If the appointment of an Eton educated former oil company executive as Archbishop of Canterbury raised a few eyebrows, imagine the kerfuffle in vestries across England as vicars have to explain to their dwindling flocks that women are spiritually inferior to men. As young people are apt to say: “OMG”.
To give him his full title, The Most Reverend Father in God, Justin Welby, by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan must be wondering what God is telling him after walking into a calamity worthy of a new BBC Director General. The plagues of invective, outrage, disbelief and ridicule are nothing compared to the galloping of The Four Horsemen of the Internet approaching the Anglican Communion. However, those casting stones of invective and sarcastic derision at bishops and clergy, including this humble correspondent, are exorcising the demons out of innocents wrongly accused of illiberal blasphemy. The rather good bishop bashing jokes regarding primates, bishoprics and only being able to move diagonally might be as tempting as an apple offered by a serpent but the wrong heretics are being crucified. In the hope of forgiveness and absolution, this humble blog is grateful to the BBC for publishing the results of the General Synod`s vote on the ordination of women bishops:
So, the Lords Spiritual and the House of Clergy are overwhelmingly in favour of people who not only look better in frocks and hats but also have a reputation for compassion, kindness and non-aggression compared to people who sport external genitalia. Because of the rather bizarre voting system employed by the Synod, six individuals within the House of Laity decided to keep the Church of England firmly fixed in the Dark Ages. There is a rich source of comedy to be mined from “lay people” but we have not heard many jokes so far.
Understandably, those opposed to equality turn to Holy Scripture for ultimate proof that their defence of the true faith is the word of God. They cite the first Epistle of Paul the Apostle to Timothy, specifically Chapter 2 verses 11 and 12:
“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”
Paul later goes on to explain to Timothy that Adam was created first and because Eve was deceived by Satan, women are not to be trusted. Another old favourite is Paul`s first epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 14 verses 34 and 35:
“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.“
Paul also bangs off a quick letter to Titus advising him of the role of women in Chapter 2 verse 5:
“To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
Any suggestion that Paul`s letters need to be read in the context of Asia Minor, the Levant and North Africa thousands of years ago and the fact that the sacred texts might have been written by other people centuries later as part of a power struggle in the early Christian Church is met with an implacable assertion that the word of God is timeless and universally true. If it says so in the King James Bible, it must be true. Thank heavens the King James Bible is being distributed by Michael Gove to every school in the United Kingdom.
After serving God for an entire year as a bishop, the 105th Primate of All England will need all his negotiating skills that were honed by extracting oil reserves in Nigeria to address the Neanderthal tendency with his church. In past times, the Archbishop of Canterbury was chosen by the Pope or the Monarch. Now the Archbishop is chosen by the Prime Minister, another old Etonian. The choice clearly cannot be left to the Monarch because, after all, she`s just a woman.
Sometimes it`s hard to be a Supreme Leader of the Church of England.