Authority: "Bread" or Grace Enough for All

Dorothy Yoder Nyce

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Christ says, Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you. … Who are you that you should sit in judgment with God? -Menno Simons1

There are three arenas for committed conversation, which I believe the churches must address in order to be able to stay together and, by God’s grace, to be blessed with life abundant. These are: (1) theological anthropology, or what does it mean to be human? (2) ecclesiology, or what does it mean to be the church? (3) authority, or by what will we order and orient our lives, individually and corporately? -Melanie May2

In patriarchal styles of leadership, authority is exercised by standing above and is enhanced through a capitalist model of power accumulation at the expense of others. … In feminist styles of leadership, authority is exercised by standing with others by seeking to share power and authority. -Letty M. Russell3

All church members possess and exercise authority as a sacred trust. To oppress another when exercising authority mars that trust. Church members include people with same-gender attraction, people whose preference for sexual intimacy rests with someone of the other sex, and those who are bisexual. Conflict around homosexuality depends in part on views of authority. Four elements-Scripture, tradition, knowledge, and experience-give shape to authority. This article reveals my sincere, disciplined exploration into these four sources, as I ask whether Mennonite understanding of authority includes “bread” or grace enough for all believers.

I ask whether Mennonite understanding of authority includes "bread" or grace enough for all believers

To examine any issue within Scripture involves two basic questions: What did the text mean? And what does the text mean for us today? Meaning includes authority. Consider one biblical text, Ezekiel 16:49: “The crime of your sister Sodom was pride, gluttony, arrogance, complacency. … They never helped the poor and needy.” What did that statement mean? Could it today also mean that sodomy is social injustice or not being cordial toward the stranger? Consider authority related to sexual violence. Biblical writers critiqued acts of violence-whether of Leviticus purity and holiness codes or harlotry, idolatry, and misuse of minors mentioned by Paul. Consider also the Bible’s love ethic, essential for sexual customs. Biblical authority affirms the created goodness of being sexual; inclusive Christian community; the parity of women with men; and criteria for actions like love, justice, loyalty, mutual respect, compassion, and grateful joy.4

As with Scripture, Christians choose how to interpret tradition-beliefs or customs handed down between generations. Knowing that we practice authority inconsistently calls for a posture of gratefulness for God’s grace and mercy. Increasingly, church members who know people of faith with same-gender attraction believe that the church sins when it excludes them from membership, despite historic contempt for them. The act of excluding usurps God’s authority. It deprives others of mercy and imposes human limits on God’s grace (“bread”) for all.

To be careful with knowledge, the God-given reasoning process, calls for insight into a range of sexual preference. Being careful includes knowing “that the vast majority of us are not exclusively either heterosexual or homosexual.”5 James Nelson also notes sexual features within experience: homophobia (fear or contempt for same-sex love), heterosexism (enforcing heterosexuality on all), sexual or intimacy envy, fear of sexuality, and fear of death.

This chapter examines the influence of Scripture, tradition, knowledge, and experience, among people with authorized opinions, toward people created with same-gender attraction.

Scripture: From Tablets of Stone to Bread for All

The church has often decreed sexual traditions to be absolute but denied or avoided naming sexual fears. Church members will need to review what they dread and reassess their acts that bar believers from corporate worship. “Sexual experience is important, but it alone cannot provide a basis for the church to form authoritative teaching,” writes Thomas Dozeman.6 Furthermore, church members who are disciplined with Scripture will guard against extending their personal authority (see ?Experience: Authority Endowed and Exchanged? below) to others who are not equipped to manage it. They will develop a conscience against stealing another’s sense of worth or coveting another’s gift of friendship. They will model godliness rather than demean another’s wholeness.

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza suggests that “the litmus test for invoking Scripture as the Word of God must be whether or not biblical texts and traditions seek to end relations of domination and exploitation.”7 She transforms the metaphor of Scripture from “tablets of stone” into the image of bread. Rather than being fixed or engraved for all time, she writes, the Word nurtures and sustains people in the struggle against injustice.

Might Jesus’ occasions of providing bread enough for all-with baskets of it left over-be a useful image for thinking of authority?8 Have we ears to hear that authority can provide grace or restraint, worth or damage? Have we eyes to see how the “yeast” of both grace and authority multiply when truly exchanged? Do we perceive how our sense of grace affects the integrity we find in people who are drawn to the same gender? Do we listen to “those with authority” with a critical ear, aware of our moral duty? Do our actions, based on Scripture and the traditions we absorb, pass the litmus test?

Scripture: Honest and Disciplined Interpretation

Christians have never acted on Scripture alone. The Reformation slogan sola scriptura has led people to presume to interpret the Bible with authority that belongs to God alone. Historic, absolute authority selects biblical texts to sanction prejudice against same-gender attracted people and to idolize past and present culture. Even if Christians with sexual desire for the other sex do not physically violate people whose sexual preference differs, they often add to a context that hates and intimidates other believers who also know and love their Creator. Church members cannot ignore how prejudice, portrayed as moral rightness, abuses Scripture. Our well-being (salvation) as a church depends on honest, disciplined knowledge of what the Bible meant and means. Such knowledge depends on with whom and for what reason members share their personal authority. To claim and extend personal authority gives voice to experience.

Peter Gomes, pastor of Harvard Memorial Church, observes that “nowhere in the Old or New Testament is the sin of Sodom, the cause of its sudden and terrible destruction, equated with homosexuality.”9 Readers choose whether to grant a portion of their authority to Gomes’s commitment to Scripture, to his conclusion that God loathes all rape, whether heterosexual or homosexual. We decide whether to support New Testament professor Jeffrey Siker’s view: one instance of tried homosexual rape does not make invalid all people with same-gender attraction, just as “David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba does not make all heterosexual expressions sinful.”10 Bible writers did not know homosexual people who truly loved one mate while faithfully living out the call of the gospel.

While Christians may stress that same-gender attraction counters certain biblical texts, the Bible also addresses themes that we may choose to overlook: views of sexuality and procreation. Thomas Dozeman explains how being sexual beings belongs under the heading of creation. The worldview expressed in Genesis 1 opposed the worldview of Babylonian neighbors. A worldview includes at the very least “a statement of God’s interrelationship with creation and the place of sexuality within this framework.”11 But the two verses from the Leviticus Holiness Code (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13) and three texts from Paul (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; and 1 Timothy 1:10), often discussed with respect to homosexuality, are not comprehensive. So what authority will readers extend to such limited texts, and why? They might choose to: (1) intuit why homosexual practice was seen as repulsive by priestly (Leviticus) lawmakers and a form of idolatry for Paul; (2) accept the texts as legal because they are part of Scripture; or (3) locate the source of authority for forbidden acts.12 Dozeman recommends the third option.

Within the sixth century BCE social context, and in response to Babylon’s canon (Enuma Elish), priestly writers affirmed the goodness of creation and held being human in high regard. Absorbed with order, they wrote in Genesis that human beings were created in God’s image and were gender-specific, with the potential to give birth. Reflecting God’s image is a metaphor for kinship with God, while being female or male is a literal attribute shared by other creatures. People created with same-gender attraction, those attracted to the other sex, and bisexuals all share the attributes of both gender and close ties with God. Procreation was a profound concern when life began; however, today population growth has become an issue of ethics. Same-gender attraction does not result in offspring. But homosexual friendship and single adulthood do reproduce fine qualities that imitate God, like being good and upright.

The concern for procreation recurs in Paul’s three texts. In Romans 1:18?3:20, he reveals God’s universal wrath toward all that is not godly. Those who exchange God’s glory with self-glory are idolaters. In Paul’s culture and time to avoid having offspring or to gossip, covet, steal, or boast set one apart from God. Church members today will ask if sexual action that avoids heirs can be thought of as self-worship when the world is overpopulated. They will also ponder the idolatry involved in gossip about those with same-gender attraction.

Tradition: Obedience (Authority) Among Early Anabaptists and Mennonites Today

Mennonites move toward scriptural authority over diverse paths. For early Anabaptists, conviction led to the path of protest. They taught and lived dissent. Not pleased that church authorities blessed priests alone to interpret, early Anabaptists chose to do their own hermeneutics. Anyone who obeyed God’s Spirit could read the Bible and understand. The early leader Menno Simons did not stress the authority of Scripture; few of his readers likely doubted it. Through loyal living, they risked letting go of structures, doctrines, and methods that were not faithful to the Bible.

Will Mennonites today comply with statements decreed yesterday? Might dissent again be needed? Does being faithful mean protesting church statements that might be, as Gomes writes, a “domesticated substitute for the authority of God?”13 By what authority might church members endorse basic principles of biblical truth-rather than liftinga few verses from their cultural and historical context-as decisive for inclusion in God’s family? How might Mennonites most faithfully follow the path of biblical principles?

What the early Anabaptists likely meant by “obedience,” Mennonites today often call “discipleship.” J. Lawrence Burkholder, in writing about discipleship, says that “few have placed greater emphasis on the primary demands of obedience [than Anabaptists] and few have taken more seriously the absolute authority of Christ.”14 Harold S. Bender, architect of the ?Anabaptist Vision,? calls the essence of Anabaptism the “whole of life under the lordship of Christ in a covenant of discipleship.”15 Lydia Neufeld Harder applies this essence to work with Scripture: “Any exploration of the authority of the biblical text needs to come to terms with the authority and function of the tradition of discipleship.”16 She also writes, “The present authority of God is mediated by the embodiment of God’s act in a human text, a human community and a human discernment process. Discipleship is defined as the response of obedience to this authority of God.”17

Yet problems exist. Neufeld Harder observes that the term “obedience” can be vague. Obedience can either motivate others to action or lead people to form boundaries. People who obey certain details might deny that God’s will pervades others whose practices or views of faithfulness differ. Sexual types can build “fences that don’t make good neighbors” if one type has little tolerance for difference. Or, if believers are unable to assess dynamics of control, they can naively obey an authority figure. Such factors affect views toward people with same-gender attraction.

Several Mennonite women have noted how some men with power deny their own power, calling it “God’s authority.” Men who encourage an inferior, silent status for women and a public privilege of power for men overlook Jesus’ upside-down kingdom. A similar case exists for people with same-gender attraction who live among heterosexual people, some of whom have warped views of power. The judgment of same-gender partnership as inferior or sex-obsessive often lacks self-critique or denies personal fear of sexuality. Reliance on church statements from gatherings at Purdue or Saskatoon has severely damaged the spirit and faith of many gay and lesbian Mennonite Christians. Might such “crimes of obedience” resemble what early Anabaptists faced? Might human powers excused as divine, whether in the sixteenth or the twentieth century, justify dissent?

Self-criticism takes effort to nurture. Mennonites seldom choose to name how they oppress (through Scripture, tradition, knowledge, or experience) people who are created with same-gender attraction. Choices to include or exclude others exercise authority and either reflect or betray dependence on God’s power. The way we use authority either heals or harms those who also believe in God while mainly loving another of the same gender.

Scripture and Tradition: Jesus’ Subversive Authority

The parable of the wicked tenants and the beloved son in Mark 12:1-12 speaks of the tension between traditional authority and the authority of Christ’s love. When certain officials questioned Jesus’ source of power, he told this story of conflict between the authority of a master and the power of some tenants. In the parable we can imagine God as the vineyard owner, many church members as the tenants, and people with same-gender attraction as the servants sent to the vineyard.18

The parable reveals Jesus’ subversive response to the authority that the tenants presumed to possess. When the absent owner sends servants to retrieve the share of produce that belongs to him, the tenants avoid being loyal to the landowner and, instead, try to “seize the whole vineyard for themselves.”19 To excuse their acts of thrashing, sending away empty-handed, beating, and killing the servants, the tenants impose boundaries. They falsely name their human authority as divine power and resent threats to it. They fail to realize that in God’s new community, there is grace (?bread?) enough for all whom God welcomes. They finally kill the heir, blind to the fact that others will then care for the vineyard. For God’s authority serves others; it does not endorse power that oppresses. Church members today still decide for or against Jesus’ radical politics.

Numerous other texts in Mark’s Gospel address loyalty, authority, and power: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not?” “Is not this the reason that you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God?” “[Jesus] taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”20 Political questions or comments all, these accounts reveal Jesus’ subversive action. They try to influence listeners about authority; they model dissent. Might understandings of those with same-gender attraction be considered anew, in light of these questions and Jesus’ example?

Consider the text early in Mark 7. “Righteous” people, those with authority, judge Jesus’ disciples for not washing their hands when eating. But Jesus reminds them that hatred, deceit, envy, and pride-characteristics from inside a person-depict uncleanness. Lip service does not substitute for genuine worship. Doctrines and long-held teachings are not sound when based on faulty interpretation. They often reflect human laws, while commands of God reappear, ignored. For example, “You must love your neighbor as yourself” occurs in Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39; Luke 10:25-28; Mark 12:31; Romans 13:9; and Galatians 5:14. After summarizing the Law with this command, the Galatians text adds: “If you go snapping at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch or you will destroy the whole community.”

Authorities were threatened by the subversive power of Jesus’ radical kingdom. A few perceived that new emphases could not stand alongside some old traditions. Their penchant for order was challenged when Jesus healed people they thought were impure. Jesus forgave the paralytic; he restored victims of exclusion. He empowered those unjustly feared. Jesus broke rules to show how they oppressed sincere people. Such subversive acts “defined God’s power as always there for the sake of other people.”21 Will the new power of discipleship, which truly enables all believers, reshape the church (the vineyard)? Will Mennonites tear down roadblocks to grace because they learn anew of ample “bread”? Will they look once more at obedience?

Knowledge: To Obey or Dissent

It is important to review the strong ties between obedience and authority. Crimes of Obedience: Toward a Social Psychology of Authority and Responsibility by Herbert Kelman and V. Lee Hamilton offers solid help. Although this book centers on more secular affairs, many of the principles outlined apply to church settings where believers with same-gender attraction worship.22

While the church reflects a sacred bond, it acts within strong cultural influence. It values and expresses social features. For example, Mennonites endorse a sense of community. The church finds itself through reaching out, whether to political issues or “natural” misfortune, within and beyond its circle. Mennonites pioneered with mental health and disaster clean-up efforts. Our heritage claims liberty to worship God as a sacred right; it justifies dissent to maintain that freedom. To love and be loved by God is a central premise; for that favor, members are liable. They confess Jesus the Christ as their channel to God’s salvation. The lure remains, however, to usurp God’s ultimate authority. As Frederick Faber’s famous hymn states,

But we make God’s love too narrow by false limits of our own, And we magnify its strictness with a zeal God will not own. For the love of God is broader than the measures of the mind, And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.23

Knowledge: Three Social Processes

What conditions restrict church members who wish to be faithful to Scripture, tradition, knowledge, and experience from fully knowing the authority through which they may operate? Kelman and Hamilton suggest three social processes, all shaped by authority, that allow those who commonly avoid violence to in fact violate others. The first retains the core word: a situation is authorized when people presume that, due to commands or views of others “in authority,” they themselves have no choice. The duty to obey the superior “pardons” their action. Not powerless, such members are so committed to the church and its leaders, for example, that they become unwilling to voice personal views that differ. They avoid testing the outcome of negative views toward people with same-gender attraction. They feel protected by “the system,” even if they inflict violence on others.

Routine, the second process that Kelman and Hamilton describe, is so organized, established, or orchestrated that a church member has little chance to raise moral questions, let alone resist the actions or beliefs endorsed. Through routine patterns-“this posture has been the church’s stance for generations”-or polarization with little space for a spectrum of conscience, the actor focuses on details, not meanings, of actions. Through shared illusion, the church group perceives itself to be united and efficient.

Dehumanizing a target, the third process, takes little effort or conscience, especially if an authority figure points the way. Same-gender attracted people can be held at arms length. Rather than be subjects, giving voice to their experience, they become objects of actors. Insecure actors fail to admit that another’s behavior differs less from their own than they imagine. Yet, those actors will literally read a few texts and know (often through gossip) what immoral acts others perform. Further, they deny that a personal attitude of disdain toward the target has moral dimensions. The “splinter” of accusation fails to observe the “beam” in its own eye.

Partners in same-gender friendship are often deprived of two qualities of being fully human-identity and community. Without respect, and cut off by “authorized” church members, victims are presumed to lack worth, and thus “the process of dehumanization feeds on itself.”24 Crimes of obedience occur when people justify themselves even as they obey “superior” commands that discriminate, fail to heed God’s principle “to love the neighbor as the self,” or seize God’s authority to decide who among believers is faithful. Who can presume to belong while stripping others of their identity as believers, their freedom for group worship or pastoral care? Who can willfully commit a “crime of obedience” that diminishes divine mercy?

Knowledge: Outlooks Toward Authority

Kelman and Hamilton name three broad outlooks to political authority: rule, role, and value. These three also apply to religious authority and to actions of some church members toward those created with same-gender attraction. For different reasons, rule- and role-oriented people obey orders (endorse textual and socialized interpretations) without question. Rule-oriented subjects obey in order to avoid trouble. They expect positive results for complying. Feeling powerless to challenge authority, they feel no choice but to obey. What they actually need is proximity: if nearer to, and more informed of, what authorities tell them, they can better judge it.

Those who are role-oriented obey in order to live up to their duty. Caught up in an authority figure’s reasons and perhaps enamored by the power present, they lack the will to challenge them. They feel bound to obey. Trapped by authority, what they need is more distance from it, in order to think on their own. Mature authority figures will recognize the problem and enable the role-ordered person to express personal principles for decisions rather than be dependent.

Value-oriented people, because they expect to be accountable for actions, ask questions of authority. They inquire into meanings or outcomes of actions proposed. They support authorities as well as exercise moral judgment. They challenge or disobey demands or practices that violate their consciences. They hold people at all levels responsible for their actions, rather than consent to varied amounts of power.

In light of the above, several concerns arise for churches that include believers who are drawn to same-gender partners. People who hold positions of authority may have little knowledge of the same-gender reality. Or they may deny how their own fears restrict their ability to be honest when relating with them. Their influence is out of proportion to the sacred duty of careful decision making that affects the well-being, which means wholeness or salvation, of those created with attraction to their own gender.

Church members who are rule- or role-oriented may not be qualified to judge majority assumptions. They risk making unjust decisions if they fail to look anew at biblical interpretation that has been handed down for decades. They might overlook cultural or current meanings, shifts in language, or outcomes of the church’s witness to God’s authority. Yet they are liable for including or excluding others. Christians who are or feel they are rejected from the church because of their gender preference for a primary friendship, cannot be ignored. An ?out-of-church, out-of-mind? mindset toward gays and lesbians cannot pose as responsible care from church members who face God.

Experience: Authority Endowed and Exchanged

Operating from a basic stance that assumes authority lies embedded and emerges from within each person’s experience, I credit God as the source for the gift of human authority. The divine Author wills that people use this gift for personal growth. Furthermore, we are gifted in order to extend to other people and to the rest of created life what authority we possess at any given time. Not free to lead our lives in our own ways or to shrink from accountability, we call this gift sacred. As a hallowed gift, inner authority deserves close attention. To honor it means not to abuse it through hoarding, flaunting, denying, or ignoring it. Gifted by the Creator, people choose to hold or express inner authority through being and action.

With trust in God’s wisdom to endow each created child of God with authority, I claim and value human worth. Being created human is “very good.” Not born in sin or dependent on fate, authority grows when expressed in healthy ways that benefit all affected. Most people’s bodies, minds, and souls come gifted with distinct capacities: to express love and accept love, to choose between good and evil, to be grateful (worship), to make simple and tough decisions, to grow and contribute from within their stored authority. In addition to these amazing gifts, which reflect Divine intent and authorization, each human creature is blessed with authority.

But the blessing can be damaged. Undermined individuals can fail to believe their wholeness, which includes sexuality and authority. When laughed at with disdain, children or adults can doubt their own goodness. Because authority has been socialized in authoritarian ways, people shunted to the margins of groups lose their voice. Abuse deepens for a person repeatedly demeaned. It occurs when individuals are not taught to value the strength or duty of inner worth. It multiplies when they are misguided to think that obedience is their only option. Equally often, when those who presume to have authority disdain or mistrust others, the latter never know that God wills for them to claim and control their own gift of inner authority-their own “bread” or grace.

God desires that people possess and share their goodness, including being sexual and authorized. In order to extend personal authority to others, one must first own and nurture it within. Gratitude for the gift is shown when it is also responsibly shared. Being faithful is not simple; it involves assessing how the receiver in turn shares what was given. Authority given is not gone; it will be returned or reinvested. True authority will be reciprocal; a pattern of exchange marks the healthy gift. Each person therefore claims innate authority and expects to give account for exercising it. A person who abuses authority through stockpiling or taking it for granted needs to repent, and the one who had given it withdraws or discontinues sharing it with that wrongdoer.

Experience: Authority Re-Visioned Through Friendship

Friendship may be a key to a reimagined concept and expression of authority. It relies on the strength of authority inherent within each person. Several Christian women have envisioned such a framework.25 Feminist theology, rooted in women’s efforts to move from the margin to the center, knows that all theology is “partial, limited, and contextual.”26 Beginning from experience, theology is practiced. In that process, renewed experiences follow. Then, renewal forms the basis for further reflection (theology) about God, self, neighbor, Scripture, and the world (including nature). That circular or spiraling motif guides creative views of authority and friendship.

Friendship is a foundation block for creating ties that begin at birth and shape a person’s worldview. It confronts heterosexism, the structure for gay and lesbian oppression. Carter Heyward finds heterosexism to be rooted in male advantage through control of women’s sexual activity and moral power. Since women of strength and authority challenge “fixed” power dynamics, a homophobic system distinctly fears lesbian women, those for whom sense of self and energy are woman-identified.26 Their friendship challenges a patriarchal system of rule that wishes to maintain an empire of men’s goals that leave women diminished. Their friendship affects both politics and relationships as it lives out values of love and justice in many combinations of people, “not two by heterosexual two.”27

Heterosexism fails to comprehend or value true friendship. It oppresses whatever threatens its need to control. Within a theology of friendship, however, all are empowered to name their experience and to make subsequent choices. Janice Raymond suggests that friendship is a spiritual communion, 28 while Hunt sees attention as a hallmark of opportunity.29 Because of its intense attention, Hunt calls friendship “fierce” and “tender.” She embraces the spirituality of friendship, which is the process of making intended choices (the meaning of power) about the quality of life for oneself and one’s community. She understands that friendship relies on committed bonds, not external authority. In that trust, friendship reveals truth about the self, each other, the natural community in the world, and personal relationship with God.

Re-imagined truth will affect concepts of authority, power, and leadership. Such new truth reshapes views toward people with same-gender attraction as surely as it affects a manner of organizing structures or procedures. Letty Russell reports from a New York Presbyterian congregation about “authority of purpose, as distinguished from authority of position or office.”30 For example, Jesus’ healing and teaching, his empowerment of others to exercise their gifts, overturned religious and political leadership that depended on authority of position. So too, images of circles, webs, and latticed grids surface as women in solidarity re-image authority through “connection to the people around rather than distance from those below.”31

Conclusion

The question lingers: Is there “bread” or grace enough for sexual difference? I hope so, but to hope is not enough. Signs of grace include information, sensitive listening, conviction, and strong action. What we believe depends on being aware of who influences us and why. It depends on whether those on the margins of church and society, including those with same-gender attraction, experience their truth. It depends on each believer’s taking account of God’s gift of personal authority, a sacred trust.

Being faithful involves growing in truth through Scripture, tradition, knowledge, and experience. It also means developing criteria and skills to evaluate those four. It entails paying attention to where we disperse personal authority and how we understand God’s profound, inclusive will. Not doubting the Creator’s wisdom, the creature accepts diversity as part of goodness. Not neglecting grace received, church members live out gratitude by sharing “bread” with all who know and claim the One God. May your authority (grace and bread) nurture, sustain, and energize against injustice.

Footnotes

  1. As quoted in The Complete Writings of Menno Simons (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1956).

  2. Melanie A. May, ?Breaking Down the Dividing Wall: Ending the Silence about Sexuality,? The Ecumenical Review 50 (January 1998): 42.

  3. Letty M. Russell, Church in the Round: Feminist Interpretation of the Church (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), 56.

  4. James Nelson, Body Theology (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 1992), 55?71.

  5. James Nelson, ?Sources for Body Theology,? in Sexuality and the Sacred Sources for Theological Reflection, ed. Nelson and Sandra P. Longfellow (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 1994), 382; see also Nelson’s Body Theology, and Homosexuality in the Church: Both Sides of the Debate, ed. Jeffrey S. Siker (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 1994).

  6. Thomas B. Dozeman, ?Creation and Procreation in the Biblical Teaching on Homosexuality,? Union Seminary Quarterly Review 49, no. 1-2 (1995): 186.

  7. Elisabeth Sch?sler Fiorenza, Bread Not Stone: The Challenge of Feminist Biblical Interpretation (Boston: Beacon Press, 1984), xiii.

  8. See Mark 8:14-21.

  9. Peter Gomes, The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart (New York: William & Morrow, 1996), 152.

  10. Ibid., 152.

  11. Dozeman, ?Creation and Procreation,? 172 (which draws from Jack Roger’s discussion in Ziker, 161?77).

  12. Ibid.

  13. Gomes, The Good Book, 39.

  14. J. Lawrence Burkholder, ?The Anabaptist Vision of Discipleship,? in The Recovery of the Anabaptist Vision, ed. Guy F. Hershberger (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1957), 149.

  15. As quoted in Lydia Neufeld Harder, Obedience, Suspicion and the Gospel of Mark: A Mennonite-Feminist Exploration of Biblical Authority (Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1998), 25.

  16. Neufeld Harder, Obedience, 11.

  17. Ibid., 37.

  18. I thank Neufeld Harder for her fourth chapter, ?Discipleship and Authority: The Gospel of Mark,? though it was not written with this content in mind.

  19. Neufeld Harder, Obedience, 120.

  20. Mark 12:14, Mark 12:24, Mark 1:22.

  21. Neufeld Harder, Obedience, 124.

  22. See Herbert Kelman and V. Lee Hamilton, Crimes of Obedience: Toward a Social Psychology of Authority and Responsibility (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1989).

  23. Frederick Faber, ?There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy,? originally in Oratory Hymns, 1854; in Hymnal A Worship Book, Newton, Kans.: Faith and Life Press, 1992, # 145.

  24. Kelman and Hamilton, Crimes of Obedience, 20.

  25. See Mary Hunt, Fierce Tenderness: A Feminist Theology of Friendship (New York: Crossroad, 1991).

  26. Ibid., 13.

  27. Mary Daly’s thought noted in Hunt, Fierce Tenderness, 48.

  28. Hunt, Fierce Tenderness, 14.

  29. Janice Raymond in Hunt, Fierce Tenderness, 75.

  30. Hunt, Fierce Tenderness, 22.

  31. Russell, Church in the Round, 66.

  32. Sally Helgesen, The Female Advantage: Women’s Ways of Leadership (New York: Doubleday/Currency, 1990), 58.

Dorothy Yoder Nyce, Goshen, Indiana, is a writer or editor of six books and numerous articles. She taught “Bible and Sexuality,” a course committed to justice, feminist thought, scriptural openness, and sexual integrity, at Goshen College over a period of eighteen years. Her D.Min degree (1997) that focused on* Dialogues to Foster Interreligious Understanding *works to integrate her thirty-five-year connection with India. Leadership in several congregations, organizations like MBM and MCC, and workshops plus extensive reading add to insight. Dorothy and her husband John are the parents of two adult daughters and active members of Eighth Street Mennonite Church.
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