Ordination of Women and LGBT Acceptance

A few days ago, I posted about the LDS church and their continued opposition to the ordination of women as well as their persistence in naming  same gender relationships as sinful.  (Click here to read that post.)  I commented that I thought the two issues were related.

I do know that my own faith tradition of Unitarian Universalism has been in the forefront of the struggle for full inclusion of both women and LGBT people.  The first  woman in the US to be ordained by a national denomination was Olympia Brown, who was ordained by the Universalist Church of America on June 25, 1863.  Antoinette Louisa Brown Blackwell was earlier on Sept. 15, 1853 by a local congregational church.  She later became a Unitarian and preached frequently in Unitarian churches.  In terms of of LGBT issues, as early as 1970, shortly after Stonewall, our General Assembly called for an end to discrimination based upon sexual orientation.  Currently, roughly half of our ordained clergy are female and we have many ministers serving our congregations who are openly LGBT.  I am one of them.

Many different denominations will now ordain women but relatively few will ordain openly gay ministers, particularly if they are in a marriage or relationship.   What is striking is that there is no religious tradition that is at all supportive of same gender relationships that does not also ordain women.  (I started to research various other world religions, but gave up as the information of GLBT acceptance was much harder to find.  Someone else may wish to do so.  I suspect the same dynamic would be there.)

The major examples of Christian denominations that ordain non-celebate LGBT people are the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA), and the Episcopal Church.  All ordain women.

Most of the other mainline Christian denominations are still dealing with the issue.  The Methodists, Presbyterians, American Baptists, and the Disciples Of Christ (all of whom ordain women) have not reached a consensus on the issues of GLBT ordination but they are not actively engaged in trying to stop GLBT progress in the area of civil rights including civil marriage.

Who are the major Christian denominations that are actively opposing full civil rights for GLBT people?

The Southern Baptist Convention

The Missouri Synod Lutherans

The Catholic Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.

None of them ordain women.

I suspect it is mainly about patriarchy.  Stable loving same gender relationship challenge the patriarchal ideal of men always needing to be in the leadership role both in the family and in the church.   Male privilege and power is threatened both by women who demand significant roles in religious life and by marriages that are based upon equality.  Women should no longer be silent in church.  Paul would never have written that infamous line anyway if there were not already a lot of sisters making their opinions known in the churches of that time.

Jesus spent a lot of his ministry with women and he never said anything to indicate that same gender relationships were sinful.

The struggle of women and of GLBT people for full inclusion in society and in religious institutions are clearly linked.  If women are not equal participants in a faith community, then GLBT people have not been accepted there either.   So there is a good reason for LGBT people to be cheering on those working for the ordination of women in male dominated faiths.  Not that we wouldn’t be doing so anyway.  It is both a justice issue and a spiritual one.

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