Is the Church Always Right??
The answer to the question posed in the title of this blog is: absolutely not! As the Church of Jesus Christ we human beings have and continue to make many, many mistakes. As a member of this global Church of Jesus Christ, the Presbyterian Church USA, the John Knox Presbytery, and the pastor of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin I have to humbly admit that I and we have often made mistakes.
The most common critique I hear people give regarding churches and religious institutions is: “They are all hypocrites!” It’s true that we are all hypocrites for as Paul said in Romans 7:15: “I don’t know what I’m doing, because I don’t do what I want to do.” Paul recognized that he was guilty of being hypocritical. He and we are guilty of saying one thing and doing something contrary to our words.
In humility we admit this and we admit we don’t have all the perfect or right answers to the problems and the struggles in our world. If we look at our history we see that the Church is marred by awful things like the crusades, slavery, and endorsing the Nazi regime and thus the murder of millions of Jews and so many others.
The humility to admit that our ancestors of the faith have been flat out wrong and that we also have been and will also be wrong again, is the first necessary step towards our becoming a genuinely hospitable and open people who love God and our neighbor.
Thankfully not everything that our foremothers and fathers did was wrong or terrible and thus we can look at their good examples and be inspired by them.
Tuesday, March 8th is International Women’s Day and we can certainly look back at how poorly the Church has often treated women and we can look today and see how we still have room to improve in how we treat our fellow sisters and mothers as equals.
I know that I have ingrained sexist attitudes, which I am working to first identify and then to discard. I was mortified to learn that in the PCUSA, female clergy members have an even greater wage disparity than women in the overall national workplace. It is alarming to me that in my own denomination we are treating our female leaders with such disrespect. It is disrespectful to our God who has called women and men and people of all genders to be spiritual leaders and teachers. In this regard we as a church and a part of the Church of Christ, are wrong.
We do many good things as followers of Christ, but we also make mistakes and have much room to grow! I dream of a day when women and men will be paid purely based upon their skill and experience rather than their gender identity and the many other ways we unfairly judge one another.