Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Creator's Tapestry

One more time the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations has issued a document attempting to shed more light than heat upon the relationships of man and woman in marriage and in the Church.  I have not yet read it through and am not commenting upon this document per se.  That said I have heard all sorts of comments about which means I will not read it without some partial judgment already in my mind.  Some complain that there were not enough or not the right women at the table when this was being prepared.  Some complain that it builds upon or simply rehashes prior documents.  Some complain that it was not written from a clean slate but within the rather narrow purview of existing thought from our Church.  Some complain that it is too general or vague and desire more specificity.  Some complain that the ordination of women looms as such a shadow in this that other dimensions of the relationship between man and woman suffer because of this elephant in the room.

It is no wonder that we have trouble speaking in this area.  Where was the first manifestation of the fall from grace in the Garden?  Was it not in the relationship between man and woman.  In a few short verses we end up with guilt, blame, and scorn manifest by the man who nonetheless needed and desired the woman and the woman who needed and desired the man.  A relationship gifted to them became a working relationship fraught with competition, fear, lust, independence, willfulness, and jealousy.  Roles once clear and without confusion or regret became rigid and bitter.  Love which once flowed freely became mired in the conflict between the desire for noble love and sacrifice and the reality of self-interest and a desire to balance the scale between getting and giving.

This is not to discourage the study of man-woman relationships in marriage and the Church.  Rather, this is to acknowledge that our discourse is forever constrained by the reality of sin and its limitation upon us and the whole fabric of our world.  It is a tapestry stained, worn, and crudely repaired that must suffice until our Lord comes to bring to completion all things He has began.  Perhaps then, when He has brought to fulfillment us and all things that are His own, then the relationship that first suffered because of sin will finally be released from its constraints.  Even then, it is not Eden to be restored to us but the step beyond Eden to a place where men and women are neither given in marriage nor married at all in the way that earthly definition gave to this relationship.  What we will be left with is a transcendent relationship that bears the faint image of what was but also bears the full image of the glory of God's heavenly plan and purpose.

I wonder, then, if we will lament the loss of what has become one very important conversation since that Eden error and regret that we have nothing left to talk about in the men from Mars and the women from Venus... For surely, we have expended many words on this subject here and there seems to be no end to the ink and voices yet to be brought to bear on the relationship between man and woman, either through the lens of Scripture or not.

I will get around to reading through it... though I harbor no illusions about it... it will not bring an end to the debate or silence the on-going discussion that has consumed the relationship of man and woman in and outside the Church for, well, ever.


Janis Williams said...

"Some complain that it builds upon or simply rehashes prior documents."

Well, whether we are speaking of man-woman relationships, or ordination of women, do we call interpretation of Holy Scripture rehashing prior documents? (Isn't this what our documents are to be built upon, and in concord with?)

Dr.D said...

I am dismayed to learn that the ordination of women is on the table in the LCMS. For a number of years, I have thought that anyone who was inclined to that particular idea should simply go over to the ELCA and leave the LCMS without ordained women.

Let me simply note that this is the crack that has led to every other serious breakdown in the ELCA and the Episcopal Church. It is opening Pandora's Box.

Pastor Peters said...

The ordination of women is NOT on the table in the LCMS but there are some who believe that it is the elephant in the room that keeps us from an honest appraisal of the relationship between men and women in marriage and in the church... so they want us to set aside this for now and to proceed with a study that has no predetermined outcome to see if the conclusions reached are the same as they would be if we began with our presuppositions... it is not a large group... it is a methodology question as much as anything...