The argument about language and subservience, and the female approach as opposed to the male, starts to look like a justification for male exclusive priesthood!
I'm saying (so far) that Anglican women rise to be bishops and then use the language of subservience, either regarding father God or Jesus Christ. These are above, these are followed, and the language is male. In the myth, God becomes human and a sex is chosen.
When men have used this language of subservience, for donkey's years, they have nevertheless been privileged priests and bishops, so in a line and sharing the gold-dust handed down. So they became used to being in the hierarchy that uses the hierarchical language, and indeed in their churches they have exclusive, hierarchical rules - the bishop is the cornerstone and the lower clergy stand in his place dotted around the bishop's parishes.
Now it becomes important that if women join this hierarchy then they should do so equally, but it becomes difficult to wipe away hundreds of years of split sexual approaches to such religious language.
The female approach to subservient language really was just that, because the role was given from the fixed barrier in place. Indeed there was the all-important mythic impossibility of the semi-deified virgin mother, and made statue (doesn't move, something to look at), for men to dote over while impossible for any woman. The best woman was sexless and mind you don't menstruate.
So the woman rises to the top and joins the full hierarchy. She can now identify with the first women who had leadership, even in the proto-orthodox line, as well as the men, and of course in the many later-on heretical groups where women retained important leadership roles until snuffed out by authority or faded out.
For me, the equality will only be right when the language ceases to be one of subservience. It is important not to 'follow' any human being in a religious doting sense.
And the sex barrier remains, because for a man there will always be participation in that hierarchy and in the 'love' of the fellow man Jesus like a friend or colleague, even a superior one, like a bond, whereas for the woman Jesus will always be that of a lover, or a male friend who could be a lover but is not but with whom she does not bond.
Yes, I know, that there is the gay relationship, where Jesus can be a man's lover. But what of the lesbian, for whom he is a friend but of another sex? Friend, colleague but perhaps still not one to bond with. I understand gay men are often attracted to opposites - I'm not sure how universal this is. I'm not sure how iconic Jesus as an opposite can be to be an object of desire to a gay man; I rather think that the attraction of the religion of Jesus to a gay man is in the ritualistic and theatrical actions of doing the job. But not for some, so again it's hard to generalise. Heterosexual women often choose gay men friends because they are safe: one wonders if Jesus as unavailable is a religious iconic friend in this sense because he is always unavailable - a bit like the devotion to Mary by a gay priest or bishop (she can never become real, she is never sexual to him, as well as having been de-sexed).
I have very close male friends, and no desire to get into any sexual expression with them. This surely comes as some relief. But it doesn't alter the nature of the bond. With a woman, closeness really does come with the sex, and more than that, with repetition. The intimacy comes body to body in a way not so with a man. And you want that intimacy. The woman also invests her emotion into such a relationship.
We hear of nuns who invest their sexual desires into a Jesus icon. But surely most women do not. The relationship is presumably quite cool and, because of subservience, might even be at a critical distance. He really is unavailable.
There is another issue too. The attractive female bishop. There are going to be a number of male priests attracted by the boss, or the boss of other priests. It is going to create mixed up desires in a setting where the desires have been regulated by single sex authority and desexed statue women. Some people are just going to have to learn to be professional, and when relationships start, to declare them when they involve a potential clash of interests. Because start they will because sexual difference and desire have a power that rivals any religious syphoning of the sexual instinct.
My own view, developed over the last few years, is that all forms of cult-of-the-individual are harmful, and this includes devotion to spiritual figures. The Christian religion is built on hierarchy and is therefore damaging: damaging to those trying to build personal authenticity.
There are models of Trinity and Unity that emphasise the social and loving, but all forms of following are necessarily hierarchical. They are either based on dogma or an uninformed league table approach of higher ethical people. What is important, instead, is the way, either some pre-made or discovered versions, or ones you work out for yourself.
I don't think women bishops will ever be equal until the language of Christianity is radically rewritten, but so radically rewritten that it becomes of form of very liberal Judaism or thoroughly and not classically unitarian. Its references to Jesus would have to be at an angle and more occasional, with perhaps more emphasis on transcendence or on ethical human striving.
But until women are bishops, there won't be any rewriting.
Meanwhile, interesting developments in the Church in Wales, where they even had Charles Handy involved in making suggestions for future structures. He is a sort of miracle worker of organisation participation. Trouble is, he does this for firms that are still selling their products. Basically, the Church in Wales is small and collapsing. It is facing widescale social irrelevance, in a setting where various non-conformist groups have vanished chapel by chapel, but it is a single organisation that realises that it may not have a future. Perhaps the odd woman bishop might help there too. Hard to say, but there is nothing unique about the Church in Wales. The Church of England might be desperate to hang on to establishment, but in its attitude towards women and gays it is straining its relationship with state and society.
After all, the replacement amendments in November for the Church of England General Synod might be just as cackhanded as July's, and with no amendments (the cleaner option) still might not achieve the two thirds majority vote needed. And if the vote doesn't achieve the two thirds, and another five years wait before the equality issue returns, can the Church of England keep taking the internal pummeling it gives itself over these predicaments that change its future?
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