Women Bishops in the Church of Wales
The longer I reflect on the proposed Bill, the more convinced I become that it is driven above all by that post-1960s feminism which has done so much to secure for women all the fundamental human rights enjoyed by men. It has rightly sought to correct stereotypes which portrayed women as inferior, which largely confined them to domestic roles and tended to keep them out of public life. Its goal has been the inclusion of women and girls in every occupation and institution open to men and boys. In general terms, I for one regard this as entirely laudable.
Ignoring the large part which the Church has played in Western culture in
advancing the status and dignity of women, some women have seen the sacred ministry as just such an occupation or institution from which their exclusion is a matter of fundamental injustice. The major weakness in this view of the ordained ministry is that it assumes that the Church is organized like a modern, secular, democratic society. But the Church is not a voluntary association of the like-minded, whose task is to create and maintain structures to serve its own purposes. It is a divine institution, whose sacraments are given by Christ. Holy Orders are conferred within it not for the honour or advancement of the recipient, but for the service of God and the building up of the whole. To consider the ministerial priesthood and episcopate as a human right is to misunderstand their nature completely.
The fundamental confusion at the root of this argument is neatly expressed in the Christian feminist slogan, 'If you won't ordain us, don't baptize us.' The Church has always baptized women; it has never (until recent innovations) ordained them to the priesthood or episcopate. This is not due to any devaluation of women. It arises from the fact that there is no necessary progression from baptism to priestly/episcopal ordination. If such a progression did of necessity exist, the Christian life would presumably be a sort of religious 'career path'. Such a concept can hardly be said to sit comfortably beside the Lord's warning that those who follow him must deny themselves and take up their cross daily.