Monday, July 14, 2008


I've been following the debate back home about the appointment of women bishops with great interest - it's been thoroughly discussed on both Woman's Hour and The Today Programme (how I love Radio 4).

The interesting argument against women's ordination is not that based on regular sexism (the unsurprising ones where tradition is the most important things and women's ordination will bring about the apocalypse), but theology. Many feel that mandatory ordination is a betrayal of their theology - because none of Jesus' apostles were women, there cannot be women bishops. They, men and women alike, are threatening to break from the Church.

My anger, disappointment and depression at this is manifold. I understand that a person's theology is incredibly personal, and this is tradition and, for them, direct disobedience of the word of Christ. Nonetheless, my reaction is that what they fail to see is this is not just part of the strive to have women equal in jobs around the country, not simply the next target on the list for feminists. The lack of equality embodies my disenchantment with and disenfranchisement from not just the Anglican (and Catholic) church, but with the British establishment and general old boys' networks. The idea that a woman cannot be equal, cannot lead worship of God, is for me a fundamental stumbling block to Christianity - I cannot fathom a God who mandates that women are not equal to or worthy of men.

This is why I find those evangelical movements that mandate women's submission so terrifying, with their gender constructivist nature and their insistence that women are equal, just different - supposed to obey their fathers and then husbands because that's god-given rule. I simply fail to understand how we are equal if we are constrained to those roles and are not allowed to do the most basic of things within a proselytising religion - preach to the converted.

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