Bishop Wantland: a metaphor too far

Julia Duin posts this revealing comment from Bishop William Wantland, who apparently thinks that when you go to church you are marrying Jesus:

I queried retired Eau Claire, Wis., Bishop William Wantland, an old friend and an ardent opponent of ordaining women. He reminded me that 22 of the ACNA’s 28 dioceses do not allow female priests. It’s a system known as “dual integrity,” dioceses that differ on a question where Scripture can be read both ways agree to respect and live with each other’s views.

I asked him if he wanted the ACNA to eventually outlaw ordaining women entirely.

“Of course. That’s our mission,” he said. “Christ is the bridegroom and the church is the bride. The priest at the altar is an icon of Christ. What image is that if the person at the altar is a woman? It’s a lesbian relationship.”

The bishop’s turn of phrase is distinctly his own, he’s actually captured the official thinking of the Roman Catholic Church on this issue. The Vatican’s opposition to women’s ordination has nothing to do with Scripture. The Pontifical Biblical Commission found in the mid 1970s that the issue of women’s ordination was unresolved in Scripture. (All of this business about the apostles being men ignores the fact that the apostles were not what we think of as priests. And then there is that whole Mary Magdalene business, but that is another matter.) The Church’s opposition hangs primarily on interpreting the nuptial metaphor literally.

But if you interpret it literally, what exactly is the nature of a man’s participation within the mystical body that is the bride of Christ?

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