Re: Women's Voting rights
- This is in response to Mr. V. L. Eapen’s comment on the women’s participation without voting rights. I am sure there will be many to respond to it. I call upon women to respond to this kind of sinful approach to our women.
I had seen several postings in support of the Holy Episcopal Synod’s decision allowing the women to attend the General Body not to be elected as Managing Committee members or to have voting rights.
I would like to be rather blunt than evasive in these matters. I was thoroughly upset about the decision of the Holy Synod on this matter. Living in a modern era, understanding the value of women’s capability for the present world and finding no theological or spiritual justification to lower the women below a man I have deep seated groan about the present leadership of the Indian Orthodox Church as far as women are concerned.
I have a lot of shameful sympathy for the unthoughtful and irrational arguments of Mr. Eapen. I just thought if I was born a women I would have used a different terminology to respond to this kind of blatant attack on the dignity of a woman. It is the women who should respond to Mr. Eapen expressing their hurt feeling to this kind of unkind postings. I wished the women sent a mass appeal to the Holy Synod for this kind of discrimination against them simply because they are born as women.
The reference to theocracy and democracy was simply either ignorance or a futile attempt to bring in a dead theory that is no more relevant to the world of today. If theocracy is the rule of the Christian Church, then we don’t need any laity at all to run the matters of the Church. We need the laity simply to the point of ordination. After that clergy will run the show.
It is nice to think that a man must be the head of the family. If the husband dies and if there is a son in the home, then logically the son has to be the head!! For those who have only girls, it will be a headless family. What an argument! Is the woman that worthless to share the responsibilities of a family? What is special with men? Their muscle power or brain power or pocket power?
Mr. Eapen is also a bit confused when he said, “in God’s sight there is no gender inequality”. If God has no sense of inequality, why should men impose superiority over women? I am glad that Mr. Eapen did not speak for God and say that God created man and woman as unequal beings and therefore superiority of man was in the creation!
It is a shame to use the Holy Trinity as a model for the male superiority. How nice it would have been if he heard His Grace Mathews Mar Barnabas Thirumeni comparing the family to the Holy Trinity in which there is perfect understanding, communication and love between the father, mother and children.
What I understand is that His Grace Mar Barnabas Thirumeni raised the issue in the Holy Synod and it is simply because of His Grace that the present decision of the Holy Synod happened. The main reason for His Grace to raise the issue was women’s generosity and creative participation in the diocese. If the women of the American Diocese decided not to contribute, the parishes and the Diocese could come to a standstill. Thank God the women did not think that way. Our women are the most inspiring entity for men to give generously for the different projects that our bishops and priests present to the people in America. The money of women is good but their votes in the General Body is not. What a formula!!
I personally do not believe that voting right for women will destroy the Church. The Church will be blessed if opportunities are given to women for a better participation in Church life. If our women are the backbone of the family, they will be the backbone of our Church also. Men need not feel insecure for women acquiring responsibilities in the Church. For heaven’s sake please do not bring in too much theology to degrade women in our Church. We heard it enough.
Time will prove that women are even better than men in running the matters of the Church. If someone has a doubt, first give them their rights and see what they will do.
Love, Achen MKK, Philadelphia
- In the American context, many churches are giving the voting rights for women. In the absence of men,they represent the family and vote. Also, when the husband is not alive, the wife votes. If this can happen, they can be given responsibilities of the church too. Right thinking men in power should come up the right decision soon.
Abey Tharian, NJ
- Kudos to MKK Achen. GOD chose a woman to deliver and present HIS only Son to the world to bring salvation to all people, showing no partiality to those of a particular gender, class, or level of theological understanding. Bearing this in mind, a woman should have every right to be in HIS church with equal privilege.
- I see this topic fast boiling out of control, and may need the
infamous iron hand of the Moderators to restore some sanity :)
In the meantime, I just wanted to comment on a point made by MKK
>I was thoroughly upset about the decision of the Holy Synod on thisAchen I understand your points you made and agree with most. But
probably you understand much more than I do about the Holy Synod's
stand. The Church is changing and will keep changing when it comes to
these matters and it will mirror the changes in the society around it.
In my humble view, the Holy Synod's decision in this matter should be
seen as a positive step and must be seen as the harbinger for many
more such changes to come. I would rather go slow in such matters
rather than be sorry. I think our society should be given some more
time. And I think more changes are inevitable.
Last General Body in our small parish here in Albany, I as the
secretary reminded our women folk about the decision of the Holy
Synod and asked them to attend and participate more in the General
Body(actually in our parish, having a few more people attending -
whether male or female is only a welcome sight as we are so few:)).
Even our achen requested them to attend. But only a few women
attended and they too left after a while (we have an odd timing for
the general body and church services, and that contributed to this
lack of interest too) But my point is - the change will come, it has
to be guided,encouraged and channelled.
In my view, we could see what best we can do with the facilities we
have been given by the Holy Synod in this (I feel) historic decision,
and by the response shown by us and our women folk, we can convince
the Holy Synod to deliberate on bringing in more changes (in prayer)
- Let's thank Mr. VL Eapen for once again bringing up the topic on
women's right to participate in our Church general body meetings as
an equal to men and for an equal role for them in our Church
administration. Like the majority who have voiced their opinions, I
too strongly feel that we as Christians have been ignoring the above
fundamental right to women for too long, and it is high time that we
accord them all administrative privileges that men enjoy. I also
ardently desire that our astute Holy Synod will take up this issue in
right earnest earlier rather than later. However, I was surprised to
see the scathing attacks made on Mr VL Eapen for what he had
articulated. When I read the above article for the first time, I felt
that what he had raised was something to ponder upon even though I
felt that the present privileges given to women is a matter of shame
to all of us. When I re-read the article by Mr. VL Eapen, I again
thought that he had written it very well, arguing his case in a good
spirit, as he always does. Rather than attack him personally for what
he had written, let's attack the issue! Let's try to persuade our
Church to correct a wrong practice that it has been pursuing for a
very, very long time!
Sanjoy Paul, Coralville, Iowa
- Good point. Furthermore, it was women who first proclaimed that Jesus rose from the dead. Therefore they are the first disciples and messengers of the Good News. I would suggest all Martha Mariamma samajams to stop making food until they are allowed to vote. Let the men cook....that way maybe their stomachs will get smaller.
- In reading the 'discussion' on women's voting rights within the
Orthodox church, I was compelled to respond, not for creating change,
but to establish where the idea should start. In God's presence, all
people have 'unalienable' acceptance. The rule to not let women
participate in the 'governing' body of the Church was made by men,
written by men and implemented by men. Today, we think we
are 'politely' discussing this 'high idea of change'.
I did not see the discussion when the first woman gave her
paycheck to the church in support of a 'church' project.
I did not see the discussion when the overtime paychecks earned
by women were donated to the 'church' building fund.
As a woman, I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a
grandmother, and most importantly, a child of God - loved by God. I
am loved by God when I am first in my class, I am loved by God when I
stand by my husband in all things that is important to him, I am
loved by God when I stand by and watch my children leave home, I am
loved by God when I come home after 16 hrs of work and still make
dinner for my family, I am loved by God when I raise four children
while my husband is drunk, I am loved by God when I am a widow for 15
yrs - alone, I am loved by God when I fail my entrance exam, I am
loved by God when my father hits me, I am loved by God when my
husband abuses me, I am loved by God when men discuss that my dowry
is not good enough.
Within the Church, I hope to discuss issues of family, issues of the
aging, issues of widows, issues of the abandoned, issues of the
depressed and lonely...
As far as women's voting rights are concerned, there is no issue to
discuss - there is only a wrong that should be corrected. As Rene
Descartes, the philosopher, said, "I think, therefore I AM". The
idea of women to vote in the 'governing' body of the Church is not a
discussion, it is my right.
- I am so glad that among the priests there were two Achens such as M.K.K.
Achen & K.K Jonachen who showed the courage to stand up for women, who understand the
feelings of women. I commend them both.
As Jonachen said I was also in the managing committee last year as my
husband passed away our Achen elected me to be in the managing committee. This
year when the election came women were not elected due to the Kalpana. This is
humiliating and insult to the women's talent and intelligence.
In my opinion the if women is willing to sit in the managing committee they
should have voting right also. Otherwise why bother to let them sit as a silent witness?
Women should have equal right in our church with equal privilege. Our
church should adapt to 21st century.
When Jesus risen he appeared to women first not to men. At the time of
Judgment Jesus is not looking weather the person is man or woman. We all are the
children of God.
In our church women's talent is used as Sunday school teaches, Head
Where is the representation if the women is widow and she has no male children???
The widow's money is gladly accepted for Annual subscription, Charities,
Catholicate day, seminary day and diocesan day etc.
All women must massively give petition to Holy synod regarding this decision Stand up against this decision.
Mrs M.K. George
- I can only remember that it was a Sunday afternoon in early 80s. I was at home in Trivandrum (Pongummoodu); on my annual holidays from Tripoli University.
Hearing the knock on the front door, I went to open. There was a middle aged lady and an young man waiting. The bare neck and the un-pierced ear lobes of the woman, and the zipped bag containing Bible carried by the man; revealed their partial identity.
They already had some background information about me.
Once seated in the living room, the gentleman asked me with a smile:“ Have you been saved, Sir?”. Having heard the same question a few times earlier also from others; I gave my usual answer; “ to my humble understanding of the bible, I don’t think, it is for me to decide my own salvation “. Both of them smiled. Then the man opened his bible and started teaching me from the bible. I must admit, I wasn’t offended. But that instance and a few other experiences, prompted me to study bible in an unbiased way to know the biblical basis for what are being taught, believed and practiced in our church especially because almost all Pentecostal fellowships teach their followers that those practices are exactly what heathens and idol worshippers do. Personally, I am totally convinced about the validity of our faith, as being in conformity with Bible.(Though, often I am saddened at the administrative decisions and practices and especially the obsession with lawsuits).
Also, I have the firm conviction that what is contained in the Bible is the word of God and as a result, they are neither fallible nor alterable. That is why I think, Paul says; “if anybody thinks that he is spiritually gifted, as an excuse for ignoring the word of God, he himself will be ignored” . I believe that man is not supposed to neglect, dilute, twist or misinterpret any part of it; however much unpalatable some instructions might appear to be, when viewed under the influence of modern liberal ideologies and when our ego and “I” factor and “my money factor” replace humility and submission.
For us, Orthodox believers, both apostolic traditions and Bible are to be important to sustain our faith. Obviously, they are not supposed to be contradictory neither are they.
Thus, in times of doubt or dispute, our reference point always should be the Bible.
Word of God says; when a man and a woman are joined together in Holy Matrimony, they are no longer two but one. It is God who effects this union. Therefore, what God has joined together as one, man should not try to separate ( Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6, Mark 10:7-9 , Ephesians 5:31).
I believe that this oneness should be in all aspects of life; in thinking, discussing, and in acting; like the head and the body of an individual. When head and body are separated from each other; there is no life. Paul says in 1 Cor.11:11 “IN THE LORD, woman is not independent of man; nor is man independent of woman”.
Unless we are prepared to submit ourselves fully to the unadulterated word of God, there will not be any spiritual life in us.
We can shout, scream, yell and vote in General body meetings; call names at each other and at St. Paul; get elected to positions of authority; file petitions in courts in India and abroad; but surely we will be empty-handed in the end.
Dr. Babu Thomas, Zambia.