Debate: In a shock move, the General Synod has voted against women bishops. Did they make the right decision?


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The Independent Online


What's going on?

Supporters of female bishops had their hopes dashed last night as the General Synod voted to deny legislation that would have allowed women to take the most senior roles within the Church of England. Was the Synod's decision justifiable?

Case for: stay relevant

Women are allowed to vote, to serve in the armed forces and to become prime minister, clearly is long since time to redress this ancient injustice. But blatant sexism aside, if the Church has any hope of retaining relevance as a 21st century institution, they'll need to address what has become a jaw-droppingly embarrassing PR problem. Many within the clergy complain of a lack of contemporary relevance. Well, one way to demonstrate the relevance of religion is for the church to reform itself. In case you didn't get the memo, that's equal rights, all the way.

Case against: true equality

True equality recognises that men and women are made different – in God’s image – and therefore have different roles in any social institution. Why should this be any different in Churches? Men have a role, as bishops, which involves a particular set of duties; women, conversely, have another set of duties – which do not collide or crossover with those of a bishop. Moreover, the Church is one of last bastions of tradition in an increasingly secular society; far from conducting a false but voguish modernisation, it should remain true to its core tradition, which has inspired the affection of congregations across Britain for centuries, and stand up for its founding principles. It can only secure its future by being true to its past.