Another reason for Reform churches to withhold money from the C of E

… as threatened in Reform’s letter to the General Synod, could be that they won’t have the money to pass on to their dioceses. Why not? Because possibly more than half of their congregation members will stop their regular giving – if the situation in this report becomes typical. The report is from the Daily Mail, so it does need taking with a pinch of salt – but this could well be a worrying departure for conservative churches.

To summarise, Rev Angus MacLeay, the incumbent of St Nicholas, Sevenoaks, who is a leading member of Reform and one of the signatories of the threatening letter, had outraged his female parishioners by issuing

a leaflet to his congregation saying that women should ‘not speak’ if questions could be answered by their husbands.

The Mail claims that the leaflet has been published on Reform’s website, but I can’t find it there. MacLeay’s curate also preached a sermon along these lines, which is apparently on the church’s website (but I haven’t listened to it). As a result, according to the Mail,

Dozens of offended female parishioners have this week cancelled their direct debit subscriptions to the church in protest at the pair’s remarks.

I don’t know quite how big the Sevenoaks congregation is. It is clearly not a small one – they have five Sunday services and are planning a sixth. But there are few Anglican churches which can afford to lose dozens of direct debits, especially in the current financial climate and with rapidly increasing demands from dioceses. And this ball could keep rolling, as more and more women stop their giving, and probably also leave the church.

Of course I wouldn’t want to suggest that they compromise their beliefs for the sake of money. I suppose they could have found a less provocative way of putting it. However, it must be hitting home to leaders like MacLeay quite how offensive to most people today, even evangelical Christians as I presume the women involved are, is the concept of the submission of women.

I suppose they would reply that we should expect to be persecuted for the gospel. But first we need to be very sure that it is biblical truth that we are being persecuted for. The following extract from the booklet looks biblical but is in fact a subtle distortion of the biblical message:

Wives are to submit to their husbands in everything in recognition of the fact that husbands are head of the family as Christ is head of the church.

This is of course based on Ephesians 5:22-23, with “in everything” imported from verse 24. But see what has been omitted. First of all, “as you do to the Lord”, which limits submission to what is godly. Then “his body, of which he is the Saviour”, which shows how Christ was one not to demand submission of others but to give himself for them. And then most importantly the context, in verse 21 and addressed to husbands as well as wives:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Ephesians 5:21 (TNIV)

0 thoughts on “Another reason for Reform churches to withhold money from the C of E

  1. “husbands are head of the family” is another distortion.
    The verse says that “the husband is the head of the wife”, not of the family. Whatever one thinks the meaning of “head” is in this verse, it is not the head of the family!

  2. Indeed, Ruud. I spotted that but chose not to mention it. “Head of the family” is an Old Testament concept, also one which makes sense to people today even if they reject it, but it is interesting that Paul does NOT appeal to this – in Ephesians 3:14-15 God is the head of the family. It makes sense for a man to be “head of the family” because he is one of the family. It doesn’t make sense in English to say that he is “head of his wife”, because he is not part of his wife! You could say he is “boss of his wife”, but is that what Paul means?

  3. Peter Ould has also commented on this story, from a more sympathetic perspective than mine towards the Sevenoaks church. He has also found online the text of a leaflet (PDF) which he says is the one distributed at St Nicholas. But this leaflet has nothing to do with Rev MacLeay, despite what seemed to be implied by the version of the Daily Mail article quoted by Peter Ould, which is similar to the one I originally read, but not the same.

    But I see that the online article has been edited quite a lot since I originally read it. One change has been to correct this misunderstanding that MacLeay wrote the leaflet. Also the current version contains neither the paragraph I quoted beginning “Dozens of offended female parishioners …” nor the rather different version of this paragraph quoted by Peter Ould, but instead the following, with no mention of financial implications:

    It is understood some women parishioners – and even their husbands – have vowed never to attend the church again.

    (I haven’t tried to read the 493 comments on this story, which might explain the changes.)

    But I see that the leaflet was written by Carrie Sandom, who is a woman! In the leaflet she writes:

    It is not appropriate for a woman to teach or
    have authority over men (1 Tim 2:11-13) although
    it is entirely appropriate for a woman to teach and
    train other women (Titus 2:3-5).

    I shall be commenting elsewhere on the hypocrisy involved in distributing this leaflet to men.

  4. Pingback: Gentle Wisdom» Blog Archive » Reform are hypocrites over women teaching

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