Linking Sexuality and Gender
Naming Violence against Women in The United Church of Canada
Publication Year: 2003
Why did it take so long for the United Church of Canada to respond to violence against women?
Tracy J. Trothen looks at the United Church as a uniquely Canadian institution, and explores how it has approached gender and sexuality issues. She argues that how the Church deals with these issues influences its ability to name violence against women.
In examining the Church’s early approaches to gender and sexuality, Tracy J. Trothen discovered that the United Church had tended to see certain structures or roles as sacred and others as demonic. For example, while sex outside marriage was bad or improper, sexual expression within marriage was largely deemed as proper or good, no matter what manifestation it took. This assumption allowed much violence within families and marriages to go unchallenged.
Trothen uncovers significant shifts in this approach through the examination of such issues as redemptive homes, marriage, pornography, abortion, the ordination of women, and family. Then, analyzing three recent case studies, she demonstrates the value of women’s voices in challenging dominant world views. Finally, she suggests how the Church’s approach to human sexuality and gender has facilitated or obstructed the move to address violence against women.
The findings in Linking Sexuality and Gender can be applied to faiths outside the United Church and will be important to anyone interested in church and society, sexuality, gender, or the causal dynamics behind one Canadian institution’s response to violence against women.
Tracy J. Trothen is an assistant professor of systematic theology and ethics, and director of field education at Queen’s Theological College, Queen’s University, Canada. She was ordained in the United Church of Canada. Why did it take so long for the United Church of Canada to respond to violence against women?
Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Series: Studies in Women and Religion
Title Page, Copyright Page
TABLE OF CONTENTS
With fondness and much appreciation, I acknowledge the contributions of several individuals: My family, friends and colleagues who supported me with a firm belief in the value of this project. Particularly Ron Pearson, my companion, who shares my passion for justice; who listens to my frustrations and struggles; who sustains me with an ongoing commitment to play and enjoy life. ...
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Fourteen women dead, and one man. How many wounded?”1 On December 6, 1989, a man carrying a gun separated the women from a group of engineering students. The women were told they had “no business” being there; he accused them of being “feminists” and began shooting. The man killed fourteen women simply because they were women. ...
Feminists have argued that objectivity demands intellectual credibility, a critical self-awareness of loyalties and biases, conscious emotional and spiritual engagement, communal engagement and ongoing self- and other-critique. Our identities are shaped by our context and experiences. ...
II: The Development of The United Church of Canada’s Approach to Human Sexuality
The United Church of Canada’s understanding of human sexuality, as reflected in the official Records of Proceedings, changed significantly between 1925 and the early 1980s.1 Two relevant and intertwined paradigm shifts were in process: First, the United Church’s understanding of the purpose of human sexuality moved from the conviction that such expressions must be limited to procreation...
III: The Development of The United Church of Canada’s Approach to Women’s Roles and the Family
Throughout the greater part of United Church history, women were expected to follow the vocations of wife and mother and to devote themselves to the care and nurture of their husbands and, particularly, their children. The preservation of this family unit was a prevailing concern for the United Church throughout the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. ...
IV: Case Study: In God’s Image…Male and Female
In August 1980, amid much controversy, the Task Force on Human Sexuality submitted In God’s Image…Male and Female to General Council, where it was approved as a study document. This document and the subsequent report on human sexuality, Gift, Dilemma and Promise (1984) are central moments in the development of The United Church of Canada’s positions on sexuality, gender and the family. ...
V: Case Study: Gift, Dilemma and Promise
After the United Church General Council received the study document, In God’s Image…Male and Female, feedback to the study was gathered and collated. The three most contentious subjects, according to this feedback, were “biblical interpretation, fidelity and…homosexuality.”1 ...
VI: Case Study: The Task Force on the Changing Roles of Women and Men in Church and Society
This chapter will examine the development and work of the Task Force on the Changing Roles of Women and Men in Church and Society (TFWM). The sources used for this examination are, as in other chapters, parts of the official record. Archived minutes of meetings, letters, memoranda, The Observer and the ROPs are the primary sources. ...
VII: Taking Stock: A Contextual, Retrospective Look at Sexuality, Gender, Violence, and The United Church of Canada
The United Church’s approach to issues related to gender and sexuality have contributed to our understandings of, and therefore responses to, violence against women.1 As I wrote at the beginning of this book, if one is to understand the United Church’s contemporary approach to violence against women...