Re: In Support of Women
I have just read a three-page article in last week’s issue of The Anguillian Newspaper. It was so distressing to read that I feel compelled to respond. My concern is that it may cause immeasurable damage to the minds of our young boys and, especially, girls. They may read these views and mistakenly believe them to be valid.
It states, “Women were flaunting themselves and becoming serious distractions from worship. Their actions revealed that the intent of their heart was evil.” And, then, it cites Paul’s misogynistic words, “Let a woman learn in silence and all submission. And, I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.” And, then, Corinthians, “But, I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of every woman, and God is the head of Christ.”
The article accepts all of this special pleading for male dominance and female subservience without question. It deduces that “One of the designs of creation, as well as one of the primary consequences of the Fall, was the submission of women.” And, later, “Men are to lead in love; women are to submit in love. That is God’s design.” This perverse teaching must be rejected by all right-thinking persons.
Jesus had women disciples. Mary Magdalene was the first witness to the Resurrection. Apostle means sent as a witness to the resurrection. So Mary was the first apostle. Jesus did not discriminate against women, as some of his followers do. Discrimination against women is a cultural feature, not a religious feature of Christianity. In Christ there is no male or female, slave or free. The differences between human beings are less important than the fact of baptism into Christ. St Paul’s words against female leadership are a function of the male-dominant culture he operated in, not a precept of the New Testament brought by Jesus. We see that many of the women clergy and bishops we have in parts of the church today are better than the men.
Besides, it is a matter of simple justice. We have set aside many of the more bizarre beliefs of Christians of long ago. From the third century, Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, prohibited menstruating women from participating in the sacrament. Protestant leaders kept the restriction for ceremonial parts of the church service until the 1950s. Today, we have all forgotten that the menstrual period was an issue on which all church leaders were agreed for almost 1,700 years.
In the past, the church has got many things wrong. For 1,800 years it accepted slavery. Priests and bishops taught slaves to accept their position and not resist. They quoted the Bible in support of slavery. Priests and bishops personally owned slaves. We need to learn from these errors of the past, and treat all people fairly and equally. Is the fear that the church will be better led when male bishops are replaced by women?
Personally, I would rather trust a little child to the care of a woman pastor or bishop than a male one any day.