Looks like the rector of St Nicholas Church in Sevenoaks, Angus MacLeay, has caused a bit of a stir after preaching a sermon urging women to “be silent” and “submit” to their husbands.
The report in the Guardian (here) explained that it didn’t go down very well with the women in his parish who thought his comments:
“…..were more in keeping with a sermon from the dark ages than the modern Church of England”
It must have been highly offensive if:
“….MacLeay’s words were too difficult to swallow for the dozens of women who cancelled direct debit subscriptions to the Anglican church and vowed not to return”
For me though it raises a number of questions:
Firstly, I wonder if Rev MacLeay balanced his sermon by explaining the role of husbands to love their wives as “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” (Ephesians 5: 25). The problem is that if the balance is not preached then it makes Scripture look sexist and mysogynist – which it is not in any way, shape or form! As the minister who preached at my wedding said, “Martin, if you love your wife as Christ love the church, then there is no reason for her not to trust you and submit to you”. Why? Because if I love my wife ‘as Christ loved the church’ then I would adore her for life, share everything with her, serve her with every ounce of my being, be willing to die to protect her, would include her in every decision and make sure her opinion is at the forefront of my mind in everything – because that is what love is all about – isn’t it? I can guarantee that no women in that congregation would complain about being loved like that – they would agree with that part of Ephesians 5 – so why not the rest?
Secondly, I wonder how many of those women who took offence at Rev MacLeay’s sermon are actually accompanied to church on a regular basis by their husbands? There seems to be a large number of women who go to church whilst their husbands stay at home on a Sunday morning – and nobody every asks why. Maybe, just maybe, it could have something to do with the fact that those women don’t expect their husbands to be spiritually alongside them or even ahead of them. Women by nature are more emotionally and spiritually aware than men, and as such, men need to be encouraged to take their spiritual responsibilities before God seriously – and maybe wives actually have a role to play in this by expecting their husbands to make spiritual decisions with them and encouraging them to walk in Christ along side them rather than leaving them behind.
Thirdly, what is the opinion of the men in Rev MacLeay’s congregation? The article talks about the offense and reaction from the women – but what was the reaction to the sermon by the men? Does his church have any men in it? Are they willing, or allowed, to stand up and have a different viewpoint? Maybe the men agreed with their wives? Then why wasn’t it reported as such? Or are their opinions, as it seems in a lot of cases in our culture, not really worth much nowadays?
Please don’t get me wrong, this is a difficult subject that needs to be handled carefully – but why do people automatically assume the Bible is wrong?
What do you think? Do you agree with those who have left Rev MacLeay’s church? Are you willing as a wife to submit to you husband?