Presiding at the Eucharist this morming for a religious community, the Gospel from St Matthew told of Jesus and the woman with Haemorrhages and Jairus' daughter. These gave some hope of healing and resurrection. The verses just before, I notice with great disquiet, had Jesus laying down the very un-English principle that new wine requires new wineskins — not great politics, but the sober truth. I can say, with some relief, I'm not a part of this afternoon’s discussion. We’ll see how and where the Spirit leads, and try and make it work, whatever.
Driving back, it struck me that the Bible contains all kinds of praxis, including women judges in the OT and a gender balanced leadership in early Churches. The NT tells women to wear hats and ask their husbands when they get home, as it tells slaves to obey their masters cheerfully. It's a command to live incarnationally within the real world. Following that command today would take you to a missional place where female subordination wins no respect, and slavery is gone in spite, you may feel, of the clear teaching of the Scriptures, if you take their advice to slaves as absolute rather than circumstantial.
From a Catholic viewpoint whom you ordain is a matter of canon not dogma. I respect and very much like the tiny number of petitioning clergy we have. I hate the idea of the church causing them distress. I wish they had been able to come up with some way of locating their convctions aganst female bishops in some bigger moral framework, in which there was some positive candle, apart from inertia, reactionary fear and hurt feelings. I would love to have this explained to me, but nobody has so far come out with anything remotely convincing on this level to any except their own.
Talking to non-ecclesastical-anoraks, Discriminatory is as discriminatory does. For them, rejecting gender inequalty isn’t a fashion statement. They believe, deeply, that discriminatory attitudes and behaviour are disgusting and immoral. The Church preaches hope and new life, but seemingly behaves less ethically within itself, as they see it, than Woolworths. To reply that ’tis all, in truth, some kind of Father Ted voodoo mystery thing means nothing at all to anyone who thinks this way. This is as big a missional no-brainer as disobedient wives and truculent slaves would have been in the early church. No system of pockets within which gender based discrimination is OK can cut any ice missionally. Pragmatically, perhaps you can abolish racial discrimination in Alabama whilst keeping a few all white buses, or all-white drivers’ rotas. On every other level, it just don’t make sense.
That’s the mountain our so-called traditionalist friends have to climb, and sincerely I wish them good luck with it. I can’t join them on the climb, because I believe passionately in the Church’s mission, and at the heart of that is the building of a kingdom in which there is neither male nor female, slave nor free, but all are called to be one in Christ Jesus. Period.