The Second Aim:
To spread the spirit of love and harmony.
The Order sets out, in the name of Christ, to break down barriers between people and to seek equality for all. We accept as our second aim the spreading of a spirit of love and harmony among all people. We are pledged to fight against the ignorance, pride, and prejudice that breed injustice or partiality of any kind.
Members of The Third Order fight against all injustice in the name of Christ, in whom there can be neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; for in him all are one. Our chief object is to reflect that openness to all which was characteristic of Jesus. This can only be achieved in a spirit of chastity, which sees others as belonging to God and not as a means of self-fulfilment.
As Tertiaries, we are prepared not only to speak out for social justice and international peace, but to put these principles into practice in our own lives, cheerfully facing any scorn or persecution to which this may lead
However, opponents of the ministry of women as priests claim that using this verse to support the ordination of women is misusing it. For example I got into a long discussion with a twitter user called @PeterDCXW after he told people to stop misusing this verse on the #synod hashtag. Unfortunately there were double tweets in the argument which makes reconstructing the exchange awkward as two responses to a tweet don't get picked up if you click on conversation. His basic argument was that because the context of the passage is whether gentiles can be baptised without being circumcised it only relates to salvation not rôles in the church. I pointed out that the church had not restricted gentiles from leadership rôles in the church and was told that this was irrelevant. but I still don't know why. This point of baptism is non-gendered has again been raised in the even more complicated Twitter conversation with @therevddr etc. In this conversation @therevddr said that Christ's maleness was incidental to his humanity, but yet maleness intrinsic to priesthood. I just can't see the logic. So I decided to sit down and read Galatians and reflect on the context.
The first thing which struck me was that in this case Paul is the innovator. The Party of the Circumcision are the ones who use tradition and scripture. This is not original but I can't remember where I first heard it.
This is the theme of chapter 2. Paul is arguing for a new thing because of what God is doling in Christ. In this chapter he also challenges Peter's hypocrisy for stopping eating with gentiles. This struck me as relevant to the other debate this week about women speaking at Bristol CU. Here the leadership of the CU appear to have wanted to innovate by nviting women to speak but one of their group couldn't accept this so they tried a compromise of allowing women in restricted circumstances. However, the exec member who objected still resigned. If the gospel includes freedom for women from restrictions of patriarchy/old covenant, then how can we draw back from that even for the sake of the conscience of some unhappy with the innovation? Isn't that what Paul criticises Peter for here?
In chapter 3 he continues this theme by criticising the Galatians for going back to law not the Spirit and this culminates in 'There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Andif you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise.' Now to me baptism is what brings us into Christ Jesus,and it's in him that these divisions no longer pertain. Surely that's post baptism too because it's in the state we enter through baptism. Gentiles become full members of the body, able to partake in all things by their baptism. How can this be true for Gentiles and not women?
I also note that we are said to be children & heirs. Now women did not get to inherit much as I understand it. But in Christ women are included. I also wonder about the grammatical gender of child in Greek here?
In Chapter 4.9 he asks the Galatians whether they want to be enslaved again. and readng this I felt 'That's what dropping egalitarian position feels like as a woman', it would be being enslaved again. Christ has set us free from the false limits of patriarchy and I'm not going back. As 5.1 says ' For freedom Christ has set us free.' Today's mammoth Twitter conversation, which actually started from at tweet from the Church Times about a statement by WATCH calling for a single clause measure on Tuesday, had me asking several times (starting last night) what, other than biological motherhood, could women do that men couldn't. The only answer I got was be a mother. This is why I pointed out that the conservative claim of 'different but equal' only limits women (which is where @MirandaTHolmes became involved and it snowballed). It's easy for men to say something like that when it does not limit them at all -- that's what male privilege is all about.
This question of biological motherhood is put into an interesting focus when Paul, a man, says in 4.19 that he feels the pain of childbirth over the Galations. He isn't limiting motherhood to women.
So having reflected on Galations, I'm affirmed in my understanding of freedom in Christ. Freedom not limited by arguments from tradition and scripture when they ignore what God is doing now. A few years ago now I went on a theology day at St Michael's College Llandaf, and the thing that i took from the day, (which may have been me building on an argument of one of the lecturers) was the way in which the Church has struggled over the message of Galations 3:28 over the years. The Council of Jerusalem dealt with Jew and Gentile, but Slave and Free has a complicated history, ended in early centuries but then coming back in 19th Century, and Male and Female only being addressed now. I wonder whether slave owners claimed that Galations 3:28 only referred to baptism to justify keeping baptised slaves?