A new branch of the Anglican church with male only clergy could be introduced according to a Church of England report.
The "men-only" province would have its own archbishop and is one of a number of options suggested in a bid to diffuse the row over women bishops.
The church ordained its first women priests ten years ago and supporters feel that the introduction of women bishops would be a natural progression.
But opponents say that the fundamental belief that Jesus chose only of men as his apostles prevents women from taking this role.
What do you think of these proposals? Could a "men-only" church heal divisions in the Anglican Church? Should women be ordained as bishops?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
I am a member of the Church of Scotland, where we have had women ministers for many years. There are no theological objections to this, as ministers are not priests - being more akin to the Old Testament prophets, rather than Old Testament priests. I understand that many Anglicans' objections to women priests relate to the matter of the priest 'representing Christ to the people', and their view that a woman may not do that. However, the ordination of women in the Anglican Communion is now a fact, and has been for about 10 years. My question is why should there be women bishops now, only 10 years on? How many male clergy become bishops only 10 years after ordination? It seems to me that perhaps what certain women seek is not 'equality', with men, but superiority!
J. Douglas Anderson, Glasgow, Scotland
As an Anglican myself, I can't believe that people would even consider this move. It should be about how well a person can do the job, not whether they are black or white, male or female, gay or straight. I think women would probably make better bishops than men anyway.
For the first twenty years of my life you can count on one hand the Sunday services I missed. Choir, alter boy, Sunday school teacher, President of my Anglican Young People's Chapter describes my heavy involvement. Until someone can show me where God says a woman cannot be a Bishop in his own handwriting and until I can see an E-mail from God saying we should dictate sexuality on another....I will not return.
Mike, Grimsby, Ontario, Canada
As a member of the Anglican Church of New Zealand, I think that the idea of a 'male only' branch of the Church is ridiculous. We have had 2 women bishops over here. Come on, Church of England, please see sense and allow women to become bishops. If it works in the Province of New Zealand, then it would work in the mother Church.
Aidan John Work, Wellington, New Zealand
As a Christian it really bugs me to hear of this proposal. It doesn't do anything for the image of the church which is already suffering in today's society and it's not going to alter people's perceptions of it. Christianity isn't about religiously following liturgy, or even about the set idea of Church that our society has these days. It's about loving God, believing we can have a relationship with him through what Jesus did, and in loving him, loving others around us. It's not anything to do with institutions.
God's vision of church was a unified community, sharing faith and fellowship and serving each other and the people around them. Soul in the City was a great example of this. I know all too well the shocking examples of church and Christianity and yeah, sometimes the state of affairs in the Cof E makes me annoyed to be associated but real Christianity doesn't get bogged down with legalities, it just gets on with loving God, and seeking to serve Him and others.
As far as I can see the Anglican Church is the only major religious body in the world that is even discussing the issues of homosexuality and womens full inclusion. Islam and Roman Catholicism (for example) simply maintain a blanket ban on both. Why then is it Anglicanism that gets all the abuse?
I was a practising member of the Church of England until moving here 12 years ago - the one single thing which made me transfer to the Methodist Church was attending the baptism of a friend's son where the Methodist Minister at the time invited everyone at the service to join in receiving communion as he said that the only person who could refuse to allow anyone joining in receiving communion and thus sharing a meal at God's table in God's house was Jesus - and he added that to his knowledge Jesus had never turned anyone away before. All these arguments and dogma are what cloud the message of Christ - he welcomes all regardless of sex, colour, creed or sexual persuasion.
Anne Bebbington, Gloucester UK
Since meeting my current girlfriend, who was brought up a fairly strict Anglican, I have started paying attention to the various branches and divisions within the Christian faith. All I can say is that I have never met such a large number of argumentative and divisive people in my life! Maybe if they stopped bickering about the obtuse meaning of one word, event or phrase in the Bible and started working together a bit more, they might stop the slide in attendance that they keep complaining about as well.
Ian P, Birmingham, UK.
Both men and women have different roles in life. The male is a father the female is a mother. Having women do the some jobs as men is like having a football team with eleven goal keepers. Life and religion is about being a team. Society has gone too far in trying to change religion in the last few years, but changes need to be measured so they can work
Ahmad Hmoud, Jordan
I hear the howls of sexism from here already. If someone wants to follow a religion that says only men can be bishops then that is their decision, if they want to follow a religion where the archbishop is a chicken, that is also their decision. Religion is all down to interpretation, if this is how a few interpret their faith then let them get on with it.
Andy, Brighton, UK
I am a practising Christian and I have never heard such nonsense in my life. This will not exactly do much to restore the CofE's credibility with the British public.
Iain J Hasnip, London UK
How do we know that Jesus did not choose any women apostles? I cannot accept that God would have a preference in this matter. Anybody in the church who refuses to acknowledge this fact is in denial and should question their faith. Religion, in whatever form, should not be a male preserve. Male control should end or certain religions will die out and quite rightly so in my opinion.
R.C. Robjohn, UK
Oh dear. Whatever the real pros and cons might be, don't expect any objective debate on this one. It's a red rag to a bull for the usual politically correct culprits: knees jerking, comments peppered with "misogynist" and "mediaeval" and "patriarchy"... aren't you glad you asked?
I have to say I disagree with the argument that Jesus only picked men as his apostles. Of course he only picked men! Are we forgetting the time and place he lived in? It was far more male-dominated than today's western society. Jesus came to initiate change, not finalise it - you can't overcome all problems at once. One step at a time.
Richard, Sheffield, UK
Most of this argument focuses on the wrong issue. Opponents of female clergy usually have an unbiblical notion that only clergy should preside over communion and that this should be a man - this has no biblical foundation. On the other hand, Paul said "I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man", and the debate should centre on whether this was a cultural instruction or a universal one. I was brought up with the latter but am nervously and cautiously moving towards a more cultural interpretation. A separate province in this matter is more likely to achieve success than similar ideas over the gay bishop row.
Simon, Southport UK
Let women become bishops, this division will harm the church not unify it. What I find disturbing is that if a group of women were trying to ban men in the same way, it would be deemed acceptable and not newsworthy in these politically correct times.
If churches want to discriminate against women, that's up to them. But they should not be allowed any funding of any kind from the state, and at the very least should have their automatic right to be a registered charity removed.
Alex M, London
So what if women were simply the property of men over two thousand years ago? It doesn't mean it was right. Christians themselves were also persecuted for their beliefs in this time, shall we bring this part back too?
Jennifer, Netherlands, ex UK
I would also like to know; how many female immans are there? And how many female Catholic priests? It isn't only the Anglican church that suffers from this patriarchical attitude.
If people are so offended by the idea that some Christians actually take the Bible seriously then they should find a faith that suits them better. As a female (and a Christian), I completely agree with this idea- shock horror- and think its about time the C of E started to stand for what it claims to believe in, instead of pussy-footing around our politically correct society. Most of the people who've posted here already probably haven't stepped inside a church since the last wedding or funeral they attended.
Bethan Lycett, Manchester, England
Why is it that most religions are so rabidly patriarchal? I really struggle to think what it is about women that they think diffuses or corrupts the religious message. And, beyond unfettered misogyny, I can't come up with anything.
This is a pathetically narrow-minded notion in this day and age. Perhaps Jesus did choose only men as his apostles, but that was in an age when men still beat women in public for disobeying then. I thought society had moved on since then.
Martin, Reading, UK
This is a huge step backwards for equality. How can we complain about other cultures treating women as second class when a significant sector of our own society is taking this awful step back to the dark ages.
It just about sums up the desperate state of the church, whichever denomination, when they can't agree on anything, what happened to god's word being the be all and end all? Oh yes, man got in the way. Give it up lads and let's try and progress in a modern godless world.
Rico, Sheffield, England
Forget the modern attitude to equal opportunity for a moment, and read the bible. The bible states that women are the property of men - and are rated no higher than furniture or other property. I guess you have to ask yourself, do you live to the exact wordings of the scriptures, or would you rather cherry pick the best bits.
Alfie Noakes, North of England, UK
Who truly cares? I am surprised at the level of media activity around this - the general public in the UK see the C of E as a middle class organisation, with dwindling flocks and ever further away from their God. Like politicians, the C of E will change its dogma to win popular approval. Personally, I am constantly surprised that any man made religion survived Darwin.
Roger, Whitwick England
Yet more prejudice from a church that claims to represent a loving God. See these organisations for what they are; power hungry bigots, not Christian organisations. If you are a Christian find your own way, do not believe the hate these people preach. They should be prosecuted, if any other employer was openly prejudiced like this they would be in court. This goes for all the other religious organisations that practise prejudice too, and that is nearly all of them.
Let's not forget when and where Jesus lived. Times have moved on and I'm certain that He would want things to move on too. Is it a wonder that church attendance figures are so low when they behave like this? Why can't these people just fully accept women into the church and get on with what they are supposed to be doing - spreading the word of God.
Gavin, Brent Knoll, England
Things were very different when our good lord Jesus chose men as his apostles. On his second coming he may choose women only. This is a nonsense and clearly divisive by the branch wanting men only clergy. Christianity is all inclusive.
James Thorpe, Leeds
Oh great - yet another proposal that shows just how far removed the Church is from the 21st century and reality.
This makes me so angry. It doesn't matter. Nobody cares. What the Anglican Church chooses to do, who it admits, who it promotes and how it organises itself amounts to the sum total of a complete waste of time. When there are so many real-life problems in the world I'd have more respect for the whole lot of them if they shut up, shook hands and rolled their sleeves up to help instead.
Lorraine, St Albans, UK
I find it ironic that the church is so bigoted that it still has such problems with equality of the sexes yet the church still sees fit to lecture us on morality and tolerance.
Richard Read, London, UK
What rubbish. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end for the Anglican Church, when will these people learn to move with the times. Modernise or die.
Steve , London
I am amazed that the Church appears to remain one of the few institutions where discrimination of women and homosexuals (amongst others) is blatantly advocated. How unChristian is that?
Chris, Sheffield, UK
Nice to see the Anglican church trying to keep up with the times. Just a shame that the times they are trying to keep up with are the Medieval ones.
Dave Godfrey, Swindon
The Anglican Church takes a step forward by ordaining women priests and now wants to take two steps back! So much for sexual equality in this day in age!
Tracey, Durham, UK