Bristol University Christian Union have forbidden women from speaking at their weekly meetings.
The ban reflects the recent decision by the Church of England synod to reject the introduction of female bishops, consequently ignoring the last century of the equal rights movement.
Having spent ‘a lot of time exploring this issue, seeking God’s wisdom on it and discussing it together’ the CU executive committee decided that it is not appropriate for women to teach alone at weekly meetings, or be the main speaker at the CU weekend away.
Women are also banned from speaking alone at the group’s mission weeks.
However, it’s not all gloom and doom: women are allowed to speak as a double act with their husbands. Those who are unmarried must remain silent.
The decision was made due to an internal conflict regarding the introduction of women teachers. Although the group claims to unite around the core truths of the gospels, for some members having women speakers is a step too far.
Their international secretary decided to step down from his position due to discomfort over the potential use of female teachers. Other members of the CU reportedly find the notion of women teaching the gospels theologically problematic.
As a result, the CU put forward what they believe is a compromise and have banned women from speaking alone at certain events.
Grace, a 3rd year bio-chemist and practising Christian, described her distress at how ‘the CU action will mould many people’s opinions on Christianity’.
The CU’s decision seems to have been influenced by the Biblical injunction that ‘women should remain silent in the churches. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church’.
However, as Grace pointed out, ‘firstly, the bible teaches that “in Christ there is no male or female”, but all people are equal before God.’
‘Secondly, Jesus treated women as equals; encouraging them as disciples, and choosing women as the first witnesses to His resurrection at a time when women’s testimony was inadmissible in law’.
Twenty years have passed since women priests were introduced to the Anglican Church, and now more women are ordained each year than men. In the synod’s vote, only six more members of the laity were needed to approve the motion to introduce female bishops.
Despite these encouraging signs of improvement, it would appear there is little desire for radical progress within the Christian Union.