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Should we have female Bishops? November 28, 2012

Posted by Henry in Contending for the Faith.
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1 comment so far

One of the great controversies affecting the Anglican Church today is the issue of whether or not female bishops should be appointed in the church. Recent proposals supporting this was put to a vote at the General Synod but was voted down not by the clergy, interestingly enough, but rather by the laity. The surprising thing is not that this was voted against by the laity, creating as some say a dilemma for the incoming Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, but rather it is the huge media focus that has been drawn, which has turned the subject into a political debate, with the Prime Minister David Cameron, no less, wading into the debate. Likewise many non-Christians have jumped unto the bandwagon to vent criticism at the Church expressing the view that it needs to change to reflect the changing times. In their view the church should embrace the principles of equality and appoint female bishops alongside men. The overarching question here though is whether the Christian faith should conform to the attitudes and views of society or whether this should be the other way around. It is not surprising of course that non-Christians should be advocating to make changes within church particularly from the standpoint that it is seen as a registered body who’s ministers and bishops are employees. Within this construct the argument can be levied that the church as a recruiting body should comply with the equality laws of the state.

The main point that non-Christians are missing however is that the church is not and should not be equated with other social organisations whose directives are handed down by their supervisory bodies or by the state in terms of function and governance. Indeed the church as with any members of society must observe the laws of the state but the church is subjected to a Higher Authority on ecclesiastical and doctrinal matters and that Authority is God’s Word. The state should therefore not interfere with this authority otherwise the church will cease to be a church.

So what is the position of the Word of God on the matter of female bishops? The qualifications of a Bishop is defined in 1 Tim 3 as follows:

1This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)</strong> 6Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. [Emphasis Added]

We see from the verses of scripture here that such an office does NOT extend to women. Some will say here that these are sexist and outmoded views but if we are the church then the church should be standing on the word of God however uncomfortable the truth makes us feel. We need to be uncompromising on the Word of God and that is why I say well done to the laity for voting against the proposals to allow women to become bishops.