In late November of 2012, just a few weeks ago, the Church of England voted against the ordination of women bishops. In 1975, they had voted for women priests, and the ordination of women bishops was considered to be the next logical step. On 12 March 1994, the first 32 women had been ordained as Church of England priests.
The measure to consecrate women as bishops was backed overwhelmingly by the Church of England Synod, but fell short of the required two thirds majority among the laity. Having set up their own voting system, it appears that when that system doesn’t deliver what the majority wants, then recriminations start.
Many prominent people uttered their dismay. The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, warned that the decision would diminish the Church’s credibility in the public eye. The Archbishop elect also wanted the measure to go through as did Lord Carey, a previous Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Prime Minister was disappointed with the outcome, and one prominent politician said that there was no theological reason why women shouldn’t be bishops, and he was bemoaning the lack of political considerations in the church!
The good and the great lined up to decry the result, and there was talk of having another vote soon. One speaker said that the church must reconvene to discuss this, meaning that the wrong result was reached. That reminded me of the situation where the Euro was voted against by Ireland and another vote was taken later when the decision was overturned. Just keep voting until you get the answer you want!
Headlines in UK newspapers included “Women bishops: a failure of leadership”; “Women bishops: Did feminism undermine the campaign?”; “Church has lost credibility in society, says Archbishop”; plus many others.
There was discussion about the “antidisestablishmentarianism” issue, which means “opposition to the disestablishment of the Church of England”; that is, not to remove the Anglican Church’s status as the state Church of England. Some thoughts were expressed that perhaps now was the time to separate the national church from the state.
In the interviews I saw and the reports I read, Scripture was generally conspicuous by its absence. The biblical teaching that women are to keep silent in the churches (1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Timothy 2:11-12) was raised once in my hearing, and not answered. One submission was that since Jesus was born of a woman and the first person to see Jesus after the crucifixion was also a woman, women should be allowed to become bishops!! I felt that that was hardly a convincing argument!
Should we be surprised? For years, the Church of England has had senior figures giving the distinct impression that they didn’t believe in the Word of God. Some years ago, one bishop was reported as saying that the crucifixion was a “conjuring trick with bones.” This same person became one of the first clerics in the Church of England to publicly bless a civil partnership between two homosexual men, one of whom was a vicar! It seems that it is expected that God has to conform to the requirements of modern society.
There is little fidelity to the Bible today in the world outside of the true Church of God. His instruction manual is consistently ignored. Those of us who believe in the Bible are not subject to the dictates of men or political pressure; nor are we pressed into “modernising”. We simply let the Bible be our guide and had the Church of England taken the same stance, the voting over women priests and women bishops would never have been undertaken in the first place, and much angst and difficulties would have been eliminated.
For more information, please read our Q&A, entitled “Sermons by Women?” and our booklet, “The Keys to Happy Marriages and Families“.