Sunday, 20 May 2012

Gay

I like my church. I am aware I don't always go, and I'm also aware that it's not for everyone. But we're a nice, small church. We're friendly, open and liberal in our general values, and there's a very small congregation, so if you're a visitor you're not overwhelmed by the number of people. And I've been going since the age of five, so I should at least feel vaguely settled there. I went up today to read about Matthias and my voice carried through our building easily. I have no problem with this.

However.

I often like to browse the newsletter; it's inoffensive and sometimes funny - and occasionally mentions me - and while not exactly being an example of stunning journalism it's clearly evident that there's a lot of effort put into its publication, so it ought to be read. I picked it up, idly browsed through the vicar's message and the awful jokes page, when I stopped. There was, reprinted verbatim from a random website, a two-page (double-page spread, in fact) article about why gay marriage should NOT be made legal.

I stared. Really? There's actually an article in our church newsletter about this?!

I'm in favour of gay marriage. Of course I am. The article's flawed, anyway. There are a few - and, it has to be said, relatively few, compared to other issues addressed therein - passages in the Bible (namely, in Deuteronomy and Romans) which could be construed (and have been) as defining homosexuality as an abomination. Although there are other interpretations, as well, and lesbians aren't mentioned at all, fundamentalists who choose to interpret those verses as banning gay activity are free to do so, as is their right.* However, although the Bible's every mention of marriage specifically mentions a man and a woman, there's no passage in the Bible (that I can identify) which actually specifically outright bans homosexual marriage.

It actually bans eating shellfish, growing two crops together, and entering a church if you don't have a penis, but people do these things all the time (except the shellfish; I think that's horrible, but again, not my place to judge). So even if it did ban gay marriage (which it doesn't), I'm pretty sure a lot of people might ignore it. Maybe, anyway.

My problem, however, isn't with the fact that the view exists. I think it's bigoted and unfair, and I think that if two people want to get married under the eyes of God (as opposed to a secular partnership), then fair enough. I'm pretty sure that if God didn't want to allow it, there would have been a sign by now. Plus, registrars (including religious ones) are often allowed to marry any two "persons" - gender isn't, as far as I'm aware, specified. But I digress. I'm genuinely upset by the fact that the young lady who writes this newsletter - whom I like; she plays the recorder and everything - actually saw fit to put this into print. There's been no indication that it should actually reflect anything our church puts out, and as a member of the regular congregation, I actually feel insulted by this.

What makes it worse is that nobody else saw anything wrong with it. My nan, as a liberal Christian herself, said something vague about marriages, but my grandfather doesn't even believe in God. I'd have thought that he'd at least have some sense. But he does sometimes radiate homophobia - enough for my sister not to tell him that she's bisexual - which is a problem I'm slowly working on, in bits. It's difficult, but...

Yeah, so, anyway. What do I do? I've signed enough petitions and written enough letters to show my support for gay marriage. I've even prayed about it, because as a religious practice I think it's only fair to show my support to God as well! But I think some sort of direct action should be taken to indicate that this specific article not only does not show the opinion of every member of this congregation, but has no place in a community newsletter, which should be unbiased and welcoming, not harsh, cold and homophobic like the Bible belt churches one reads about on news sites.

Any thoughts?

*Although I don't condone evangelism, it's not my place to tell anyone else what to believe either.

8 comments:

Jillian said...

Can you not complain about it to this woman who puts the newsletter together?

I'm bisexual myself, and often refer to me as queer. I was raised a Catholic, and in many ways, I still am one. But I do not agree with the church's views on homosexuality.

It niggles me that a small congregation like yours decides to publish this in their newsletter. It's like you say. They should be spreading love.

I don't know my own thoughts about gay marriage though.

Hope this helps.

x

Rory said...

I just read something in our newsletter that boiled down to our church stating that they accept homosexuals into the church and work against the fear, discrimination, or condemnation of homosexuals. Then in the same breath they state that they will not allow homosexuals to be members of clergy nor will they bless same sex unions.

This, to me, is completely idiotic. It just doesn't rhyme. How can you claim to work against discrimination, then turn around and do exactly that - discriminate.

You can always write in and offer your personal opinion. I plan on doing so, even though I'm sure it will fall on deaf ears. Still, I'd rather voice my opinion than shrug it off thinking it wouldn't make a difference. If everyone did that, we'd never get anywhere.

Innocent Loverboy said...

@Jillian:

Yes, I did think of writing to said woman. I'd need to think of how to phrase things politely though. And I don't know what good it would do.

I know she's the editor, but I've also no idea whose idea it was to put it in. It might not have been hers. But I guess it's a starting point...

Innocent Loverboy said...

@Rory:

Still, I'd rather voice my opinion than shrug it off thinking it wouldn't make a difference. If everyone did that, we'd never get anywhere.

Amen to that.

My mother has often "warned" me against taking a stand - despite teaching me since childbirth that one should stand up for one's opinions, she sometimes reneges on that in order to tell me "not to look like a troublemaker" - specifically, not complain to the leader of the band I was in for bullying me and not to make a fuss about the second university I went to.

And idiotically I didn't take my stand there and then. I would've really lost my temper at the bandleader (and since I don't do 'angry' you know how that may have turned out) and I would've written all sorts of letters and made all sorts of grievance complaints about my uni, but I didn't...

...because I "would've been a troublemaker."

Well, no more. Someone's got to take a stand. And it might as well be me. If nobody leads by example, then everyone will be too scared to follow on.

Leading the charge.

Harper Eliot said...

If I were you I would ask if you can write a piece for the newsletter. If it's a small congregation and everyone is mostly friendly then letting this slip by is probably just about how no one wants to kick up a fuss.

But you should!

If you write a reasonable and sensible response, explaining that not everyone in the congregation agrees with the piece that was published, then it's not an attack; it's just a discussion. And one that should and NEEDS to be opened.

Good luck!

Innocent Loverboy said...

@Harper:

Great idea! It might have the zero success rate of trying to write a letter of complaint to the Daily Mail and get it published (I doubt this would be published at all!), but if I could get one in, then it would be the ideal platform for my voice!

This one I'll consider.

Anna Fruen said...

I think writing a response for publication is a great idea, but my suggestion is that you not phrase it as a letter of complaint. Write an article for the magazine; a thoughtful, scriptural response to a current social issue. You have the writing skills! If it's presented as a discussion rather than an attack, you're more likely to get the whole congregation to become a part of the conversation. There are as many views as there are people, after all, and I'm sure you're not the only one with comments.

Innocent Loverboy said...

@Anna:

Yeah. I complained a bit in this post as a (necessary?) knee-jerk reaction, but evidently writing an article for the newsletter needs to be more levelled.

From a quick jog through memory lane, the newsletter pieces are small in size so I'd need to convey a reasonable argument in about 500 words or less. But I can do that. I'm an English graduate.