John Turnbull fulminates against the injustice of a Code of Practice
So it wasn’t about justice after all. The unspoken reason, understood by your ordinary man or woman in the street, is that women should be bishops as a simple matter of secular equality and natural justice. It’s just what you do these days. Sexism is wrong. Discrimination against women must be removed – by law if necessary.
It would be unfair to complain that this position has not been properly thought out nor fully argued. For what is there to think and argue about? The whole point about something as blindingly obvious as sexual equality is that you do not have to argue it all out again from first principles. It is not only obvious, it should be seen to be obvious.
The equality of the sexes, so the unconscious assumption goes, is one of the things that marks us out from fundamentalist Muslims or Mormons -not that we can argue a case about sexual equality, but in a sense that we can’t. It is so blindingly obvious, so much part of the civilized air we breathe, that it simply is how it is.
You don’t argue about racism with a member of the BNP; it is just plain wrong, and that’s that.
The same with women bishops. The only shock is that they haven’t been around already for a few decades or more.
Why so slow?
The surprise is that the Church of England was allowed to get away with this out of date injustice for so long.
Still, better late than never. Justice can now be done at the meeting of the July Synod. It hardly deserves a full debate. A morning’s technical discussion should see it done and dusted, and sorted out once and for all.
But you and I both know it will not
happen like this. Is it because the tail is wagging the dog? Because a tiny minority (2.7%) of fundamentalist bigots is holding the whole of the rest of the Church of England to ransom? Surely not. So what is complicating the whole issue?
The fact is, it has got nothing to do with justice. If it truly were a justice issue – like the abolition of slavery, to take the hackneyed comparison – where were all the demonstrations and boycotts?
Have you ever seen anyone waving placards outside a Resolution C church during the past fourteen years? Have you ever heard of a boycott against traditionalist clergy in any diocesan synod?
Obviously, people will witter on about being polite and courteous, but since when was politeness a good enough reason for not pursuing a justice agenda?
I agree you do not shoot members of the BNP, nor Muslim or Mormon polygamists, but do you make ‘special arrangements’ for them? Do you really keep an ‘honoured place’ for those who commit open and blatant injustice?
If women bishops truly were a justice issue, then the majority should outlaw the unjust minority forthwith, with no special arrangements at all. Ask yourself, what would you do with proponents of apartheid? Offer them a Code of Practice? I don’t think so.
It was never a justice issue, as the Rochester Report made abundantly clear. However much proponents might use the justice argument implicitly, it is never used explicitly in formal and public debate. Why? Because it isn’t one. And how do we know? Because they are talking about a Code of Practice. All without exception. Every advocate of a Single Clause Measure attaches a Code.
The existence of a Code of Practice argues that it is not a justice issue. But if it is not a justice issue, why is there any need for a Single Clause Measure?
The only justification, for so complete a denial and rejection of what the Church has always believed up until now, is that the Church up until now has been wrong. If this is what you mean, say it!