Is the Church of England deaf?
On the 11th February 2014, the bishops of the Church of England presented General Synod with a document - “Women in the Episcopate: Draft Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests.”
On the 11th February 2014, the Lectionary reading included these words from St Paul:
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be quiet.” (1 Timothy 2:11-14)
The Telegraph reported on how this was handled during Morning Prayer, “The reading was promptly omitted from the proceedings amid nervous quips about “God having a sense of humour””.
A few months later, on the 14th July 2014, General Synod reconvened for the final debate on Women in the Episcopate. The Report of Proceedings records a speech from someone unconvinced of the arguments being put forward, but aware that the majority were in favour:
"Perhaps I am in a 1 Samuel Chapter 8 situation: the people of Israel demanded Samuel appoint for them a king. Samuel says to God, “But that’s not right” and God replies, “It’s not right but give the people what they’re demanding”."
As Synod broke for lunch in the middle of the debate, I bumped into the bishop who was proposing the motion. He asked how I was and in response I told him my concerns and suggested he might like to look up the verse from 1 Samuel that had been quoted. After all, the verse finishes,
“…It is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.”
I don’t know whether he took my advice but, in his summing-up of the debate, he referred to only 4 speeches and that was one of them.
Nine years later and the bishops of the Church of England meet again. This time to finalise their ‘offering’ to the Church, on a way forward on issue of Human Sexuality. Once again, the Lectionary reading that morning spoke loudly into the situation.
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18
How the bishops responded at the time, is not recorded - but the next day - the Church of England announced, “Bishops propose prayers of thanksgiving, dedication and for God's blessing for same-sex couples".