I found myself in a bit of a reflective mood this weekend, both on what has been and also on what is to come – if you can ‘reflect’ on the future!
It was a year ago that I laid in bed, on a Saturday morning, scrolling through Twitter and Facebook expecting to send a few tweets, reply to a few messages and get up. How wrong was I!?
Those of you that also did similar will know it’s a year ago since the House of Bishops guidelines on same sex marriage where released. Yes that’s right, the CofE could barely wait until Valentine ’s Day was over to piss on our love fuelled bonfires.
I woke up that morning and realised I was part of an organisation that didn’t accept, acknowledge nor want my love for another human being.
But, onwards and upwards, and as Aaliyah sings you’ve got to ‘Dust yourself off and try again’. I guess that’s what I’ve been trying to do, sometimes well, and sometimes not so well!
As well as being reminded of that statement, the shared conversations process that the Church of England are about to embark on has also been at the forefront of my mind. (Sad – I know!)
To fill you in, you can read all about the official stance here, however my take on it is, this is the Church’s way of dealing with the ever growing elephant in the room. We’re going to talk about it. The key question being ‘Given the significant changes in our culture in relation to human sexuality, how should the Church respond?’
So (I’ll keep it brief) over the next year there will be 13 conversations of between 3-5 dioceses grouped together. Out of each diocese the Bishop will chose who should be selected to participate. The caveats being, there should be 50/50 lay & clergy, 50/50 male & female, 25% under 40 and a minimum of 2 openly LGBT+ people.
I’ve found myself defending the process, mainly to others in the LGBT Christian community and it’s made me question myself. Given the differences in the Church on this subject, how do we move forward together? At what point will I sit back and think our work here is done?
I think the answer to the latter is unfortunately never! No matter what happens with legislation there will (certainly in my lifetime) always be attitudes to change, just like there still are with women in leadership in the Church. But at the moment one of my main problems is that we cannot marry in the Church of England, it is illegal for a vicar to marry two people of the same sex in a Church of England Church.
It may sound simple, and I’m still thinking it through, but I think I’d be happy if legislation was changed so that vicars who wanted to marry same sex couples, in their Church could. And clergy that wanted to marry their partner in Church could. That’s it.
I don’t want to force anyone who doesn’t believe it is right, to have to do it, simple.
In trying to look at it from a different angle, maybe those who disagree feel they couldn’t inhabit a Church that welcomed same sex marriage, but I feel I could. Surely God’s love is big enough and strong enough to hold both sides together?
Being reminded this weekend of those guidelines, which hurt and shaped quite a large chunk of my life this past year, along with the anticipation of the shared conversations brings mixed feelings.
I want to do this, I believe it’s a good idea, and even if there is no planned outcome, we need to talk about this, it’s not just going to disappear into thin air. But at the same time I’m scared that I’m going to get hurt again. I recently finished reading Richard Coles’ book and in there he writes
“I love the Church of England. But it is not wise to love organisations because they do not love you back. They do what organisations do, sometimes close ranks, lie, betray, disappoint, take you out at dawn and shoot you.”
Part of me, as much as I don’t want to admit it loves the Church of England, but I need to remember to refocus that love, on God. I will get hurt by the Church again, but I need to remember throughout this shared conversations process, whether I am directly part of it or not, that I stay focused on Him. I do what I do for Him and that although I may not agree with some people’s opinions I need to try my best to hold them in the same love that God holds me. Maybe then we can move forward, together.