Why is sexism still tolerated within the church?

June 9, 2008 at 11:49 pm 33 comments

In a hard-hitting article in The Guardian, Theo Hobson takes the Church of England to task for its ‘wet clerics’ and their failure to carry through a reformation of the church in relation women. He laments the fact that division and injustice are being perpetuated because of liberal woolly-mindedness.

In 1992, the Anglican church finally agreed to ordain women but allowed those who disagreed and who wished to teach against this to keep their jobs. In 2005, the church agreed that women could, in theory, become bishops and finally break through one glass ceiling so firmly trodden on by men. However, in a recent report, the church is still arguing that the toleration of dissent should still be encouraged. As Hobson argues:

Imagine if Parliament had voted for female suffrage, but also allowed conservatives who disagreed with the development to form a parallel parliament untainted by women’s votes.

Either it is right to remove the cultural abuse of women by denying them an equal voice and opportunities, or it is not. If it is right to do so, why continue to fudge the issue and promote abuse and the teaching of abuse?

I find myself angry about this failure to reform for at least three reasons. First, as a humanist it grieves me that women in the church are clearly being disenfranchised in some way. Although I have never been an Anglican, when I was a Christian and in church leadership, I remember thinking how my wife (who is much more gifted in lots of ways than I am) and my talented daughter would never be allowed to have the freedom to use their teaching and leadership abilities in the way that I was. Women and the church are suffering because of their underdevelopment.

Secondly, as one who likes to point out gaps between theory and practice, shouldn’t an organisation concerned with morality and compassion to people be concerned about the immorality of the injustice being done to its women? This is an organisation that ought to be at the forefront of those who speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves. It is failing spectacularly.

Thirdly, it’s about the bible. Regular readers of this blog will know that I don’t particularly have much time for the fallilbly human injunctions from ancient civilizations these days. However, people inside the church claim to take these seriously. I am angry because if they claim to take the bible seriously, why aren’t they doing the serious exegesis of the text and showing that far from keeping women in their place (as some mistakenly argue) the bible actually supports the case for female equality.

Although much male imagery for god exists in the bible, god is also described as a mother (Isaiah 49:13-15; 66:13), a pregnant woman (Isaiah 42:14), a midwife (Psalm 22:9). It is difficult to see how the so-called ’silence’ texts which seem to prohibit women teaching and making spiritual judgements affecting men are valid when other passages are taken into account. Joel had predicted that his sons and daughters would prophesy (Joel 2:28-29), and clearly female prophets existed (Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14; Nehemiah 6:14; Isaiah 8:3; Luke 2:36; Acts 21:9). There was also a female judge (Judges 4:4), and Junia an apostle (Romans 16:7). Priscilla was involved in teaching Apollos (Acts 18:26). 1 Corinthians 14:34 seems to be in conflict with verse 29 in the same chapter, where the whole church (not just the men) is called on to evaluate the prophets, and with 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 where Paul is concerned with uncovered female heads during prophecy, not women prophets. In 1 Corinthians 14 the issue is more likely about chattering and interruption than with women teaching. In 2 Timothy 2:2 the word ‘men’ should be translated as ‘people’.

According to the biblical narrative which these people claim to believe and take as their rule book, god chose women to be the first witnesses to the resurrection and gave his son to break down barriers between Jew and Gentile, slave and free, men and women.

– AThinkingMan

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Why d-C? – The Hypocritical Churches What does a de-converted minister do with all their stuff?

33 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Quester  |  June 10, 2008 at 5:27 am

    I’m not sure about the national body of the Anglican church in England, but in Canada I’ve come to realize that the Anglican church is not organized in a manner that makes it easy for it to make declarative statements that have any authority over anyone. Because of this, changing any statements once made is actually tremendously difficult. Who, exactly, should declare (and enforce) the teaching that females should be ordained? The Archbishop of Canterbury? He does not actually have any authority in the Anglican church outside of the diocese of Canterbury. He can say what he wants. No Anglican outside of his diocese is obliged to listen. Not really.

    Well, then, should every bishop spontaneously decide that the time for change is now, if not in the past? They can choose to do so, but unless the diocesan synods make the motion and vote it in properly, the bishops can not make such a change on their own. And even if the synods vote in the change, the bishops do not veto it and the archbishops do not ask for the change to be postponed in light of tensions in international relationships with other national bodies of the Anglican church which are not ready for such a change, the priests have only vowed to obey the bishops in all things lawful. If they decide this change is not lawful, they will not obey (in this case, that would be not accepting female associate clergy or deacons in their church).

    Admittedly, I am extrapolating from the practise in Canada. Decisions are made differently in the various national bodies of the Anglican church. But here, on important issues with different points of view being presented, where a change in previous policy needs to be made in a way that is visible and obvious to everyone, it is extremely difficult to make that change without a near-unanimity of opinion between clergy and laity built over several decades (in Canada, the national synod meets every three years; getting something decided in less than ten years is moving at frightfully fast speeds).

    I don’t think that there is any real mechanism to silence the voices of dissent in the way you seem to be asking for. I’m pretty sure that there is no one with the authority to do it. Even in Canada, where we have female deacons, priests and bishops, a friend of mine was refused by a parish just three years ago because a female bishop had ordained him, and thus the parish did not believe the ordination was valid. That parish had been in a diocese with a female bishop (the one who had ordained my friend priest, in fact) for eight years at that point. The priest and the bishop could have insisted, and the parish could have dispersed and had no one minister to them, but they chose otherwise.

    The Anglican church has very little it claims to hold true which can make it very open to many understandings of God and church amongst it’s members, but this can also make it slower than continental drift when it comes to changing anything it has actually managed to claim.

  • 2. Harry  |  June 10, 2008 at 7:16 am

    In some ways I think it’s a virtue of very old institutions that they are able to take the long view and change slowly. I mean, 30 or 40 years may be glacially slow for a commercial company, but to overturn 2000 years of practice it doesn’t seem so bad.

    In politics, given the choice of violent revolution or an endless process of committees and compromise, there’s a lot to be said for the slow bureaucratic route. Obviously the Anglican church is unlikely to be manning any barricades or massacring the kulaks any time soon, but to some extent the same thing applies.

    I’m as hostile to religion as the next person — unless the next person is Richard Dawkins — but the Church of England is pretty low on my list of objectionable sects.

  • 3. Yurka  |  June 10, 2008 at 11:12 am

    First, as a humanist it grieves me that women in the church are clearly being disenfranchised in some way.
    Firstly, it grieves me that tall fat people are “disenfranchised” from being jockeys, and that men are “disenfranchised” from being pregnant. But this is not about discrimination. It’s about God’s ordained roles for the sexes.

    Secondly, how can you even make an appeal to “morality”? Even if I grant that on your world view that you could appeal to morality, what is your basis for saying what is or is not moral? Why should I accept it if it conflicts with my basis for morality? When you claim your view is “moral”, what else does this mean other than “that’s the way I happen to feel today”?

    Thirdly you take narrative passages as the starting point by which you inductively try to build doctrine, but you can’t do this. Prescriptive passages take priority. This is a basic hermeneutical principle. I notice you left out 1 Timothy 2:12. Why?

  • 4. Yurka  |  June 10, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Please all you questioning people, I just want you to realize that orthodox Christians aren’t hidebound and closeminded and bigoted when they reject women’s ordination. These are truly deficient arguments. So please don’t be so quick to judge just to get a buzz of self righteous indignation. It’s just not warranted in this case.

  • 5. mec  |  June 10, 2008 at 11:28 am

    I used to be very uncomfortable with the idea of a woman pastor….until I had one, who turned out to be the best pastor I’ve ever had. She was an interim, and if she were pastoring a church locally, I’d probably still be going to church. I’ve visited dozens, but women, especially single women, are second class citizens, I find.

  • 6. Yurka  |  June 10, 2008 at 11:47 am

    mec, your argument is self refuting. If she were any good, she would have encouraged you to love the Lord, not form your primary attachment to her. As John the Baptist said, “He must increase, I must decrease”. My guess is that she was a good therapist for you, and you would have been equally well served by going to a secular psychologist. And I’d agree, there are no biblical prohibitions against female psychologists.

  • 7. mec  |  June 10, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Yurka…you are mean. And a good example of the love so prevalent in churches.

  • 8. Yurka  |  June 10, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    mec, I’m trying to get you to see the error of your ways before it is too late. If you were freezing to death and I tried to shake you awake… I guess you’d think that’s mean. I think the people here singing siren songs to get you to go back to sleep are mean.

  • 9. Ubi Dubium  |  June 10, 2008 at 1:36 pm


    I don’t think any de-convert here is singing siren songs to get anybody to go to sleep. I hear loud choruses of “We are all individuals!” and “We have to work it out for ourselves!” and “You don’t need to follow anybody!” (to paraphrase Brian). To me, belief was more like sleep and deconversion was the process of finally waking up. I don’t hear siren songs here – just alarm clock bells.

  • 10. TheNerd  |  June 10, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Yurka – I detect much fear and anger in your words.

    I personally was never much influenced by the church’s sermons about women being beneath their fathers and husbands. I could see in those around me that they weren’t moved either. It is simply a matter of love. A man who truely loves his wife is less likely to impose his will over her, no matter what the Bible says, because her high opinion of him is valued.

    I noticed that from my childhood to my youth, the sermons on the differences between the sexes leaned more toward an “equal treatment’ interpretation of the scriptures. Men are supposed to be self-sacrificial towards their wives. Women are supposed to be supportive of their husbands.

    What it really comes down to is what is the purpose of marriage (outside of the parenting aspects of it)? Why does a man wish to join himself with a particular woman, and vice versa? I do not think it would be wise to say a woman must chose a husband based on how good of a “head” he is, especially if she is stellar at it, and he is more of a people-pleaser.

    In the case of me and my husband, he takes on the traditionally female roles in our relationship. He remained unmarried for 13 years until “Mrs. Right” came along and I convinced him to elope with me. He followed me as I joined and left the military. He stays home with our toddler as I work. He makes most of the food, as he can cook better than I can. He even loves to spend my money! Having been in a previous relationship with a man who believed in the “biblical male role”, I can say with confidence that I am most happy when I tailor my lifestyle to fit my needs, not to the needs of a church.

    I have to say that one of the best church leaders I ever knew were a husband-wife team. No, I wouldn’t join a church body simply because they were there. But I loved how they fed off each other’s energy and support. They had a spirit of completeness about them that would be lacking if it was just him or just her alone.

    I do not see women ministers as replacing men, rather as complementing and completing their work. As 51% of the population of the USA are women, I would like to se 51% female leadership. There is an interaction, a communal spirit lacking in the church today, and women are more than capable of filling the void.

  • 11. LeoPardus  |  June 10, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Hmmm… Some thoughts and questions occur.

    If the church propagates a lie (that there’s a hug, invisible being taking care of everything), why demand that women get to participate in the continuation of the lie?

    I suppose one answer to that could be that as long as the church exists, it can harm equal rights for women by propagating discrimination.

    Then again, one might propose that allowing them to continue such discrimination may, over time, contribute to the church’s decline. ….. maybe…..

    Quester brought up another good question; Why should church leaders decide that the time for change is now, if not in the past?” Of course the Anglican church doesn’t have much of a record of maintaining traditions and continuity, so why not change?

  • 12. Yurka  |  June 10, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    TheNerd the Bible says nothing about secular roles within marriage – we’re talking past each other. There is nothing wrong with anything you say until the last two paragraphs – I’m happy for you that both of you are comfortable with your arrangement.
    But women are not to preach or teach men within the context of the church, and men are called to be the spiritual heads of the family. It’s a question of God’s ordained roles for men and women in the church, that’s all.

  • 13. athinkingman  |  June 10, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Thanks for your comments. I think they helpfully put the slowness of change into context. I must admit that I have never been an Anglican insider so found your perspective helpful.

    I am dismayed to hear the old chestnut that humanists can’t have morality. Our basis may be different from yours, that’s all.

    If you want to believe the bible and understand 1 Timothy 2:12, and what it meant in the context of the time, you could, of course, say that the verse is unremarkable given the fact that women did not receive and education and that temple prostitution was rife and that Paul was concerned with the doctrinal and moral purity of the early church, and that given that context, it is difficult to apply the words rigidly today. Personally, in the light of Bart Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” I can’t get too excited about the reliability of the NT text these days.

  • 14. societyvs  |  June 10, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    I like the idea of a woman pastor – or a wife and husband team – instead of just a male voice – it gets stale after a while. Women have something to offer to the faith men do not – and vice versa – and how this ideally should function is women and men working as partners in the endeavor of a stronger community environment.

    For all the proof texting of Paul Yurka does – he fails to recognize the cultural contexts or the very idea those letters were written to specific places and people (not the whole church all the time). The fact is proof-texting Paul can lead to some serious contradiction if we tow the line like Yurka .

    What about Galatians 3:28 as a standard “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    Paul states it quite clearly a woman and a man are not above one another – but all or one and the same in the faith – equals. Now, one could say they have varying roles in the church – perhaps – but if that woman is as educated and studied as any man – there should be no differences in approving leadership.

    Paul come from a time very different than ours – but even he could see that equality was the goal (and a focal teaching of Jesus I will add). I don’t find places where Jesus actually silences women as Paul asks certain congregations to do – which makes me think Paul is teaching cultural norms of the day and maybe for good reason (someone mentioned illiteracy and lack of study on the subjects).

    But to hold to a view now that women should be ‘silence in church’ is something that does not reasonably hold water. Colleges are filled with women and men studying equally in their fields of study – including religion. Women can read, write, study, and speak better than most men I know – if this is the case – should they be left back because of gender? God forbid!

    I think if Paul could write letters now – the reversal of many of the things he taught would occur since he was also about equality. I can’t read something like Gal 3:28 and still think women deserve a lesser treatment than men in concern for the community of the church. It just doesn’t seem decent or fair – which can clearly come down to a very simple teaching ‘treat others how you want to be treated’…and Yurka if you think women should not hold a position I would request neither should you.

  • 15. Quester  |  June 10, 2008 at 4:34 pm


    You’re welcome. I’ve found it enlightening, having a front row view, as it were, to watch the Anglican church of Canada struggle with whether or not homosexuals can be ordained or married within the church. At the last national meeting, the majority of the laity voted that homosexuals should be allowed to be married within the Anglican church, but the bishops voted against it (I believe the vote was 19-21). They did, however, pass a motion that homosexual marriage was not against “core doctrine”. That’s not difficult, of course. Once you’ve recited the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed, you’ve stated roughly half of our core doctrine (slight exaggeration there, but you might be surprised how slight). Because priests only swear to obey their bishops “in all things lawful”, some are deciding to interpret the ruling that marrying homosexuals is not against core doctrine as meaning it would be unlawful for a bishop to order a priest not to do it, despite the national synod not successfully voting in permission to do so.

    We’ve been discussing these issues (marriage and ordination of homosexuals), as a national church, for about fifty years, now. I remember, about twenty years ago, participating in a national study called “Hearing Diverse Voices – Seeking Common Ground”. I expect it will be another ten to twenty years (three to six national synods) before the church as a whole is more or less unanimous on one side of the debate or the other. So, about seventy years since this was first raised at a national level. And that unanimity will probably result by being put into practise before it is ever actually authorized, just as ordination of women was.

    I’m told that in Africa, the Anglican Archbishops can make a ruling, and the bishops, priests and laity have to follow it. I’m not sure whether or not that is actually true. Here, though, being an Archbishop means you get to chair the meetings when the bishops get together. That’s pretty much it. Change takes time because there is no real central authority to make it move faster.

    I was thankful that the original pay rates for Anglican clergy had a process of providing for annual increase built into them, or the pay scale today might easily be the same as one hundred years ago.

  • 16. Yurka  |  June 10, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    societyvs, Galatians 3 is about justification by faith as opposed to law. It has nothing to do with roles within the church. All people are justified in the same way. They are in one Body, but they

    And you have to be careful about making your decisions based on your own fleshly wisdom, based on what seems reasonable to you. It’s like mixing ammonia and bleach, seems reasonable but can end up fatal. We should not disregard God’s Word first and foremost out of love for him, but even on the practical level there are almost always negative consequences that accompany disobedience of God’s word (AIDS anyone?).

    In this case, we can see that when we disregard God’s word with regard to the roles of women, that churches where attendance is predominantly female, or where the worship service is feminized tend to be stagnant and in decline. Albert Mohler did a piece on this a while back – I’m sure you could google it on his blog albertmohler.com.

  • 17. Yurka  |  June 10, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    I meant – but they are differing organs (1 Co 12)

  • 18. societyvs  |  June 10, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    “Galatians 3 is about justification by faith as opposed to law. It has nothing to do with roles within the church. All people are justified in the same way” (Yurka)

    It’s interesting you would mention Paul showing faith is not from the law – cause here is something interesting from Corinthians:

    1 Cor 14:34 ” The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says.”

    If we are justified by faith, which I agree with, then how come Paul goes back to the law concerning women being silent in church? Is the church subject to law – which we are? How can that even be if law does not justify in the sight of God – why does Paul reference a law we are not subject to?

    “but even on the practical level there are almost always negative consequences that accompany disobedience of God’s word” (Yurka)

    Okay, this is actually fairly cool – where does Paul point out the consequences of women speaking in church or even being leaders? Now you mention one consequence – declining enrollment – which is actually not a ‘sin’ so who really cares – what is the actual consequences of women being leaders? There must be something you can point to – to make this point very clear as to why women leaders is immoral?

    Yurka that’s the problem with your point – there is no real point to it in terms of immorality it causes. You mention AIDS – which is a consequence of unprotected sex – likely with someone we don’t know – so this makes sense (that’s a consequence that happend due to the actions we took). Now if I let a women be a leader – what happens next? Do people start catching whooping cough all of a sudden?

    I am sorry Yurka – as much as you want to keep the word of God – you ignore the concepts of equality as taught by Jesus. Show me one place where Jesus teaches women are bad leaders or should not be teaching? That scripture cannot be found – unless we go back to the law (and even then it is very obscure – I couldn’t even find the passage Paul refers to).

    Now Paul is fine, but Paul is not your Messiah either – he is a letter writer writing to churches about issues of the day – and if he continued writing letters for 2000 years (up until now) – those letters would change with the times to address new times and cultures. I am not sure Paul would be saying the same things concerning women – if he could see their education and promise.

    If you ask me, and no one has, but it is sexist to not allow women to serve aside men in the body of Christ.

  • 19. Yurka  |  June 10, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    If we are justified by faith, which I agree with, then how come Paul goes back to the law concerning women being silent in church? Is the church subject to law – which we are? How can that even be if law does not justify in the sight of God – why does Paul reference a law we are not subject to?

    Excellent question – this has caused enormous confusion over the centuries – I’m not sure why. It’s perfectly straightforward – we are not justified by obedience to the moral law. This is because we have sinned and no subsequent obedience can blot out that fact. The only way we can be justified is by the imputed righteousness of Christ which happens when we have faith. But true saving faith is never alone. It is never mere intellectual assent to propositions about Christ. It is accompanied by regeneration which gives us a love of God’s righteousness, and that is why we strive to obey the law – out of love, not to justify ourselves. The law is death to us in the sense that we are condemned by transgressing it. But it is good in that it is an expression of God’s perfect goodness which is how we ought to behave.

    This subject is dealt with in Romans chapters 6 and 7.

    There must be something you can point to – to make this point very clear as to why women leaders is immoral?

    All our moral intuitions can eventually traced back to some set of axiomatic principles. You can’t keep ‘pointing back’ forever. Pointing to the relevant scriptures is all the justification that is needed.

    Now Paul is fine, but Paul is not your Messiah either

    That’s irrelevant – we can’t rewrite the canon just to suit our fancy, and then use an argument from (Jesus’) silence to justify what we want.

  • 20. ExEvangel  |  June 10, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    It’s all a matter of perspective. I’m a hanger-on in an Anglican community (mostly to sing in the choir at evensong) but find the attitudes towards women to be generally extremely refreshing compared with my upbringing in the US evangelical church, where women wore flower-y dresses, cooked things and otherwise were seen but not heard!

    But it certainly is interesting. I yammer on about women being overlooked and disregarded in science and technology but it appears to be a far more general phenomenon; this week’s Guardian had an interesting profile on why there are not more women in high-up positions in the arts.
    In general, the article echoed all of the things that the science literature has said, that it really is hard and unusual to be able to juggle family and career, whatever the career might be. Many of the high flying artsy types in this profile were child-free, just as they are in my science world. Perhaps in the church, where this is such a priority for family and procreation, the situation creates even more of a backlash?

  • 21. Feminism and the church « Unsaved  |  June 10, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    […] and the church Please see the interesting discussion, thanks to athinkingman, on women and the church (over at de-conversion). I’ll re-print my […]

  • 22. societyvs  |  June 10, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    “The only way we can be justified is by the imputed righteousness of Christ which happens when we have faith. But true saving faith is never alone…It is accompanied by regeneration which gives us a love of God’s righteousness, and that is why we strive to obey the law” (Yurka)

    It’s a strange argument in all honesty. We are justified by imputed righteousness from the Christ – through faith. As you claim faith is actually enough to be justified you put an addendum on that idea with striving to obey the law because of our love for God – which we are not justified at all by. Then why obey the law at all – when we are imputed righteousness anyways? It makes no sense since by only one thing ‘by faith’ are we justified.

    Unless Paul means something else altogether different – when talking about the law. Maybe the law represents our previous breaking of it – immorality – and we know have grace to follow it – via this faith in the Christ (and his teachings/guidance).

    Romans 6:19 “I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.”

    Notice how Paul mentions ‘impurity and lawlessness’ in regards to one’s former faith – but now these same people are committed to righteousness – via the faith the Christ has given. Maybe that’s not as easy at looks – maybe it’s even easier. Follow faith in God into morality and leave behind immoral behavior.

    “Pointing to the relevant scriptures is all the justification that is needed.” (Yurka)

    But that doesn’t answer the question at all…it just kind of bypasses it for as simple as an idea from scripture as can be ascertained – just believe what was written and do not question it – which is absolute failure in my opinion to address morality of any sort. The fact Paul points to a law about ‘women not speaking’ that neither of us can find can only mean a few things: (a) it does not exist in scripture; (b) it was a law of the culture of the time; or (c) it was a rabbinical oral code he knew of. Now which one was it and where is the proof to support Paul’s argument – which you have adopted as a moral position?

    “we can’t rewrite the canon just to suit our fancy” (Yurka)

    That’s true – we cannot – but that does not mean we accept Paul’s standards without a good reason for accepting them – when we don’t know fully what he is getting at in his letters and what this means to him and his cultural norms. He mentions a law in his letters, not me making it up, that is nowhere to be found except in his words. Why should I believe that without a good reason as to why it is moral to do so? Maybe Paul is writing to a culture of his times – which his letters are – to certain regions of certain Gentile peoples. Paul is known to make comments that might not have a baring on being scripture – but opinions of his.

    2 Cor 8:10 “I give my opinion in this matter…”
    1 Cor 7:25 “Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion…”
    1 Cor 7:40 “But in my opinion…”

    Now how can we look at Romans and what not concerning the role of woman as an opinion about the currents of the times to maintain status quo? Paul is apt to give opinions concerning cultural norms – as is clearly proven in the Corinthian letters. I am not saying it’s not a good opinion for his time – but it maybe just that – an opinion.

    I am not doing any re-writing but my work as someone that studies the scriptures also to find a ‘just measurement’ within them…and this is part of the work.

  • 23. TheNerd  |  June 11, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Yurka, you say:

    And you have to be careful about making your decisions based on your own fleshly wisdom, based on what seems reasonable to you. We should not disregard God’s Word

    but then in the same post you say

    we can see that when we disregard God’s word with regard to the roles of women, that churches where attendance is predominantly female, or where the worship service is feminized tend to be stagnant and in decline.

    In the first quote, you say that reason alone can be dangerous without support from scriptures. But in the second, you make an example [without proof from a source] that female-oriented churches lead to the decline of congregations. This is a reson-based arguement, without support in scripture! (Also, since when did Christians make decisions based on what was popular to the world?)

    How can you make a reason-based arguement immediately after dispelling the wisdom of reason? You must pick one: reason or dogma, and stick to it! You cannot choose the one over the other, then proceed use the latter without the first in the same post.

  • 24. Yurka  |  June 11, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Then why obey the law at all – when we are imputed righteousness anyways?
    There is no reason following from the bare fact of imputation. But if you are justified by imputation, then you will also desire to be righteous, since this is how God chooses to act. True, there is no logically necessary connection between the two, this is God’s choice of how to act, but it makes sense that if you are loved by God you will be forgiven and regenerated. Why would he forgive you, yet leave your fallen, fleshly nature intact?

    The fact Paul points to a law about ‘women not speaking’ that neither of us can find
    According to Gill it refers to Gen 3:16: http://freegrace.net/gill/1_Corinthians/1_Corinthians_14.htm

    re: 1 Co 7:25. Paul is always careful to state (as you note) when he is speaking in ‘this-is-my-opinion’ mode. Therefore the default mode is divine inspiration, which is why we should obey 1 Ti 2:12 as divinely inspired and *not* subject to questioning.

  • 25. Yurka  |  June 11, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    TheNerd, I was not clear – I meant that we should not follow fleshly reasonings because our reason is corrupt and limited. And to show it was so I gave the example of when we do disregard scriptures and find out we are wrong later – I used the example of women’s ordination leading to bad results merely to support the idea we shouldn’t disregard scripture.

    Personally on the secular level – it certainly seems to me that since women are as intelligent and virtuous as men it is perfectly reasonable to let them preach and teach men, but look at the Episcopal Church. It is led by a woman (a former marine biologist Katharine Jefferts-Schori) which was the fastest declining deomination last year (4%).

    when did Christians make decisions based on what was popular to the world?
    Good point. The tragedy of American Christianity is that it worships growth over everything else. But the problem in the Episcopal Church goes beyond that. They’ve fallen into gross doctrinal error (relating to inclusivism, human sexuality and the nature of God).

  • 26. TheNerd  |  June 11, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Yurka: I still fail to see how declining congregation “proves” anything. A declining congregation could just as easily be caused by both things: by someone who is doing what is right but not popular, and by someone who is wrong but not popular. Popularity of a particular church just doesn’t have anything to do with “right” or “wrong”. It doesn’t exclusively support any theory of yours. Why even bring it up?

  • 27. Yurka  |  June 11, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    It’s not so much decline in and of itself – it’s the type of decline. People aren’t leaving the Episcopal Church because they are false converts (such as at the end of John 6). They are leaving for other denominations because the heresy has become so bad.

    I suppose you could argue that the heresy is the main thing, but the decline linked to it is something tangible that is easier to point to.

  • 28. LeoPardus  |  June 11, 2008 at 5:00 pm


    In the article, are you looking for the Anglican church to become more liberal in their acceptance of women in all church offices? or are you looking for all Christian denominations to do so?

  • 29. athinkingman  |  June 11, 2008 at 5:04 pm


    The posting was prompted by a report about the situation in the Anglican church, but of course, I would want equality to apply in all of Christendom.

  • 30. LeoPardus  |  June 11, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    I was just thinking of reasons why women aren’t made pastors/priests in different denominations.

    The Anglicans don’t really seem to have any reason, so it makes sense for them to ordain anyone.

    Many Protestants change their theology as often as their shirts, so they don’t have any reason to exclude anyone either.

    Other Protestants make a scriptural case for women “not teaching or having authority over a man” and “remaining silent in all the congregations”. Selective reading? Hey! Doesn’t everybody do that? So they have reasons. Maybe not really great ones, but reasons all the same.

    Still other Protestants add on tradition or history as part of their reasons for keeping women out of the priesthood. Of course, to me, any Protestant trying to base anything on history is just a crack up.

    The Catholics and Orthodox have a long tradition of male only priesthood, and they have their claim to apostolic succession (which is male only), and theyhave interpretations of Scripture based in the Church’s history and majesterium.

    Given the massive abandonments of ancient traditions by Catholics in the latter 20th century, I don’t think they have a very good set of legs to stand on. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised to see them cave on female priests and deacons within the next generation or two.

    The Orthodox do still hold to ancient traditions and they frankly don’t give a flying fart what the rest of the world thinks. So they won’t be moving on the issue. Of course they also have one more element to add.

    For the Orthodox, iconography is of paramount importance, and any servant at the altar represents, in some degree, Christ. Since he was a man, only a man can be a Christ icon. For a woman to be there would be like painting a picture of Jesus as a woman. It would just be flat wrong in fact, history, you name it. So from this perspective too the Orthodox have their reasons for male only priesthood and they won’t be moving anytime soon (if ever).

  • 31. societyvs  |  June 11, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    “Why would he forgive you, yet leave your fallen, fleshly nature intact?” (Yurka)

    I would say – maybe the interpretation is inaccurate of what Paul is saying then – if the interpretations of Paul by church doctrine make God seem illogical. Or maybe Paul is being illogical?

    The question I raised about faith and law is very poignant to the way one thinks through their faith walk – and you answered it with “There is no reason following from the bare fact of imputation”. No reason? How can anyone choose to follow a teaching in the faith without a reason? I think the imputation idea has to be false if this is the reasoning behind it.

    I point to the idea Paul is making a point about law and faith – that when he mentions law he mentions our actions of lawlessness (immorality) and we functioned in that – and that when we move to faith – we move to enacting to intents of the law of God (morality). It is way easier a way to look at the role of faith in one’s life – Paul, in my opinion, makes it very hard to undestand his 1st century rhetoric – thus we get a theology of imputation (which has no place in Jewish thought).

    “According to Gill it refers to Gen 3:16” (Yurka)

    Genesis 3:16 “Yet your desire will be for your husband,
    And he will rule over you.”

    The point is from ‘he will rule over you’ – which says nothing about a church leadership whatsoever – we have to imply that is what it means there. And this, this is not a law either from the Mosaic Law.

    Also, if Gentiles are free from the law – they are more than definitely are free from this in the kingdom of God. Since this is a curse – not a blessing – and all curses are to be broken in the Christ and in our living out of the kingdom of God. So this is not even the highest standard from God – this is a curse that can be alleviated ‘here and now’. I am pretty sure if we can alleviate the problems with child-birth we can do a much easier job with the idea of woman leadership (or at least co-leadership).

    Also the interpretation of that passage about a woman’s desire being for her husband and he will rule over her – well this could be about relationships and nothing more (emotional attachment). How is it we see that as even being about a woman being a leader – not like Moses didn’t have Miriam as a type of leader…or Ruth…Esther…Mary…all these women lead in things men did not – or could not. Even one of the judges was a woman in the book of judges.

    It’s very convenient for people to go back to the law on an issue like this – keeping it as a law – but not on so many other things Paul leaves out of his letters. Paul even ‘teaches against the law’ a few times – he teaches people to not eat kosher, to not be circumcised, or to only follow 3 partial laws in Acts 15. I mean, which is it – we following the law or are we allowed to ‘not follow it’? And if not follow it, why are we so stuck on woman leadership when no actual law exists (but a curse).

  • 32. TheNerd  |  June 11, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Woman are not condemned in the Bible as warriors/leaders of a nation.

    Warriors were scarce, they were scarce in Israel; until you arose, Deborah, until you arose as a motherly protector in Israel. (Judges 5:7)

    Women are allowed to take glory over men.

    [Deborah says] “However, there will be no glory for you in the course you are taking, for then the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman” (Judges 4:8-9)

    I have heard some to say that God chose Deborah to shame men into shaping up. Who says God isn’t trying to do the very same thing today? [Well, I suppose I would, because I don’t believe in a God who controls anyone’s destiny. But I refer to the beliefs of the Christian community.] God very well may be leading women to take roles of leadership as he so clearly has in the past.

    The misogyny of a few past (imperfectly human) leaders should not set an unalterable precedent of denying women equal chance to grow toward their full potential. Even in an extreme patriarchy, women are not all denied the right to lead. Why should we be less accepting of women’s spiritual gifts of leadership than they?

  • 33. Yurka  |  June 12, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Given the massive abandonments of ancient traditions by Catholics in the latter 20th century, I don’t think they have a very good set of legs to stand on. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised to see them cave on female priests and deacons within the next generation or two.
    Uh, LeoPardus, I wouldn’t bet on it. I disagree with Catholics on soteriology, mariology, baptism, authority, so many things… but I must say Benny 16 is a really great guy! He will not be bullied by liberal revisionists!

    For all you Piskies out there – what do you think will be the future of conservative Anglicanism in America? +Duncan and +Iker are both fine, godly bishops, yet +Pittsburgh is pro WO and +FW is anti-WO.

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