Posted by - Julian Mann, November 2012

The failure of the women bishops' measure to gain the necessary two thirds majority in the General Synod's House of Laity has attracted much media attention.

It is worth noting that the vast majority of General Synod members want women bishops but major Church of England legislation needs a two thirds majority in each of the three constituent parts of our decision making body - the Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity. The measure fell down in the House of Laity because of the lack of proper legal provision for traditionalists.

Because I hold to the Bible's teaching about the God-given complementarity of the sexes, I am personally opposed to the innovation of women bishops as I am to women being vicars.  Men and women are equally made in the image of God but they have different God-given roles in the family and in the church.

Male headship in marriage and in the family of the church is clearly taught in the New Testament and not just by the later epistles of St Paul. His first letter to the Corinthians is an early epistle, recognised by both conservative and liberal scholars to have been written from Ephesus in the early 50s AD, and that clearly teaches male headship.

The Bible presents us with three questions to engage with as a church family on this issue:

The first is about the Apostle Paul's teaching on church order in 1 Timothy 2: why does he root male headship in God's order of creation, rather than in human custom or culture? If male headship in the ordering of the church is fixed by God in creation, then why should we abandon it  just because human culture is telling us to?

The second question is about the nature of God the Holy Trinity, the fact that God the Father is the head of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 11v3) while at the same time Christ, as God the Son, is co-equal with the Father (see John 1v1-18): given the Lord Jesus' model of obeying his Father as his equal (see Philippians 2v1-11), why is God's ordering of male headship in marriage and in the church perceived as a problem?

The third question is about the consequences of abandoning the biblical teaching on God's headship of Christ and of the husband's headship of his wife (see Ephesians 5v22-33; Colossians 3v18-19): what are the knock-on effects of striking out the New Testament teaching on headship for other areas of Christian belief and behaviour?

My door is open for any members of the church family and of the wider community who wish to discuss these matters in the coming months as together we engage with, and submit to, God's Word.

Julian Mann
November AD 2012
BibleGateway Reform Diocese