Thursday, June 2, 2016

It is time to root out the rampant misuse of morality from the church



The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church has put a good foot forward by encouraging congregations to have 35% reservation for women in the managing committee of the church. When we read into it what it means is that all women and men can attend the general body of the church. Thus far women are not allowed to attend the general body as voting members unless a woman has lost her husband.

Even though these are good steps on behalf of the church one does get the feeling that the church which includes priest leaders, lay leaders and church members are not completely ready for equality in the church even though the church believes in equality of gender as there is nothing like inequality in the theology of the church. Despite this we can see that all spheres of the church are very unwelcoming and unequal for women and men. What could be the reason if the church maintains that the church believes in equality of both women and men? One of the strongest factors is morality.

Morality apart from being a framework for living is the form of standards for life and is also a way of drawing lines and saying for sure that this is what the church believes in and there is no other option. It is also the measure through which groups or certain people are prevented from being who they are and as they want to be. Take a look at the unending list of things starting from childhood.


Moral standard
1. Girls have to cover their head.
Reason
1. 1. It is mentioned clearly in the bible.
Flip side
1. 1 Cor 11:15- “but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.” Meaning that women already have covering and don’t need extra covering.

Moral standard

2. Girls/women should not pollute the church by their presence if they are having their period because they need to undergo the time for recovering and purity.
Reason
2. This is what is said in Leviticus 15.
Flip side
2. Read Leviticus 15 again. The first part talks about the discharge of men and what they should do. Which church talks about this?

Moral standard
3. Women should dress properly.
Reason
3. The bible says so.
Flip side
3. 1 Peter 3:2-5 says “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.”It is suggesting the inner beauty of women and not necessarily what to wear and what not to wear!

Moral standard
4. Disease is brought about by an immoral life style by women and men. Women are also now smoking and drinking like men!
Reason
4. Women should be modest, and cancer and other diseases are increasing because of an immoral life style followed by men and women.
Flip side
4. In Mathew 8 Jesus heals a person with leprosy, heals the helper of the Centurion who is paralyzed and heals Peter’s mother in law. 8:17 says ““He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Jesus never associates disease with sin and morality but rather heals.

Moral standard

5. Women and men should always live within the framework of marriage. If you are unmarried you are susceptible to an immoral and sinful life. People in church always have an eye on a man and a woman talking, to ensure they stay within moral standards of the church.
Reason
5. The bible is always moral conscious. Proverbs 12:4 says “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” So morality is important.
Flip side
5. In John 8:7 Jesus says “Let anyone among you without sin be the first to through a stone at her.” Further Jesus says again in Mathew 5:28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” If so then what difference is it going to make by watching people and commenting on their single hood or marriage?

I can go on and on about different forms of moral standards and moral policing in the church. But does the bible and does God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit expect us to fulfill moral standards and be morally solid or does God want us to be God’s creation reflecting God’s love, assurance, equality and justice in this world?

When we examine different rules and regulations in the church we understand that many of them are a result of morality and how we look at people with the lens of morality. Women are usually on the receiving end of this but men also find themselves stuck in a moral debate of what is good and bad. There has been a call by the World Council of Churches to root out caste from the church. Caste, gender and other oppression are also a result of moral standards of purity, colour and piety. The church then has to also address the issue of morality in the church to make the church closer to what the early church was and also near to what Jesus envisioned it to be.






Picture credit:christpantokrator.blogspot.com





4 comments:

Shine Jacob said...

First of all I would like to appreciate Syrian Jacobite Church for their understanding about the need of present century and their response towards the participation of women in their managing committee of Church.
It is really an eye opener for the orthodox and semi orthodox churches.
This is the need of our society.
we have to think more about the participation of sexual minorities and gender issues in a wider context.
Thank you for this nice paper with facts and information.

Youtakeresponsibility said...

Nice thoughts

Fr. Jerry Kurian said...

Shine, true we need to go much further to become credible representatives of Jesus.

Fr. Jerry Kurian said...

Thomas, thanks.