defeats sin, reconciles humankind to God, and restores the believer. This isn’t a “systematic ideology devoted to vituperation.” This is a full-blown theology that believes that the Gospel preached fully and with power is a conquering, life-changing message that penetrates every aspect of one’s life. I shudder to think that the mandate to make disciples means to keep them ignorant and unconcerned about the lives of those around them — or the unique, unconquerable power of the Holy Spirit to fully remake them.

Ashwin — “If there is injustice, He will make amends. If there is hunger, He will fill. If there is want, He is sufficient. If you think some people and not doing their bit, that does not give you the right to rail against them – for all you know they might be doing much more that you think in secret (as they are supposed to do).”

Keely — The problem is that opponents of gender justice aren’t “doing more in secret” to effect righteousness; they’re actively speaking against justice and for inequality that’s an affront to Christ Jesus. Are we supposed to conduct our ministries in secret, laboring for the Gospel only from our prayer closets? On what basis, then, will the Lord Jesus judge those who were ashamed of his name? There is no Spirit-led courage demonstrated in private. It’s easy to be faithful to Christ in a hostile culture from the safety and anonymity of one’s own home, but the disciple who conducts his walk that way will find, I’m afraid, that the wood, hay, and stubble from which his prayer closet is built is all he has left on the Day (1 Cor. 3:12-15)

Ashwin — “Anyhow, in light of the Living Lord, to demand something as silly as the right to wear a dress and swing incense is quite ridiculous.”

Keely — Well, gosh. The cause of gender justice is lost, I suppose, because I don’t have a suitable dress and incense gives me a headache.

2 Responses to “Why It’s A Justice Issue, Apart From My Not Liking Incense”

  1. Keely,

    You are absolutely spot on when you identify women’s ministry as a justice issue. Gary Haugen of the International Justice Mission defines the sin of injustice as “abusing power by taking from others the good things that God intended for them” (Just Courage, 46). So when we defend women’s ministry we are defending what God intended. And when we stand up for those who want to use their Spirit-given gifts we are standing up for what the Holy Spirit intended. In other words, by doing these things we are representing God and God’s will. This cannot be a side issue.

    Blessings on you for all you’re doing for this cause, which is the cause of Christ.


  2. Ashwin says:

    I am not sure I understand what it is you are trying to get across.

    You have set up a causal chain linking patriarchy to violence. And your response is to abolish the patriarchy.

    But you could just as well set up a similar causal chain between ANY hierarchical structure and some sort of violence. Douglas Wilson would say that government itself is sustained through violence. Would you propose abolishing that as well?

    The answer consistent with your answer to the patriarchy question would be “yes”. And in this you would have Douglas Wilson’s support. We must abolish all earthly hierarchies and submit ourselves to the Kingdom of God.

    You and Mr. Wilson are alike in that both of you have identified hierarchies to abolish. Strangely the Bible (and by extension God) does not seem to have too much trouble with either one. In the Epistles, women are asked to submit to their husbands. Also in the Epistles, citizens are asked to submit to their rulers.

    You object to the first and Mr. Wilson objects to the second.

    The resolution probably lies in giving to Caesar what is Caesars and to God what is God’s. The points you raise are irrelevant. The points Mr. Wilson raises are irrelevant. These earthly power structures are like the grass of the field – ephemeral, passing. Only Christ is eternal.

    If we keep our eyes on Him, these things will all seem strangely dim (as the excellent hymn goes).

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