In the name of the F, S, and HS. Amen
Man is a funny creature. For the most part we like the status quo—I understand what is happening right now and I don’t really know about what might be happening later so let’s insulate ourselves from drastic change by making rules that protect the things we like to do and keep them that way. This has been happening over and over since the beginning of time.
This happened with the Jews and the 10 Commandments. “God told us to do this, so if we need to make rules that reflect this so that the 10 Commandments are the standard to which we look, and then we will be in his good graces.” It is a noble and understandable mindset to have. God spent a lot of time with establishing and developing the relationship with them and they then adopt his standard as theirs and base their way of life around it.
But the 10 can be a little vague in the details (yet surprisingly specific in others) so in an effort to protect themselves from breaking these beloved 10, a fence was set around them—No Trespassing—and lesser rules were adopted that allowed people to still be able to live yet not come close to breaking a law. And then that works so well that another barrier is placed between these laws and daily life to make it even harder to break the 10.
Eventually 613 laws are thought up to protect the normal standard of living. This is legislating to the point where there is a fence so large that the 10 cannot possibly be broken, though it is also so large that it began to hinder. Everyone’s personal fence was so large that when you put everyone together there was actually very little room to move.
The problem is that they were so surrounded by protective gear that they forgot how to live according to the 10. So distant was their view that as they journeyed through life with the protections in place, they strayed further and further away from the course.
Enter Jesus who, in an attempt to get everyone back on course, does something drastic—he begins showing the holes in the fences. He does this to show that the closer one gets to the source, the fewer obstacles there are to restrict one’s view and the easier it is to follow the course. Jesus showed them that the status quo is not necessarily the best thing for their soul. He taught them to push back and not just take things at face value, but to truly look at them and examine them, truly interact with it so that the knowledge becomes owned rather than merely received.
I had a wonderful conversation with a buddy from Camp Crucis last night. He was asking me about the validity of something we believe and how he could best relay that to someone else. We were talking about the validity of ordaining women or not. The impetus behind his calling me was the news that Bishop Iker has resigned his position as trustee of Nashotah House as a result of their decision to invite the Presiding Bishop to preach.
My friend called me because he was in a conversation with someone who was convinced that this was simply an issue of our diocese oppressing women. He was looking for help in this because when he had finished giving the standard answers that he had always been taught, the other party was not convinced. To the other person, there was simply a wall that oppressed women.
I told him that this push back was actually a very good thing. It causes both parties to take a deeper look at the issue to see if there really is a human rights violation or if there is a real reason that prevents this. Some restrictions are present because they really need to be there, not just to protect us from ourselves. In fact Jesus put up further barriers in today’s Gospel saying that if one even becomes angry with another they are guilty of breaking one of the 10. Some barriers are present for a reason.
I told him that the reason for our refusal to support the ordination of women runs deeper than merely refusing to do so because they lack genitalia. It goes down to the complementary nature of man and woman, who are both created in the image and likeness of God thus making them equal to each other, yet equality did not mean that they were intended to be the same.
St. Paul tells makes this argument very well when he tells the Corinthians that they were created as pieces of the greater whole, not the same piece but some are to have roles as eyes, and others ears, and so forth. Each performs the role that God called them to and should not be jealous that some have a role that is perceived to be higher than another, because all roles are equally important in that they all allow the body to function properly.
The argument at hands boils down to the relationship that man and woman have with each other and the way in which God uses that to explain the deeper meaning of his nature. Man and woman are created to compliment each other and their worship of God and their ministry to those around. God set it up as a family. He set marriage as a sacrament, not only because it is foundational to human life, but also because it helps us to understand more about God and his relationship with us.
The husband is spiritual head of the family because Christ is head of the Church his bride. Christ offers his sacrifice on behalf of the Church and leading them in their pilgrimage to the Father. The Church is to be the complement to His role as priest and to bring in new members and teach them the ways of to participate fully in his one sacrifice. The wife in this is family is to do the same, take charge in the making sure that the family is equipped to be able to participate in the worship. Complementary, not the same.
If both were to fulfill the same role, how would the other get accomplished? This is the deeper theological nature as to why this is not possible, because the Church is bride not the groom. The bride’s role is to participate in the worship, bring in new members and to equip them to worship. This is a role that only she can fill, just as the complementary role is the role that only he can fill. It is not a matter of the right to fill the position because since both man and woman were created in the image and likeness of God they are equal to each other—they are just not the same.
All this being said, Jesus calls us today to make sure that the rules we are following today are not merely rules to protect the status quo—that prevent us from changing simply because we do like change because it is unknown. Jesus tells us to push back and examine everything because in our push back were take ownership. But he also calls us to have humility in this ownership—sometimes walls are there for a reason and to knock them down is to our own peril and detriment. Sometimes the answer to the question we seek is no, but we are called to ask the question nonetheless.
No question should go unasked. Every barrier should be pushed against to make sure that it is load-bearing. Jesus shows us today that we need to remove the things obscuring our vision causing us to veer off course. He also shows us that some things are present to cause us to lean in the right direction that way we may stay on track. Lord grant us the wisdom to know difference between the two.
In the name of the F, S, and HS. Amen.