Privilege and pain
In a stand of solidarity, some ordained pastors in the Adventist church recently decided to give up their right to ordination.
“We realize that our female ministers do the same work and have the same education, but there is a glass ceiling over them,” said Kymone Hinds in a Huffington Post article.
Hinds, the pastor of Overton Park Seventh-day Adventist and Journey Fellowship in Memphis, Tenn., and others such as Pastor Furman Fordham of the Riverside Chapel Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nashville, Tenn., and Pastor Mike Speegle of New Hope Adventist Church in Fulton, Md., requested to be commissioned instead of ordained, forfeiting rights such as organizing churches and ordaining elders and deacons.
“In our structure,” said Speegle in the same article, “I can’t make them [women] equal with me by ordaining them, but I can make myself equal with them by taking the commissioned license, which is exactly what they have.”
Not all pastors who support women’s ordination have felt the conviction to relinquish their ordination, but have followed convictions of their own. In a short video called, “It’s Time,” six senior Adventist church leaders, including a former world church leader, spoke in support of women’s ordination.
“I want the church to be bold, to be open, to be free, and to receive the future as it comes to us, but constantly aware of the fact that we are here to do a mission,” Elder Jan Paulson said in the video, supporting the argument that in order for the Adventist church to minister to its best capacity, women need to be in all levels of church structure.
Those church leaders didn’t have to make that video. Hinds, Fordham and Speegle didn’t have to give up their credentials. But they did, and in doing so used their privilege to support the marginalized.
This is how inequality is made equal. Whether it’s gender, socioeconomic or racial inequality, when those who are privileged stand with those who are disprivileged, justice rolls in swifter than if the disprivileged stood by themselves. If white abolitionists had never joined the fight to end slavery, freedom would have been an even slower and bloodier struggle.
I have my own privilege—I’m white, I’m straight, and compared to much of the world I’m incredibly rich—and I could look at those who are marginalized for their race, sexuality or lack of wealth and say, “That’s not my problem.” I could let those who are worse off than me stand by themselves, speak by themselves, act on behalf of themselves, but by doing so I would delay justice and deny the sacrifice Jesus made for me.
God has ultimate privilege, and She could have looked at the suffering of humanity and said, “That’s not my problem.”
But in a sense, She gave up Her credentials and took on the form of humanity, standing with us, speaking and acting on behalf of us, dying for us. With this example of grace extended so obviously, how can we justify anything less?
My challenge, then, is that each of us finds ways to use our privilege to benefit those who are marginalized. If we have $10, let’s fill an Operation Christmas Child box and encourage a child we’ll never meet. If we’re male, let’s become feminists. If we’re straight, let’s become allies. If we’re white, let’s speak against racism.
As Noy Thrupkaew said, “Our prosperity is no longer prosperity as long as it is pinned to other people’s pain.”
May this be true for us here at Union.
Agree? Disagree? Tell me what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah is a senior studying english.