There has been an awful lot of discussion about the decision not to allow women bishops in the Church of England. I’m going to be nice and controversial here: I think its the right decision.
The problem with this debate is it misses a much deeper argument. It’s not “should women be bishops”, it’s “should there be bishops”, and “who should be leaders”.
A little background
Before I wade into this, let me just state my conflicts of interests and biases.
I grew up in the CofE. It’s traditional ways and general dullness convinced me of the irrelevance of Christianity at an early age. I became an agnostic/atheist around 14, and stopped going, alongside pretty much all my peers.
Thankfully, aged 17, a friend took me to a free church where I was shown how much challenge, excitement and goodness there is at the heart of the Gospel. The process has led me to feel very concerned at how badly the Anglican church misses the point, and misses people in the process: I’ve been fortunate – very few of my peers have returned to the church we grew up in.
Unbiblical and unnecessary
To those of you who have no idea what the whole “ordained” thing is about, or the church thing in general: I apologise for all the jargon. I also apologise for the very religious sounding nonsense that is all over the news at the moment – sadly, it’s basically nothing to do with Christianity.
Basically, a church is a big group of people, who generally meet together regularly. We believe God loves us, and we try to love him and each other.
Like any big group of people, a church needs people leading them. In the old school out-of-touch, irritatingly-religious churches, this is usually an ordained “priest”, who wears a special dress, and is the only one allowed to bless bread and wine, and perform a number of other activities. In the New Testament, its pretty clearly pointed out that “priests” are no longer needed: we are all part of the priesthood, we can all have relationship with God.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
1 Peter 2:19
I feel the Anglican church is trying to find some solid ground for building change to the church leadership. But the biblical foundation for their current setup, well, isn’t there. Which makes it pretty hard to argue the biblical plus sides either way.
If you’ve seen Rush Hour, there’s a bit where Carter (seen right) is talking to his cousin, Luke, who is a gangster.
Carter: Why you didn’t come to church sunday?
Luke: I had some things to take care of, but I made the night service, though.
It seems ridiculous to think of a guy who bunked church in the morning, to participate in criminal activities, making sure he attends an evening service, as if such a superficial action can make up for an otherwise wrong lifestyle. To me, it seems similar to have raging arguments about the best way to have a sort of “super ordained” clergy, to reign over the other ordained clergy, when the New Testament blatantly doesn’t condone the whole priest thing anyway!
The damage we fail to mention
When it comes to Bishops, as in those with the special hats and colourful robes and special shiny sticks (see above): its just a load of tosh. Not only is it unbiblical, but it’s ridiculously alienating. Say you had no idea about Christianity, no idea about God, and you went to church to find out more? And you went to church and saw a man who looked like a cross between a Panto Dame and a extra from Star Trek. It’s not exactly going to encourage you to look into the sayings of Jesus more, is it?
So, that’s my conclusion. Women Bishops? Nope. Male Bishops? Also no. Let’s have a few overseers in each area, which is what the Bible told us to do, and lets #BanTheBishop!