Wednesday, July 09, 2008


So, the C of E has voted for women bishops, by a pretty impressive majority. And they have declined to offer any elaborate "flying bishops" scheme to respect the consciences of those who can't possibly cope with having woman bishop. It is actually pretty amazing. You can read more about it here.

Meanwhile Tuesday a.m. on Morning Edition, Renee Montagne was talking to our man in London Rob Gifford about the threat of schism in the C of E and then she asked the British commentator if this controversy had anything to do with the split over homosexuality. And I wanted to yell into the radio OF COURSE IT DOES. The commentator thought that the gay issue is more contentious but that is because he was probably still in grade school when women were ordained in the Episcopal Church and doesn't remember. (And speaking of great "church destroying" cataclysms of the past, we were talking at lectionary group about the General Convention Special Program which caused a huge brouhaha that some people in the Episcopal Church are STILL not over... ) And he thought the homosexuality conversation was a bigger deal because it was about morality.

But here is what I think: opposition to women's ordination and opposition to gay bishops (by which people mean openly gay partnered bishops) is about fear of women and fear of sexual impulses and feelings. Remember in the bad old days before we ordained women in ECUSA how men would say things like "a woman at the altar would just be too distracting", meaning perhaps that she would cause (straight) men to be distracted by sexual fantasies. And an awful lot of the abusive language directed against gay men throughtout the centuries has been about how "feminine" they are. They either don't act like "real men" or they inspire in "real men" feelings of attraction which are distressing and shameful to them. In other words: women remind men of sex, gay men remind men of women and of sex. Homophobia and misogyny are closely linked. (And for the most part, people forget Lesbians even exist in these conversations, I guess because whether they are straight or lesbian women are mainly defined, certainly for much of Christian tradition, as not "real men.") I don't understand why women (or men who fail the "real man" test in some way) are so scary to the dominant white male culture. I don't understand why people feel that God needs to be protected from women, from GLBT people and from conflict of any kind. I don't understand why those who are not persuaded that ordaining GLBT people or women (L or T or straight) to the pr0iesthood and the episcopate feel they must elevate this issue to evidence of general all round heterodoxy.

But I'm getting tired of reading about it. I feel especially tired when I hear and read Bishop Wright, saying of Gafcon (who thought THAT was an attractive acronym for anything) that while AMERICANS deserve censure and external control "the situation in England is quite different."

1 comment:

Bill Garnett said...

Bounded by their experience horizon, ecclesiastics will continue to assume they can divine the will of God. But all the while the real moral issue may be the hypocrisy in which the context of that conversation occurs. And during this debate the one in thirty who find themselves homosexuals are relegated to some subnormal level. Where is the good in that?