The Church of England has today taken a major step towards enthroning women as bishops. I have found the whole issue faintly depressing, not because I feel all that strongly about it, but because the arguments made in the media are so poor.
In the Times today, Christina Odone launched into an uncharacteristic rant against evangelicals. She seemed to think that there was no argument about women being bishops and that the evangelicals were a deadly threat to the church. All this is doubly odd because Odone is a Catholic. In fact, the evangelicals are the fastest growing, most vibrant and most financially generous part of the Church of England. Indeed, they pretty much bank roll the liberal wing. I see no problem with them putting their wallet where their beliefs are and would suggest doing otherwise would be hypocrisy.
Conservatives object to women priests and bishops for real theological and biblical reasons. They might well be wrong in their reasoning. The church has frequently had to develop its thinking on many topics and Christianity's ability to evolve and adapt is one of its greatest strengths. Personally, I know women priests and think they do a fine job. I am sure they would make fine bishops. But those arguing for change have got to accept that they need to win the argument rather than simply call their opponents bigots. For this reason, I find myself instinctively sympathetic to the conservatives despite having no strong feelings against women priests myself. The Church of England has got to realise that aping modern society is the way to lose members and its moral voice. The argument for women priests is winnable but no one seems to be willing to try and win it. Perhaps we should blame the media but journalists like Odone should know better.
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