For theological reasons

A member of the General Synod of the Church of England explains about the vote not to allow women bishops.

The legislation we voted on needed to achieve two outcomes: the ordination of women to the episcopate; and sufficient provision for those who, for theological reasons, find this innovation unacceptable.

For theological reasons – that’s important, you see. They can’t be political reasons or moral reasons or we just don’t like them reasons. Why? Because it looks bad. But theological reasons – ah now that’s a whole different kettle of bullshit. That gets a pass, and a wide berth, and a deep bow, and a determined looking in the other direction.

You can do a lot with theological reasons. You can drone about how the bishop is supposed to be a Jesus-substitute, and pretend that that means the bishop has to be A Man, while the bishop doesn’t have to be Jewish, or a carpenter, or an Aramaic-speaker, or a whole list of things that Jesus had or was. All the variables can vary except just this one thing, and that one can’t be touched not nohow. The bishop can be different from Jesus in more ways than anyone can count, as long as the bishop too is A Man.

In other words, the Church of England wanted women bishops but within the framework of an inclusive church, where people could disagree about the ordination of women yet remain loyal Anglicans and united around the good news of Jesus Christ.

An “inclusive” church that includes people who think women are inferior, but not people who think churches shouldn’t make rules that apply to everyone while excluding half of everyone from the rule-making jobs.

Voting no was a vote for equality in the church; equality that stems not from what we do, but from what God has done for us; God created each one of us and Christ paid the same price for each one of us, so we are free to serve one another without reference to role or status. Leadership in the Church is surely modelled on the Son of Man.

Word salad. The church makes rules for all its members, but excludes half its members from the top decision-making jobs. That’s not some special fancy goddy kind of equality.

To be called to be a bishop is a calling to serve God’s family. The Church is not a workplace, with a hierarchy to climb, but a family in which each member has different responsibilities but is equally valuable. To be called to be a bishop is not to be called to be a CEO but to be a father to the church family. The bible teaches us that fathers are called to lay down their lives in self-sacrificial service by taking responsibility for the spiritual welfare of their family. Of course, the Church needs mothers, too, but I believe they have a different, equally self-sacrificial and equally valuable role to play.

No. It’s not “equally valuable.” If women are officially excluded from the top of the hierarchy, that is not any kind of equal. It is profoundly dishonest to pretend it is.




  1. stevebowen says

    I think someone should write a book called sometihing like “do goddies hate women” or “wy duz godz hate wimminz” or similar, because apparently there is some conflict between religion and sexual equality I can’t quite put my finger on….

  2. says

    sufficient provision for those who, for theological reasons, find this innovation unacceptable.

    It’s really not their fault, you see. They’re just doing God’s will. They aren’t sexist, but God is and they have to do as he says. It’s unfortunate really, but what can you do when you have an omnipotent bully breathing down your neck?

  3. Timon for Tea says

    Yes, but let’s not forget that most of those Christians agree with everyone on here, we are just talking about a loud, annoying minority. And sexism seems to be less of a problem in the c of e than it is in atheist movements, to judge from recent goings on. Women don’t seem to be threatened as women at church conferences, for example. Hard to say, in the circs, that religion is a worse bet for women than its opposite.

  4. Pteryxx says

    The bible teaches us that fathers are called to lay down their lives in self-sacrificial service by taking responsibility for the spiritual welfare of their family.

    While mothers (=women) lay down their lives by dying in forced childbirth… yep, that’s totally equal and fair that is. *retch*

  5. aziraphale says

    “Voting no was a vote against discrimination”

    Quite so. Equality is discrimination. The Ministry of Truth would have been proud.

  6. Morgan says

    So… we have to keep excluding women, because that’s how to be inclusive of those who want to exclude women (and doesn’t that sound familiar?).

    But at the same time, the fact that women are being excluded doesn’t say anything about whether they’re equal. No – in fact – they are equal, so if they’re being excluded then it shows that the thing they’re excluded from isn’t important, which shows how equal they are. Women can’t be captain of the team, but because we obviously don’t discriminate, that must just be evidence that being captain isn’t better than any other position – right?

  7. says

    Thinking about it more, invoking “theological reasons” is essentially related to “the courtier’s reply”.

    Basically it means “reasons I get to make up as I please, but you wouldn’t be capable of understanding because you’re not theologically erudite enough”.

  8. JoeBuddha says

    …within the framework of an inclusive church…” they couldn’t conscientiously bring themselves to be inclusive about women in positions of authority in the church. Got it.

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