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What's the big deal about women bishops?

(115 Posts)
MrsThierryHenry Sun 17-Aug-08 12:19:01

Forgive me if this discussion's already been round the houses on MN, but I've been wondering about this for quite some time now.

Why is it that a woman can be a vicar but if she becomes a bishop it creates such a hoo-ha for some folk in the Church? I'm not even asking about whether it's deemed appropriate for women to be in leadership (as far as I'm concerned this shouldn't even be an issue worth discussing since men and women are equals).

But the bishop thing - surely it should be all or nothing? I.e if you can get onto the first rung on the ladder they should surely let you all the way up?

SqueakyPop Sun 17-Aug-08 16:17:08

You are correct that once you accept women priests, the same arguments hold for bishops.

It is inevitable that women bishops would happen as soon as synod voted to allow women priests - it was simply a matter of time.

There are two arguments against women priests, one from each side of the church.

The extreme catholic wing believes that since there were no women priests in the early church, then there shouldn't be now either. This is a tradition-based argument.

The extreme evangelical wing puts great weight behind a few verses of scripture which say that women should not have authority over men in church.

AMumInScotland Sun 17-Aug-08 17:18:09

Apart from the theological arguments, which I don't personally find convincing, there are practical issues with women being bishops when not all clergy agree with it.

If a women is a priest, she can wrk alongside male priests who don't fundamentally agree with women's ordination. But it is much trickier for a man who doesn't think women can be validly ordained to be under the jurisdiction of a woman bishop. Assuming no alternative arrangements are made, it uts him in a difficult situation.

Personally, I think that isn't important enough to stopsomething which I believe is right, but it is an issue for a lot of people.

MrsMattie Sun 17-Aug-08 17:19:21

Because most religion tends to be anti-woman.

SqueakyPop Sun 17-Aug-08 17:28:47

Women priests were allowed because they offered alternative episcopal oversight/provincial episcopal visitor for those parishes that objected, which is a lot harder to achieve in the case of women bishops.

Spidermama Sun 17-Aug-08 17:31:22

Because women are held beneath men in every other walk of life so why should organised religeon be any different.

Men need to feel like they're the boss. They don't like women above them.

SqueakyPop Sun 17-Aug-08 17:41:39

Those aren't quite the arguments that are used.

Spidermama Sun 17-Aug-08 17:43:49

Of course they're not squeaky. They don't see it like that. I do.

MrsMattie Sun 17-Aug-08 17:43:50

No, but it's the real reason, isn't it? They can dress it up any way they like, but it all boils down to exactly what Spidermama says.

JonahTakalua Sun 17-Aug-08 17:45:07

sexism, and terror at the thought that the old boys network will crumble, is at the root of it all.

dressed up to say that god doesn't want women to hold positions of authority in the church, but HE just forgot to mention it in quite such explicit terms.

SqueakyPop Sun 17-Aug-08 17:49:27

It's not that sinister. It is simply down to the early traditions of the church and scripture (which was written in times when women did not have a role in the temple and subsequently early church).

MrsMattie Sun 17-Aug-08 17:59:22

...and are still adhered to for the most part in the 21st century. I find it deeply sinister, but then, I'm not a believer in the slightest....

SqueakyPop Sun 17-Aug-08 18:03:04

The era is not a great argument as Christianity is the same yesterday, today, forever.

If you don't put a lot of stock in the traditions handed down or obedience to scripture as it is written, you need to look at what Paul meant when he said that women were not to have authority over men in the context of their time and place, and how we adapt those sentiments to our time.

MrsMattie Sun 17-Aug-08 21:15:36

I have no idea what Paul meant, but it doesn't sound like a very strong argument to me...

LizziAndB Sun 17-Aug-08 21:19:11

Christianity isnt anti women.

SqueakyPop Sun 17-Aug-08 21:20:06

You need to read your bible, Mrs Mattie

SqueakyPop Sun 17-Aug-08 21:22:54

Indeed, Lizzie,

I don't have a particular object to female clergy or female teaching, but I can see how other people would view things differently.

One thing I know is that it is women who run the church. Who is it that looks out for new people, or visits those who are in need? Who is it that checks out new mothers, or those who are ill?

It is, of course, the women of the church. Church is all about building up relationships, and it is the women of the church who are central in this endeavour.

LizziAndB Sun 17-Aug-08 21:30:06

Sp- I agree that women have a major role in the church (they do in my place). However I dont believe that they should be in charge of the preaching and teaching of the overall church, this does not mean that they cannot witness to other people during there ministies (mothers&tots, womens prayer meeting etc)

MrsMattie Sun 17-Aug-08 21:44:22

I jest. I have actually read my bible. In fact, I revisited it in great depth last year when I did the RCIA course in a last ditch attempt to understand (and possibly even join) my husband in his Catholicism. I wish I could pretend that a) I believe a single word of it and that b) I could get past what is to my mind just out and out misogyny on a grand scale.

Seems to me that women can be 'central' but can't actually have any power or status. Men get to preach and teach and women get...mums and tots? Purlease.

Religion + feminisim don't mix!

SqueakyPop Sun 17-Aug-08 21:48:24

I could say that you have reached the natural conclusion in the Catholic church.

Anglicanism standa for Scripture, Reason and Tradition. perhaps that would be moer palatable to you.

MrsMattie Sun 17-Aug-08 21:49:11

No. I'm an atheist. there is NO saving me grin

LizziAndB Sun 17-Aug-08 21:52:29

There is more for a women to do other than mothers and tots. Is it the status of women within the church that makes you not believe, or is it some thing else?

tearinghairout Sun 17-Aug-08 21:55:39

A couple of comments: firstly, from my own observations, Paul seems to be quite mysogynistic, but these are his own opinions only.

Secondly, there's a comment that 'Women should not speak in church' which has been interpreted to meant hat they shouldn't preach, but it was explained to me that in biblical times, women were separated from men and perhaps would sit gossipping and chatting, disrupting the service, so this was telling them to keep quiet. Also they were not educated to the degree that men were, so would ask questions in church which they could have saved for when they got home & ask their husbands.

SqueakyPop Sun 17-Aug-08 21:55:54

Gosh, in my last years as SAHM, I was so busy serving the church that it was actually a break for me to go to paid employment.

SqueakyPop Sun 17-Aug-08 21:57:32


I would certainly interpret those verses to mean that women should chatter or gossip during a service.

It's only polite really - don't talk while someone else is talking.

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