Picture from BBC news
Bishop Pete sets the context:
See The Telegraph on fast-tracking women to the Episcopate.
See the Church of England's press release for a more accurate account. The Bishop of Rochester is interviewed here about how it all went today in General Synod.
So the Church of England reads from 1 Timothy 2 this morning. This seems to keep happening at key moments because today in General Synod discussions occured again to find a way forward for women bishops.
It is interesting looking back to five years ago, (we certainly have been thrashing this whole women in the episcopate thing around for a while, now) to Stephen Kuhrt and his comments. Back at the beginning of 2009, when I was just entering theological college as an ordinand, thinking there's no better time than this, he said:
"I think they'll make a fuss...[evangelical opponents]. They will try and throw their weight around financially - they're large churches generally with quite a lot of money but mostly, I think they'll probably just ignore bishops in the way they always have."
"I think it'll be very difficult for the first women bishops because I think there'll be all sorts of subtle ways in which some churches will try to undermine their authority."
"I think the first draft of women bishops is going to want lots of prayer and support."
I read on a few of my threads that women priests found 1 Timothy 2: 11-15 difficult to read this morning.
Read it out loud sister! Read it loud and proud sister!
Paul is no more misogynistic than my big toe.
In the light of today's scripture reading, Kuhrt's concerns that women's authority will be undermined, makes for interesting reflection:
English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)
11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
Timothy is commanded to “let a woman learn” 1 Timothy 2:11. They needed to in a context where false teaching abounded. In Ephesus there are some women who are seeking to teach or take authority over men, without first being quiet and learning about their faith. We need to watch this as well, all of us, men and women. It's okay to learn quietly isn't it, people? I mean, we can't keep interrupting the people at the front all the time. If I know less than the person delivering, I hope I am submissive, in a good way. I respect that the person teaching me knows what they are talking about, are passionate and have something to impart to me. If it's about God, I am all ears! I submit to God's word, its power over my life.
So we are not to usurp the authority of a pastor more educated than we are. This stands for all time and is applicable to both the genders. Usurp in those days 'exercise authority' 'authentein' had negative overtones, it was akin to the word 'domineer.' It is a rare Greek word that occurs once here in the New Testament. The verb and noun occur just twenty times in the works of classical Greek authors, on nineteen occasions with the meaning "murderer/killer."
So about authority. Paul advocates that there should be a prohibition against stealing or usurping authority?
“For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” Yes, in the Genesis account Eve is formed from Adam and poor Eve was given second-hand teaching and is deceived. This is why people must learn quietly first before they go on to teach. Eve, with her second-hand learning, added a prohibition that she was not to touch the tree or she would die. God didn't tell her she must not touch it. Being taught insufficiently or learning poorly, Eve was deceived - Paul must write to the church about the importance of learning carefully and humbly before being ready to instruct others. Paul knows that none of this is a salvation issue because all women will be saved (just as all men will) through (the) childbearing (it's a noun) of the Christ (Jesus' life). Is Paul also hinting to us with this play on words that through woman, salvation has come. Jesus was born of a woman. Women will be saved through Jesus as they continue humbly to learn all about him in faith, love, holiness and propriety. Ultimately women are to learn, there is an appropriate way to do this, as there is for everybody and they can rest assured that in Christ salvation is theirs, just as salvation is for all who put their faith in God.
There we go, sorted! Now go learn to teach people, people!