Responding appropriately to the Church of England’s decision to ordain female bishops is complicated. In the case of the Mormon Church, I couldn’t see how a movement to ordain women would have a good effect on female members. However, the Church of England’s case is different in several ways and there are factors that complicate the analysis. For one thing, Great Britain’s class system makes it difficult to say how this decision might affect ordinary women. On the other hand, you could say that the British government’s lack of separation between Church and state makes the decision more impressive. Female bishops will now be eligible to sit in the House of Lords.
This vote comes at a time when the monarchy is changing its system of primogeniture, making females equal with males in eligibility for the throne. And no, I’m not forgetting that it’s still primogeniture or that it helps keep the class system in place. Still, it’s hardly a small matter. Nor is it insignificant that Church leadership has long been in favor of ordaining female bishops when they could have just as easily refused to consider it.
I’m not sure why this wasn’t bigger news in the U.S., unless it has to do with old rivalries, what with the Church of England being part of the British government, but I was fascinated to hear the Church say ’yes’ to women. I thought it made an interesting contrast with the favorite refrain of conservatives in the United States: ’Me Tarzan, you Jane’.