The scandal of Sevenoaks spreads as a number of churches are clearly in support, while others are not.
Aileen Over: We contacted the Archbishop of Anglicanism on what he understands about the Sevenoaks scandal. I put it to him that not every church sees the Bible in this way.
Archbishop Tree: Well clearly the biblical narrative has an openness to this form of faithful interpretation which we observe in Sevenoaks. Perhaps just as clearly it's not that there hasn't been a long-standing view that men have had the primary rational facility and women perhaps more of the emotional facility that is reflected in parts in the Bible, but nevertheless those with such a high view of the Bible regard it as revelation and which is indeed consistent with the Christian tradition, particularly from the Reformation.
Aileen Over: So you agree with the church and what it says about women?
Archbishop Tree: I clearly wish to apologise to women for any inconvenience caused from my words for which no offence is intended, but clearly Sevenoaks is one of our churches and this is not excluded as a legacy of a particular part of the Christian tradition beginning from after about the 1530s.
Aileen Over: Are you apologising for a church under you in Sevenoaks?
Archbishop Tree: I am apologising for the impact my words may have but are not intended to have.
Aileen Over: Should women stay silent in church?
Archbishop Tree: Clearly St Paul met women evangelists in charge of congregations in the earliest days of Christian expansion. How much this was a matter of contingency and necessity is not clear. However, St Paul also instructed women to be silent in church and keep their heads covered. Now there are some critical biblical issues here, on discerning the texts, but for those who cannot be selective, then the texts are taken together. In essence the more liberal texts are treated more liberally, because they are drawn upon by those who use the method of critical reasoning, whilst the less liberal texts are treated less liberally by those who use them and so present themselves more absolutely. There is clearly a paradox here, but the more illiberal texts are those that have more illiberal impact. And these present us with such that we see.
Aileen Over: So you agree with the conservatives?
Archbishop Tree: It is not simply a matter of disagreement or agreement. It is about being able to look that person in the eye. It is being able to say this man is my brother, and so this sister remains silent - in that context, whereas we look the liberal in the eye, for he is also my brother, and she is my sister, who does not remain silent. It is about encountering people eye to eye, for it is at a distance that violence takes place, and I think it goes without saying that violence is something that should not take place.
Aileen Over: Though apparently it does happen in the home, between a husband and a wife.
Archbishop Tree: That is because they are at a distance and he does not look her in the eye, and she does not look at him in the eye. In the evangelical household - I know they intend this for all households - she should look him in the eye and he look at her in the eye and he should tell her that he is the head of the household.
Aileen Over: Not a liberal view.
Archbishop Tree: Well, in the liberal household she should look him in the eye and he look at her in the eye and he should tell her that he is not the head of the household and she should tell him that she is not the head of the household. Or perhaps they could sign a Covenant for conflict resolution, to face each other with persistent questioning towards resolution. Or a have good shag, of course - that usually does the trick.
Aileen Over: What about the high Church household, as a matter of interest?
Archbishop Tree: Well, in the high Church household he should look him in the eye and he look at him in the eye and he should tell him that he is the head of the household and he should tell him that he is head of the household. Or perhaps they too could sign a Covenant for conflict resolution, to face each other with persistent questioning towards resolution. But celibacy is called for and sexual contact cannot be a means of resolution.
Aileen Over: What about the women at Sevenoaks? Should they protest? Should men be forcing their women to attend that church?
Archbishop Tree: I think the women should be patient. I think it is not beyond the wit of woman to find an accommodation by which there is space by which they can express themselves, perhaps together. It is after all only some 450 years after the Reformation began really to take hold, and considerably more recently when the Puritans were a factor to be removed from the Church of England in 1662.
Aileen Over: But not to remove them now?
Archbishop Tree: This is a different age. It is the age of dialogue. Look, I am arguably desperate to keep this Church together. There are people in it who just do not fundamentally disagree with each other, but there are many who fundamentally disagree with each other, so we need I think to find a means by which we begin or maintain the dialogue in perpituity if necessary otherwise the institution will crack up and so will I. And so what I want to say is, is it jelly and cream tonight or lots and lots of cake? I think I need to go back to watching Super Ted and see how he did it. I want my mummy!
Aileen Over: I'd better leave you to go and find your mummy.