About forty years ago, I sat and listened to an already very old lady who described herself as a feminist – she had been one since she was my age. She had been a suffragette, had worked on equal terms with men, and stoutly believed that the sexes were equal. She was the generation before my mother’s. If my mother was alive today she would be 96. My mother worked. She had been a career journalist in the thirties and forties. She had been an editor.
And here we are, in 2010 being told that it will take ‘more time’ before substantial parts of the C of E, a western church in the same country that saw the suffragettes one hundred years ago and then the career women of the 30s, can bring themselves to believe that a woman can represent the authority of God on earth. Now is too soon.
I do ask myself what country these people have been living in. Plainly not the same England (sic) as that in which I spent my girlhood. Not the same England that my mother spent her girlhood in either. Probably, come to that, not even Edwardian England, either.
I had thought these discussions were perhaps part of a truly lunatic fringe, but discussions this week have, depressingly, convinced me that I know all too many men, and perhaps even the occasional woman, who really thinks like this – thinks, by implication, that God cannot be represented by a woman and that there is something in men which makes them uniquely the image of God and more Christ-like.
And they wonder why churches are closing.