So, the vote is no. Which doesn't close down the debate and allow us to get on with other things, but simply condemns us all to another 5-10 years of working on this. I am stunned that anyone, whatever their views on women bishops, could feel that is a good use of our time and energy in the next decade.
I suspect some of those who voted against are similarly stunned. From the looks on some faces, and brief conversations as we left, I get the impression that some - probably more than 6 - wanted to register a protest but hadn't expected it to mean the measure would fall. If so, they badly miscalculated. The damage this has done, and will continue to do, to the reputation and moral authority of the Church of England is very great.
But we knew the vote might be no. What has really upset me is the level and tone of some of the debate. Despite all the protestations that this was 'just' about 'more provision', what speaker after speaker said was that they entirely reject any leadership by women.
We were told that God the Father is the head of the Trinity, so subordination is at the heart of God. That is blatant heresy.
We were told that because the Bible speaks of God as Father and Son as favourite metaphors, God is male, and women can therefore only be second class approximations to his image.
Top quote of the day - not for offensiveness, but for sheer open- mouthed incredulity that anyone would even think of saying this, was 'Of course, women aren't just there to make the tea. Though that is an important aspect of diaconal ministry'.
If I thought the Church of England believed all that, or expected me to teach it, I would have to leave now. Today. Forget the fact that I've just moved house, moved kids schools, started at a new church. I couldn't possibly be trying to grow the Church, support it, persuade others of its truth. I couldn't even be a member, let alone a priest, of such a Church. Allow me some conscientious objections too.
But the Church if England does not believe that. So please, please, can we start having this sort of damaging nonsense challenged by the men in authority, not pandered to? Such speeches should not have been tolerated by the Chair. They should have been rebutted by the bishops. Instead, people fell over themselves to offer reassurances that those with these views would be 'protected' from women bishops who clearly can't be trusted to behave as bishops and pastor their flock.
We need to grow up and use the Bible maturely, and not be bullied into agreeing that any quotation can be applied directly to our own context, or that any interpretation is valid because it is 'my deeply held theological conviction'. I know this applies to all of us. I know it is messier than pretended certainties. But it is also more honest.
The gloves came off in this debate. Opponents have generally tried to be polite about women in recent years, realising that blatant rudeness damages their cause. But the ugly attitudes and damaging beliefs about women have not gone away, and they surfaced yesterday. Speaker after speaker against the motion grounded their opposition to this measure in a view of sex and gender that sees male and female as irreconcilably different and unequal. One is more godly than the other. One is destined to be in charge. 'Equal but different' was the rallying cry, but the difference was spelled out as one being in leadership and the other not. What value does the word 'equal' have here?
And, of course, the elephant in the room was homosexuality. Because those opposed implacably to women having authority rightly fear that if they give ground on the essential difference of the sexes, they undermine what coherence there is to their arguments in support of their visceral distaste for same sex relationships.
Those opposed from a 'conservative evangelical' perspective (redefined, as Elaine Storkey pointed out, to mean you are only a conservative evangelical if you believe in male headship) complained that they couldn't trust the legislation as there were no conservative evangelical bishops. Two points on that. Firstly, if you define your constituency so narrowly as to exclude anyone who would be able to work respectfully with ministers of other views, thinking they don't believe the Bible, then of course they can't become bishops. Secondly, I refer you to my previous blog post entitled 'Pick your own bishop'. This legislation would have guaranteed any parish a male bishop if that is what they demanded. It could not and should not guarantee everyone a bishop who agrees with them.
I am left feeling rejected by the Church that accepted me for ministry. Among all the talk of promises and assurances, what price the promise in my ordination, that the Church believed I was called to this ministry and that it had the authority to ordain me? It is all very well to say that we want to go forward together, but that was the offer yesterday and it has been ripped up and thrown in our faces.
So why not resign?
Firstly, because I do believe I was called by God, 20 years ago, to be a vicar. I might pray 'take this cup away from me', but at the moment I am strengthened by the memory of that initial moment of call. I will continue to try to follow.
Secondly, I think back to the Minster service during Synod in July. The first reading was from Ezekiel 2. There were several wry smiles as the prophet repeatedly spoke of a 'rebellious house'. But the words that spoke directly to me were: 'I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them.' All we can each do is say what we are given to say, do what we are called to do. I need to remember that success or failure is not up to me. I trust God won't judge me on whether I manage to get the whole Church to agree with me.
Thirdly, of course, my parish. I have a job to do here, people to love and serve. People to baptise, marry, bury, teach, celebrate communion with, pray with and for. I owe it to them not to walk out on them.
And so we go on.