Church in Wales approves women bishops

by the Rev Peter Mullen

The theological case against women bishops and priests strikes me as rather weak. If Christ didn’t ordain women, neither did he ordain slaves or gentiles. It goes against church tradition. On the other hand, tradition is always changing to accommodate new facts.

The real case against women bishops, for me, is that the women are invariably the usual pc hags, who know less about the Christian Faith than I do about Buddhism, and who probably care even less. SIG

Church in Wales approves women bishopsWales+women+bishops.jpg

From Rev’d Dr Peter Mullen:

Where Wales leads can England fail to follow? The Church in Wales has just voted in favour of the consecration of women as bishops. What I found interesting about this was the remark earlier this week by the Archbishop of Wales saying, “The consecration of women bishops is obviously theologically right.” Interesting because if it is so obvious why didn’t it occur to the church for the first two thousand years of its history?

The integrity which opposes the ordination of women to the priesthood as well as to the episcopacy is no mere misogynist whim. Despite what the Archbishop of Wales says, it is a theological integrity and it was outlined as long ago as the 1940s by the great Christian apologist C.S. Lewis. He said:

Suppose the reformer begins to say that God is like a good woman. Suppose she says that we might just as well pray to Our Mother which art in heaven as to Our Father. Suppose that the Incarnation might just as well have taken a female form. Suppose the Second Person of the Trinity be as well called Daughter of God as Son of God. Suppose finally that the mystical marriage betwixt ‘Christ and his Church’ were reversed, that the Church became the Bridegroom and Christ the Bride. All this is involved in the claim that a woman can represent God as priest.

Lewis concludes devastatingly but incontrovertibly: If all those supposals were ever carried into effect, we should be embarked on a different religion.

Well Mr Lewis, they have been and we are.

There is a profound shift in original mystical theology, in the psychology of ritual and in our beliefs concerning the Divine ontology when a female stands at the altar and declares, “This is my body.” These things are not trivial: they go to the heart of Christian apprehension where they actually make the relationship between God and humankind a matter for experimentation.

After agonised prayer, Our Lord appointed twelve male apostles. The Gospel says he ordained them (Mk 3:14). He had warm and close relations with women, and was even accused on occasions of being too friendly with them. But he did not ordain any of them – not even Mary Magdalene, the first witness to his resurrection. We are not at liberty to think that this decision of Our Lord’s was just a matter of cultural relativism: as if Jesus were merely primitive and reactionary and stood in need of correction by the militant feminists of our day. He did not ordain any women and so we must assume that there was a reason for his decision.

Those who favour the ordination of women and the consecration of women bishops generally cite the example of the other professions. They say, “We have women doctors, women judges, women astronauts – why not women priests and bishops?” The question simply misses the point by substituting secular standards of judgement for legitimate Church order based on biblical and patristic authority.

I am an old-fashioned liberal. By this I mean that I do not expect everyone to agree with me, but I do believe strongly that allowances must be made for people who beg to differ. Even such a dyed-in-the-wool liberal as John Stuart Mill understood that democracy is about more than counting heads: it is about ensuring that dissenting minorities have their views represented. Twenty-one years ago, such allowances were made for those who could not conscientiously accept women as priests. The same sort of provision should have been made for the significant minority who cannot accept women bishops. That it was not made amounts to the criminal dispossession of traditional Christians.

There is a female ascendancy in the church and it has a certain character. It is broadly feminist, left-wing in politics and obsessed with environmental issues. Let me give some examples.

The church will become dominated by a single party – the politically-correct party. There will be demands for equality between traditional views of marriage and same-sex partnerships. We are already hearing a lot more about light bulbs and carbon footprints. There will be a corresponding dearth of doctrine and theology. For many of the people who will assume control of the church are generally uneducated: they attended dumbed-down theological colleges where little was taught except about diversity, feminism, environmentalism, institutional racism and the evils of English history. Really we are seeing the growth of a paganised, feminised, secularised and trivialised church in which those who profess traditional faith are ridiculed and marginalised.

Rev’d Dr Peter Mullen is an author and former rector of St Michael’s, Cornhill in the City of London.

6 responses to “Church in Wales approves women bishops

  1. On the contrary, Sean, the argument against female clergymen is overwhelming in theological terms. The female clergymen are simply not members of the Body of Christ. The Bible is not an egalitarian book. Both Old and New Testaments make clear that the man is the head of the woman.

    Isaiah (Isaiah 3:12) explains the decline of ancient Jewish culture at one point in these terms: ” As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths”.

    Either you think Isaiah was inspired by God, or you don’t. If you don’t, you probably do agree with egalitarianism, but then you don’t believe in Christianity. If you do, then God outranks the synod and the archbishops.

    St Paul in the New Testament states that man is the head of the woman, that women should obey their husbands, and that women should not raise questions in church, but ask their husbands for clarification latter at home. The lack of women in a leadership role is not “mere tradition”, but specified quite distinctly in the Bible. But if you don’t believe in the Bible, there is no need to join the Church.

    The pagan churches did have priestesses in the first century, and so the early Christians were in a cultural milieu where the refusal to countenance female priesthood contrasted with the prevailing religion of the Romans and the Greeks.

    In fact, the reason why female clergymen are PC hags is that they have become mock clergymen precisely in order to make the point that Marxist egalitarianism overrides the teachings of the Bible. They are embezzling church funds put in place over centuries in order to fund the real Christian church.

    • Strong case, David. I may come back to it. If I don’t it will be because of my tax return.

    • Well, the theology of this is all rather dubious. Nowhere does the Bible specifically prohibit women priests (and in the early Church women were at least deacons; thanks for the info, Pliny!) but trying to unpick the arcane ramblings of the multiple authors of Isaiah is a minefield at best.

      But in the passage David is referring to, Isaiah appears to be being metaphorical; it’s a ranting rave in the style also beloved of Ezekiel and basically a torrent of insults. In this case, he’s saying it in the same way as calling a disorganised crusade a “children’s crusade” or calling a man a big girl’s blouse. That is applying negative stereotypes related to children and women.

      Later on, we get-

      “Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet”

      -which might be taken by a casuist to mean a perpetual prohibition on tinkly feet, but is probably better understood contextually as slagging off the Jews in general for vanity, and God is going to take them down a peg or two.

      We’re back with that old problem that support for just about anything can be found in the Bible if you want. The Jews have a specific word for this; pilpul. So, if a Rabbi decided he wanted to declare buckled shoes not kosher, he could dig around in the Scripture and find Isaiah and say, “hmm, buckles might tinkle, might they not? God is clearly opposed to tinkly feet. Banned!” and so on.

  2. Leviticus 15 explained a menstruating woman was unclean and could not enter the temple sanctuary! There are countless passages that indicate the man is the head of the woman. There was a woman, Phoebe, mentioned in Romans 16 as a deacon – and that is the sole evidence, and we have no information what roles she performed. She could have ministered to women in the congregation for example – but in any case she was not a priest or a bishop. The consensus fidelium – the united consensus of the undivided church before the break with the East in 1054 and with the Protestants in the 16th century – was that clergymen must be men. In line with the principle “the Bible to prove and the church to teach”, the interpretation given to Bible passages should be that adhered to for nearly 2000 years by the church. Otherwise, the modern church is non-continuous with the historical church anyway.

  3. I have to say that I favour closing down the CofE and turning the churches into community centres for the English.

  4. Do people still actually go to church in England or Wales? Wow-I thought you only showed up at church at XMass for the carols and to get your kids into better schools.