A New Series on Gender Roles
On January 28, which is two weeks from this Sunday, we will begin an adult education series on Alice Mathews’ new book Gender Roles and the People of God. Many of you remember Alice, who, before her formal retirement spent winters in Phoenix, and, along with her husband Randy, were a part of Christ Church when they were in town. We were regularly blessed by Alice’s preaching and teaching. Kathy Maitha, a parishioner at Christ Church and a former student of Dr. Mathews, will facilitate the discussion.
The issue of gender is deeply confused in our culture today. We need informed, biblical reflection on what it means to be made male and female in God’s image, and a practical paradigm for living out God’s intention for us as divine image-bearers. I believe that Alice’s book provides important guidance for us along those lines.
In the Anglican Church in North America, we continue to struggle with how to include women in leadership roles. Last fall, our bishops, after years of study, prayer, and discernment, released a statement affirming the prerogative of a bishop to ordain a female to the priesthood, while maintaining that no bishop should be compelled to do so. You can read the statement of the bishops here, and the perspective of our bishop here. As the ACNA continues to wrestle through this issue, Alice’s book will provide a helpful framework within which to continue the discussion.
Regardless of your current perspectives on issues of women in church leadership roles, or gender more broadly, it is important that we learn to listen and engage well on sensitive topics. One of my post-Christmas reading projects was How to Think by Alan Jacobs. Jacobs, a professor at the honors college at Baylor University (and also a member of an ACNA church), encourages readers to develop a discipline of thinking well, which is increasingly difficult, and yet even more important, in our hyper-polarized society. Cultivating the discipline of deep thinking, which always involves humility, charity, and genuine openness to learning, will allow us to work through challenging issues well, and can be a gift we give one another, and the world. Although, as Jacobs points out, learning to think well is not without risk.
So, please do pick up Alice’s book in the next week or two (and Jacobs’ book, too, if you’re so inclined), and engage this important discussion trusting that the One who is the Truth promised that we would be led into all truth, and that, ultimately, the truth will set us free (cf. John 14:6, John 16:13, John 8:32).