Women as Bishops – the vote everybody lost?

I’ve just read this.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20415689

I’m honestly not certain how I would have voted on this issue.  This isn’t a blogpost where I solve this issue.  I’m simply thinking out loud.  In matters of male female roles I guess I’m on the borderline of complementarianism and egalitarianism – I tend to think that in an individual church the “senior pastor” should be male, but beyond that anyone can do anything.

I struggle to back that up fully from scripture – because many of the key texts are not straightforward – but it seems to be the best way of doing justice to the sense from several key passages that there is some sort of “headship” that is male, and yet that women are very much seen in ministry of all sorts in the NT.

I like the comments from a husband and wife at their blogs here:

http://tanyamarlow.com/on-women-bishops/

and

here:

http://marlow.me.uk/recurringthemes/?p=268

I would like to add my voice to those calling for moderation and listening on this issue.  In particular I want to urge evangelicals who differ on this issue not to make this a shibboleth issue (or even a sibboleth issue) of who is “in” and who is “out”. It is not. Bible believing Christians genuinely reach different conclusions on this issue, and denying this does not help anyone.

Conservatives are not all misogynists – I know some of those who opposed this measure and they act out of a genuine belief in the teachings of scripture and a love for women.  The women who opposed this measure are not “colluding in their own oppression” (as one clergyman once suggested to me) – they have reached this conclusion, often at personal cost, in all good conscience.

Those in favour of women clergy and bishops are not all “liberals” or failing to take scripture seriously. The list of evangelicals who support all areas of church leadership being open to women is pretty impressive.  I know people who take this position, and they do so because this is what they believe the bible teaches.

Both groups need to learn to live together and we do it best by seeking to fully understand the other side, not by flippant remarks and not by criticism of the motives of others or their sincerity.

I think evangelicals need to be a lot better at this in many areas.  I’m hugely grateful for the youth group I was discipled in, and where I discipled others, that I saw leaders disagreeing about important things, but still loving each other as brothers. One Saturday morning on a weekend away a group of older teenagers were asking questions about every kind of difficult issue, and after the leader speaking had answered some of them he turned to me and said “but you see it a bit differently, don’t you – what would you say”.

I’m massively grateful that I went to an evangelical college to study for my masters where we watched professors argue, sometimes passionately and occasionally heatedly about important things – and yet remain friends and colleagues because ultimately there was a deeper unity.

Yes Truth matters – but so does the realisation that I might be wrong – and that I’m likely to know Truth better if I understand why you see it differently.

I also think that this vote raises massive questions about evangelicals and bishops more generally – but that will need to be left for another day!

(P.S. for those of you trying to do source criticism on this blogpost – it has been written for you by Mark)

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2 comments on “Women as Bishops – the vote everybody lost?

  1. Sheena Gaston says:

    Thanks for that, Mark. It was a very good commentary to reading the news on the Beeb.

    I am not an Anglican, although I admire many Anglicans and have appreciated extended periods going to Anglican churches, and I do not really understand the full significance of bishops. (To me a bishop is just another “bloke” doing a job in the church.) However, I question if a women who is a sincere, godly believer would be worse in the role than a man who does not believe in many of the fundamentals such as the deity of Christ and whose life is a scandal. Over the years, evangelical Anglicans have had to Cope with many of the latter. Maybe gender is not the only or most important qualification the Synod should insist on!

    Thanks again for your contribution,

    Alan

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Tanya Marlow says:

    Thanks for th shout-out. I agree – I very much hope this issue won’t become a Shibboleth, important though it is…

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