Yesterday somebody told me he had changed his opinions on women priests. Older than I, he felt he had grown up in a world where it was natural for men to be heads. At first he had voted against women priests, then, knowing some good ones, had come to support them: ‘But when we have women bishops, they will just run everything,’ he added, gloomily. A monstrous regiment of women, more total than anything against which Knox protested.
I can’t actually see it myself, although with so many old women in church, of whom I am one, I suppose it is natural to suggest that old women may end up running everything.
The ability to change the mind strikes me as laudable. I don’t think I am good at it. I was born into a family where concern for the environment was part of daily life, and parents got more exercised over felled trees than many another outrage. My mother had been a career woman, and I was not the first person, nor yet the first woman, in my family to go to University. In assuming that one’s sex was irrelevant to one’s career choice, I was just taking on the values of my parents. Racism was sin, and closed minds a crime. One of Dad’s closest friends was gay, and actually Mum didn’t think it was all the same to be gay or straight, but I did from my earliest understanding of such matters. Dad was a socialist, and although Mum was, on paper, a Tory, she was an old fashioned ‘one nation’ Tory, and her dislike of Mrs Thatcher was intense. The infamous ‘There is no such thing as society’ damned her for ever. Care and concern for anybody unfortunate was just part of the home ethos.
I am a card-carrying liberal from the cradle. And like all card-carrying liberals I find it natural others should join us. I fear I would not find it natural should I suddenly find myself no longer believing in the equality of all people.
But liberal converts, male ones, should calm their fears. Should we female liberals ever happen to find we actually ARE running everything, we would know we had got it horribly wrong. We would know we needed to get somehow to a happy state where we are more concerned with the person than their gender. Something that for all the time elapsed between my parents’ deaths and now, we still seem to struggle with. Extraordinary that the church, with all the tradition that all ‘souls’ are equal before God, should still struggle so hard with this.