On July 14, the Church of England voted to allow women bishops in a ruling that came after years of opposition. It was a historical event that had a very different end than the vote two years ago that overwhelmingly denied a comparable piece of legislation.
While it has become familiar territory for women to be ordained, Monday was the first time that the Church of England approved of women taking a higher role in the church. The organization had previously been able to deny women the top spots with the reasoning that these were traditionally male positions and ought to remain held by men. Some opposing groups openly explain that women cannot do the job of bishop or that it’s theologically wrong to have a woman in that position.
Personally I think that hiding under the veil of religion as a way to deny women their right to be bishops in 2014 is shocking, and I can’t fathom thinking that way. It is one thing to say religion asserts a view, but isn’t this particular instance another case of gender discrimination? How can someone justify denying a person a role in society simply based on his or her gender? What of gay, lesbian or bisexual people who want to be bishops? Are they not allowed as well? Why are males given preference for the position simply because they were born with a penis and are called Mr.?
I think not.
I say bravo for all of the people who voted within the General Synod (the general assembly of the Church of England) to allow women to become bishops. I say it is about time that we welcome females to holding a new, higher position than they had previously been able within British society.
However, by no means do I look at this issue with rose-colored glasses. I believe that the heads of many parishes will still say “no” to having female bishops there and use religious theory to defend themselves. These women will still face gender discrimination and have an uphill battle on their hands.
I want to say to these women that I am proud of them for striving to represent God and believing as I do that God sees beyond gender. It is the heart of a person and their passion for the Church, whether it is the Church of England or another one, that will define whether they do a job well. That concept goes for both men and women. Look at that photo above and “do what you love!” — simple yet excellent advice, in my opinion.
I look forward to hearing in the near future that the Church of England has its first woman bishop. I will cheer on the news when it happens.
What do you think about the women bishops controversy in the Church of England?
©2014 Christy Birmingham