Skip to comments.Let Wo[men] be Wo[men]
Posted on 11/19/2005 5:36:01 PM PST by sionnsar
Should gifted Christian Ladies be Presbyters and Bishops in the Church of God?
A discussion starter for those without high blood pressure
At the Hope and a Future Conference at Pittsburgh, November 10-12, 2005, the Moderator of the Third Session on the Friday was, as stated in the program, The Rev. Canon Dr. Mary Maggard Hays, Canon Missioner, Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. She is the right hand man, as it were, of the Bishop, Robert William Duncan, who is the Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network.
Here are three significant facts which are also powerful symbols about Mary Ms Hays is called Rev.Canon and thus a presbyter and a canon of the cathedral; she was placed on the Platform in a position of leadership for three hours; and her weekly job is to be the primary assistant of the bishop and thus involved in leadership in the diocese.
I do not want in any way to doubt the character, knowledge and ability of Ms Hays. What I do want to do is to use the symbolism of her role to reflect upon where The Network is and where its Bishops are in their approach to Scripture, the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and holy Tradition.
It was stated not once but often at the Conference, as a kind of rallying cry, that the orthodox of the Network (unlike the revisionists of ECUSA) are committed first and foremost to the authority of Scripture (for Faith and Morals) and to the Lordship of Christ in home, church and personal life.
This is fine, but it leaves not answered the quite serious matter of how the sacred Scriptures are to be read and how their message becomes the expression of the Lordship of Christ. If we look back thirty or forty years we find that Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics read and interpreted the New Testament to teach that there is a divine order in creation of male and female, that while they are equal before God as his adopted children by grace, there is nevertheless a headship given to the male in home and church. Thus women should not practically speaking, and ought not morally speaking, to be ordained to the position of pastors of the flock of Jesus the Lord despite the fact that more and more women were taking leadership positions in education, medicine, business and so on.
Then very soon, following the turbulent 1970s, a growing number of Bible-based Episcopalians began to claim that the better and more enlightened way to read the Scriptures was to advance the view that the doctrine of divine order of the priority of the male, in his equal relation with the female, was applied in NT times by the churches in cultures where there was an endemic patriarchy and sexism; and it was this cultural situation, and not the intention of the Lord Jesus and his apostles, that was the real reason why women were not called as apostles and appointed as presbyters and bishops in the apostolic age and Early Church. So some Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics began to affirm that to ordain women as pastors was according to the mind of Christ the Lord, even though against the common-sense reading of the New Testament. When asked for biblical evidence by doubters of this innovation, the reply was to point to the truth under the surface as it were and to quote baptismal texts like Galatians 3:28 which proclaim the equality of female and male in Christ and before God. However, such quoting of texts teaching equality before God, was usually connected, implicitly or explicitly, to the emerging, powerful rhetoric of rights that the contemporary culture was proclaiming for women.
Now in adopting this new approach to the reading of Scripture (which was then prevalent in academic circles), the pioneers of womens ordination were not using a wholly new methodology within the Episcopal Church. If we go back to the 1950s and 1960s and read the arguments advanced for the Episcopal Church to change its discipline concerning the remarriage of divorcees in Church we find the same type of thing happened. The significant NT texts were read in the most liberal way possible and contrary to their interpretation in Tradition & Canon Law, and were also, and significantly, read within the developing culture of human rights and freedoms. So the ECUSA was able, after some bitter debate, to maintain its teaching that fornication and adultery are wrong but at the same time innovate, that is, allow, with very few exceptions, the remarriage of divorced persons in Church, and furthermore, allow clergy, who are ministers of the sacrament of marriage, to be divorced and remarried. As we all know, the divorce culture is now endemic in the ECUSA and in The Network membership, and to question it is just not the thing to do.
Modern westerners, indeed most Episcopalians, read the NT in 2005 with a mindset that is deeply influenced by the doctrine & practice of human rights and thus they assume that the Word of God written teaches what to them is so obviously clear -- the equality of women in all areas, and the right of a man or women to have a second or third chance in marriage with the blessing of God and his church. Their theology, ethics and spirituality embrace these things as the norm. So the matter of ordination of women or the remarriage of divorcees in church become only matters of like or dislike or of political expediency or preference; it is not a crucial matter of obedience to the Lord Jesus and of his authority.
What seems most clear is that the New Testament interpreted in its literal, straightforward and common sense meaning forbids the ordination of women as presbyters and bishops as it also forbids the remarriage of many who now claim that right. (See the Westminster Confession of Faith, 1648, XXIV, Of Marriage and Divorce for the one exception allowed by the Protestant Reformers.)
Now this new methodology and way of interpreting the Bible has very important implications not only for Ministry and Marriage but also for the current response by the Church to the LesBiGay agenda, and particularly to the claim that God blesses same-sex, faithful, covenanted partnerships and that persons in such are eligible for ordination as a presbyter and consecration as a bishop.
It is very clear that the Evangelicals of the Network and the Primates of Nigeria and Uganda are using Scripture to oppose and condemn the innovatory doctrine of the LesBiGay lobby; it is also clear (or seems clear to me) that their party has reverted to the way it used the NT for proof texts and doctrine back in the 1960s. In other words, the sophisticated approach to interpretation of the sacred texts (in the context of human rights) that allowed the acceptance of innovations of the marriage of divorcees in church and the ordination of women is not being used in this battle! Why? Because, if it were, the possibility is that it would open the door to one or another of the claims of the LesBiGay lobby!
In fact, what the biblical scholars who write for the LesBiGay movement may be said to be doing is applying the same methods of interpretation used by Evangelicals to support remarriage in church and ordination of women, but using them in an advanced way and within the continuing powerful context of human rights.
If the Evangelicals were to read, interpret and apply Scripture as participants in the homosexuality debate as they do with respect to their commitment to remarriage and ordination, then it is possible, maybe probable, that they would find it very difficult to oppose reasonably the claim that God may bless the covenanted, faithful union of two persons of the same sex, while at the same time agreeing with the leaders of the Christian LesBiGay movement that any other form of same-sex activity (e.g. sodomy) is sinful.
Put in another way, it is one thing for African bishops to oppose the homosexual agenda for they are consistent in reading Scripture as generally not allowing either the marriage of divorcees in church or the ordination of women; yet it is a very different thing for the Network to do so for it has generally allowed the marriage of divorcees and the ordination of women and thus does not appear to read Scripture consistently. In order to be taken seriously, what the Network states about homosexuality and same-sex relations has to be matched by a recovery of the pre-1960s Evangelical & Catholic approach to marriage and ordination and by a clear statement of how Scripture is to be read and interpreted with regard to the formation of doctrine and moral practice!
I wholly realize that to do such a U-turn would need tremendous courage and massive pastoral sensitivity, especially to the women who are in orders now. But is there any other way for there to be a genuine reform and renewal of the Anglican Way in America and in the West generally?
firstname.lastname@example.org November 19, 2005
p.s. my book from 1990 on ordination entitled, Let Women be Women (Gracewing, Dublin) is being digitally copied and will be available for downloading within 14 days or so.
I would think that this should settle the issue. Either you accept the Bible as inspired or you rip out the parts you don't like.
That's a good description of what's been going on a lot...
"Put in another way, it is one thing for African bishops to oppose the homosexual agenda for they are consistent in reading Scripture as generally not allowing either the marriage of divorcees in church or the ordination of women; yet it is a very different thing for the Network to do so for it has generally allowed the marriage of divorcees and the ordination of women and thus does not appear to read Scripture consistently. In order to be taken seriously, what the Network states about homosexuality and same-sex relations has to be matched by a recovery of the pre-1960s Evangelical & Catholic approach to marriage and ordination and by a clear statement of how Scripture is to be read and interpreted with regard to the formation of doctrine and moral practice!"
I hate to admit it, in light of my usual reaction to Fr. Toon's writing, but he makes an excellent point here, one that would concern me had I a dog in this fight.
Well, I happen to think the ECUSA has a lot more problems to solve than shoving wimmin back to the kitchen to handle the 'dinner on the grounds' and let the men be the bosses again.
When they can get a handle on the idea that divorce is a sin and the divorced ought not to be permitted back in the churches, thus either making their churches extinct or making the men take charge in their own homes again rather than running off with cocktail waitresses, au pairs and choir members, then perhaps the men will be fit to assume headship of the church.
As it stands now, I can't see why I ought to consider a divorced man with a trophy wife, who has left two wives and five children, to be superior to a fine, upstanding, celibate, devout woman, simply because the man has a penis. Which in the end is all that this argument amounts to.
He tells us what The Rev. Canon's proper name should be, and the uses "MS" as her title, as way of dissing her, I'm sure.
Here are three significant facts which are also powerful symbols about Mary Ms Hays is called Rev.Canon and thus a presbyter and a canon of the cathedral;
I do not want in any way to doubt the character, knowledge and ability of Ms Hays.
Nice going, Toon.
AND by the way, her correct title happens to "The Rev. Canon DR. Hays". But we already got your point. You didn't have to be rude and rub it in but you did. So much for being polite.
In his first citation he includes 'Dr' in her title.
I'm sure you meant that he should have then called her Dr. Hays, though that would more usually suggest she is a medical doctor than what is more likely one of philosophy or divinity, yes?
I am glad that you agree with me that men are not, inherently and regardless, superior to women in the leadership of the church. I remain unconvinced that NO woman is capable of leading the church, just the same as I remain convinced that we should not judge all working women by the large maajority who get pregnant and then want the 12,000 people in the firm where they work to center the business around "me and The Baby." Women ought to be judged as individuals, by what they do for the Church Universal and Triumphant -- not by whether or not they have the requisite genitals. And when you boil down most of the "Boy's Club" speeches against women taking positions of authority, that's where you end up.
As for "feminism" being to blame for the rise in divorce, I would call it rather "reaping the whirlwind" -- before feminism, the wife had to put up with the affairs and the second family, and pretend that nothing was going on. These days they split, although the young second and wife soon learns they're still married to the first wife and children, and the third even younger wife takes on both the other families.....
The correct title for my best friend is The Rev. Dr. Doug McGlynn.
Same for another friend. She is correctly addressed as The Rev. Canon Dr. and you as a Deacon know that very well, BS,
If there were ever anyone that I knew/felt/believed had the call to be a Priest it is Mary Hays. I know her - so I found Toon's method of referring to her sanctimonious and snarky.
Sorry I just call 'em as I see 'em.
I don't disagree with his argument that the same arguments that are used to justify women Priests are the same ones that let the GayBiTrans nuts group in the door. I just wish it weren't so, but it is.
That said, I still believe that thre are times when it has been shown in the Church that women are made leaders because the men aren't. Numerous refs in Scripture. Not going there now.
I even feel that she is more a Prist in every sense of the word than her husband, but their Church would only send her to Seminary if it was BOTH of them. Sigh. He's not a very effective Priest as I don't think he ever had/felt the call. But look at where Mary is?
I don't want to argue and if you answer this past, I will not be back. End of subject. No games.
What is it like to live in a world where you hold half of the human race in such utter contempt?
All men are not adulterers, you know.
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