While Dr. Medley says that our polity prevents him from “enforcing” the position on homosexuality, why does he feel so bold about “enforcing” our denominational position on women in ministry? Arguably, there are probably more congregations with principled disagreements with the ABC view on women than there are who uphold the AWAB position in the ABCUSA. Yet, while homosexuality seems to be a topic which Medley believes requires unusual restraint and tippy-toe behavior, he speaks “prophetically,” “boldly,” “unapologetically, and unashamedly about the “ABC” position on women in ministry.
With a wife who is a full-time associate at an ABC church, my point is NOT to argue against women in ministry, but to suggest that we ARE capable of speaking out on controversial subjects without undue fear when we really want to do so. Dr. Medley's refusal to take a strong stand on this issue cannot be excused as being a polity problem.
Listen to the way Dr. Stinnett frames the issue in his dialog with his blogging partner, Executive Minister Susan Gillies:
This denomination is not neutral on the issue of women in ministry. It has drawn a line! (And I am glad that we have drawn this line.) While the denomination cannot force the church to accept an ordained woman as its pastor, the denomination is clear about the line. There is a denominational office whose sole intent is to promote women in ministry. The President and General Secretary of the denomination speak and write persuasively and positively about women in ministry.
Everything published by the denomination supports women in ministry. Speakers, etc., at every denominational conference and workshop are intentionally reviewed to reflect gender inclusivity. Denominational employment at the ministerial level reflects the value of women in ministry.
Despite the line that the denomination has drawn to exclude this church, and despite denominational “enforcement” of that line, the church has chosen to remain. I know nothing about this church’s level of participation. But if the Pastor chooses to be part of regional and denominational clergy gatherings, he knows he will be confronted with women in ministry. If the church chooses to attend regional or denominational gatherings, they know they will experience women in the pulpit (and not just praying!). The church knows that national groups that oppose women in ministry will accuse it of complicity. Still, the church remains. It has found a resting place in its exclusion, and knows that it holds a position that the denomination officially and programmatically rejects.
I argue that this same denomination is not neutral on the issue of homosexual behavior. The General Board has repeatedly affirmed its position. Despite what some may wish, the Board is not neutral. It is not unreasonable to expect the General Board, its staff, and its programs reflect the same kind of compassionate implementation that is the case with women in ministry. It is not unreasonable to expect regions to formulate how they will behave with one another in view of the denominational position.
In the final analysis, however, Stinnett agrees that another dynamic may be at work in our debates over “the issue.” Listen to his suggestion as to what has replaced fear as our predominant denominational mood:
I believe “fatigue” has replaced “fear” as the major denominational emotion. Fatigue is driving us into an end game with which most of us will be dissatisfied. Whether the game ends in clear win/lose, resignation, or draw, there will be fewer pieces on the board. The game cannot continue. We may choose to start all over again, with a different strategy, but this game will be over. I regret that I have not played a more effective game.
For the full text of Dr. Stinnett's article, see his blog: http://abcviewsfrommiddle.blogspot.com/[His Barking Dog claims both fear and fatigue over the denominational conflict. However, authority is not a thing I claim or profess to have, especially with respect to any entity in the PSW. These musings are my own.]