Well, maybe, maybe not. As best I understand the article, St Barnabas has had women preaching there for years (as is the case with other Sydney parishes). What may constitute 'breaking ranks' is publishing an argument for women preaching to men and to women. John Dickson himself has done that (publishing) in a recent book Hearing Her Voice but I get the impression he didn't break ranks by doing so. Sydneysiders might like to put me right on the 'ranks, breaking' question!
But what is intriguing is the kind of Sydney Anglican way in which Paget makes his argument. I'll summarise it as, "ultimate human authority in the church is male; but women under this authority may preach to men."
Now let's review the world we live in this week:
We still have 200 Nigerian girls held by Boko Haram.
We have two girls in India who hung themselves after being gang raped.
We have women fearing that their daughters will be genitally mutilated.
We have the Pakistani husband of a women killed in an "honour killing" admitting that he strangled his first wife in order to marry the wife who has now been killed.
Here in NZ, a 27 year old man has been charged with the murder of Blessie Gotingco, an employee of Tower Insurance, innocently making her way home from work via public transport.
The world we live in has a dangerous tendency to treat women as less worthy of respect, of decent and fair treatment than men. Indeed, the tendency is such that the world is a dangerous place for women. With very rare exceptions, the dangers for women are in the hands of men.
We men have abused our natural sense of superiority to women for too long. It needs to stop.
I suggest the least we can do in the church is to ask urgently whether arguments for (or against) women preaching in church should remain part of our life which rely on or are associated with arguments for authority in the church being the sole prerogative of men.
Surely the church should be the place where the true equality of men and women as created in the image of God and saved by the blood of Jesus is upheld. That equality is not and cannot be experienced as long as we say that one set of human beings, solely by reason of accident of birth may exercise an authority over another set which the latter set can never, ever share in.
Our witness as Christians must be to the equality and therefore the mutual submission of men and women, one to the other. Otherwise we are complicit in the honour killings, the kidnappings because girls dare to be educated, the gang rapes and so forth which flow from a world which accepts that men and women are not equal because men have authority over women and not ever the other way round.
It is not enough to say, as complementarians around the Christian world continue to say, that women are equal to men but they may not have authority over men.
Without a share in power, women are always unequal to men.
Yet major churches of the world continue to deny women a share in the power of the church as a human institution.
And the world continues a dangerous place for women.
Can any Christian, including me, say that we are not complicit in the
ADDITION: Sad stats herein.
*In light of comments below, I have changed the original wording of the sentence.