Monday, November 26, 2012

Should the Church of England Have Women Bishops? (Or Women Priests?)

I don't know.

It would do further damage to ecumenical relations, but those could hardly be worse than they already are.

The Anglicans I've met have a different view of sacraments from ours, so our reason for not ordaining women or consecrating them bishops may not apply within the Anglican context. If being a priest in the C of E is just a matter of managing a parish and preaching, there's no reason a woman can't do it. If being a bishop is just a matter of managing a diocese, there's no reason a woman can't do that, either.

If the issue is clinging to Holy Scripture, well, Anglicans have no particular, universally accepted standard for interpreting Scripture, no agreed-upon hermeneutic, so forget that.

If clinging to Tradition no longer means anything more than doing things a certain way because that's the way they've always been done, why? What's wrong with change, and isn't the refusal to change rather narrow-minded and stultifying?

If sexism is the real reason opponents don't want female bishops, well, sexism does need to be squelched. (I only say, "if".)

If the only thing at stake really is power, more's the pity, but in that case, why shouldn't women have an equal share of it?

Public relations ought not to be a consideration for Christians; how Christians arrange their internal affairs is emphatically not the business of unbelievers. And yet, this is the established church of England, established in fact to serve the state, so the wishes of the rest of the establishment are always a factor. There's always the possibility of being disestablished. Hence, the Archbishop of Canterbury says things like, "Whatever the motivations for voting yesterday, whatever the theological principle on which people acted and spoke, the fact remains that a great deal of this discussion is not intelligible to our wider society - worse than that, it seems that we are willfully blind to some of the trends and priorities in that wider society," and "We have, to put it very bluntly, a lot of explaining to do." (Becket, Becket, where are you when you're needed?)

It's really none of society's business and none of mine either. I don't know. I've no dog in this race.  Even if I thought I knew what the C of E should do, it would be presumptuous to offer an opinion, but I really do not know. Better just to pray for them in this difficult time.


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