in many ways I don’t know who I am addressing this letter to, it is not a protest, nor is it a plea, in many ways it is a simple cry from the heart, a cry for love, and a cry that for once we put down our swords and our words ( they may be interchangeable), to take a deep breath and seek to hold one another in love.
Over the last few days my facebook feed has been filled with images of friends and others, many of the Christians, taking part in Pride events, whilst this warms my heart it also offers me a deep challenge, a challenge that longs for not only a radical change in our churches, but also in myself. I have many friends who identify as LGBTQIA+, those friends are precious to me, and what I am hearing from them over the last few months and years has stirred and challenged me. I am not critiquing those participating in Pride events, merely offering the challenge I feel I have been posed with.
First I repeat something I have said elsewhere, I apologise for the times that I have claimed to walk with and stand with my friends, and yet failed to stand for them when it has mattered most, and why, well simply because I have to acknowledge that their struggle for wholeness, healing and acceptance has not really been mine. It has not been mine, but it should have been because we are human! I believe that we share the fingerprint of the divine deep within and that that fingerprint is unique with in each of us, some are tall, some short, some skinny, others maybe not so much, our skins have a variety of pigments and colours and our eyes and fingerprints are utterly unique to each one as are our expressions of sexuality and gender.
Second I m hearing a deep weariness from those who are being asked yet again to fight on, from my own context within the British Methodist Church, but also from others who are just losing the will to keep baring their souls and claiming their humanity.
Third I want to do something about this, but in a healthy, helpful and healing way for all, and because of this I have to acknowledge that I am not going to be able to persuade everyone to agree with me, to affirm Trans-people, and to feel that same sex relationships are simply an expression of human love, my list could go on and on! That said I still have some people who swallow hard when the enquire how I became to be widowed and I tell them I am not, I am divorced, and that of course is minor in comparison! So what I want to do is to place a call for bearing with one another in love, I am not going to be able to persuade some people with my interpretation of the Biblical texts, not through my own human experience or friendship, not through the testimony of my brave and wonderful sisters and brothers. I also have to acknowledge that I don’t believe that the battle over who is right and who is wrong is ever productive, I differ from friends on my views of atonement, creation, and many other topics. This however is not about a topic, it is about precious people! People who have been hurt and harmed over and over, our sexuality however we express it, runs deep in the core of who we are.
Finally I want us to be honest, if we can provide a welcoming and affirming space we should say so, if we cannot then we should be brave enough to own that too, because to be tolerated is damaging and hurtful, for full human flourishing there needs to be radical openness and hospitality. Niceness, especially in church, and where masks are worn that say in a strange and false wat that all is well are not helpful at all, not for anyone, rich/ poor, gay/straight, etc.etc.
Those who know me know my views, but I will state them again anyway, I believe that all are made in God’s image, and that there is no sin in expressing our sexuality in affirming and consenting adult relationships. When I have had the not infrequent response form well meaning people about “what they do in bed”, my response has always been that I have no wish to know what you do in bed either, because I suspect we are all different! That said I remember my wonderful friend in a same sex relationship while struggling with a complex family life laughing out loud at such a statement saying that sex would be wonderful, but that they were just to exhausted for any such fun! Something many can relate to I am sure!
So let’s strive for love, for understanding, and for justice, let’s hear Jesus words to walk with him and perhaps to lay down our burdens of difference to seek a new way forward ( Matthew 11:28-30)
Let’s seek to see one another with the eyes of love.