The Church of England agreed many years ago that there was no theological bar to women becoming bishops. Parliament agreed many years ago that there should be no discrimination over sexuality. But despite this the arguments have continued, sometimes raging, sometimes just grumbles, but relentlessly, over women and sexuality. The tone of parliamentary debate yesterday resembled Synod – sometimes just poorly expressed arguments based on gut feeling.
The Church of England has tried to keep everyone on board, whereas Parliament has decided for the nation. The Prime Minister no doubt hopes that the issue diminishes in volume once those who are against see that marriage is not undermined. That is what happened over divorce. The church was adamantly opposed to remarriage after divorce, yet it has finally come to be accepted in the majority of the Church of England, when societal pressure removed the sense of threat to a ‘traditional Christian teaching’.
Should we reach unanimity in our decision making and keep everyone on board, or should power lead the way, until those who are against see that it was the right decision after all? It is an unanswerable question, but experience seems to favour the latter.
I think that the debate has been rushed through Parliament because of the Synodical vote on women bishops. I think there will be legal problems along the way because of that. But is it right that gay and lesbian people should be able to marry? Oh YES.