This article from London’s Guardian reports that, should the Church of England General Synod again reject the ordination of women as bishops that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has plans to bulldoze the measure through–trampling on the whole synodical process in the Church of England.
For those who don’t know how it works, the Church of England decides everything through a democratic synodical system. The General Synod is made up of three houses: laity, clergy and bishops. For a major decision like women’s ordination they need a three quarter majority in all three houses. When the vote for women bishops happened in 2012 it was defeated in the house of laity by six votes. When that happened the church was in an uproar. The feminists had campaigned for women bishops tirelessly since their victory over women’s ordination twenty years earlier. That they lost by six votes was a major reversal.
According to church rules they were not allowed to bring the legislation back to the General Synod for another five years. Never mind. The powers that be changed the rules. A few back room deals, a few hush hush conversations in the House of Lords and the Bishops stacked the deck in their favor. Old white men calling the shots? Patriarchal types moving the goalposts? High up establishment white men doing whatever they damn well please? Privileged upper class white male elite changing the rules to suit themselves and their agenda? We’ll have none of that talk now! None of that. No sir.
Anyway, the C of E bishops got together and changed the rules so they can all vote on it again this summer. If it doesn’t go through this time they are going to dissolve this synod and have new elections and try again.
The naked emperor nobody seems prepared to shout out about is that this reveals the entire synodical system for the farce that it has been all along.
Consider this: the vote for women’s ordination in 1992 in the General Synod was carried by only three votes in the House of Laity. When the vote was in favor by only three votes there were great tears of joy. “At last the Holy Spirit had opened the door. It was miraculous! The Spirit has moved and the Synod has expressed the will of God.”
But twenty years later when the measure for women’s ordination to the episcopate is defeated the cries are of foul play, dismay, anger and a rush to change the rules, over rule synod and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
To complicate matters further, the British parliament has told the Church of England bishops that if they don’t get their house together and get rid of this foolish sexism and ordain women as bishops pronto that they will put legislation through revoking the exemption the Church of England now enjoys from civil sex discrimination rules.
In other words, the Church of England will be ruled by parliament. End of story.
The ramifications of this are profound. Essentially the Church of England General Synod is a foolish, expensive waste of time. If the system doesn’t work the real powers that be: the Bishops and the British Parliament will bulldoze through anything they want anyway. The same thing is happening, and will continue to happen over the issue of marriage regulations. Same sex marriage will be forced on the Church of England whether the like it or not.
That in itself is an open question for anyone in the know accepts that the majority of Church of England bishops are in favor of same sex marriage and have been for some time. Being upper class Englishman, and smooth politicians all, they have simply learned that you accomplish nothing by public campaigns, protests and angry radical talk. No indeed. No. “One gets much more done, don’t you know, with the smile, the smooth small talk, the occasional witticism, the enquiry about what school one attended, a few well dropped names and above all a willingness to conform to the party line.”
Not only is the General Synod a waste of time, but the fact that the Church of England is more “England” than “Church” is truer now than it ever has been. That the British Parliament could threaten the church with legislation is, for any right thinking Christian, outrageous, but this is an everyday accepted part of being a member of the Church of England.
The head of state created the church in the first place. What else should one expect of an Erastian body?