Deeply, deeply embedded in the psyche of the Church of England is a model of a life in ordained ministry. It goes like this:
A young, single man responds to God’s call.
He is trained, and his bishop appoints him to a title post.
There he meets a young woman, and they marry.
She begins to help him in his ministry (and to have children)
The bishop appoints him to a living.
Together, he and his wife minister faithfully until he retires.
There are a very few allowed variations on this, the chief one being that the bishop recognises in the young man the potential for greater things, and so preferment as Archdeacon, or even Bishop follows, with the stage upon which his wife plays her role expanding accordingly.
Selection, training and deployment all revolve around this model, however much gloss may be put on it, and until this changes, clergy who are women, whose spouses are employed, who hear their call to ministry later in life, who are homosexual, who wish to remain celibate, or who are married to other clergy, will experience problems.
One day the Church of England will notice that not only is George Herbert dead, so is Anthony Trollope…