No, of course they’re not necessarily conscious pagans. Many of the women priests I knew in the Anglican Church were just nice, good, pious Christian ladies who wanted to serve Jesus and his church. They were not all bra burning feminists, men haters or wacky eco-femi-nazis. Their theology was mainstream and a fairly orthodox version of Protestantism. In saying this, it should be noted that a survey amongst Anglican clergy did find that women priests were far more likely to hold very liberal theological positions.
But were they pagans? Were they worshipping the Mother Goddess, casting spells, mixing potions, rolling in the earth and dancing naked around campfires? No, of course not.
I said, ‘Yes and No’ because while most of the nice Anglican ladies like the ones pictured here, were not blatant card-carrying members of Wicca, they were still influenced by, and usually sympathetic to, an implicit paganism that goes along with feminism. Here are the main tenets:
1. Antipathy to patriarchy – feminists dislike the whole patriarchal system and see a male only priesthood as the last bastion of the male dominated power systems. This means they find it very hard to really like the entire Judeo-Christian story–which is inescapably patriarchal. As a result, there is a constant theme within Christian feminism that is simply un-Christian.
2. Antipathy to the ‘Sky Father’ – along with the antipathy to patriarchy goes an antipathy of the Sky Father God. They don’t like patriarchs here below or there above. Their dislike of patriarchy therefore requires a deconstruction of the ‘Sky Father God’ myth. In its place they wish to have the Earth Mother. This is simply not part of the Judeo-Christian salvation story, and it has always been an integral part of paganism.
3. Enthusiasm for Earth Religion a religious type of ecological movement goes along with feminism because of the desire for an Earth Mother religion. Intimacy with the earth and the natural forces is desired and encouraged. Reverence for the Earth Mother and a desire to tap into the Earth powers is all part of ‘Christian’ feminism. It is also an integral part of paganism.
4. Enthusiasm for Revisionist Christianity – the feminists are not content to simply be ‘lady priests’. The leaders of the movement are very active in revising the liturgy, providing revisionist Biblical interpretation and creating new canticles, ‘psalms’ and even alternative ‘gospels’ all done from a feminist perspective. What they wish to create within the historic churches is nothing less than a new form of Christianity. Unfortunately this new form of Christianity is neither new nor Christianity. It is simply old paganism dressed up.
5. Antipathy to the Traditional Family – the traditional Christian family, for the feminist, is irredeemably patriarchal. Therefore all forms of ‘alternative’ family methods are to be encouraged. Homosexual unions, lesbian unions, single mothers, communal ‘tribal’ living–all this is to be accepted and encouraged for it undermines patriarchy. We see this happening not only within Anglicanism worldwide, but within the other mainstream Protestant churches too. This is not just ‘modern immorality’ but it is part of a consistent agenda based on an anti-Christian worldview and theology.
6. Enthusiasm for ‘Reproductive Freedom’ This seems like it might be something new; something that only came along with the invention of artificial contraception. However it is not new at all. The modern feminist who does not want to be ‘barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen’ insists that the reproductive powers she has should be controlled by her and her only. Of course, ‘reproductive freedom’ is actually code for ‘sexual freedom’. What the feminist really wants is unrestrained sexual activity. They want to have sex with whom and when and how they want it. This is not new at all, and it has always been a very major component of paganism. Unrestrained sexual activity is seen as liberating people from patriarchal control. It also helps one to transcend the patriarchal inhibitions and fuse more intimately with ‘creation.’
7. Enthusiasm for Abortion and Infanticide – what follows ‘reproductive freedom’ is the need to dispose of the results of sexual freedom blamelessly. The feminist movement has endorsed abortion on demand from the beginning. Once again, this is nothing new. The pagans routinely practiced abortion and infanticide. The infants were often offered to the pagan gods in return for prosperity and protection.
Are all women priests and all supporters of women’s ordination signed up to the seven points above? Not consciously, but if they stopped to examine their first principles and look seriously at the writings of feminist theologians and the agenda of feminist clergy they will soon realize that it is pretty difficult to be gung ho about women’s ordination and avoid all these things.
I’ve had a fair bit of experience with women priests in the Anglican Church and I can honestly say that I do not know any who would openly eschew all of the things I have outlined above. While they may not be ardent campaigners, neither are they ardent defenders of historic Christian orthodoxy.
On the other hand, every woman I’ve known who is a joyful, robust and ardent defender of the historic Christian faith wouldn’t touch any of the stuff above with a barge pole.
So does women’s ordination equal paganism? If it doesn’t now it soon will.