UK - Outrage as Church Vicar Urges Women to Submit to Husbands


Jo Adetunji

13 February 2010

A vicar has caused outrage among his congregation after urging women to "be silent" and "submit" to their husbands.

Angus MacLeay, rector of St Nicholas Church in Sevenoaks, Kent, made the comments, which some parishioners thought were more in keeping with a sermon from the dark ages than the modern Church of England, in a leaflet entitled "The Role of Women in the Local Church".

In it, he said women should "not speak" if asked a question that could be answered by their husbands and should "submit to their husbands in everything".

Using Bible references to justify his comments, he wrote: "Wives are to submit to their husbands in everything in recognition of the fact that husbands are head of the family as Christ is head of the church.

"This is the way God has ordered their relationships with each other."

In another passage, which appeared under the heading "More Difficult ­Passages to Consider", he continued: "It would seem that women should remain silent … if questions could legitimately be answered by their husbands."

But 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.

On Sunday, the curate at St Nicholas delivered a sermon entitled "Marriage and Women" which also urged women to submit to their husbands.

Reverend Mark Oden blamed the "modern woman" for high divorce rates and told the congregation: "We know ­marriage is not working. We only need to look at figures … Wives, submit to your own husbands."

Despite the anger and offence caused, Oden stood by his comments. "I did not set out to unnecessarily offend people, but I stand by what God has said in his word, the Bible," he said.

One female member of the church said she was "disgusted" by Oden's sermon. "How can they talk that way in the 21st century? No wonder the church is losing touch if this is the kind of gobbledegook they want us to believe. I will not be going back to that church and will have to seriously consider my faith if this is the nonsense they are spouting now," she said.

Another member said: "What kind of medieval sermon is that? We are not in the 15th century."

The words may also shock Dr Rowan Williams, head of the Church of England, who holds progressive views.

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