Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Thursday, June 7

Seeing the impact of conservative views about homosexuality

Very interesting chat at one of the BBQ’s I attended over the Jubilee weekend.

Setting the scene:

One of my main concerns in returning to my original church has been its conservative stance on homosexuality – which as I have explained in detail in previous posts I have moved away from; not becoming a wishy-washy unscriptural ‘liberal’, but using conservative Bible Study tools to conclude that we got it wrong. In my first four services back at the church, three of them contained comments that would not have made a homosexual feel wanted.

And when I have had a chat with the Vicar, he has said that he recently attended a [conservative] seminar on the topic, and was planning to hold some discussion of it in the PCC.

At the BBQ I found myself talking to the Assistant Minister, who was at the same conference. She said that she had felt uncharacteristically angry during the same seminar, because they kept referring to it as a lifestyle choice.

She has a bit more insight that many: her first husband was a gay man who got married in the hope that it would cure him of homosexuality. But of course, it did not – he was never able to consummate the marriage, and they ended up separating. Having never been truly married, she then married someone else on the rebound and had two children. But the marriage did not work, and now we have an assistant minister who on paper is twice divorced – which does not go down well in all circles. Now it turns out that her son, when he hit puberty, found himself to be gay. This caused him great distress. It was not at all what he would choose! He spent a lot of time sobbing. Eventually his Mum picked up the clues and said “Are you worried about your sexuality?” He pushed past her, but later texted her “yes, I am”.

He went to the church youth leader – “I have a lesbian friend who would like to come …” He was given chapter and verse about the sinfulness of it all. Uncomfortable at the church, he went to the Elim Pentecostal church. They tried to cast demons out of him.

Eventually the lad let it slip to his Dad. If the Dad was a nicer chap he would have still been married to the lads Mum. He had a very old fashioned view of everything – (including women’s ministry in the church which is why he could not handle his wife being ordained resulting in their split), and he was not skilled in expressing his views diplomatically. So the lad - who had never taken any kind of drugs - took an overdose of caffeine tablets.

This is the consequence of conservative views of homosexuality and the unloving way that they are usually expressed. “Love the sinner but hate the sin”, they say, but that’s not what they do.

So it was good to be able to support our assistant minister, and give her pastoral support instead of her giving it out all the time. She really needed a sympathetic ear.

She asked me to pass on to her a paper I wrote ion 2008 describing my changed views.

She also let slip that one lady in the church – who I always see in the company of another lady that is rather butch – is a lesbian. It figures. She should not have told me, but I’m not too surprised. But I also know this lady to be a truly practising Christian – it was she who when we were unemployed gave us 100% of her competition winnings, which I think she really needed herself.

So please pray that when this issue is discussed in the PCC, that the Holy Spirit will be present. We need the discussion to be civilised, gentle, and loving, but also frank and honest. We want to remain true to scripture; we don’t want to make culturally convenient excuses. But we don’t want to be causing severe heartache to people unnecessarily.

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