Posted by: rogermitchell | December 4, 2012

A sure sign of empire

As I have made clear in earlier posts, a central tenet of kenarchy is the instatement of women.
It is not possible to keep reading the gospels with your heart open without seeing, at least eventually, that Jesus instates women in society. I use the word “instate” because reinstate won’t do. As Simone de Beauvoir rightly underlines, in past history women never have been given their proper place. I only part company with her because I believe that Jesus is the exception to that.

The story of the incarnation places women centre stage from beginning to end.
It is the availability of a highly favoured woman that provides for the conception, gestation, birth and nurture of Jesus. A Samaritan woman is the first gentile that Jesus reveals his identity to. The first apostles of the resurrection are women, although the men don’t believe them. For those who make the gospel testimony of Jesus their hermeneutic, or starting point, for understanding the rest of the Bible, this tenet has to inform our interpretation of Paul’s letters and all other Biblical material about womankind.

The gospel story deliberately positions Jesus in counterpoint to empire and its children.
It follows that wherever we find exclusive and devaluing attitudes to women, such as in the recent vote of the Church of England synod and in the recent report in the Huffington Post of the current policy of some University Christian Unions, we have a sure sign of empire. It is important to point this out as lovingly as possible and take the consequences. While I was researching for my soon coming book, The Fall of the Church I came across the following refrain from a song the seventeenth century Diggers used to sing to encourage one another to resist the misguided establishment. It still resounds!

“To conquer them by love, come in now, come in now
To conquer them by love, come in now;
To conquer them by love, as itt does you behove,
For hee is King above, noe power is like to love,
Glory heere, Diggers all.”



  1. Thanks Rog… spot on…

  2. In this matter the church is a bigoted institution .Weak men hide behind scriptures and ignore Christ himself.

    • In fairness, I know some objectors to women bishops and they are neither bigoted nor weak. They just read scripture differently. Once they have read scriptures in one way all of their life, it is very difficult to then persuade them that they are doing it wrong. What we need is faith that if they are of good heart, God will eventually reach them…

      • If it wasn’t for the example of Jesus and the oppression of womankind by the church empire partnership over millennia I could extend the same grace to the objectors to women bishops. But as someone who once objected myself, I am less inclined to let these folk of the hook! This especially as I now see that the instatement of women into their full place is a central part of the gospel, and their oppression is a sin which needs repenting of. So while I continue to advocate love as the approach, this is one of those “speaking the truth in love we grow up” issues.

  3. Yeah, the whole thing is kind of sad, isn’t it. But I think there are deeper issues here. It became very clear to me listening to the renewed religious right wing and conservative attack on reproductive rights in the USA over the past year that this had little to do with a moral approach to unborn children. The increasing restrictions on the decisions women make about their bodies and reproduction centre on the assumption that women are not full moral agents. The assumption is that they will be inclined to make a wrong moral decision for bad or selfish reasons. Or that they must be further educated through compulsory ultrasounds (including those infamous vaginal probes) in order to make the right moral decision. Either way, in these situations women are treated as irresponsible moral agents, that is, either as children or defective, dysfunctional and marginal adults.

    Nowhere in the discussion of abortion (and now extended to rape and contraception by some) are women treated as equal persons able to make reasonable choices in difficult circumstances. Nor, under such restrictive laws are they given the adult right of personhood to make a mistake in such a situation, the law precludes their decision-making. I also realized that until women are instated as full moral agents, equal to men, discussions of such issues (and others, such as women’s leadership in various organizations and insitutions) is impossible. It is all, always, simply oppressive. That is true even if the outcome involves men granting increased participation or rights to women because the power to do so still lies with men. Until men agree that women are equal to them and as such may make their own life decisions and participate fully in human society all other conversations are simply an unfortunate waste of time.

    I have come to a point where I measure an organizations approach to women as a reliable test on how close a group or organization is to the Kingdom of God. Approach women with kenarchy and you are getting closer. Treat women as overgrown, unreliable, untrustworthy, immoral children who must be managed for their own good (or to keep others safe) and you are not even close.

  4. Just reading scripture differently has for genarations been used as justification for many wrongs and evils . Woman are made in Gods image as are men there is no justification for the way they have been demonised , looked upon as somehow being lesser beings and generally held responsible for mans sin .Christs love sets us free both men and women .The church could do with a lot more woman in leadership .

  5. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Some good thoughts on valuing women in the Kingdom – empire mentality has no place in God’s Kingdom, which is founded on completely different principles to the ones that continue to dominate and rule this world – sadly, often in the church too!

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