Bronwen Speedie, of God’s Design (Perth), ministry based in Perth, Western Australia, is an evangelical who strongly disagrees with the recent statements by the Most. Rev. Glenn Davies, Archbishop of Sydney.
While speaking to students in Sydney, Davies said that God intended men to be the “heads” of women.
Speedie says that “that hierarchical complementarians are in no way reflective of all Christians, and there are very good reasons for saying that this view is not reflective of the teachings of the Bible.”
It’s not often that the statements of church leaders are considered even remotely newsworthy in Australia, where the general attitude to religion varies mostly from indifference to contempt. Sydney Anglicans have made a habit of making the news in the past 12 months for issues relating to gender roles – a series of news stories in 2015 highlighted the relationship between the teachings on marriage in the Sydney diocese and domestic violence. Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, has made headlines this weekend for his statements to students in leadership roles in church schools. He claimed that men are the “heads” of women, that women have equal worth but different roles to men, and men will make decisions because of their higher status and greater power, and cited the Bible as his authority for these beliefs.
It is worth noting that while almost all other dioceses of the Anglican church around Australia have a gentler theology of gender, and ordain women as priests and bishops, Sydney holds a very hard line based on the “complementarian” point of view. Hierarchical complementarians maintain that men and women are equal in worth and yet have different “roles” in life, in which men have the leading role and women hold the subordinate position, in both cases, without regard for the giftedness of those concerned. It is important to understand that hierarchical complementarians are in no way reflective of all Christians, and there are very good reasons for saying that this view is not reflective of the teachings of the Bible.
Students who heard Archbishop Davies’ comments are reported as being hurt and angry. Several principals of Sydney Anglican schools have made comments against the Archbishop’s statements, saying they are opposed to so much of what they aim to teach boys and girls in their schools. I am grateful that the principals are speaking up. But unless these students receive sound teaching about what the Bible actually does say about gender, they are still going to be walking away from this convinced that God is no respecter of women. I say the opposite is true, and I hope that this message will reach students whose faith is shaken by the Archbishop’s statements. I am going to attempt to wrap up a very complex issue in a brief post. Don’t just take my word for this though – research it for yourself and discover that God is not the misogynist you have been imagining Him to be. Christians for Biblical Equality,Newlife (an Australian site) and The Junia Project are three great places to start.