Yes, I am cross, you guess right.

So once again the wretched Church of England, or to be more specific, its House of Bishops, is embarking on a review of (specifically) whether gay people in partnerships can become bishops (oh, the irony that they cannot marry each other, because the same church has opposed the legalisation of gay marriage) and (generally) of same sex relationships.

I have been introspecting recently, and I have finally put my finger on what (apart of the glaring injustice and downright wilful stupidity, that is, and I am never a fan of either) put my finger on what so enrages me about soi-disant ‘Christian’ attitudes to gay relationships. Soi-disant because of course thousands of totally committed Christians know these conservative attitudes are unbelievably stupid.

So beyond the idiocy and cruelty of these beliefs (and idiocy and cruelty were never hall-marks of Jesus of Nazareth) the really exasperating, inflaming thing about them is that they totally pervert what the gospel, his gospel, is about.

That extraordinary, difficult, demanding man was totally unimpressed by conventions. He rode rough-shod through many of them. He stunningly told a man who would follow him, but only after he had done his duty by his parents, that he should leave to dead to bury the dead. He welcomed the town bikes, and the bankers, swindlers and collaborators. He courted ritual impurity, and (because he observed that ditching your wife was really, truly, not what God had in mind as a recipe for human growth and happiness) somehow that same radical figure who challenged and upset almost every status-quo he could get at, reach or otherwise manipulate, has got landed with supporting an oppressive Establishment morality that was creaking ominously when I was a girl, and would by now have shuddered to to a merciful death, were it not for the attempts of a load of old men to prop it up.

So lets try again, shall we? Jesus never had anything to say about two blokes or two girls in bed together. He had a heap to say about money (though he socialised with cheats) and an unbelievable amount about never seeking any kind of revenge and always forgiving. He practised ‘inclusivity’ on a daily basis, and he challenged again and again, as much in his life as his words, the concept that any kind of ritual purity mattered. Forgive, give, love, welcome, challenge. Those are his values. And it does not just infuriate me, it hurts me deeply to see his church, his body, blind to what he was and what he did, and driving on with stuff anybody with even a rudimentary sense of theology ought to know is the most terrible drivel.

And the time for pussy-footing around and niceness is well past. And yes, I am rather cross. Maybe you guessed.


7 responses to “Yes, I am cross, you guess right.

  1. The more I think about it, the more I think ?probably-Spong? was right: sex and food are vectors of control.

    I look at a phrase such as `…the Church of England’s teaching on same sex relations as set out in the General Synod motion of November 1987…’ and wonder, in increasingly horrified manner: why should a church need teachings on such things and where did they come from?

    Jesus didn’t refer to minutes of meetings with his disciples; he went fishing with them. His was a life with a loose relationship to rulebooks, especially the oppressive “respect” of existing or the creation of new. Recall he came along as the product of a culture whose attitude to scripture can be characterised as `delight in the law of the Lord’ (as rabbis studied the Torah in a flexible light-hearted way); where has that joy gone?

    Paul had it right, from the outset: all that rules can do is condemn and divide people. The outside world is wising up to this, empowered increasingly to choose their allegiances and alert to spotting systems of control, oppression and abuse; the church needs to wake up and realise that it gets new members not by birth or conquest, but voluntarily, or it will surely – and deservedly – die.

    You might well be cross; I’m just blunt. Every time I see this topic kicking around, I scream “No rules! Get ON with it already!” and wonder just how much closer I can get to the periphery before quantum-tunnelling through it by mistake.

  2. Hurrah for crossness! I call it righteous anger, and I concur. How long, O Lord …?

  3. I am not a Christian. There is much about Christianity that I can’t get my head around, the whole life after death thing, the trinity, taking communion etc etc. But I do think that Jesus was a man worth listening to. It strikes me as amazing that there are people who believe in and adhere to all the dry, difficult and rather dull stuff (as I see it), and lose track of the vital, exciting wisdom of Jesus. It truely is astonishing that anybody can even begin to believe that Jesus would be remotely interested in who/how a person loves.

  4. bea, there are plenty enough folks who *do* call themselves Christian and share your worries/doubts/thoughts to fair degree. And Jesus wouldn’t’ve called himself one either 😉

    I’m not that excited about life after death: we can’t claim to know what’ll happen or when, so I prefer to get on with life and let the afterlife verities sort themselves out.
    The concept of the Trinity is lacking explicit biblical backing.
    Taking communion … is a group-sign (non-mysterious) of realising[two senses] Christ’s presence (a mystery).

    The church needs to get on with analysing what Jesus and his teachings were about as a start-point for study, I think.

  5. I agree with every word you’ve written, Rosemary. But I don’t actually think that Jesus’ silence on the issue of gay relationships means that he can be recruited in support of a liberal pro-LGBT agenda (though I know you’re not actually saying he can). Like Paul, he was an observant Jew, and it would never have occurred him to question something regarded as so fundamental to the Levitical code. The way to combat what you rightly describe as idiocy and cruelty is to respond to the God-given invitation to use our mental faculties, reflect on experience and deepen our understanding of human psychology. As Lucy Winkett has remarked, ‘We teach the faith in the light of what else we know’.

  6. rosemaryhannah

    It is a good deal less fundamental to the Levitical code than keeping the Sabbath. It is a good deal less fundamental than marriage, and supporting your parents, and he had a pop at both of those. No, not at all sure what he would have said if the issue arose … and probably what he said would have depended wholly on the issue presenting.

    (For instance, in the case of the woman serially married to the brothers, what he is really saying is ‘In heaven, relationships are not about ownership’ – which is not usually properly unpacked)

  7. @Tim, thanks for your comment

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