Tuesday, 5 February 2013

WATCH

As the intensive facilitated discussions on legislation to allow women to be bishops start today WATCH has published these two articles, from which I have extracted a few key paragraphs.

John Gladwin: Some comments on where we go from here on the legislation for opening the episcopate to women

The issue in front of us is not primarily doctrinal. That hurdle was jumped in the 1970’s and the church has not retreated from its clear commitment that there are no theological principles in our understanding of the tradition preventing women entering holy orders.

The issue is, therefore, fundamentally about the order of the church. The order of the Church of England is that if you are ordained deacon you may be ordained priest after one year and if you are ordained priest you may be ordained Bishop after 6 years and if you are over 30 years of age. Canon C2 sets out the refinements of this. Driving a permanent wedge between the priesthood and the episcopate is destructive of our tradition and order.

That is one of the reasons why the language of reception was used when women were admitted to the priesthood. The experience of this ministry would seal the issue. There can be no doubt that the period is reception is long passed. When the Archbishop Rowan suggested that, in theory, it was possible for the church to reverse its decision to ordain women into the priesthood, he very quickly had to retract. There is no doubt reception time is done.

Jane Charman: Gender discrimination in the Church of England – why it matters and our response

Within the Church of England defending the rights of some individuals and groups to discriminate against women currently has a high priority and is connected in many minds with upholding freedom and diversity. By contrast witnessing to the equal dignity and worth of women in society has a low priority. It is not a moral imperative for us. Opponents of women’s ministry have worked hard to alter our perceptions in this way, to present gender discrimination as a respectable alternative position within the life of the Church and themselves as victims of intolerance. This reversal of values seems perverse and incomprehensible, even morally repugnant, to those outside the Church.

I voted for the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure last November, having persuaded myself that it was the best of the options available to us. I wanted to respect the views of others and make gracious provision for those who tell us they are struggling with this issue for theological reasons. I particularly wanted to find a way for the Church of England to break out of the current impasse and move forward with the pressing missional task that is before us.

I have come to understand that what I did was wrong. I was supporting a lesser good at the expense of a greater good. We cannot place the needs and wishes of a small number of our own members above our vocation to declare a gospel of justice and mercy for all human beings. We cannot achieve our goal of having women in the House of Bishops on such terms.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 5 February 2013 at 10:43am GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

I'm scratching my head to think when General Synod voted to decide in Bishop Gladwin's phrase that "the period of reception is long passed"?

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 5 February 2013 at 12:52pm GMT

The article by Jane Charman is brilliant. Thanks so much.

"We cannot place the needs and wishes of a small number of our own members above our vocation to declare a gospel of justice and mercy for all human beings. We cannot achieve our goal of having women in the House of Bishops on such terms."

Here (ought to ) endeth the lesson.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Tuesday, 5 February 2013 at 3:29pm GMT

I agree strongly with Jane Charman: We cannot place the needs and wishes of a small number of our own members above our vocation to declare a gospel of justice and mercy for all human beings.

Time is up for the discriminators. The theology for discrimination was laid to rest 2 decades ago. Now they just sound like whiney, angry, entitled people, "but we WANT our boys club, we're ENTITLED to it." And why enshrine hateful policies when this view is decidedly time limited to an older generation. If CoE makes provisions for the bigots, it should be time limited. I still think the best idea is radical equality, one female and one male bishop per diocese.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 5 February 2013 at 5:26pm GMT

Thanks to John Gladwin and Jane Charman. I am not an academic of some standing otherwise I would say I could not have put it better myself.

Posted by: Stephen on Tuesday, 5 February 2013 at 6:22pm GMT

Reverend Canon Jane Charman's opening paragraph in the quoted text above is spot on. Is fantastic!
For decades, people (primarily men, IMHO) opposed to women bishops have portrayed themselves as the victims. Have portrayed themselves as the persecuted and oppressed true vessels of the Faith.
The result is that people who support women bishops bend over backwards to assure opponents that they are respected -- and then the demands for concessions to show how much the opponents are respected never seem to stop.
Not only do opponents of women bishops demand special male bishops, they demand special male bishops untainted by even thinking that women bishops are OK. For a bishop, even if properly manly male, who merely thinks women bishops are OK might actually TALK to a woman bishop, might treat her as an equal, and that is a sure sign of a grave moral defect.
** sigh **
Thank you, Reverend Canon Charman, for your comments.
I think the Reverend Canon's main point can be extended to those opposed to gay and lesbian people as well, but that's a topic for another day.

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Tuesday, 5 February 2013 at 7:08pm GMT

As the academic of some standing in question (merely so designating myself in response to Miranda's self-designation 'as an historian'), I invite fellow-liberals to consider the possibility that there might be some incompatibility - even absurdity, even moral offensiveness - in apparently grounding 100% across-the-board imposition of women bishops in 'loyalty' to 'the Crown', that antediluvian, anti-egalitarian, ripe-for-the chop (guillotine?) institution. Let me make myself clear: I have absolutely no objection to fellow-Anglicans registering their loyalty to the Queen (not my queen): I do most violently object to this being some sort of criterion of Anglican loyalty, and suggest that liberal 'ultras' show absolutely no sense of decency or appropriateness in the arguments they use to further their absolutist position.

Posted by: John on Tuesday, 5 February 2013 at 8:35pm GMT

Kudos to Jane Charman.

Making accommodation in the name of acceptance and diversity for those whose doctrine prohibits both always struck me as a bit perverse.

Posted by: Counterlight on Tuesday, 5 February 2013 at 8:43pm GMT

Jane Charman's admission that she 'was wrong', in presuming that there ought to be special provision for those who objected to Women in the Episcopate, is both gracious and understandable.

In the light of subsequent discussion and a time of pragmatic adjustment, it can clearly be seen that appeasement is no way to accommodate in enshrined legislation the ongoing praxis of 'accommodation' to dissident understandings against the need for a single-clause Measure, that allows for Women Bishops to be treated in exactly the same way as their male counterparts, in the exercise of their ministry. There is no room in the Church for an un-catholic two-tiered version of the episcopate.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 5 February 2013 at 11:30pm GMT

Some of the commentators on this thread are akin to the Orwellian Thought Police, demanding that the only theological thought or language permissible is that which they believe or dictate. Heaven help the Church of England.

Posted by: Benedict on Wednesday, 6 February 2013 at 9:33am GMT

Kudos to Jane Charman.

Making accommodation in the name of acceptance and diversity for those whose doctrine prohibits both always struck me as a bit perverse.

Posted by: Counterlight on Tuesday, 5 February 2013 at 8:43.

This is it really. I have long felt this in my bones, but in my inarticulate way, could not find words for it. You have both given expression to it, wonderfully. Clearly.

I hope the PEVs and FiF are taking note. I do not wish to see the fifth column antics of the recent past continued under the new PEVs. They need line-managing.

I am all with Jane, we have gone far enough. Enough already !

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 6 February 2013 at 11:56am GMT

Benedict
No one on this thread has indicated that they want to make windows into men's souls, or that thought is anything but free. Language can be offensive, and that's as true within the church as it is without. Your beliefs are your own affair, but do accept that they may not necessarily affect the way the church is ordered in the future. So do stop sounding so victimised!

Posted by: Helen on Wednesday, 6 February 2013 at 6:47pm GMT

"Heaven help the Church of England." - Beneidct -

A pious thought, Benedict. This may already be in God's mind with the advent of Women Bishops!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 6 February 2013 at 10:36pm GMT

"Orwellian Thought Police" Is that in reference to the current liberation of women and LGBT persons?

If that's what one calls "Orwellian Thought Police," what is it when the church actually does oppress people? Be it LGBT people in Uganda, Cromwell's people oppressing RC's, or RC's oppressing reformers? The Irish, etc....

This blog seems to reflect the broad and overwhelming majority view that women are called by God and it is time for the church to stop oppressing them. People who don't like that have not expressed themselves well theologically (I think it's actually untenable), they are in a very small minority, and they are mostly in an age group that probably shouldn't be dictating to the next generation, because we won't accept it. Add that to the fact that no diocese or parish is going to be monolithically anti women, and you clearly have a situation where special provisions don't really make any sense. A pastoral response from the local bishop? Sure. But not church wide policy.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 6:38am GMT

"they are mostly in an age group that probably shouldn't be dictating to the next generation"

I'm rather disturbed by this idea that someone's views are somehow less valid becuase of their age. I don't think older people want to "dictate" to anyone - they simply want to feel that their opinions are as valid as anyone elses. Doesn't the accumulated wisdom of experience stand for anything?

Posted by: William on Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 11:41am GMT

Cynthia, traditionalists like myself will not be coerced into acting against our conscience. And is it not a kind of oppression you are engaging in, when you seek to force us to do so? Furthermore, arguments for women bishops are pretty thin theologically themselves. All I ever seem to hear is that we need to catch up with society. We need to "get with the programme" to quote David Cameron. What about complementarity, what about 2000 years of unbroken tradition, what about millions and millions of Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians throughout the world who are still members of Churches that refuses to ordain women? Are you honestly claiming that the theological foundation to all of that has not time and time again been articulately expressed? And where is this overwhelming majority view, even in the Anglican Communion, in which a majority of provinces do not ordain women to the episcopate?

Posted by: Benedict on Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 1:55pm GMT

I am appalled at the Jane Charman comments. “I particularly wanted to find a way for the Church of England to break out of the current impasse and move forward “. Clearly not, surely any one reading her comment can see that she despises those that do not see things her way. She has not responded to anyone’s genuine concerns, but just labels them bigots “individuals and groups who discriminate against women” .
I read much of the debate on the vote and I was shocked at the rather bullying rhetoric that was coming for the pro women Bishops camp. I myself am for women bishops, but I do not think that the pervading attitude was at all helpful in any respect.

Posted by: John Blake on Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 2:03pm GMT

Benedict,
I was raised into the Greek Orthodox church of my father and embraced TEC of my mother as an adult. I hold the liturgy and learnings of 2000 years in high regard. But I'm afraid I am keenly aware of the oppression that has also been a part of the church, most notably the Western church. And I'm afraid my view is that "traditionalists" seem to me to be upholding the traditional oppression against women. I'm keenly aware that the oppressors have written most of the history and enshrined their view.

When I look to Jesus and his treatment of women, Mary Magdalene as the first witness to the Resurrection, and the fact that women were early church leaders, especially when church happened in the home, I can only conclude that the churches traditional oppression of women is based in CULTURE, and not the teachings of Jesus.

When I see the fruits of oppression and exclusion, depression, ill health, and even suicide, I have to conclude that this is not the will of the loving Christ. When I see the fruits of the gifts women clergy have brought to me personally and in TEC (covering my mid childhood to now), I am horrified that my brothers and sisters in CoE have excluded these gifts for so long.

I would like to respect my elders, I would and in many cases I do. But my experience is that "traditionalists" either:
a. just want things to stay the way they've been, and of course the status quo always benefits "traditionalists;" or,
b. don't really listen to those who are oppressed. If your answer is "that's not oppression," then you haven't listened.

The Holy Spirit is most palpable in relationship. That's why talking and listening is so crucial to a discernment process. I'm afraid, Benedict, that I feel that "traditionalists" have not been open to that moving and living Spirit. I do not believe that WB or LGBT inclusion is a secular movement. I believe it is the Holy Spirit on the move, and that more people have finally tuned in.

It is easy on a blog, in being succinct, to seem flippant and one-dimensional. But I hope that Simon posts this. And I hope that you, Benedict, can take it in with the loving spirit that is intended, even if strong language is used.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 7:52pm GMT


There is not a lot that needs to be added to Jane Charman's engaging article. The article lays out the issues clearly. I find the paragraph cited below is thematic. Some comments posted here defending tradtionalists as victims simply prove her point.


"By contrast witnessing to the equal dignity and worth of women in society has a low priority. It is not a moral imperative for us. Opponents of women’s ministry have worked hard to alter our perceptions in this way, to present gender discrimination as a respectable alternative position within the life of the Church and themselves as victims of intolerance."

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 9:45pm GMT

"Oppression, coerce, force, bullying"- the usual inflated language. The Anglican church in England and many other provinces has accepted women priests, Benedict, so get used to it! I'm sure you'll be able to avoid them in the future as successfully as you have in the past. I'm afraid I'm with Jane Charman on this, at least partly because of the wilful blindness you exhibit to the theological reasons for women in the episcopate which have been expounded time and again. They are NOT reducible to "catching up with society" as I am sure you well know. And she didn't call anyone "bigots" , John, though you no doubt have your own reasons for asserting that she did. "Discrimination" whether arising from "genuine concerns" or not is still discrimination,and as a woman (who has no calling to the priesthood!) I find it as offensive within the church as without.

Posted by: Helen on Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 10:30pm GMT

"Furthermore, arguments for women bishops are pretty thin theologically themselves" - Benedict -

Oh really, Benedict? So St. Paul's injunction that "In Christ, there is neither male nor female" is not 'theological enough' for you? Or do you think that Jesus did not have to battle for female emancipation himself? A mere reading of the Gospels should convince you that Jesus was in favour of Women taking part in apostolic activity.

Mary Magdalene, after all, was commissioned by Jesus to bring the Gospel story of his resurrection to the male disciples. Yes, I know, they didn't believe her. And why not? Could it have been the very same misogyny that still reigns in some parts of the Church today, I wonder?

I guess even Jesus, if he were here in person today, would have a real problem convincing you - and the Vatican - that Women have the same charism of ministry in the Gospel as men. They might even do it better. they certainly could improve on some of us males in the Church.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 8 February 2013 at 12:00am GMT

Benedict, can you explain what you mean by 'complementarity'? I know the House of Bishops makes use of the term, but I have not yet seen an adequate explanation of this notion, or any basis for relying on it to exclude women from roles they appear to most of us to be capable of occupying.

Posted by: Flora Alexander on Friday, 8 February 2013 at 12:25am GMT

Helen and Cynthia, could you briefly outline to me the theological and ecclesiological foundations supporting the ordination of women to the episcopate and the biblical hermeneutic offering weight to the same?

Posted by: Benedict on Friday, 8 February 2013 at 7:32am GMT

Benedict
you don't need Cynthia and Helen to do your research for you. This topic has been discussed extensively at the time women were admitted to the priesthood. With a little bit of googling you should be able to access all the theology yourself.

You don't have to agree with it. But to pretend it doesn't exist, or even to admit that you haven't read any of it, does not strengthen your case.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 8 February 2013 at 9:43am GMT

Benedict, I am sure the you are no ingenue in these things but I was helped by reading the report of the Rochester Commission in its setting out of the stances and reasoning of the different sides of the debate. Given the tone of many of the comments on this blog I was struck by the Commission's affirmation that from an Anglican point of view the different perspectives are held with "equal integrity and godliness". I don't know why that finding keeps being ignored amidst all the name calling,

johnny

Posted by: johnny may on Friday, 8 February 2013 at 11:43am GMT

Benedict, remember that the General Synod decided a long time ago that there are no theological objections that should prevent women from becoming bishops. How is it useful, if you are in the Church of England, to revisit this now?

Posted by: Flora Alexander on Friday, 8 February 2013 at 11:51am GMT

Kudos to Jane Charman.

No "honoured place" for discrimination.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 8 February 2013 at 12:56pm GMT

Re Benedict, " ...outline to me the theological and ecclesiological foundations supporting the ordination of women to the episcopate and the biblical hermeneutic offering weight to the same?"

Interesting how oppossing sides in an issue frame the quesiton from one's own perspective. You might find the article below of interest. Its written by a catholic in favor of ordaining women. I posted a link to this some time ago, but thought that it might be useful to do so again. It is not exhaustive, but merely typical, of a vast amount of scholarhip that punches holes in patriarchal assumptions and starting points. It's also not new. Its been vailable for some time.

http://www.womenpriests.org/gender/borresen2.asp

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Friday, 8 February 2013 at 1:19pm GMT

"I was struck by the Commission's affirmation that from an Anglican point of view the different perspectives are held with "equal integrity and godliness". I don't know why that finding keeps being ignored amidst all the name calling"

That does not mean that the church itself believes two different things before breakfast.
It is simply saying that the views of those who cannot agree with the now stated position of the church can be held with integrity.

It does not say that respecting those views includes setting up a hermetically sealed church within a church in order to express that respect.

I'm beginning to bore myself with this point, but could those who wish their opposition to the official view of the church please explain what kind of compromise they would accept? What kind of provisions they can live with?

Let's not forget that the Draft Measure was rejected largely because people blithely refused to see the amount of compromising that had already gone in to the proposal and that they assured us it would be a very simple matter to get it right.

Instead of accusing the rest of us of name calling, could these people now please come forward with actual constructive proposals?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 8 February 2013 at 4:11pm GMT

Benedict,
You should listen to us. It is the Holy Spirit on the move. Rod provided a great link and others have referred you to the arguments long past. My books are put away in my basement, I have given you the summary, Jesus's own teachings, and the fruits of oppression vs. the fruits of inclusion.

Surely you can't deny that the church has been responsible for a wide variety of oppression through the centuries. How do you justify the oppression of women as being OK when we no longer use the the church to support slavery, colonialism, anti-semitism, war with Catholics, persecution of Aryans (the ones who didn't believe in the divinity of Christ), etc.,... Why is it that your particular prejudices are OK, in the face of the inclusive behaviour and teachings of Jesus? Do you not realize that Jesus's harshest words were used against the Establishment for using the law to exclude and demean people? Something the CoE should keep firmly in mind?

I'm sorry, the oppression of women is culturally based, not based in the teachings of Jesus. I'm putting the burden on you to say otherwise. You know that I'm not going to accept tradition. In the US, we are keenly aware that the dominant group always uses tradition and status quo to justify injustice. You need something stronger. Hint: if you substitute the word "black" for woman, and it sounds racist, chances are it won't stand up.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 8 February 2013 at 6:03pm GMT

'I was struck by the Commission's affirmation that from an Anglican point of view the different perspectives are held with "equal integrity and godliness". I don't know why that finding keeps being ignored amidst all the name calling.'

Because it's wrong.

How can discrimination be godly?

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 8 February 2013 at 8:34pm GMT

I don't see how I can 'speak' for those, especially women who desire not to have a female bishop. It is not my call to make but I imagine that the answer would be any of those options which were rejected along the way- transferred oversight, flying bishops, third province, the archbishops' amendment. Yes, I do understand they were rejected but so was a 'single clause' and the latter seems to be firmly up for reconsideration so presumably the former can be. As I understand it any of those solutions but particularly the archbishops' amendment would have been acceptable to the opponents as it was passed by them but defeated by the proponents in the clergy. As I have said before I don't understand why the laity have copped the blame when the clergy defeated the amendment.

By the way I didn't suggest anyone in particular was name calling so there was no need for it to be taken as such.

johnny

Posted by: Johnny may on Friday, 8 February 2013 at 11:40pm GMT

Jeremy nails it again with "how can discrimination be Godly."

I have yet to see a single argument for discrimination that makes any sense. Centuries of oppression is not going to cut it. Therefore I can't see a good reason for institutional "provisions" to continue to humiliate women.

Radical equality is the way to go. One woman and one male bishop for each diocese. In less than 10 years this will be a non issue anyway, so institutionalizing humiliation really doesn't make sense.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 2:44am GMT

Johnny,
the tide of history moves toward less discrimination not more. That is why those options were rejected and that's why they will not get a second hearing.

Wishful thinking will not solve this question, only a realistic assessment of the reality and some genuine compromising will.

I am still not hearing any constructive alternative proposal from those here who have so far done nothing but shoot Jane Charman down in flames.

What do you think should be done?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 10:58am GMT

Erika, thank you for your comment but I thought the whole point was that we are trying to going back in history to a first century church without gender and racial discrimination, "no male/female, Jew/Greek" rather than moving from that point inexorably towards an ever more non-discriminatory world.

Cynthia,thank you too for your contibution- I think I could address the same point to you, the "centuries of oppresssion" presumably do not include first century Galatia? Or do they?

I have to say that the arguments against women bishops in the Rochester Report make perfect "sense", whether or not we agree with them is a different question.

Of course if our a priori definition of discrimination is something like "all human beings (and the genders in particular) are inter-changeable for all purposes and anything that denies that is discriminatory" then nothing but that assumption will make any sense.All we then have to do is tag any argument with which we disagree as "discriminatory" and debate is over.

On the other hand if we accept the possibility that there is a definition of "discrmination" which entertains non-uniformity then we open up a whole new range of possibilities. One of those is that some women appear to find being regarded as "equal but different" liberating. Contrary to what has been said before I do not accept without some evidence that all such women are stupid or mentally ill. It seems to me more likely that they just have a different view of the nature of equality aand therefore discrimination.Apat from the suggestion that they are so oppressed that they do not knw their own minds I have seen no proper explanation on here as to wwhy such women cannot be allowed space in the church to live as they choose. I.e I do not know why the "rights" of one group of women "potential bishops" overrides the rights of another group of women (not to have to minister/worship under a female bishop). How do we decide the heirarchy of rights?

This has got rather long but one last thing. I am intrigued by Cynthia's "two bishops" idea. If the clergy/church were allowed to choose their bishop ie a female vicar electing to have the female bishop because the male one did not believe that she was validly ordained that would resolve the present dispute. Likewise a male vicar who didn't waant to serve under the female bishop could chose the male one. My understanding however is that a not dissimilar idea was rejected by synod which is a shame as I'm all for people being able to "vote with their feet" and over a period of time it can be seen who thrives.

johnny

johnny

Posted by: johnny may on Monday, 11 February 2013 at 1:58pm GMT

'I am still not hearing any constructive alternative proposal from those here who have so far done nothing but shoot Jane Charman down in flames.

What do you think should be done?' (Erika Baker)

dear Erika I do hope you are not holding your breath ? Otherwise I would fear for your health !

I too, am continuing to breath as usual.

Alas, no 'constructive thinking from those against the ordination of women. FiF and other bodies against the ordination of women have not done so over the lsat twenty years; but have used the time, as we now know to build cabals against women's Ministry, centred around Ebbsfleet and other PEVs who then blew their cover, and went over to Rome. They have not played fair and there is no reason to think they ever will. Having been an Anglo-Papalist myself for many years, I saw and heard what went on within that constituency - and it involved much politicking and less penance; and exhibitionism rather than Exposition ! (alas).

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 11 February 2013 at 3:50pm GMT

Dear Erika and others, we try to honour your questions with responses but are in the hands of our beloved moderator,

johnny

ED your last response had gone into the spam filter.

Posted by: johnny may on Tuesday, 12 February 2013 at 2:11pm GMT

Johnny,
I'm afraid, I don't understand your comment.
We are precisely trying to get to a point where there is no male nor female, Jew nor Greek. That is whole basis of non discrimination.

Currently, people are being selected for specific roles depending on whether they are male or female, and that is exactly what we're not meant to be doing.


Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 12 February 2013 at 4:52pm GMT

Erika, my point was, if "the tide of history moves toward less discrimination" that suggests that even the equality described in Galatians 3 needed to be improved upon or are you saying that what is said in Galatians 3 has never happened in history and is an, as yet unrealised, aspiration. I rather take it that Paul is describing exactly the condition of the believers in Galatia rather than some theoretical future possibility. Do you disagree?

By the way I haave never understood the interpretation of Galatians 3 that obliterates difference. I have not become less male since coming to Christ. I understand that Christ saved me in my maleness (and many other characteristics that need to be sanctified) nor do I think that there is any suggestion that it is not right to remian distinctively male and female- where would I find this? It seems to me that Paul is refering to the fact that the offer of life in Christ is for all regardless of gender/race/status. Could you help me with why that is wrong?

johnny

Posted by: johnny may on Tuesday, 12 February 2013 at 10:33pm GMT

Johnny,
my point is that we are not living according to Galatians 3 but that we have turned the obvious biological difference between male and female into something that has spiritual significance.

But just as Peter and Paul discovered that the obvious difference between Jews and Gentiles did not mean that Gentiles could not be Christians on exactly the same terms as Jews, so we ought to accept that the obvious biological difference between male and female does not mean that either has to be assigned any separate roles in life. Especially not when they do not want to be assigned those roles and when they are convinced that God is calling them to serve in exactly the same way as he calls the others.

Our inability to see the biological as a difference that does not require nor justify imposing man made social and spiritual difference is the root of the problem.

Let's try to live Galatians 3 and we will actually end up with the true equality of all. And it will no longer be an imposed "equal but separate" that always seems to shore up the position of those who do the imposing.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 at 8:51am GMT

Erika, thanks again for replying,

I understand that you do not think that we are currently living according to Galatians 3. The question I am interested in is do you think the Galatians were? Therefore do we need to get back to that or are we instead on some inexorable path to improvement- ie which way is the tide running?

Given that we agree that we remain in our distinct genders after coming to Christ do we not in fact have to ask three questions- first a simple "why"- if God intends to obliterate difference post-salvation why retain gender?

Secondly, what is the evidence that the only gender differences remaining in Galatians 3 are biological. I don't think that the only parts of me that are innately (as opposed to socially constructed) male are my physical parts nor do I think that biological difference is confined to body parts.

Thirdly, given that the genders do remain distinct what IS the spiritual significance of difference- it being the case that in God's created order all difference has a reason and thus spiritual significance. You suggest the significance is not "equal but separate" so what is it?

I am afraid that I think your statement that "just as Peter and Paul...does not mean that either has to be...." is just a bold non sequitor-there is no reason I can see in the text that the latter follows from the former- how do you make the jump? In your post you imply it is "especially" about what people "want" and the "call" they sense- I would have thought we agree that those things are not a sound basis for theological decision-making. (There are lots of thngs I feel and want that are distinctly ungodly).

Finally, I'm all for living Galatians 3 but the above questions are vital if we are to understand what the "equality" we seek is. For me it is not enough simply to define it as opposing "shoring up the position of those who do the imposing" because that is circular- defining the issue by the solution and also because, unlike, for example slavery, the current structures are those that many women actively believe to be best.

Much as I appreciate Erika's comments it would be nice to hear from Cynthia or others in response to my earlier post.


johnny

Posted by: johnny may on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 at 1:56pm GMT

Johnny
I certainly don't think that anyone has ever been living according to the principles Jesus set as new standards. Although with regard to female Christian ministry we do know that women were much more powerful and involved in the early stages of Christianity than the patriarchy surrounding them allowed them to continue later, subsequently elevating the less involved status to "tradition" that somehow becomes unshakeable.

But even if the Galatians had been living 100% according to their interpretation of Jesus's Ministry, that does not mean that we cannot incorporate new insights about human anthropology later. Our faith is not static.

In any case, our conversation is completely irrelevant.

Because the CoE has already discerned that women can be priests and bishops and there is no point in you and me reinventing that particular wheel.
There is a huge body of good theology that you could read if you really wanted to explore this further.

In truth, though, the only question we are dealing with is what to do with those who refuse to accept the discernment of God's will for the CoE.
And as the church as promised that it would accommodate them, that is a merely practical question without the need for any further theological input.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 at 3:24pm GMT

How very disappointing.
Without engagement in theological discussion it is impossible to weigh the value of people’s comments. If we can’t weigh value then these threads are just pointless sloganizing.
I thought I posed a series of pertinent questions about things that are far more important to human identity than simply the issue of women bishops. Is there really nobody on a "liberal" (and therefore I assume open minded) blog willing to engage with those issues?
I am aware that there is excellent theology out there and I am trying to read as much as possible. But there is excellent theology on ALL sides. It is therefore helpful to understand why people have come to specific conclusions from the wide range of opinion. If people will not set out why they have come to certain positions how can we have dialogue and seek to better understand each other?
I am surprised that it can be suggested that we have more to learn about Galatians 3 (at least from anthropology) but that the issue of female bishops is somehow a closed question because of a vote in one country's synod. That seems to me to be arbitrary- simply regarding as closed the questions one wants to be closed.
Moreover, I note that synod only said that there were no "fundamental" objections not that somehow the debate was over. If the synod does not regard it as over how can it be? And obviously it is not over because simple majority is insufficient to implement such a change thus the search for the consensus required for 66.67% goes on at a time when there is clearly a substantial minority EVEN in the dioceses who remain opposed EVEN to a Measure which it was said would include proper "provision".
What is more, surely the answer to finding the right provision is to understand the theological differences and allow the provision to arise from and meet those issues. How can it be said that theology is irrelevant to accommodation when the issues for those who need to be “accommodated” are theological?
If issues ARE closed because synod passes a simple majority vote I assume it is a closed issue the opponents and proponents hold their views with "equal integrity and godliness". If that is the case surely the only provision can be something that provides equally for both?

johnny

Posted by: johnny may on Thursday, 14 February 2013 at 7:39pm GMT

Johnny,
I have spent a long time trying to understand the theological difficulties people have with women priests. Evangelicals cannot accept them because t hey believe in male headship which, at the extreme end, means that women must not "teach" men anything in the religious sphere, and Anglo Catholics need sacramental assurance, which means that their priests and bishops must be men who have been ordained deacon and priest by other validly ordained male priests.

It is not complicated to understand the objections (although it is impossible to understand why we had a PEV scheme for the last 20 years when there is as yet not a single not-validly ordained male priest or bishop in the country, which makes it apparent that the objections go far beyond sacramental assurance and have as least as much to do with wanting "right thinking" bishops).

What is difficult is how to work out a compromise that means that the church can have women bishops on a 100% equal footing with men while at the same time ensuring that women are so remote from those parishes who cannot accept them that they stay well and truly separate.

There is absolutely no way of squaring that circle. And the only question is what part each side is willing to give.

Women have already accepted that there will be parishes within their own church that do not even consider them to be ordained and they have accepted that. They have already accepted that they must delegate their authority to appropriate male bishops. What they cannot accept is that they should be second class bishops who do not even have an authority to delegate. That is a line that cannot be crossed at the moment.

And yet, evangelical parishes feel unable to compromise here because they do not believe that women should even have the authority to delegate.

Many Anglo-Catholic parishes don't have a problem with that because they see this as an administrative function, not a sacramental one.
On the other hand, ensuring an all male line to Anglo Catholics means a virtually sealed off part of church within church - a strange thing to ask for in the name of unity!

You see, the real problem here is that, from a theological point of view, there can be no compromise. If you really really cannot accept female headship, then you cannot say "ok, but only a little". And if you really really believe in sacramental assurance, then you have to insist that there is not even the slightest crack in that concept.

And I think this is where we are. We have precisely understood the theology against women priests and bishops, and however good or bad we think it is, it is absolutely clear that there can be no genuine compromise in which both sides give something.

And opponents know that, which is why not a single one has ever responded to questions here of what compromise might mean for them.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 18 February 2013 at 8:44am GMT

Erika, thanks very much for your comment- it is simple and helpful.

As I understand it therefore you see an impossible impasse- the church has got itself into a fix by saying both that it will have female bishops and saying that it will make "provision" for those who disagree. The fix arises because those things are essentially contradictory- the female bishops are unacceptable to the opponents and the provision is unacceptable to the proponents.

I see that you suggest compromise but I think you imply that in reality that it is impossible-neither side can say "ok, but only a little".

I am confused by one thing- I think that you suggest that the proponents have already compromised, "Women have already accepted that there will be parishes within their own church that do not even consider them to be ordained and they have accepted that."

I don't see how that is a compromise: the proponents have no choice- they can't change peoples' minds or force them to believe something that they won't. That is just accepting the inevitable. Likewise to offer something "delegation" which is known to be unacceptable is an empty offer- anyone on either "side" can do that- it isn't compromise.

On the other hand I can see that it could be said that Catholics have not compromised at all- they have "accepted" women bishops when they don't believe such things can actually exist. Isn't it the case therefore that the greatest degree of compromise is from the conservative evangelicals who don't want a church with women bishops but don't deny their existence and only seek an opt out for themselves?

Given that you state that:

A. The circle can't be squared.
B. There can't be "second class" bishops.
C. Some inevitably will not accept a female bishop.
D. Delegation is not acceptable to the opponents.

surely the only answer is one that I have read is known as "structural"- a third province, PEV, non-geographical diocese. I do understand that they change the nature of the church somewhat- but not as much as women bishops do. Moreover does'nt it just acknowledge the reality of the situation? A structural solution is probably what no one really wants but isn't that what compromise is? Why is such a solution unacceptable to the proponents? Or is it the opponents? I can't see what's wrong with it.

johnny

Posted by: johnny may on Monday, 18 February 2013 at 1:58pm GMT
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