Friday, 23 November 2012

Being woman

As the the days continue to pass by since the Church of England's General Synod voted against women being permitted to be ordained Bishops, I realise that as a woman I am feeling less than valued by 'the church' and wonder how it can be that there are people who say that, because of their gender, women are to be barred from certain roles and responsibilities. 

Somewhere in my tummy this touches a deep truth and reality that I have 'known' for a long time, that meets with personal experience in all sorts of places and at all sorts of times - and  it doesn't feel very good, I can tell you. I am heartened that so many Bishops and Clergy voted in favour - and I reached a point some time ago of thinking it really should be a single clause measure - but the phrase 'good enough' and the speeches about 'my' church, 'my' faith... these have left me wondering. 

When people ask me, what people ask what I think of the result of the vote, I have to stop and be measured and pleasant in my response. What I really want to do is weep and say that I don't want to do this any more. I don't want to have to be 'allowed' to be a priest - I just want to be one. I don't want to have to be ashamed because I am a woman - God made this way, and I am made in God's image.

I have to stop and be measured and pleasant - but why should this be? The church that I belong to and that I love has rejected who I am in the essence and core of my being. I am a child of God. I feel called to serve and the church has affirmed this calling. There are others who are called to higher office but, because they are female, they are not allowed to follow this calling. Who is right?

It has never been easy being a woman in the church. At theological college there were smutty and distasteful jokes with offensive conversations about menstrual cycles and the sense of taint caused by these. Imagine having to listen to those when you were living alongside men who would rather have you wash their dishes than have you serve them at the altar. When I was younger, it was alright as a woman to be a member of the Church Council - as long as you never spoke. How do I stand with any sense of credibility in front of a group of young people knowing that the church I love will not allow those of the same gender as me to be in authority over men? 

St Paul's is not the only voice to listen to you know. If the scriptures are to be followed - which ones? St Paul and headship? The dietary laws that form part of the heritage of the church? The laws about shellfish, mixed fibres or foreskins? Are Christian men allowed to have more than one wife/partner - as the Patriarchs of the church did? Or is there somehow a magic formula that allows us to pick and choose...

This is a sad place to be right now.

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