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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Yesterday's Women and The Church

"In the West, we live in a half changed world. There are now very few areas of public life not open to women – except those protected by organised religion." - The Rev Lucy Winkett in her keynote address to WATCH in 2007. 

Looking at TV today, the number of women presenting, reporting and interviewed often outnumber men making it more obvious now than when WATCH Vice-President, Lucy Winkett, delivered that speech. She said then: " the 21st century, in the West, women have more freedom and choice than at any time in our history. There are very few areas of public life that are technically closed to women; we are airline pilots, politicians, astronauts,lawyers, mechanics, builders, football club owners. The only areas of public life still closed to women are those protected by organised religion." 

Despite this acknowledged success, the Rev Dr Threlfall-Holmes still made the outrageous claim in pursuit of the campaign for women bishops at any cost: "One of the reasons women's ordination is important is because women's current exclusion from the church hierarchy justifies and entrenches sexist attitudes which have very serious consequences for women around the world. 'Rape, sexual abuse, violence against women and women's political and economic subjugation are repeatedly justified on the basis that it is 'natural' and 'God-given' that women should be below men on some divine hierarchy'."

"Rape, sexual abuse, violence against women and women's political and economic subjugation" are a stain on mankind but women clergy sitting comfortably in their churches and universities do little to change that. If WATCH and their supporters want to make a difference around the world, instead of sermonising they should take the fight directly to where it is needed. Those who really want to make a difference are already doing so, tackling forced marriages, child brides and FGM which still exists in this country twenty years after women were first ordained. In fact, overall women's rights have gone backwards following the introduction of Sharia law in England.

Women have become extremely successful in all walks of life but that does not deter feminists from continuing to target the church. And for what? The office of bishop is not what it was. Merit is no qualification for high office if the right boxes have not been ticked. The House of Bishops has shown that they are incapable of managing church affairs equitably, even appointing biased women to advise them. Women who have done everything possible to suppress traditionalist Anglicans while claiming that they have made every concession to accommodate them. An untruth unworthy of anyone let alone clergy.

The Episcopal Church (TEC) is a sad example of the results of women power in the United States while Finland offers a good example of how the church has become an agency for social workers in vestments: While the role of the Church [in Finland] as an institution has weakened, its social role has grown. This becomes apparent in the reinforcement and expansion of diaconical work. For instance, the Church represents one of the most important providers of family counselling, and plays a central role in professional crisis work. 

Unless producers are guilty of deliberately attempting to suppress male visibility in television programmes, TV coverage fully illustrates that women do not lack opportunities for success, almost to the point of male exclusion in some areas such as primary education where male influence is sadly lacking. A recent study shows increasing instances of "masculinity in crisis" where men are unable to come to terms with different and developing notions of the institution of the family, where women increasingly play a much more dynamic role than they had in the past, a reversal of the alleged "One of the reasons women's ordination is important is because women's current exclusion from the church hierarchy justifies and entrenches sexist attitudes...." but don't hold your breath waiting for WATCH to backtrack, masculinity will be dismissed as an irrelevance in the same way that traditionalists are now dismissed as irrelevant to the Church of England.

The feminist crusade has attacked the wrong target. Standing at the Altar is not just another job in public life and the damage to the church is plain for all to see, not only to the cause of unity, but with church attendances continuing to fall with a few significant exceptions. Not satisfied with the hurt they have caused, their self-interest continues. From the WATCH web site: Southwark Cathedral Feminist Theology Group is hosting an event entitled, “A Woman’s Place is in the Re-Imagining of the Church". That will be in their own image of course. In an open letter "Reimagining a Woman’s Role in the Church" blogger and author Frank Viola writes:

"Dear Sister,

Thank you for your gracious letter. You’ve asked an excellent question. What is my view on a woman’s role in the church and how do I understand the “limiting passages” that seem to restrict their ministry?
To be honest, I’m monumentally disinterested in adding more noise to the ill-fated gender brawl that rages in some Christian circles. It is for this reason that I’ve been loath to write on the subject. Yet I keep meeting women who have been spiritually straight-jacketed by what I find to be a wooden interpretation of certain Biblical texts."

Then, based on conjecture, he proceeds to re-interpret our understanding of priestly ministry ignoring the basic facts to present his own interpretation of the mind of Christ. As F.F. Bruce puts it in the introduction:

"Unwarranted assumptions have sometimes been drawn from the fact that all twelve of the original apostles were men. But in fact our Lord’s male disciples cut a sorry figure alongside his female disciples, especially in his last hours; and it was to women that he first entrusted the privilege of carrying the news of his resurrection."

'Reimagining Church' has been described as Frank Viola’s reconstructive sequel to the 'challenging, deconstructive' critique of modern church practices in his book 'Pagan Christianity' reviewed hereOne has only to look at the state of The Episcopal Church of the United States under their Presiding Bishop to see the dire effects of women-power in the church. The subject of much criticism she has been anathematized by a Southern Africa bishop for heresy: The Rt. Rev. Alan Kenyon-Hoare, Bishop Ordinary of the Missionary Diocese of Southern African, said Jefferts Schori's statements made from the pulpit on Whitsunday whilst on a visit to Curacao in the Episcopal Diocese of Venezuela were heretical and that his pronouncement of anathema is irreversible. He accused the Episcopal Presiding Bishop of saying that "all the writings of St. Paul are satanically inspired".

The feminist agenda has nothing to do with Christianity. It simply provides a comfortable vehicle for political ambition. Having successfully seen the Church of England identified as their church they are set on change purely for their own satisfaction. The majority of Christians in churches throughout the world believe that God created us in His image, women and men complementing each other, not women below men on some divine hierarchy as has been suggested. It is time to drop yesterday's battle based on such falsehoods and strive for unity.

The suggestion that  "Our Lord’s male disciples cut a sorry figure alongside his female disciples has been used in stories typified here which claims: 'Christians 'airbrushed women out of history'. On the contrary, the Church honours Mary, the Mother of God, who did not complain when used as God's vessel to bring Christ into the world. Neither did Mary Magdalene protest at not being appointed by Christ to be one of his Apostles after being first to witness the resurrection. They were content with God's plan. Women And The Church should be too.


  1. While the Bible does give positive examples of female participation in the early Church, the position of Bishop was clearly believed to be for males only. In the Episcopal church, one of the reasons we have female bishops is that the Biblical verses regarding ministry were re-interpreted through revisionist lenses so that they might relegated to the dustbin. The real problem begins with a revisionist attitude to the Bible, and that must influence the core beliefs of those who are pushing for female bishops in the CofE. Once your Church is filled with clergy who are under the spell of revisionism, the authoritative basis for all doctrine is weakened, and the CofE will follow TEc down the drain.

  2. Women AND the Church? What about them? But I guess Women IN the Church might have blown their cover

    Same with the Campaign for the ordination of wimmin; which was only a 'movement'