Beware the fossilised females who caused this Church crisis

Nov 21, 2012
Yvonne Roberts

Without female bishops, something rich and fundamental is missing from the Anglican Church

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SUSIE LEAFE describes herself as a "radical feminist". Yesterday, when the appointment of women bishops was lost by a slender six votes and both Justin Welby, the next Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Church of England were plunged into a major crisis of credibility, Ms Leafe demonstrated that, on the the contrary, she is a very conservative disrupter. She is one of a very small band of women in the Church with the clout to hold back a revolution; a case of ecclesiastical sisters certainly not doing it for themselves.

In May, Susie Leafe and 13 other women members of the Church of England Synod, traditionalists and evangelicals, began an online petition. It was intended to stop years of campaigning invested in securing, yesterday, a two-thirds vote in favour of the appointment of female bishops at the General Synod.

The petition attracted the signatures of 2,228 women. Some of them cast their vote as members of the General Synod’s House of Laity that blocked that two-thirds majority. In doing so, they also kept the Church of England in an anachronistic time warp as an all-male bishopric debating social justice while failing to deliver it to its members; hypocrisy wearing a mitre.

How Ms Leafe justifies her stand reveals that in our modern society there persist relics of a by-gone age - fossilised females who, uncharitably, trap not only themselves but also their men in stereotypical roles that are not only redundant but also a relatively modern invention: mother in the home, father as the breadwinner.

In an article in The Times on Monday, Ms Leafe showed a complete misunderstanding of the goals of feminism. Let's hope her understanding of the Bible has more acuity. She appears to argue that the aim of equality is to treat everybody the same. Not so. The aim is to ensure that every individual has the opportunity to develop his or her potential to the full, inside and outside the home.

Of course, there are differences between the genders, moulded by nature and nurture; personal traits and social norms. Feminists took to the streets precisely because these differences were too often overlooked.

Men designed a world in which they could fit easily, assuming everybody else - i.e. women - was exactly the same as them. (Hence for years women struggled, for instance, to get pushchairs on buses designed for men.) That is now changing – unless Ms Leafe gets her way.

As a supposed radical feminist, Ms Leafe argues for another kind of "difference". One in which "only men can serve as bishops" while it is the female role to "offer self-sacrificial support". (Hands up anyone who was reared by a mother-as-martyr? Not a happy plight.) Such an orderly division of labour saves rows about who cleans the bath but it does so at a price. It is a stifler of talent, of capabilities, of collaboration between partners.

It is also a luxury. Ms Leafe's view of the world is one which only the affluent can enjoy. For the majority of households, rightly, the division of housework, childcare and earning the bread to put on the table is dictated by inclination and necessity not the Scriptures.

Men and women are different. That's precisely why without female bishops, something rich and fundamental is missing from the Anglican Church.

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Disqus - noscript

What was Jesus thinking of just choosing 12 men. Couldn't St Paul have moved with the times and supported women priests ( after all there were plenty of them in other religions of the time ). Surely God should do what we wise and all knowing people tell him he should ? Or perhaps you see the flaw the approach of the lynch mob screaming that society is now god and all must bow before it or suffer human rights convictions ?

Just perhaps God knew what he was doing ....

There's no longer any reason to protect the Church of England from the law of England. Legally, we have had gender equality in this country for many years. No more soul searching, weird conscience clauses or fudged legal opt outs. Get on with it - and get over it!

What about freedom of religion and conscience ?

This isn't the country it used to be. People have forgotten tolerance and the rights of others in their blood lust for their own way and control over everyone else's lives.

If the Church of England can accept homosexuals then it can accept female bishops. The Church of England has proved pretty good at conforming in the past so what's stopping them now when the solution is so clear? I'm not saying it's a bad thing that the Church of England changes it's rules every now and again, if you want consistency then become a Catholic. For the Church that represents our country it only makes sense that it should promote gender equality. Just my opinion :-)

Apparently their conviction is rooted in a literal reading of ther Bible. If you take the Bible literally you would be living in 1st century AD, crucifying thieves and riding round on a donkey. What these women need is a tardis to take them back to live there.

There should not be competition between male and female sexes in the Church. Progressives can change every standard but they can not change God and His standards. I'm afraid we may begin to query Jesus Christ why among the 12 disciples he picked there wasn't a female. Feminists and so called progressives would query God why He preferred male prophets in the old testament. Is it because female church members' spiritual needs are not met that somebody is asking for women bishops? I can see this generation building its tower of Babel and God will soon crush humanity. Same sex marriage (gay rights), legalised abortion...The Bible says that the Husband (man) is the head of the family (woman) just as Christ (God) is the Head of the Church. God instructs the man, not woman, should represent His leadership in the Church on earth. Anything else is unbiblical and a perversion.

What happened to seeking guidance from God? Surely if every voter in the synod had done this then the vote would be unanimous one way or the other.

Thank you Yvonne, finally some analysis that exposes the many flaws and contradictions in Ms. Leafe's argument, Such a shame that in the end this opinion was allowed to prevail - the saddest part being that the Church of England is now prevented from reaching its full potential by the minority view.