on Wednesday, 25 September 2019 at 11.00 am by Peter Owen
categorised as Opinion
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Helen King ViaMedia.News Wider Still & Wider…
Helen: “…the current movement for full inclusion of those of all gender identities and sexualities is part of the same movement as the admission of women to all ministries of the church.” I think it’s therefore a bit startling that those women who have been appointed bishops have generally not been very forward in challenging the Church’s status quo on sexual orientation (which still, officially, requires gay and lesbian people to live in celibacy, because gay sexuality is ‘wrong’ and, for example, through its primate excludes gay and lesbian partners from attending the Lambeth Conference). I suppose the justification that… Read more »
Perhaps the simplest explanation would be that the process for selecting bishops is designed to weed out those who would be unwilling to unreservedly support the collective House of Bishops line?
I agree, Susannah. I would have expected more of the women who’ve lived through the extension of women’s ministry in terms of speaking out on the need for full inclusion of lgbtqi+ people. But I am also surprised at the reverse of this – lgbtqi+ people who don’t appear interested in the experience of those of us who went through the stages by which the possibilities of women’s ministry were eventually extended. There’s an ignoring of our recent history here which doesn’t help. I recently wrote something for WATCH which ends with my feeling that ‘we’re not there yet’, https://womenandthechurch.org/news/twenty-five-years-on-a-lay-womans-view/
Helen, thank you. It was very moving to read your article and your journey. This last part especially – wow! “Having women as clergy changes the whole picture towards inclusion. It should challenge the damaging ‘Father knows best’ pattern in which some women collude; it makes us into adult people responsible for our own lives. It should open up debates about who does what in the church, and about how to support all God’s people. I say ‘should’ because I am not yet convinced that we’ve explored all the possibilities. It’s too easy for women priests to model themselves on… Read more »
I think the whole movement for the ordination of women and the continuing work of WATCH is deeply flawed and in many ways responsible for the troubles we now have in widening participation because it was predicated on the rights of women to be included. It means that the campaign for inclusion of same sex couples has in turn wrongly become framed about their – our – right to equality. The benefit to the Church of the most talented, the most caring, of individuals being ordained, regardless of their sexuality or gender expression is at best obscured, at worst totally… Read more »
I’m sorry – I don’t see the logic of this. Surely if it about enabling people to exercise ministry on the basis of gifting rather than sexuality or gender identity then that underlines the ordination of women rater than undermines it?
Absolutely but our focus should be on the goal of improving our ministry for our Lord, not on the rights of women. Same outcome maybe but for a different reason.
That was always part of the movement to ordain women, it was never ‘just’ about equality – though equality is vital. Back in 1984 John Tiller pointed out, in ‘A Strategy for the Church’s Ministry’, that the shortfall in clergy was matched by the number of women who had said they had a vocation to the priesthood. And we argued consistently that the Church was damaging itself and its witness by rejecting the gifts women had to offer. Change takes time, and it’s a mistake to expect too much of the first pioneers. They have enormous challenges to face just… Read more »
Dear Susannah, I agree with you that the bishops of the Church now seem to be a factor of obstruction – rather than enablement – of full inclusion of LGBTQI people in the Church. This has just been exemplified in the Anglican Church of Canada, where a minority of bishops scuttled the recent move towards enabling the open canonical celebration of Same-Sex Marriage – which was overwhelmingly supported by the lay and clergy orders in the 2019 General Synod. The result of the vote was that – despite its unsatisfactory conclusion – the Synod’s bishops felt it necessary to issue… Read more »
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” — Matthew 6:1
“I suppose the justification that would be made in response is ‘collegiality’ and needing to be a ‘focus of unity’”
Whether a bishop is male or female collegiality – ie being seen to support the House of Bishops – is not Scriptural. I don’t think much reading of the Gospels is needed to appreciate Christ’s disappointment in clerics who toe the party line rather than fight for righteousness.
I wonder if part of the issue is that inclusion of LGBTI people and the admission of women to ministry do not in fact come from the same movement and struggle. The history of Gay Liberation is very much a challenge to heteronormativity and gender roles and not about gay conformity. Maybe this is why there is such resistance within certain parts of the church. The challenge to power, gender roles and sexual liberation for all etc is an attack on how many people define themselves including women bishops. They are happy to not support full inclusion because it undermines… Read more »
Thanks for that, Marise. While there’s a lot in your analysis, maybe another level needs to come in too: some LGBTI people are more Q than others? Some have long wanted the freedom to marry: to others, marriage is anathema. Same with straight people, actually. And similarly some women in ordained ministry are more interested than others in expanding the meaning of what it is to be a priest or a bishop.
I agree. Some from the GLF days think the very radical agenda has been watered down as gay has become more middle class and mainstream. I suspect as more young people are asking questions and adopting their own lifestyles and gender expression there will be even more challenges to heteronormativity. If the church struggles with things now it will really struggle with what is at the door. That’s if anyone bothers to knock.
There is some truth in that Marise. Certainly the biggest push back on trans inclusion more generally is from people, especially women, who feel it undermines their own cis identity by broadening the meaning of terms.
True. It’s sad to see things becoming fear based and divided in the LGBTI world. Oppression of one is oppression of all
This might merit a post of its own or inclusion in Saturday’s round-up, but this welcome post by Nick Baines is a positive example of a bishop being willing to speak out in challenge. Of course, the exclusionary and narrow language so often used by the Church of England likewise has a negative effect and, hopefully, Nick will write about that too in a future post.
I have published a post which includes this.