I never dreamt that one day I would be proud to be “immoral and unChristian”

The British newspaper “The Guardian” is in the forefront of those in the secular United Kingdom who are now in the business of redefining such terms as “marriage”, “ordination”, even “dying”.

In the following Editorial on the ordinations of the Right Revd Libby Lane and bishop-elect Fr. Philip North, The Guardian now redefines the terms “moral” and “Christian”. Now that all of these redefinitions are gradzually becoming the law of the land, I might well soon find myself officially among the immoral and the unChristian, although admittedly I shall be in good company (namely all of the Catholic and Orthodox churches and even a large part of the Anglican church).

David Murphy

The Guardian view on Libby Lane’s consecration as bishop of Stockport: a hands-on approach
Editorial – 25 January 2015

The consecration of the first female bishop is a time to rejoice, but the Church of England is still divided over this essential reform

The consecration at York Minster on Monday of the Rev Libby Lane as the new bishop of Stockport shows that the Church of England has got at least one foot in the 21st century; the consecration next week of the Rev Philip North as bishop of Burnley shows that it still has a rump in the fifth.

She will be the first female bishop in the church’s history; he has been chosen partly because he represents the irreconcilable opponents of women as priests or bishops. When she is consecrated, almost all the other bishops of the northern part of the Church of England will gather round to lay their hands on her, and on each other, as a sign and an enactment of the physical links that run back through the centuries to the disciples whom Jesus first touched; when he is consecrated, only three bishops will touch him, and they will be ones who have taken care never to touch a woman in the sacramental way that will welcome her as a bishop.

Of course the national focus will rightly be on her consecration, and not on his. The Church of England will be cheered as well as enriched by her promotion. It brings to an end 50 years or more of struggle and doubt. The other women who will undoubtedly follow her will also bring a huge amount to the church. We welcome this.

It is not enough to greet her consecration with no more than an “about time too”. There are particular reasons why female bishops will be a refreshment to the church, not least that they are the last generation of bishops to have spent a long time in unpromising and unglamorous jobs and learning all the lessons that can only be learned that way. Women in senior positions are not in themselves sufficient to change the church in all the ways it must change to survive and even flourish. But their appointment to positions of visible power and influence is an entirely necessary precondition for all the other changes that must come. It is a cause for rejoicing in and of itself. We rejoice with Ms Lane and all her sisters who have waited for this moment, and with all those who will follow her.

What, though, should we make of the consecration that will follow a week later, of a man who will not be touched by any hands that have treated a woman as if she were a real bishop? This seems an extraordinary concession towards a view of women, and of authority, that the vast majority of churchgoers regard as immoral and unchristian. Is it the chivalrous treatment of a defeated enemy, or a concession to the misogynist bigotry that has done so much to disfigure Christianity? Mr North (sic!) may not have been responsible for these arrangements. An important point is that he is clearly going to make a good bishop, whatever his views on women. He has spent most of his career working among poor people in unfashionable places. If men of his views are to be promoted at all – as both archbishops have promised they will be – then he is clearly a well-qualified example, and may be almost as good at the job as many of the women who will follow Libby Lane. In the generous and joyful spirit that should attend her consecration, we will welcome his, as well. But mostly hers.

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5 Responses to I never dreamt that one day I would be proud to be “immoral and unChristian”

  1. EPMS says:

    I remain bemused by the apparent interest taken in this story by those who have left this denomination, or perhaps never belonged. If there was a likelihood of its provoking a significant outflow to the OOLW I could see its relevance, but I have seen no coverage to this effect. So it is just one more fact of Anglican life, now on home soil for some, that makes it inconsistent with the Catholic faith of those in communion with the see of Peter. The whole exercise reminds me of someone lurking the Facebook page of an ex-spouse.

    • But this is a “spouse” whom we love with all our heart. Our deepest desire is to be in union with her, whether she join us in our new home or remain where she is. We shall not lose interest in her, especially in her tribulations.

      • EPMS says:

        Well, in that spirit I can see the merit in being interested. Too often I feel (not in your case, I hasten to add) that the tone is more like “Ha! Look at what she’s up to! Bringing home sailors again, and the house is still a sty, I see.”

  2. Rev22:17 says:

    David,

    You wrote: The British newspaper “The Guardian” is in the forefront of those in the secular United Kingdom who are now in the business of redefining such terms as “marriage”, “ordination”, even “dying”.

    We need to push back against the corruption of language at every opportunity. It started decades ago, when people began misusing the term “Atheist” to refer to people who have an absence of belief in a deity — it correctly means an (affirmative) belief in the absence of a deity rather than an absence of belief and the corruption of the word “choice” to mean a “choice” to murder a child in the womb. It continues with modern misuse of the word “marriage” and, now, morality — and we should also refrain from buying, advertising in, or otherwise supporting media that propagate these distortions.

    BTW, I am very much “pro-Choice” when it comes to human reproduction. Of course, the only morally acceptable way to choose not to have a child is to abstain from sexual relations. Murdering a child in the womb is not morally acceptable. But I also favor very severe criminal punishment for every violation of the right of another to choose, AKA rape.

    You wrote: … I might well soon find myself officially among the immoral and the unChristian…

    No. Rather, we will be among the truly moral and real Christians — and that is the distinction on which we must insist.

    Norm.

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