Thursday, 22 November 2012

Anglicans, relevance and women bishops

Amidst all the angst, fury and tears in the Church of England over the failure to secure a mitre for the matrons, the most surreal (and I think I am using that overused word in a proper sense) claim has been that women bishops would help to make the C of E relevant.

Who are these people who, presumably now disenchanted with the church, or with the C of E, or with Christianity, or with religion generally, would suddenly take it seriously because of such a move? I can imagine it meaning a lot to women 'priests'; I can imagine some women outside the church having their prejudices against the church hardened by this show of what they would consider chauvinism or what has been laughably called 'centuries of institutionalised sexism' (brilliant historical perspective that); and no doubt the liberal establishment will be aghast at this exhibition of primeval values. Yet is anyone who might be inclined to take Christianity seriously really going to be put off by the vote in Synod? Would a cynic really be made to take the gospel seriously because under the mitre there is a real woman instead of an old woman?

Equality is one thing; sameness is another. The Christian gospel has since its earliest proclamation been a force for the dignity and liberation of women from all manner of social disadvantages. Yet the Scriptures clearly teach that ultimate leadership is male. This is nothing to do with traditionalism. It is everything to do with God's Word and the authority it has in the church.

The church will be relevant when that same Word is preached in the power of the Spirit; when communities of God's people exhibit the pattern of life established in the Word with sincerity and sacrifice; when people realise their need of a Saviour and that Jesus Christ is that Saviour. When these things become clear to us, it may perhaps be seen that not only should women not be bishops, but men should not be either - at least on the pattern that the C of E has them.

No comments:

Post a Comment