We have been avoiding discussing some issues within the church that are probably the reason why we are having this series of studies on unity in the first place. We have held back comments specifically on women’s ordination because we have seen discussions in other forums on this topic descend into very unchristian verbal battlegrounds. Since this topic seems to be on many minds, we are now allowing comments to a discussion on this and similar issues and ask that you will treat one another with respect and avoid demonizing those who hold a different view to your own. If you have had a comment on women in ministry rejected earlier, please feel free to submit a similar comment, keeping our guidelines in mind.
Here is a bit of history that you may like to consider. When I was a young teacher, male and female teachers with the same level of experience in the church system were paid at different rates. Men were paid a home-owner’s allowance and a child allowance for each child in the family. Women were paid at a base rate somewhat lower than that of men – in some cases paid only two-thirds of a man’s wage even if they were widows or had invalid husbands unable to work.
Times and attitudes changed as more women joined the teaching profession and continued to teach after having children. It soon became apparent that this inequity of payment was not appropriate. Women who were doing the same job as men noted the discrepancy and asked for equal pay. The Church education system refused to make the changes and the challenge ultimately ended up in the courts. The Church lost the case and a new system of payment had to be implemented, based on job description and experience alone.
Looking back in hindsight over 30 or more years, one wonders what the fuss was all about. It is sad that the church had to be taken to court to get a resolution to the issue, and even today, there are vestiges of stigma against the women who took the case to court.
I tell this story because sometimes the church does not make the right decision, and it takes something rather special to have the wrong put right. I have great admiration for the women who persisted in pursuing this issue. They were not money-grubbing; they simply wanted a wrong put right. Many of them continued to work for the church school system long after the court decision.
When we consider the issues that are confronting us today, perhaps the meta-question that needs to be asked is: What is our attitude to church authority? Is the Church inerrant, or is it, like us, growing in its understanding of what God’s will is for us?
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 5:35