Friday, August 29, 2014

LGBT and church - facing new truths

At times in my life I gain a new insight or understanding, which impacts greatly on me and my life ... only, when I look back I realise that it is not new at all and I have known that particular thing for some time - but at arms length, from a distance, without really knowing it in my heart.

This year at Greenbelt my heart was truly opened to the treatment LGBT people receive in some churches and from some Christians.

This was my third Greenbelt festival and each time I blogged about it, I have mentioned LGBT people - Made in God's image and Life begins .So the issue has been tugging at my consciousness and conscience for a while ...

I have friends who are gay Christians, friends who have wanted to enter into church ministry and are not able to do so because of the relationships they are in. I have known this! Why have I not felt it until now?

This year at Greenbelt, not only did I attend the OuterSpace Eucharist (which has become a firm part of my festival experience), I also attended a number of panel discussions about the concept of marriage and whether LGBT people are a gift to the church, rather than a problem. Most importantly I listened to stories - stories by people who are forced by the church to choose between their calling to ministry and their calling to a loving relationship with another human being; stories by clergy who were severely sanctioned by the church for marrying the partner they love; stories by people who receive more love and compassion working in a supermarket chain than in the church they would love to serve ...
Most touching and amazing is the fact that again and again I heard people say "I do not want to leave the church", "Despite it's flaws and faults I love my church" and "I would not want to harm the church". People who say "I don't agree with outing gay bishops. We should not enter into that power game."

That blows me away!!

I have come away from Greenbelt to weigh this new understanding and knowledge, to pray about it, to read more and discuss more.
I have joined the Inclusive Church and asked for an information pack from the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.
I am looking forward to the journey of learning more, understanding better and working out what is best to be done about it. I don't as yet know ... but I know there is work to be done!

What puzzles me most is that as Christians we believe we are made by God to be the best we can be. Unlike our atheist friends we don't think we are a chance combination of genes that give us certain attributes and abilities - we believe that God has made us in a deliberate and knowing and wonderful way!
We also believe that we are instructed to use those talents. To use them to build a better world - God's Kingdom on earth.
And we are meant to encourage, enable, empower, support and motivate others to do the same.
Don't we??

And then here is the church, the very institution which should encourage and empower us to use our gifts and talents, and it says to some of us "No, not  you ... God doesn't want your talents!"

Can I encourage you to find out about this topic?
To read, hear and listen?
To join groups, petitions and actions?

And most of all, keep those who are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and those who are in the authority to make (and change) those decisions in your hearts and prayers.
And let them know that you do.

Here's to a church which loves and welcomes all unconditionally - regardless of race, gender, economic standing, (dis)ability and sexual orientation.
It's what God does.

1 comment:

  1. When I was a student the Student Christian Movement was very welcoming to gay and lesbian people and very accepting of their relationships. I have a friend who is a lesbian and a Christian and her experiences have been that in some churches she has been totally welcomed and in others she has been very definitely discriminated against. I think the church in general needs to learn how to welcome everyone, regardless of their sexuality, has gifts to offer the church