Wednesday 21 November 2012

Women Bishops

The decision of women being appointed as bishops has been decided and there is much rancour. I hope all can look at the issue in a measured way, looking beyond the simple matter of equality according to the world’s understanding, taking into consideration more profound

The decision of the Church of England not to agree to the appointment of women bishops has naturally been given much space in newspapers and on television. I find it intriguing that so many people can find interest in what the Church does internally, yet fails to find the interest to attend any of its services.

A lot of criticism has been levelled that the Church is treating women as second class citizens and will not give equal status, some of this criticism has been frankly quite improper. I wonder why however there has been no such criticism of Islam, a religion in which women are not allowed any participation at all. Do you not think it odd, especially recognising the fact that Islam is the fastest growing faith, and attracting conversions by women who think it more moral?

I understand how some women priests must be feeling depressed when the media and senior clergy have been building up their hopes. There have been some women whose names have been widely tipped for elevation, and I can imagine some have been getting their measurements ready for the purple robes.

All the criticism of evangelicals who were prominent in opposing the measure cannot be justified, and some of the remarks have been totally unworthy of mature adults; such as the woman who emerging into the rain, said that God was shedding tears; or the man who posed for photographs wearing the words ‘God is an equal opportunity supporter,’ which made him look quite silly.

There has been talk (amazingly) of God being involved, which is quite a reasonable thing for Church people to do. He doesn’t seem to have had a lot of consideration. If we are going to do so, we can do no better than to turn to His Word, given to writers of the Bible. No matter how hard I try, in all sincerity, I cannot find any authority for appointing women bishops, but there are numerous verse to oppose.

But there are other issues involved in the decision making. Much of the debate has been based on sociological reasoning rather than theological. The supporters have been treating men and women totally on equality grounds, in other words in a worldly manner. When God made both men and women He made them perfectly equal, but physically different to fulfil different purposes in the world. Realists have understood each sex has superior abilities in different ways in order to make this world a more comfortable and exciting place.

The whole debate has centred on women having authority for its own sake, just as politicians have struggled (without success) to have women being given promotions in the workplace to fulfil quotas. When women were first ordained priests it was after many claimed God was calling them to ministry and they wanted to serve Him in such a way. Just as with some men, whilst many are happy serving God faithfully in the parishes, others just want to claim the greasy pole.

We should also consider that any such change would mean ignoring 5000 years of theology, 2000 years of church history and 500 years of Anglican tradition. It would also mean affecting unity with the worldwide Church where there is no suggestion of women bishops, such as with Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches of Greece and Russia

It is being widely claimed that this decision will mean the Church will not appeal to the public, which ignores the fact that the Churches in the developing world where is no thought of appointing women bishops,
are attracting thousands of people, and the growing Churches in this country are evangelical ones, or indeed hold traditional services.

Let us acknowledge, a way had been devised where those opposed to women bishops could be accommodated, but that was not enough for some, they wanted a complete surrender of any opposition.

The Archbishop of Canterbury this morning stated the world does not understand the theological objection and the Church was setting itself apart from the trends of society. This is a remarkable statement from the head of the Church; the Church should be setting the agenda not following it. The Lord we follow was not concerned what society thought, and above all showed a sense of humility many in today’s Church should emulate.

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