Friday, 23 November 2012

Women Bishops: our Good Friday moment

It was somewhat symbolic, not to say ironic, that the concord that signalled the beginning of the end of decades of religiously-linked violence in Northern Ireland should be called the ‘Good Friday Agreement’.
In order to bring it about, people had to sit at the same table with those who had killed friends, colleagues and loved ones. Not just pride, but genuine hurt, had to be put to one side. In a very real sense, a sacrificial price was paid.
In the wake of the vote going against the women bishop’s Measure on Tuesday there has been a massive outpouring of hurt and anger. It would be quite possible to analyse this and to comment further.
But when all has been said, one fact remains. Those in disagreement are going to have to sit down at the same table and resume the process of seeking a way ahead.
This must happen. It is not only inevitable, it is right. And the sooner it begins to happen, the better for all.
We should remember that we are the Church. If Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley can manage to talk to one another in the same room, then clearly so can — and should — we. Let those who have the option begin the process now.
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  1. I like it John I like it!!

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  3. You are right; we need to talk.It should be possible, in a spirit of Christian love, to come to a conclusion acceptable to both sides:traditionalists and those wanting woman as bishops.We need to show the world that even in the most profound disagreement Christians love one another.

  4. What a load of sanctimonious twaddle. Quite frankly you can whistle for it. We sat round the table, we listened, we compromised, we put aside our own desires, our own theological convictions, our very sense of identity in Christ to accommodate those opposed in a spirit of love and generosity and it has been thrown back in our faces. If that is the way you wish to treat your brother and sisters in Christ, fine but don't then pretend you are interested in dialogue, or expect us to come back to the table for second helpings. There is now no compromise acceptable to both sides and the Church of England will need to decide in which direction it wishes to travel. I sat through those debates at General Synod and heard not one jot of compassion or regard for ordained women in the speeches from those opposed. If you want a seat at the table, a good dose of repentance is probably in order.

    1. Interestingly I heard that some of the votes against the measure were from women who support the ordination of women to the episcopate. Regardless of that, I have personally thrown nothing back in either your face or the face of other women clergy. All I have ever asked for is sacramental assurance which was not provided in the defeated measure. One thing that puzzles me, is that in 1992 when the measure to ordain women to the priesthood was passed by just TWO VOTES it was claimed as a victory for the Holy Spirit. Now that the present measure has been defeated by SIX VOTES all sorts of other claims are made. Surely It can be argued that this defeat is the Holy Spirit telling us that the measure is not fit for purpose.

  5. Licensetobless, you didn't put aside anything; and you could have had your female bishops if you had been reasonable. As it is, your defeat was well-deserved. Next time, accept the need for proper safeguards (i.e. necessarily stronger than those we have at present). Drop your totalitarian claims and you will have your wish and we can rejoice together. Good fences make good neighbours.

  6. the problem with licensetobless's contribution is that it could have been written almost word for word by someone who opposes these innovations (but of course, it wasn't). surely the language of rights has no place in Christian discourse?

  7. A just response LBS.

    Lindsay, several of the accusations you make against opponents of the Measure can be justly levelled at your own party in this matter.

    In 2010 the Archbishops proposed an amendment which the GS's Houses of Bishops and of Laity both supported, but the female clergy flung it back in their faces.

    In 2008 your party in GS flung back in the faces of dissenters every proposal for provision which they put forward to help bring on the goal of women bishops.

    "Regard for ordained women" isn't really something you should have insisted on looking for in the texts of speeches last Tuesday, since their position was not in question. On the contrary, it was dissenters who strongly felt that they were fighting for their very place in the CoE.

    Further, if your "very sense of identity in Christ" depends on being a priest or bishop, you are the most extreme clericalist(s) I've ever heard of.

    Ultimately, the ultras in your party need to step right out of denial and admit to themselves that the measure was defeated by members who were in favour of women bishops but who were appalled at WATCH's thinly (and inadequately) disguised exterminationism. Read this example:

    As LBS implied, feminists could have had women bishops years ago but blew it, as in Aesop's fable about the dog wanting a second bone; and they have now blown the chance to have them for many years to come. Their first act of repentance ought to be towards themselves!


  8. The problem for traditionalists is that they have no longer have leverage to force an outcome. The majority can simply exercise their power to change the terms of the contest. If GS is 'unrepresentative' then the GS can be made more 'representative.' Proponents don't have to sit at a table and talk. They can ignore that table and find ways exert their will.

    One statement in the comment by licencetobless should not be overlooked. She said:

    We sat round the table, we listened, we compromised, we put aside our own desires, our own theological convictions, our very sense of identity in Christ to accommodate those opposed in a spirit of love and generosity and it has been thrown back in our faces.

    The compromise to which she refers is severe, but it never had anything to do with what traditionalists wanted. She was referring to a decision to co-exist with traditionalists for a little while on the important condition that there wouldn't be any more of them. She wanted a "sell by" date stamped on the whole exercise. That's why it is so personal. "We agreed to tolerate your misogynistic bigoted presence for 20 additional years, and still you wouldn't have it."

    No, she is right. There is no compromise available. Proponents were never looking to make accommodations for complementarian theology. They were looking to make accommodations for those who believe it. That has always been the fundamental disconnect between the two sides. Now there is no longer any desire to make accommodations for those who believe it. Instead there is a desire to look for the means to impose victory.

    That table is going to be very empty.


  9. As a redeemed sinner I have no "rights" only "privileges"! The tone of many comments do not IMO seem very Christian. to speak of "hurt and disappointment", yes, but to talk about "anger", "betrayal", "no compromise", "our own desires" and the like, make me wonder if I can remain in love and fellowship in the Church of England. And I have always been in favour of the full ordination of women!
    How to win friends and influence people - NOT!!!

  10. Dear Rev Lindsay Southern, you indeed have a License to Bless, not by merit of ordination but from Jesus, the one who said, "Love your enemies".

    Well, now you have found some.

  11. Very helpful words John.
    And the parellel with Northern Ireland is salient. This summer, the Queen met Martin McGuiness. It's not that they're best buddies, but huge bridges can be crossed where there is a desire for reconciliation.
    How much more should that be true for those of us who claim to know the secret (now revealed) to eternal reconciliation - in Christ.

    One thought: are there other areas and relationships, even within the conservative evangelical or broader evangelical constituency, where we need similar Good Fridays?

    Blessed are the peacemakers ...

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