Affirming Gender Equality

The Ven. Tiffany Sparks made this response to the complementarianism theology used in support of Statement 1:

Mr President, Members of Synod. I am rising to speak against the motion.

I have been wrestling with it since Archbishop Kanishka Raffel gave his speech moving the motion. I am concerned about the complementarian theology that underpins it. Numerous times the word ‘complementarian’ was used. This complementarian theology was also reflected in the Eternity news article that was published yesterday afternoon. That God created a ‘helper’ for man and that is ‘woman’. Showing complete disregard for the other creation narrative. Woman is to be the eternal helper of man cemented through the institution of marriage. There is no place for egalitarian theology in this world view.

After yesterday morning’s Order of the Day on Domestic Violence and the use of the concept of male headship in the perpetuation of abuse, I can’t help but be concerned about a motion that is born in the light of the same theology of gender that was highlighted there. Where women are ‘equal’ but not really equal at the end of the day.

It is impossible to vote for this motion without also voting for the theology of gender inequality that underpins its very language. If you want to be sure, go back in your mind and remember the speech and the specifics behind the words. Read it for yourself in the Eternity news article. There is more happening here than LGBTIQ rights, this is a direct conversation between complementarians and egalitarians. If you vote for it, you are agreeing that our theology is what the popular press has said it is, and what the Australian people have already condemned us for.

If you vote against it instead you actually give us more time to get it right, together. There is no harm to voting no. Nothing will change.

Another concern arising from the Archbishops speech:
Marriage is a lifelong institution. Yes, I do believe that. However, I also understand that sometimes it doesn’t quite work out. Marriages breakdown, many times without anyone at fault but sometimes they break down due to infidelity or Intimate Partner violence. Historically we worked hard to ensure that divorcees could be validly remarried in the Anglican Church and that these marriages are honoured and valid as any other marriage.

I am concerned that this motion is the beginning of the unraveling of all the work that has been done to recognise the equality of genders and also for us to understand the nuances of human relationships in the remarriage of divorcees. I believe that there is more to this motion that meets the eye. It is more than about our LGBTIQ+ sisters and brothers. This is about Complementarian vs Egalitarian, those who believe in the fully honoured and validity of remarriage and the freedom of an individual to leave a marriage – especially unhealthy ones and those who do not. If we vote yes to this motion, we affirm the underpinning theology and we might be voting for more than what we have bargained for.

This is not a vote for same sex marriage, the Australian people have concluded that argument already. Yet as you can see by the future motions at this synod we really are going to continue this discussion together regardless of the outcome of this motion. I am asking you not to lose 2 positions (egalitarianism and remarriage) for an issue that we are yet to fully discuss. Please vote no.

The statement was defeated in the house of bishops.

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