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The Church of England rejects women bishops

By By Akilah Holder

According to a recent New York Times article, the Church of England, the head Anglican Church, has rejected a proposal to allow women to become bishops. While the church allows women to hold senior positions such as canon and archdeacon, it has never allowed women to hold the position of bishop and given this most recent action, will continue to deny them the opportunity to hold that position for some time. This is absolutely unacceptable! Is it any wonder then, why the secular world is weary of the Church, why non-believers scoff at Christianity and its teachings? The church, which ought to be the holder of morality according to an old colleague of mine, is perpetuating injustice. In not allowing women to hold the position of bishop, the Church of England has committed gender discrimination. The Church of England could continue to hold its head up after this, but it should not continue to hold its head up for it is an affront to Christianity.

Like many Christian churches (though most have now changed their policies on allowing women to hold leadership positions in the church), the Church of England is of the opinion that women ought to remain silent, or ought not to hold leadership positions in the church, and even more are subject to the authority of men. I acknowledge the fact that they have female priests, however, this recent decision begs the question as to whether or not they actually believe that women can and may hold leadership positions, or have merely allowed them to hold certain positions to appease on-lookers; for in the end, this decision suggests that they do not see women as the equal of men. And this chauvinistic view suggests a misinterpretation, misrepresentation or even manipulation of the word of God (and why not manipulation of the Bible? It is an unfortunate truth, but the Church has been one of the worst transgressors of the rights of mankind in history).

Admittedly, there are Bible verses that give the impression that women are an inferior creation and should not be allowed to speak in the church and are subject to men. For instance, 1 Corinthians 13:34 states that, "women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says." 1 Timothy 2:12 expresses a similar sentiment, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet." And Ephesians 5:22-23 asserts that, "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.*" At first glance, the above verses suggest that women are inferior to men, ought not to have a voice and must be subject to their husbands and by extension, the rest of the male species. However, a careful analysis of these verses and their context reveal that the ordinances in these verses are limited to and must be seen in a historical context. There is also the question of different seasons in Christianity, that those verses are exclusive to a certain time or period.

Furthermore, there are instances in the Bible of women holding positions of authority. In the book of Judges, for example, one finds the story of Deborah, a prophetess and ruler of pre-monarchic Israel. During a time when women were treated as inferior and not allowed to hold leadership positions, Deborah's attainment of her position is revolutionary. Her holding of that position is also indicative of the fact that God is not chauvinistic. In addition, in Judges 4:6-9, Deborah gave specific instructions to a male Israelite by the name of Barak regarding an upcoming battle, but out of fear, Barak hesitated to go and asked Deborah to accompany him. As a result of his faithlessness, the Bible teaches, God caused a woman to lead the Israelites to victory.

So wise and intelligent are the bishops of the Church of England that they have misunderstood and misrepresented the Bible? Manipulated it? Whatever the situation, it looks like the Church of England could use some women bishops after all.

Author's Note: Regarding Ephesians 5:22 that talks about women submitting to their husbands, the church still teaches that, but even then, it does not mean that "husbands control your wives." In fact, Ephesians 5:21 states, "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." So the husband is not to dominate his wife.

Author's e-mail: akholder22@aol.com

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