Truthfully, I had never heard of the group “Proper Provision” until yesterday, so I Googled them to see who they are and what they want. I came across this piece of old news:
A petition signed by more than 2,200 Anglican women who oppose women bishops will be presented today to the House of Bishops at the start of their meeting in York.
General Synod member Susie Leafe, who organised the petition, said: “Not all the women in the Church of England think having women bishops is a great idea – our petition proves that, and we ask our bishops to recognise that and make proper provision for us. We believe that God created men and women equal but different, and that those differences are seen in the God-given roles that men and women have within the family and within God’s household, the church.”
From left to right: Susie Leafe (General Synod member for Truro), Sarah Finch (General Synod member for London), Alison Wynne (General Synod member for Blackburn), The Archbishop of York, Rt Rev’d John Sentamu, Sophie Cornes (International Students Worker, All Saints Preston), Hannah Fox (Women’s Worker, All Saints Preston), Ellie Maffett (Ministry Assistant, Emmanuel Church Bristol).
When I asked Alan what he thought of it he said, “They shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about church politics and they should get back in the kitchen”. Followed by “Their husbands or male church leaders probably told them to do it”. (Tongue firmly in cheek)
Mmm. He does have a point. In the document it says:
As loyal Anglican women, we, the undersigned,
- Recognise that we all prosper when there is male oversight and headship in the family and the Church
And then a rather contradictory comment:
A survey of 185 churches whose clergy supported this petition found that:
- they have an average of seven women in leadership roles within their church families.
Perhaps they are women’s ministry leaders and children’s work leaders, that seems to be acceptable.
As an ex-evangelical, I happen to know that the meaning of the term “head” in New Testament Greek is different to modern English. So in English we have at least three meanings of the word head:
- Source – eg head of the river
- Body Part – the thing that sits on your neck
- The one with authority – eg headteacher
Now in Greek, number three doesn’t exist with respect to the word “head”.
So when Paul uses the word, he can’t mean what Conservative Evangelicals hear. The word “head” is used five times in the New Testament and the meaning must be “source” or “pate”, I personally think the word “source” works best in most cases, although I think there is wordplay between “head” and “body”:
- Eph. 1:22-23. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be pate over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
- Eph. 4:15-16. Christ is the source from whom the whole body grows and builds itself up.
- Eph. 5:23. The husband is the source of the wife as Christ is the source of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour.
- Col. 1:18-19. Christ is the source of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead. Through his blood, shed on the cross, all things are reconciled to God.
- Col. 2:19. Christ is the source from whom the whole body grows.
Why should the husband be the source of the wife then? Well because Adam was the source of Eve. It was the fall had made of Adam ruler over the woman (Gen. 3:16). Christ does something different, he makes of husbands servants to their wives in their relationship of mutual submission (Eph. 5:21).
Too much information? I thought so.
I think these women can be in church politics and retain their Conservative Evangelical beliefs because I don’t think there is such a thing as male headship in the Bible, at least not as they are using the word. In addition, there are plenty of women leaders in the Bible who are blessed by God – the Apostle Junia, Deacon Phoebe, Church-planter Priscilla, Prophetesses Miriam, Huldah and Noadiah and Judge Deborah.
However, if they want to submit to men then that is entirely up to them, I suggest they resign their positions on General Synod though.