The Scottish Episcopal Church (to which I now belong courtesy of living north of the border) has taken the decision to allow same-sex marriages to be conducted in its churches – this, the Guardian tells us ‘puts them on a collision course with other Anglican churches across the world’. That’s a moot point, since in the C of E and the American Episcopalian Church there is a good deal of support for the idea (indeed I thought the Episcopalians there had made that decision), but an unwillingness to risk breaking communion by pressing the issue. Like women priests and bishops, it is an idea too far at the moment; but those who are hostile are right, I think, to fear that within a decade or so, it will lead to the acceptance of gay marriage in church.
Why collision? On one side there is the view that the church has always taken the view that active homosexuality is sinful – it is there in the Bible, after all. As one pundit put it:
“As for Jesus not condemning homosexuality, nor did He condemn bestiality and necrophilia. . . . Christ did indeed condemn homosexuality, as does the Old Testament, St. Paul, the church fathers and all Christianity until a few liberal Protestants in the last decades of the 20th century who, frankly, are more concerned with political correctness than truth.”
On the other, is the view that this is discriminating against people who, modern science tells us, are not making a choice, but following their true nature.
In the aftermath of the horrible and tragic events at Orlando LGBTI ‘celebrities’ have been prominent in condemning the massacre. It saddens me that it should be discussed in terms of either homophobia or ISIS, as it seems to be both. Too often the tone of the conversation within Islam and Christianity on this subject has been, shall we say, unfortunate.
That quotation, with which I suspect many would agree, came from Michael Coren, who has subsequently written:
I have evolved on this single subject because I can no longer hide behind comfortable banalities, have realized that love triumphs judgment, and know that the conversation between Christians and gays has to transform — just as, to a large extent, the conversation between conservatives and gays has.
I am not prepared to throw around ugly terms like “sin” and “disordered” as if they were clumsy cudgels, or marginalize people and groups who often lead more moral lives than I do. I am sick and tired of defining the word of God by a single and not even particularly important subject.
The reaction, he says, was a loss of income and allegations he was gay himself – because, clearly, in the eyes of some Christians, no one but a gay person could think that the teaching of the Catholic Church on this issue was discriminatory. The abuse he received from Christians was, by his own account, horrid. As it happens, he is not gay, he simply feels, as do so many people, that gay people should be treated as straight people are by the churches. When Vicky Beeching came out as a lesbian, she, too, received huge amounts of abuse, and says she was very fearful about admitting she was a lesbian.
That seems to me all very sad. It is hard to see how much of the abuse could possibly be seen as loving the sinner but hating the sin. It shows, alas, yet again, that when it comes to looking judgmental and uncaring, some Christians don’t even realise what they are doing. I have yet to see ‘moderate Christians’ coming out and condemning those extremists who have trolled Vicky or Michael Coren. The only people Jesus spoke crossly about and to were those who behaved to others as though they were the righteous ones with a right to stand in judgment. God alone does that.
My own views on this? I can see both sides, but cannot think that it is worth pressing and breaking communion on this issue, any more than I can see that feeling otherwise (either way) justifies anyone behaving in a way which does not show the love of Christ. I would hope that all of our thoughts and prayers for the victims of Orlando would manifest that love.