Who is on your side?

Published: Dec 06 , 2012
Author: Alan Smith

A man on his Harley was riding along a California beach when suddenly the sky clouded above his head and, in a booming voice, God said, "Because you have tried to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish."??

The biker pulled over and said, "Build a bridge to Hawaii so I can ride over anytime I want." ??

God replied, "Your request is materialistic; think of the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking; the supports required reaching the bottom of the Pacific and the concrete and steel it would take! I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little more time and think of something that could possibly help mankind."?

The biker thought about it for a long time. Finally, he said, "God, I wish that I, and all men, could understand women; I want to know how she feels inside, what she's thinking when she gives me the silent treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says nothing's wrong, why she snaps and complains when I try to help, and how I can make a woman truly happy."

?God replied: "You want two lanes or four on that bridge...?

In November 2012, the Church of England's national decision-making body, General Synod, failed to pass legislation which would have allowed women to be ordained as bishops.

The proposal won the necessary two-thirds majority in the House of Bishops and House of Clergy. It was in the House of Laity that it was lost, by a handful of votes. The result has left many in the church feeling hurt and demoralised, and damaged its ability to act in the wider society.

Imagine that a surgeon had started working at a hospital when all the medical staff were men and, even as the workforce changed, did not hide his belief that only men could be proper doctors. It would be remarkable if, instead of disciplining him, hospital managers agreed that he should work only with male medical students and doctors and even that the new head of surgery, a women, should delegate his supervision to a male colleague.

The good news for those in favour of women Bishops is that the House of Commons took on the Church of England on Thursday. If the church didn't allow female bishops, MPs said, they would force them.

The whole discussion was wonderfully old-fashioned. There was a whiff of Parliament versus the Crown. You half expected the Queen to march in, seize the ceremonial mace and have the Speaker arrested.

And therein lies the rub.

The idea that parliament should grab the church by the dog collar and give it, in David Cameron's words, "a prod" was deeply appealing to MPs and indeed many of the rest of us.

It may not be quite so appealing in the long run to either side in the debate. I can't help feeling that anything other than a consensual solution to which both sides can finally agree will be a disaster for the church. With dwindling congregations and a real concern over the value of the church in a secular society, anything that drives further wedges and splits must be a problem

Both sides would presumably claim that God is on their side let us hope for their sakes that God in this instance can help build the bridge, 2 or 4 lanes.

Anything else would be a load of old cassocks.

Alan Smith


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