In the last month or so, a series of high profile names in sport and screen have opened up regarding their sexuality.
- Former English Premier Football league player Thomas Hitzlsperger
- American Footballer Michael Sam
- England Womens football captain Casey Stoney
- Actress Ellen Page
You can add to that Olympic bronze medalist diver Tom Daley who admitted he is in a relationship with a man. The vast majority of the response has been positive, which is encouraging others to be open about their sexuality. It is becoming slowly but surely a safer place for the LGBT community, encouraging others to be more open about their sexuality. There are obvious exceptions, Russia and Uganda come to mind, and not everyone who has been honest about their sexuality has been met with overwhelming acceptance, but progress is being made in other countries.
One place where progress seems to be going backwards is the church. Justin Welby made great noises about not accepting gay marriage is akin to racism. The Church of England responded with a statement that says they won’t bless gay relationships and any gay clergy cannot be married. It pretty much tore up the Pilling report and with dragging their feet on the ordination of women as bishops, managed to alienate themselves even more than seemed possible.. The one place LGBT Christians, and indeed all members of the LGBT community, should be able to seek shelter, is the one place that’s dishing out the pain and hurt that they are trying to shelter from. Twitter exploded with Christians condemning Michael Sam, and I could do nothing but just shake my head and fight back tears.
Those supporting the church on this are chanting that the church is to be counter cultural, but it shouldn’t be going against culture for the sake of it. It stood against culture when it came to slavery, though there were those within the church who supported slavery. It should be at the forefront of social change, setting the example, campaigning and fighting for equality for all people. It should not be clinging to doctrines and hanging onto the coat tails of the change. Christians want the world to be more like Jesus, it baffles me then when they fight against it clearly doing so. It’s more interested in protecting its doctrines and standing on its soap box than it is offering love, grace and protection. It doesn’t want to get its hands dirty and its this reason (among others) I think the church has ceased to be relevant in this world anymore.
In a survey conducted by the Barna Group, over 90% of young people interviewed chose anti-gay as the best word to describe the church. This wasn’t even an option on the questionnaire. These statements will just reinforce that view, and its entirely justified. I’m sick and tired of the church campaigning against equality, promoting the persecution of a section of society, of Gods people. Maybe I’ve hit rock bottom when it comes to the church and the only way is up, but I have to stop pretending the church matters anymore. It has to be more than a social club, or a place where you have to meet certain entry criteria; at the moment its about as relevant as the Freemasons.
I hope and pray that it does change, and become more like the God it professes to follow. Maybe I have a part in helping it with that, even with everything that I am wrestling with. I’m not asking for perfection, just a little decency to fellow children of God.