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Submission Sadness

There is a discussion going on in the blogosphere at the moment that concerns the recent writing of John Dickson, a Sydney Anglican minister, about women being able to preach  and that their presence to share would be welcomed in his parish. The book is titled, 'Hearing Her Voice: A Case For Women Giving Sermons.' My purpose is not to enter into that debate here because there is sufficient going on on other blogsites, notably a site belonging to Lionel Windsor. Lionel is a contemporary and colleague of John Dickson and has afforded John a right of reply to a critique of the book that Lionel had posted. The lengthy reply by John Dickson is well worth a read, as no doubt the book is, and it is good to see the Sydney Anglicans teasing out this touchy subject.

But what grabbed my attention was a plaintive comment by one of the last commenters on this topic. The comment in question was by a woman, whose name now eludes me, but it could have been Sue? She firstly talks about the issue of authority and that the debate really is about that, ie. how much authority does the woman who preaches have in her sermon offering? The bottom line, as I understand it in the women preaching issue is, can she be seen to be teaching men? A domain that strictly speaking belongs to men only and in that sense it becomes an authority issue because men are 'authorised' to teach (both genders) women are not. Their (womens) voices should be heard but with provisos and limitations that are teased out in the interpretations of various texts.

Let's call her Sue was decrying the fact that there was no voice for a woman who was subject to violence because she was in submission to her husband. That is why I have titled this piece, 'Submission Sadness.' Her comment was a plea for help, for someone to advocate for her because her submission to her husband had resulted in violent acts committed against her person. What she was saying is that within the Sydney Anglican Diocese, which encourages wifely submission, there was no one to listen to her cry for help as she endured abuse from a husband who obviously enjoyed this position of privilege. I would assume, from the tone of her comment, that this was not the first time that she had reached out but obviously the same negative or non response had occurred each time.

For all of the energy being expended in this debate here was a woman suffering under a misguided biblical injunction whose voice was not being heard. She commented that previously her comments had not been published. Somehow this one got through and I'm so glad that it did because this woman does need to be listened to. She doesn't need pious platitudes that this is her lot in life and that submission is a noble thing. She doesn't need to hear that it is honouring to Christ to suffer in silence and allow God to advocate for her. She needs someone with 'skin on' to identify with her in her pain and suffering. Better still, she needs to hear that such an interpretation of Scripture is not pleasing to God. She needs to hear that God is for her because he does not condone violence and no one is privileged to treat a fellow human being that way. Her husband needs to be held accountable.

I just hope and pray that someone 'in authority' will hear this woman's plea for help and advocate for her in her 'submission sadness.' Perhaps you reader can identify with this post, either as someone who has walked this road before, or as someone who knows how to advocate for someone in this position.


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