New Pencils and New Crayolas[R]
Klein, Ralph W., Currents in Theology and Mission
I write these words at the beginning of another academic year, and I am reminded of different times in my life and in society, when life was simpler, family resources quite limited, and the beginning of the "academic year" in first or second grade was marked by the newness and freshness--and affordableness--of pencils and Crayolas. A lot of "grades" have flown by in the nearly six decades since I forged those memories. This year I bought a new computer instead of the pencils and Crayolas to celebrate the new academic year. September still has that same old magic for me, as it did when Mrs. Colvin was my teacher and knickers my uniform.
Life really was probably not so simple then--people were searching for meaning and striving to be faithful then too, against all the odds. But it seems so much simpler. Back then we stood up to sing the "Battle Hymn of the Reformation." Today we stand up for all the hymns and wouldn't be caught dead talking about the "battle hymn" of the Reformation. Today we assess the positive--and negative--effects of the Reformation on women, discuss issues of sexuality unmentioned then (the fierce sexual debate then was about dancing!), and our country considers toppling militarily the leader of another sovereign state (World War II, at least in retrospect, was a lot simpler ethically).
The first four articles in this issue were delivered at a conference in Germany dealing with the impact of the Reformation on the role of women. Christian Albrecht shows how the role of women after the Reformation was enhanced by a changed legal concept of marriage. While the medieval church encouraged a form of marriage based on mutual consent, the church's stress on the superiority of the celibate life had a devaluating effect on the religious understanding of marriage. Luther argued that the marital relationship between a man and a woman was true chastity and of higher value than monastic asceticism, just as one's daily work represents true worship of God and was to be more highly valued than monastic life with its seclusion. The concept of marriage was grounded in the functions it fulfills; the sacramental view is replaced by a functional view. The pragmatic justification of marriage was to the advantage of those traditionally less privileged in marriage, namely, women.
Christoph Bultmann assesses what the Reformation had to contribute to the relationship of men and women by focusing on Luther's interpretation of Genesis 1-3. He notes that at one time Genesis was understood as the last word on when and how the world was made and on the relation of men and women. He notes that neither opinion should hold sway today. Luther's exegesis reduces woman's role to the bearing and raising of children, and he stresses explicitly the subordination of women in a way that is not counterbalanced even by the aspect of mutual love as it is in Ephesians. Luther's preoccupation with the problem of monastic vows and other similar issues of the day prevented him from fully realizing the consequences of what he himself pointed out in his exposition of passages like 1 Corinthians 7. Hence we need to move beyond Luther's own biased interpretation of Genesis to the biblical text itself to find a more wholesome picture of the role of sexuality in general and of women in particular.
Ute Mennecke-Haustein reviews the positions of Luther and Caritas Pirckheimer in the sixteenth century on why one should leave a convent or remain in a convent. A widow by the name of Ursula Tetzel tried to free her daughter Margarete from a convent where Caritas Pirckheimer was the abbess, and she eventually succeeded with the help of political authorities, who based their opinion on the fourth commandment--the daughter who was a nun should obey her mother. Luther argued that God gave humans an irresistible sexual drive in order to maintain the species and to subdue the flesh so that it does not "rage wherever and however it pleases. …