Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Women Bishops: why faith should be done properly or not at all.

Faith is an intensely personal and private matter. One man's meat can quite literally be another's Leviticus chapter eleven verse seven. For generations and even before the Edict of Worms in 1521, the devout merrily set about burning, beheading and excommunicating each other at the slightest provocation, while legislators and politicians struggled to keep up with who was (quite literally) 'hot' and who was not. 

England itself experienced well over a hundred years of 'to-ing and fro-ing' between the Roman Church and the voguish delights of Anglicanism, involving civil wars, banned Christmases and the murder of Carthusians before finally settling on the Protestant faith. With the passing of the Stuarts, things settled down, but the argument was not fully settled. As you no doubt know, one of the first acts passed by the Parliament of William and Mary in 1689 was the Toleration Act, which granted 'liberty of worship' to all Protestants (except quite rightly the Unitarians) but no mercy to Roman Catholics, who remained enemies of the state for the best part of nearly two hundred years.

There is a good case to argue, that Anglicanism from its very inception was a 'middle class' faith, with all the trappings and preoccupations of that particular social group. It shied instinctively from the grandeur and cerebral delights of the older church and has fussed ever since over the form of things. It reminds one in many ways of the sort of people who, having come into money, worry about whether it is correct to say 'pardon' or 'what' and wring their hands at the thought of being introduced to a Cholmondeley. While Catholicism, like aristocracy, sensibly refused to budge one inch from its sacred beliefs, from the late eighteenth century onward, the Anglican Church became desperate to please. Over the years we have heard of English Bishops questioning Genesis, wondering aloud whether Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, saying 'sorry' for the unpleasantness at Tyburn and regretting the glories of Empire.  Indeed, as recently as 2008 the Church of England was apologising to the very firmly deceased Charles Darwin, for not having taken the trouble to fully listen to his hair-brained theory that we are all descended from baboons.

Which brings us - and I hope you are still paying attention at the back - to the decision yesterday by the General Synod to refuse the ordination of women Bishops.

The Bible is very clear on the matter of women priests. It is written in the first book of Timothy verse 2 chapter 12:  διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός, ἀλλ’ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ.* Of course there are some who argue that these texts were written at a 'different time' and that we are living in the 'modern age'. The problem with taking that approach to faith, is that if one keeps changing things, one takes the very real risk of throwing the newly baptised infant out with the holy water. The very point of Christianity and indeed all other faiths is that they are written in stone. 

In this respect Christianity has long reminded one of Monarchy. One should either do it properly or not at all. The word of God, is the word of God. If said God had wished his Bishops to be women, he would have made it very clear that they should be so. If the English Church is to survive it should resist the temptation to 'modernise' and perhaps spend more time reading its sacred texts and less time waving its hands about to rock music and shaking a 'tambourine'.

*I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over a man, but to be in silence. 


  1. i declare myself a bishopess of the church of jake rees mogg, and humbly worship thee here at this blog, irrespective of your other affiliations.
    as a true scandinavian, not only shall i be female bishop and priest entwined, but hereby pledge not to sexually molest anyone's children, which should go without saying, but it doesnt.
    that pedophilia and religion seem one and the same, let it be known, no more, shall non-pedophile status be presumed until clear swearing against has been obtained.
    i do challenge yee, Mogg, to obtain the Non-Pedophile Verifications from those Male Bishops, as the most important act of the God that you are, lest this woman Bishopess of your order collapse like sand in a pool of vomit with #petraeus.
    which settles the whole question of a true religion, and who's worshipping whom, on the sly, beneath the original goddess, her majesty.
    lovingly, your Bishopess,
    mary eng

  2. The Bible is very clear on the matter of women priests. It is written in the first book of Timothy verse 2 chapter 12: διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός, ἀλλ’ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ.*

    Seeing that this verse isn't even in the original language the word of God was revealed in, one is rather invited to interpret it taking into consideration the overall message of the Bible, which is surely equality among all human beings, particularly when it comes to serving God?

  3. >> In this respect Christianity has long reminded one of Monarchy. One should either do it properly or not at all. The word of God, is the word of God.

    Might find yourself in hot water if you try stoning women or taking a slave.

  4. Jacob. Obviously there is the cheeky glint of provocation in your writing, and a boyish glee in embracing your classical and detailed education. Both of these are quite entertaining, but I doubt this is a sentiment with which you really agree. You may say you do, but it is surely born out of fear rather than conviction. You've suggested that the middle class are hand wringers, but there seems to be as much paranoid editorial churning in your frontal lobes. Who are you trying to impress? As a Christian, or simply as a reasonable gentleman, you must see that your chatterings do not share the sentiments of fairness and love spoken by Jesus. They also offer a rather petty depiction of the almighty. Tis perhaps a great play, maybe for some ghostly father, or imagined Religious Education teacher, but not a play you can seriously believe. I love you, Jacob. You can do better