When the going gets tough...you know the rest

I've commented on another site which is troubled by the amount of men leaving the church. Whilst the article itself had some very good points to make about why men are leaving the C of E, the postees shared some comments which I found somewhat challenging.

These were some of the things that were said:

'When my church started to preach this nonsense and threw away the Bible, I noticed that the men got spiritually weak and stupid and the women became strident, bitchy, bossy and wore the trousers. Something to do with headship? It's what happened to Adam in the garden of eden. He listened to his wife, rather than God. Fatal. We've been suffering ever since.'

'an old shrew gave the sermon at Matins at Christ Church'

'Liberal pseudo-Christian women are running the CofE into the ground ...There is a time to tell such apostates to shut up and sit down.'

'I have to confess to happily attending our Church's men's breakfast. We do occasionally let a woman cook for us.'

'The church of anal sex and lactating priests.'

These comments are the sort of thing that led me to comment on a 'verbal violence'.

In response to my concerns I received this:

'Rach, you have turned everything that has been said into the usual women haters line.

Why f**king bother eh. (I've added the asteriks). Keep your church, and keep your Andrew Lloyd Webber goatied, limp-wristed, shirt-lifting, "praise the Lord" every three seconds """MEN""". '

'Wow - I can't reply to this one', I said in response.

Am I really that off the mark? I certainly didn't mean to 'turn everything into the usual women haters line' I was just confused by many of the postees reasoning that it must be because the church contains women - laity and more controversially clergy, that men are leaving the church. Some would argue of course that they are not attacking women just a liberal theology that has overtaken the C of E but as with the consecration of gay clergy issue why is it that a certain type of Christian always brings the woman issue into the argument?

It doesn't take a genius to work out that many who fear the church's liberal attitude towards homosexuality also speak in the same breath about women's consecration as if the two are bound up together.

Those who speak of the feminisation of the church also feel hostile about women's ordination.

Why can't anyone envisage a gutsy female priest, dynamic and challenging, a risk-taker, someone who doesn't preach a washed-down, 'make everyone feel good' gospel but the gospel of the revolutionary and outrageous Jesus, who whether these men like it or not, did, I'm afraid, come to turn the world upside-down, recognising weakness as strength, affirming Mary's choice to sit at her rabbi's feet and learn rather than confine herself to the limits of hospitality giftings like her sister, not that there is anyting wrong with that - and all are gifts that build up the body of Christ but why is it thought that liberal theology is espoused only by possibly gay clergy ( so reads the implication) and women. What are these churches espousing and why is it causing men such offense? Do they want a church that concentrates more on the teachings of Paul and less on the actions of Jesus? Are they unable to reconcile each to the other? Do they want sermons about rebuke, preparing for Jesus who will return like a thief in the night, about the dangers of potentiail damnation over and above the freedom in Christ, the body in which we all play a part, the unconditional love of God etc. There are plenty of churches around who only preach the former without the latter so go there instead. At the end of the day, churches who preach either one extreme or the other are all getting it wrong, surely.


karen said...

Rachel, have you seen this site: http://strivetoenter.com/wim

There is a post there from 25 November on the topic of the feminisation of the church

Rachel said...

Thank you for this Karen, I will look into it. I had a lot of help from Cheryl last summer through email conversations as she helped me to look at scripture and women in ministry. She's so generous with her time.

jody said...

hi, good post, amazing what some will say about women - goodness me, that we can give milk to our babies is now a mark against us being ordained, wow!

Rachel said...

Yes there was something very unsettling about the reference to lactating priests.

I spoke with David Runcorn at college the other day and he spoke about his wife, Jackie, who is in charge of a large local parish. She was one of the first priests to be ordained whilst also pregnant. She has managed to juggle the role with the care of their young family. He spoke about how there are parishioners who will share aspects of their lives with her in ways that they never would with him (he's a priest too) and he implied that women like his wife, bring very special qualities to leadership. Very encouraging. It seems as though people on the ground are far happier with women priests than those who consider themselves loftier, are often male and of a particular age.

DaveW said...


I am a Methodist minister so you may want to take what I say with a pinch of salt :-)

These men are talking absolute tripe. Men have had control over the Church for nearly 2000 years (and still hold all the higher offices in the CoE).

If there are not men in the church then the clear culprits must be those in charge of the church ie men.

We need to have a little more faith and patience that God will change things through the women now able to respond to her call.

Personally I remember both my parents and grandparents saying that it was the girls that attracted the boys into church - it worked for me too :-)

I suggest that anyone who can only spill out bile should not be considered very important in understanding and following your call.

Rachel said...

Thank you Dave,
It was interesting looking at the Anglican / Methodist covenant at college. The C of E has much to learn from Methodism. Our consecration of women helps to cement the relationship because of Methodism's acceptance of women ministers and overseers. I never understood the traditionalists' concerns that the C of E was 'freezing' our already 'cool' relationship with Rome with its decision to appoint women to the episcopate last summer. We should concentrate instead on the development of a warmer relationship with Methodism.

Thanks for your contribution. One certainly has to keep a sense of humour when contributing to discussions of the nature I wrote about.

I'll keep you up-to-date with my 'makeover'.


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