Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Women Bishops

This is going to be unpopular, I'm afraid, but I don't agree with women bishops. I don't agree with women vicars either.

But you're a woman, I hear you saying. How can you agree that women are second class citizens?
I don't. I firmly believe that men and women are equal. But they are also different. Just as 3+5 and 2x4 are equal but different. We have different roles to play.

How did I come to hold this highly unpopular viewpoint? I grew up in a Catholic family, so for the majority of my life I only saw male, unmarried priests. At my Catholic secondary school, all girls, I was taught my value as a woman, and even encouraged to question the seemingly inferior role of women in the church. And, as a teenager, I very firmly believed that women should be allowed to be priests too. Hadn't we been told that in Christ there is no male or female? I went to university and joined the Christian Union which was led by a fantastic female president. I went to various Protestant churches, all with varying views on female pastors - some encouraged, some refused, some allowed joint pastoring from a married couple with the husband the ultimate leader of that church. My mum became a Catholic chaplain, able to do much of a priest's role apart from the sacraments. This has frustrated her, because she must rely on frequently unreliable men, and be treated as though her 'thoughts' on the Word are not as important or helpful.

And I became increasingly aware of the lack of strong, masculine, Christian males in the Church. There were, still are, many strong Christian women, the majority of whom are single. I was blessed to snap up one of the few eligible, single men in my church. Of the other men, most were wishy-washy in one way or another - hen-pecked, soppy, heterosexual but not particularly masculine. Where are the Christian men of the New Testament? Strong, passionate, fiery. The Church has become the refuge of women and weak men.

I began to change my mind about women in leadership within the Church. I heard some female preachers and was impressed. I loved preaching and speaking myself. But I struggled to see how a woman could lead a man successfully.

There are many ridiculous arguments against women priests - outdated opinions, bible verses taken out of context, traditions. And I don't agree with them. But all the same, I just don't think women should be priests. I'm not saying they can't, but that they shouldn't. I believe we need to hear from men and women preaching the Word. I believe that women have a huge amount of experience and knowledge to offer. But I am quite convinced that if we are to enable Christian men to be strong warriors for Christ, then we have to stop feminising the Church and emasculating them.

When I started going out with my now husband, some acquaintances were worried, on his behalf, that he might end up being hen-pecked, bossed around or controlled by me. And yet, these people who were so concerned about a man not being the leader in his own relationship and household, are the same ones who are desperate to have women bishops. This doesn't sit right with me. How can Christian men be expected to the spiritual leaders of their families, if they do not have that model to learn from in Church? How can a man married to a vicar be the spiritual leader of his family?

The fact that the Church of England is in this situation is ridiculous. Did no one consider before giving the go ahead to women vicars that they might, one day, want to be bishops too? Where was the foresight? Surely someone could have thought about this. Perhaps they should have let more women be involved in the original decision making - they might have mentioned something!

The media reporting on this issue irritates me too. Who made it the secular world's business to get involved anyway? Church decisions don't affect non-churchgoers. It's highly unlikely that they'll all start going to church and becoming Christians if only we let women be bishops!

And don't get me started on the whole 'getting with the times' argument. The Church isn't called to 'get with the times' - it is called to be a rock, a firm foundation, a constant - "on this rock I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18). We shouldn't change things just because society says we should. But then, I come from the Catholic Church, where the rules haven't changed for a long, long time. I know which Church I have more respect for. Once we start changing the church and its values and beliefs to become what society wants, we end up becoming more like the world, and we're called to be in the world, not like it.


  1. You know I always love your blog, Laur, but could I gently pursue the other side of your - beautifull written - coin?

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    2. Brilliant article, thanks, AJ. I agree with some of it, and disagree with other parts. Like I wrote above, I definitely believe that women and men are equal, but I also believe we have different roles in every area of life. I think to say that Jesus only appointed male apostles because of the culture He was in is a bit of a wishy-washy argument; Jesus was so countercultural in other areas, that I think He could have appointed femal apostles if He wanted to.
      That's not the point I'm trying to make though. Really I don't think that it's a case of women not being capable of leading churches - they are made in God's image too, and as the article writer points out, they are helpmates to their husbands as God is to us (I wrote about it here: - I just think that they shouldn't. Unless it's absolutely necessary. Take Deborah, for instance, the only female Judge of Israel - there were clearly no suitable men around for the job. Barak was a bit of a cowardy-custard.
      Oh, and the article says that the Holy Spirit is genderless - she's not. The word for Holy Spirit is 'ruach' - a feminine word :)