Photo credits

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

Monday, March 11

Political hara-kiri

Our church likes to do things differently once in a while and on Sunday they decided to have a dial-a-question theology panel.

Slightly miffed that I was only the stand-in for one panel member, who did actually attend so I was just in the audience.  And the dial-a-question turned out to be a pre-written list in the Vicar’s hand.

Anyway: Q1 – does the panel believe in gay marriage?

Stunned silence.

So the vicar picks on one panellist to start them off. All four took shades of conservative line, the most liberal being an acceptance of sexless civil unions – which is the view which I think best reflects the Vicar’s.

Then he opened it up to the floor.

Thinking “It’s now or never” I launched off into my usual exposition of liberal-for-conservative-reasons rant, cutting out the detail of each response to each ‘proof text’ owing to lack of time.

A later question concerned women’s leadership in the church. This time the panel (mostly former Methodists) took a liberal line, and so the Vicar added that for many Christians the issue is headship and authority. Unbidden, my hand shot up. I passed on what I learned at New Wine – in biblical language the head is not the controller but the source of life, and in Romans it is only linguistically possible for Junia to have been A) a woman B) an apostle C) endorsed by the allegedly misogynist Paul as a woman apostle, and that therefore I no longer object to women in the highest leadership of the church.

There were other benign questions where I kept silent, but overall my voice was too frequent, too opinionated, too ‘authoritative’ in tone, etc., and I felt bad. However, afterwards I had positive feedback from quite a buzz of people, and I ended in a long discussion with two panellists going into more detail.

It was only driving home in the relative calm afterwards that I suddenly realised that I had flatly contradicted the vicar in public on two major issues. It was not my intention to undermine him. It’s just that two issues that I feel strongly about came up.

So I shan’t be expecting too many more invitations to speak or to join the PCC. In fact my career at the church may be over.

But then, Mrs is increasingly unsatisfied at the church as all the old problems have not gone away. So this episode may just make it easier for us to move on again next time.

I'm glad I said what I said.  It was better coming from the floor than from the pulpit or a seat on the panel.  There may have been better times and places and tones of voice and forms of phrasing.   But if not now, when?

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