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