Unlike women bishops, the issue of homosexuality has global ramifications for the Church of England, which heads up the world’s 80-million-strong Anglican Communion.
Because of the Church of England’s symbolic position, conservative Anglicans in America, Australia and much of Africa have threatened to create a breakaway church if it makes anyone openly gay a bishop.
The simple fact is that Anglicanism is not going to be able to find a compromise. How do you square the circle that comes with a religion made up of deeply conservative and staunchly liberal wings and everything in between?
Eventually something has got to give, and the likelihood is that the traditionalists, who are a minority in Britain but probably a majority globally, will have to form their own church. Once that happens, the two churches can stop bickering and start to flourish in their own way. The liberals can grant equal status to women and gays, while the traditionalists can remain true to scripture as they interpret it, without feeling they are being dragged towards a future they don’t want.
Schism is, in the long run, inevitable. A gay bishop in England might be the painful medicine the Anglican Communion needs to swallow if it is really to begin to heal.