Christian Union Decides Women Should Be Seen, Not Heard

Religious society faces criticism for banning female speakers

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.

Dawn French’s Vicar of Dibley wouldn’t be welcome…
Picture: BBC

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.

  • Just a point

    I used to be a member of a CU at a different uni when I was a student. Their fundamentalism was actually one of the things that put me off, and now, having completely removed myself from that environment, when I think back to some of the discussions I had with other members at the time I just realise how ridiculous and closed minded they were. I'm no longer a Christian and do find Bristol CU's stance on this issue quite disgusting, but not surprising.__I would also like to make the point in relation to what GETFOURFACTSRIGHT said about the CU deciding “that women would not teach on their own at our weekly CU:Equip meetings, as the main speaker on our Bristol CU weekend away or as our main speaker for mission weeks, but a husband and wife can teach together in these. This means that women are able to teach (including on their own) in any other CU setting”. __Now, from what I remember, there really aren’t many “other CU settings”

  • female

    Why do people always confuse the Bible saying men and women have different roles with this somehow meaning they are not equal??? I do the dishes, my husband does the ironing, are we less equal because we do different things??

    • Marlowe

      Are you prohibited from ironing?

  • LADiator

    To be fair, it's hard to give a speech from the kitchen

  • James Hutchings

    I'm not sure "radical change" is the best way to describe letting women speak.

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    Can I troll like this – if so, the admin needs to create a check for ip address or mac address when the same Name is chosen again.

    Wondering why the viewpoint of this previous writer changed bias?


    Can I troll like this – if so, the admin needs to create a check for ip address or mac address when the same Name is chosen again.

    • thetab

      That's the peril of using a fake name. People can always create an account with a fake name which whould ensure people can't troll as them.

  • Alan

    Whilst I don't adhere to this faith structure, I do find it a bit annoying to read the quote from 'Grace, BioChem 3rd Year person' claiming that this CU policy is against the Bible. I've read the Bible and this policy is in line with it. The apostle Paul – arguably the real star of the Christian faith, incidentally – is pretty clear on women preaching and teaching: i.e. that they should not, and that they are to be quiet in the presence of men.

    The way that the modern Christian church operates is inspired by teachings in the early church, so these clear instructions have precedence over vague statements about men and women being equal in Christ.

    It is also true that the disciples were all men. The women who play a part in the gospel story play a very different role. She also claims that they were the first witnesses of the empty tomb- but this rather depends on which of the 'accounts' in the gospels you read, doesn't it?! Because one of them says it's Peter!

    Now, I don't agree with all the magical religious myself, but I think those that do should have the decency to own up to the nonsense rather than trying to modernise and change what the Bible says!

    • Marlowe

      The fact that there are conflicting accounts of Christ's resurrection make it clear that the Bible cannot be taken literally. Although, I must say that you are judgmental enough to be a star in the inerrancy camp. Divorce is acceptable, women cut their hair, men cut their beards and just about every professed Christian has had a piece of bacon. Christianity is a living religion and, as a woman and a Christian, I refuse to surrender to those who strive to force people to adhere to the parts of the Bible that are convenient for them while ignoring the greatest message which is to love God and love one another as you love yourself.

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  • Susan

    I am a woman who has been married for 12 years and I was one who believed I should speak whenever and however I needed to and my husband and I constantly argued. I believe in total submission and the concept that women should be seen and not heard wholeheartedly. It was a decision I made after hearing God’s word that I decided to give up my feminist ways and become subissive. My husband and I get along better and he treats me fairly with love and patience. The bible hasn’t changed, God’s word hasn’t changed…..only society and women’s lib changed and the divorce rates shot up. I think we need to get back to traditional marriages and patriarchal society. It just works better.

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