So, I'm pretty late with this, but here are a few thoughts, kicking up the barely settled dust. Obviously, I'm looking in from the outside on this whole debate, and much like Carl Trueman would be fairly indifferent if the CofE decided "to make Justin Bieber Archbishop of Canterbury... or to bless the matrimonial union of divorced goldfish". I wouldn't put either course of action beyond them. Anyway, my thoughts...
1. I don't think there ought to be any bishops, of any gender whatsoever, unless we are talking about the sort of bishops they have in the Bible, i.e. elders in a local church. The reasons for this are manifold, and I've touched on them at many times and in various ways. The current Anglican crisis puts me in mind of a couple of others. One is that the episcopal tradition really demands a Pope. It makes no sense to have an episcopate which can be held to ransom by the laity, and it makes no sense to pretend that there is some process of development in the church's doctrine unless you have a Pope, or at least an authoritative magisterium. Get a Pope, or get rid of the bishops. Another reason is that this crisis highlights how complicated it becomes when a congregation is subjected to the authority of someone other than Christ, over whose appointment they have no say. It is bizarre.
2. I don't understand how my 'egalitarian' friends arrive at their conclusions from Scripture. (Scare quotes to highlight that, of course, the 'complementarians' think that they are also egalitarian; they just think it means something different). It seems to me that Scripture does contain an anthropology, which we ignore at our peril since it flows from the gospel, and that anthropology does describe men and women as different, and does envisage them having different roles. I am not keen on most stuff that comes out of the complementarian stable, because to my mind it moves much too fast from this basis to prescribing exactly what those roles ought to be in contemporary society. I'd like a bit more reflection, and an acknowledgement that although there is continuity there is also change in the way masculinity and femininity is expressed within the Bible, as one might expect within a library of books written over thousands of years. Nevertheless, I do think the complementarians are basically right, and I can't help feeling that the 'egalitarians' - many of whom are people I respect deeply - have got off on the wrong foot (see 3 below).
3. I have seen a lot of argument from culture, progress, and relevance in this debate. Even where it was not on the surface, I can't help suspecting that for a lot of egalitarians (okay, I'll drop the scare quotes now, if you insist) there is significant 'bleed through' from contemporary western culture into their biblical interpretation and theology. Sorry to say it, folks, but that's how it seems to me. Now, I am going to say something huge, and I want to qualify it before I say it: I know that many egalitarians are genuinely convinced that they are serving Scripture, and submitting to Christ in their interpretation. I genuinely respect that, even if I can't see it myself. But for those who were talking about relevance and progress (and especially a rather crass parliamentarian, who came up with the insight that "If the Church of England wants to be a national church, then it has to reflect the values of the nation") - you seriously scare me. A church that reflects the culture - a church that must reflect national values in order to be a national church - is exactly the sort of church which caused one of my great theological heroes to have to remind a whole continent that "Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death."
4. Conservative Evangelical Anglicans fight the oddest battles. The fact that, from their perspective, most of the bishops are heretics doesn't seem to bother them, but they can't tolerate the thought of having women. Similarly for the Anglo-Catholics - once you're in communion with people who have women priests, it seems to me that the game is up (from your bizarre sacramentalist point of view, anyway). There are alternative options open to both sorts of people - Independency and Rome - which are viable and would surely be more agreeable. It is particularly frustrating that once again Evangelical Anglicans give the world the impression that all Evos are basically anti-woman and anti-gay, because those are the only issues they seem to be prepared to fight on.
5. It makes me sad that good, godly people love the CofE. I've heard two main reasons for loving it expressed. Amongst more conservative evangelicals, the main reason seems to be a highly fictionalised account of the history of the CofE, which gives the impression that it has always historically been a thoroughly evangelical institution which has just recently been hijacked by liberals and Anglo-catholics. To this I can only say that it is, indeed, fiction. The other reason given is the apparently great virtue in being associated with liberals and Anglo-catholics, I suppose as a model of ecumenism. I feel that I can hear the Apostle muttering darkly about his desire for heretics to emasculate themselves, and I wonder how he would fit into this view of things. Don't get me wrong, there is stuff to love there. (See my last post for an example). But honestly, most of it could be salvaged without accepting the half-reformed, never-really-evangelical, semi-biblical fudge that Anglicanism involves you in. Come out, come out! I trust that once disestablishment occurs, many will see no reason to compromise further, and will leave. It is fine out here, I promise you. You'll like it.
6. Yes, I know, I've been harsh. But this is important stuff. It affects the witness of all of us. Why not think about it?