And behold, Christianity is a lot tougher than it looks
Not everyone is crying about the Synod's No vote on women bishops. Crispin Black, for one
THE non-kumbaya, non-right-on aspects of Jesus's nature are shown clearly in a number of passages in the New Testament. The least in tune with the modern liberal zeitgeist are the accounts of his 'Anointing' - the pouring by a female follower of a small pot of very expensive scented oil over his head (in Mark and Matthew) or feet (John and Luke).
In some of the accounts the disciples question whether this is an appropriate use of resources. In the account in St John's Gospel Chapter 12, interestingly, it's Judas who poses the question:
"Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?"
To which Jesus replies:
"For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always."
Christianity is a much more austere religion at its heart than many of its modern Disneyfied versions pretend. It's not just that there were no animals or shepherds singing at the Nativity - as Pope Benedict explains in his new book published this week, The Infancy Narratives: Jesus of Nazareth - it is a religion based not only on love but also on more difficult notions for modern man to swallow, such as sin and judgment.
Everyone can be saved – there is equality of opportunity - but not everyone will be, or deserves to be.
And all this unfolds in a created, although fallen, world. Given the bleak circumstances and all the other great theological difficulties such as the problem of evil, it seems entirely possible that God planned a stained-glass ceiling for women - a male priesthood, or at the very least, a male episcopacy. But the sisters won't have it.
There are other, more everyday, annoyances in the whole saga of the Synod vote on women bishops, particularly the patronising attitude to the result.
A lot of breathless headlines in the media beforehand seemed to suggest that the result was a foregone conclusion. But a vote is a vote. It was tight in the laity – six votes short out of 206 cast. Ask Al Gore how it feels. But the rules are clear enough: a two-thirds majority is required for a big change like women bishops in all three houses of the Synod (bishops, priests and laity).
Incidentally, this is a slightly easier procedure than a change in the US Constitution which requires two-thirds majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives, and then ratification by the legislatures of three quarters of all the states.
The losers in the Synod vote might consider why they failed. The proposals, while accepting in principle that individual parishes could opt out entirely from the control of a woman bishop, failed to set up a sufficiently safeguarded procedure to make sure that this could come about. The opponents of women bishops rightly smelt a rat. Once the measure was through, they were afraid that they would be forced to submit to what they regard as the unbiblical and unhistorical "authority" of a woman bishop – if only at one remove.
There were tears when the vote was lost. Some of them, at least, looked like the tears of thwarted temporal - rather than spiritual - ambition. There are plenty of ways for women to serve God in the Church of England without consecration as bishops.
Predictably, David Cameron, our left-wing Etonian prime minister, quickly shored up his bogus 'equality and diversity' credentials by telling the rebels to "get with the programme". No doubt they will be harassed by another Etonian leftie and prominent supporter of women bishops, Bishop Justin Welby, who takes over as Archbishop of Canterbury next month.
Frankly, if we are going to have Etonians running everything, it's a shame we can't draft Boris in to do both jobs.