July 08, 2008

Light Fuse, Stand Back

I wasn't going to say anything about the C of E's decision yesterday to allow female bishops, but the Missus recommended that I check out CNN's story on the matter. I did. And I feel I need to say something after all.

I'll skip all the mechanical graphs. Let's go, as the kids say, to the money quotes:

The theological debate over female bishops has centered on the question "What would Jesus do?"

Sigh... No, guys, there is no debate about that. What Jesus did is spelled out pretty clearly. What you mean is "What would we do if we were in Jesus' place? (Knowing, as we do, so much more about the way the world ought to work.)"

The traditionalists argued that bishops must be men, as were Jesus and his apostles.

Well, now. Why were all of Jesus' apostles men? Frankly, I dunno. And neither do you. Nor does anybody else. But there it is. But again, this gets back to the difference between "What Did Jesus Do?" and "What Do We Think Jesus Ought To Have Done?" And, of course, the traditionalist argument is actually based on the humility of recognizing that we have no business substituting our own judgment for His.

Retired Canon Alan Duke, a longtime supporter of women in church leadership posts, said those arguments "simply do not stack up."

Oh, I dunno. And note that "women in church leadership posts" language. Heck, I attend an extremely orthodox R.C. church and there are womens all over the place there, doing the Lawd's work in all kinds of ways. Much more, I would suspect, than most people who bloviate about "supporting women in church leadership posts".

Duke said that while Jesus named no female disciples, he used and valued woman in radical and different ways for his time.

Well, yeah.....And even a superficial understanding of the Gospels (such as, for example, mine) reveals that Jesus specialized in upsetting all kinds of accepted social conventions, not just with regard to sex, but also concerning birth, tribe, social standing, occupation and a whole host of other factors. But surely that argues against Jesus feeling compelled to stick to some particular contemporary social standard?

"He was hardly going to choose women and send them into a situation where they might have been in grave risk," Duke said.

Oh, so it was okay for Jesus to send Peter and the other Disciples into all kinds of hideous dangers at the hands of the Romans, the Jews and other hostile groups.....just because they were Men? Why, that Jesus fellah couldn't have been anything more than a sexist, chauvenist pig! Oh. Wait. Hang on......

Okay, let's get to what this is really all about......

Christina Rees, with the pro-women lobby Women and the Church, described what was at stake as "an acceptance by the Church of England of women on equal terms as men in the ordained ministries."

Bingo. This hasn't anything to do with theology, liturgy or the religious standards and practices derived therefrom. Instead, it has everything to do with modern social politics. As I said above, it is not a question of "What Would Jesus Do?" Instead, it is a question of "What Would We Do In Jesus' Place?" And even to my imperfect understanding of Faith, that is a very naughty question, indeed.

Posted by Robert at July 8, 2008 10:04 PM | TrackBack

Mark 3:13-19 gives them name by name, though the other gospels are not as precise. I think martyrdom does play a part in Christ's considerations; he knows what will happen to them, and yes, I think it is more appropriate for a man to be martyred than a woman, the fine examples of the female Roman martyrs notwithstanding.

Ordinatio Sacerdotalis by JP II lays out his reasoning; given how he concludes it, I don't think it can or will be revisited by the Catholic church.

Posted by: The Abbot at July 9, 2008 06:04 AM

And for me, "Roma locuta est, causa finita est" is an argument that carries weight. I don't think JP II made the judgment lightly.

Posted by: The Abbot at July 9, 2008 06:06 AM

I know little about the early history of Christianity, but once or twice I've encountered people with a strong belief that Jesus did have high-ranking female followers and perhaps even a female apostle, but one of the early Christian leaders (I think Paul) was such a strong misogynist that he not only got women thrown out of the Church leadership, but also had the records purged of any evidence that they ever existed.

Posted by: wolfwalker at July 9, 2008 06:12 AM

"Instead, it is a question of "What Would We Do In Jesus' Place?""

Or it might even be "What Should Jesus Have Done if He were as Enlightened as Us."

Posted by: rbj at July 9, 2008 07:28 AM

What would Jesus do? Hmmn....gee....what was that he said about millstones?

Posted by: Mrs.Peperium at July 9, 2008 08:29 AM

Maybe it's a good thing the gels didn't follow their father into the RC Church. If they feel a calling into the priesthood they'll have a chance to serve. I may be over the hill and pretty far down the other side, but I don't like to see someone held by by gender...

Posted by: PnutQueen at July 9, 2008 08:04 PM