Time To Turn Some Tables

This morning The Telegraph published this article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11796568/Gay-Anglican-preacher-forced-to-choose-between-marriage-or-ministry.html

You know what the problem with this is?

It’s not the fact that this man is being forced to choose between the man he loves and his sense of call to an identified ministry, because those are the rules of the Anglican Communion and they therefore should be enforced.

It’s the very fact that the rules EXIST and go unchallenged that’s the problem. And it’s not just the Anglican Communion, it’s the Baptist Union and almost every other denomination out there as well.

We’re all complicit in it – we all sit quietly, waiting for change, making small steps and covering it with excuses like: “at least there’s some progress” and “we have to be careful that we don’t break what shouldn’t be broken”.

Well maybe it’s time a few things got broken.

Did Jesus fear for the longevity of the Jewish community when he challenged the Pharisees? Let’s do it quietly and softly and make no fuss, or else the temple might collapse and we’ll really be screwed then. NO, he called them out on their nonsense and forced them to take a long hard look at themselves and how their actions were representing God.

Did Jesus politely ask the money changers to stop what they were doing and then thank them for taking the time to listen? NO. He got angry and physically showed them where they could shove their abuse of the temple system.

Did Jesus say to his disciples and those who heard him teach: “don’t feel that you have to give to ALL of the poor and needy – just the deserving ones”? NO. His message was of love and abundance for all and that we, his followers, are the enablers of that.

Did God physically dwell with us to express his unbreakable love and commitment to his failing and degraded people, just so we could choose who is loved, who can marry, who can live above the bread line, who can “minister”, who has the right to live or die based on the country they’re born?

DID. HE. FUCK.

Jesus didn’t stand for this.

We shouldn’t stand for this.

Denominations mean nothing in the cold hard light of justice – we all need to be firm in our support of people like Jeremy.

I do not follow the Jesus who rejects and coerces, who manipulates and offers ultimatums. That Jesus is a bastard. I follow the Jesus who accepts and befriends, who guides and challenges us through his unending love to consistently look within ourselves and see if we can see him there, working in and through us.

Jesus didn’t stand for this.

We shouldn’t stand for this.

3 thoughts on “Time To Turn Some Tables

  1. I read this article this morning and initially felt sorry for everyone, for Jeremy and Mike as they faced an impossible decision, for John Sentamu who had been given a pretty public barating for doing what his job expected of him and for everyone who read this, given yet more fuel to stoke their despair and disgust with the Church. My own position is affirming – I wish every denomination would see gay people as a gift not an issue and welcome and celebrate committed, lifelong, faithful relationships, whatever their sexual orientation – that said, I do think their is a difference between Jesus’ actions in the temple and our approach to people who are not yet able to affirm what they consider sinful. The truth is most of these people are earnestly trying to follow what they consider to be God’s will for his creation – I think they’re horribly mistaken and I hate the consequences of their judgement, but on the whole I can’t doubt their motives. The motives of the money changers in the temple were far from honourable, and that’s the difference. Of course, the tragic similarity is that both groups are preventing those who they consider “sinners” feel welcome in the community of God (the moneychangers by occupying the Gentiles’ worship space with a selfish and exploitative practice, and those against homosexuality by piling unjustified guilt and judgement on people who simply want to love God and their partners). I think your reflections here are extremely powerful, but I fear may be counterproductive. The very people we need to challenge will disengage after only a few lines and never get to the really punchy bit – I wonder if you do not consider those who hold a more conservative (albeit dangerously misguided) opinion on the bible’s teaching about homosexuality and marriage to be Christians? It certainly appears as though you don’t consider their Jesus to be yours? What does that mean for you? Would you be better off leaving the denomination you are apart of if you consider their Jesus to be a bastard? Or might you be called to transform a denomination from within? If it’s the latter – I hope you’ll be able to reign in some of your more provocative and insulting language so people will want to engage in dialogue with you. I know it’s frustrating – believe me I know – and I would never want you to dumb down your support for those who are marginalised but perhaps there’s a better narrative to be explored? I admire your passion and wish you well in your ministry to those who feel rejected by the church.

    (Please don’t linger on my desire to remain anonymous – it might appear cowardly, but I feel called to a church that would fire me if they knew my position – I’m making progress slowly but it’s going to be a long journey that I don’t want to be ejected from)

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    1. Hi there!

      Firstly, thank you for taking the time to respond to us – especially when you are doing so in a context where you are unable to be affirming. I know a lot of people who can relate to the feeling of being in the closet.

      I agree for the most part that generally those who condemn gay people are doing so with “good intentions”, however the outcome of their behaviour far outweighs the nobility of their intentions. And perhaps the analogy of the money changers in the temple does fall short but given that we didn’t know their intentions (other than they wanted to make money) it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that they were doing it because they thought that the Gentiles should be inappropriately charged as their cost for being Gentile. However, semantics of the text aside, my focus was more on how Jesus behaved in that context than those who were perpetrating the “sinful” behaviour.

      I disagree with the idea that people will disengage after only a few lines – political rants have long been a way of communicating frustration against oppression and they have shown great success. And I think it’s OK to disagree on the swearing aspect – some people don’t like it, some people don’t care – it’s a tool to express emotion and, unfortunately or not depending on your POV, it works well in conveying pain.

      The latest piece is part of an ongoing tapestry – one where generally the tone is forgiving, meek to the point of being walked over, abused and betrayed, but I believe that speaking in (some might say righteous) anger is deserving of a place in that tapestry too.

      Will we constantly write pieces like yesterday’s? No. Should we? No. But I do believe they have importance – in a similar way to the laments of the Psalms or the cries of Job; pain, anger and frustration deserve to be heard just as much as polite, well-rehearsed and calm pieces that usually populate how I write.

      If you’d like to see some pieces from a different angle, then please look to bwhbad.blogspot.com, particularly “Stronger Than Yesterday”, “We Are Suffocating” and “To Boldly Go…”

      Thank you most deeply for your words and the time you took to respond to us – as we journey through this it’s great to hear from all manner of voices as we piece together a greater understanding of Christ and our response through Him in our broken world.

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