Bisexual Christianity posts.)
After two years of 'Shared Conversations, the House of Bishops has published Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations: A Report from the House of Bishops (click the link to read, 19 pages isn't as long as it sounds!)
I have read it and here are a few summary thoughts.
Positive thoughts first. Even though they ultimately decided against it, the fact that it looks like they truly looked into the possibility of establishing an authorised service for same sex relationships is a good thing. The thorough look at the options opens the door for those of us desperate for such a liturgy to maybe eventually get one. Worship is the quintessential act that we do as 'church'; the body of Christ gathers, and they first and foremost worship God, together, before any of the other many and diverse acts that being 'church' means. That is an astonishingly profound basis for our lives in Christ, the bedrock on which everything we do is held, and the lack of liturgy for same sex relationships is a despairingly exclusionary state of being. But there's hope.
I'm also pleased to see the inclusion of acknowledging the church's own call to "trust its members" and leave them to their own "prayerful responsibility" and crucially "[enable] grace for legitimate diversity".
But I'm not impressed with this report, at all. I am disappointed that though the Pilling Report was flawed in its well-intended attempt at inclusive language, even the inroads it made have been backtracked in this newest report. The people affected by these discussions were referred to as "gay and lesbian people and those who experience same sex attraction". First, there were instances when it just read "gay and lesbian people", committing bierasure, and secondly, what is the point in the distinction between the three? Referring to everyone as 'those who experience same sex attraction' would have been a adequate catch-all (in this context, as we are dealing with exclusively matters of attraction, as opposed to gender expression or identity) without making me as a bisexual feel less important and like an afterthought.
Overall, I don't care that the Church wants to establish "across the Church of England a fresh tone and culture of welcome and support", because the doctrines on same-sex relations and marriage are remaining unchanged. There's a lot wrong with the document Issues on Human Sexuality, and I'm sure it's a positive move to suggest replacing it, but ultimately, it's a pointless exercise whilst doctrine remains the same. The replacement guidance document will still be upholding what I believe to be doctrines that go against my faith as a follower of Christ and beloved child of God, and it is those doctrines that exclude, condemn and cause suffering to non-hetero people. The 'tone' and 'culture' within the Church will not move by more than inches whilst the doctrines remain, because they give credence, support and encouragement to the people who treat queer people differently just because they are queer, generally in a negative, fearful, hateful, and un-Christ-like way. It is merely rearranging the deckchairs.
So really, I hope to proved wrong in my prediction that this report will have little true impart on the state of suffering of those who are attracted to the same sex within the CofE community, but sadly, that is what I predict.
Updates from EsmeT Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts
So what's going on? For years, I've had a niggling in the back of my head that said some day I would be a priest, but I thought nothing of it until in September, five months ago, when it reared to the forefront and suddenly 'some day' was right now. So since then I've embarked on what is known as the discernment process, where the church and I - the Church of England - discern whether what I think I feel is correct. You can read about how I've getting on at thewayishouldwalkin.blogspot.co.uk.
I haven't posted on this blog for a while because nothing really relevant has cropped up; you can see how sporadic things have been over the last few posts. But this issue, the process by which the church will seek to know me inside out, my bisexuality and general stance on sex/gender suddenly becomes quite, quite relevant.
If you're in the UK, you've probably seen the tumultuous goings-on about same-sex relations within the Church of England, and you might have heard about them abroad too, as the ripples reach the rest of the Anglican Communion. The most recent epicentre was the meeting of Primates in Lambeth that resulted in the Episcopal Church in America being sanctioned for embracing same-sex marriage.
What's official comes from three things: Issues in Human Sexuality, a report from 1991; a Synod motion from 1987, below; and to a lesser extent, this resolution of the Anglican Communion. (For more click here.)
"This Synod affirms that the biblical and traditional teaching on chastity [refraining from extramarital/all sexual intercourse] and fidelity in personal relationships is a response to, and expression of, God’s love for each one of us, and in particular affirms;
(1) that sexual intercourse is an act of total commitment which belongs properly within a permanent married relationship.
(2) that fornication [sexual intercourse between people not married to each other] and adultery are sins against this ideal, and are to be met by a call to repentance and the exercise of compassion.
(3) that homosexual genital acts also fall short of this ideal, and are likewise to be met with a call to repentance and the exercise of compassion
(4) that all Christians are called to be exemplary in all spheres of morality, and that holiness of life is particularly required of Christian leaders."
So to summarise the official stance of the CofE on bisexuality in 2016 is that ideally I should be celibate until I marry a man, and further, being with women isn't best practice, but they aren't going to burn me at the stake if I date or even get a civil partnership with a woman.
But not if I'm a priest.
I've been re-reading the Pilling Report; it refers Issues in Human Sexuality which distinguishes "between the clergy and lay Christians in that, whilst the good conscience of lay people who chose to enter a sexually active same sex relationship should be respected, the clergy cannot claim the liberty to enter into sexually active homophile relationships...[also] clergy cannot claim the liberty to enter into pre- or extra-marital sexual relationships, however ‘normal’ or trivial such relationships may be to the surrounding culture."
It was encouraging to read in the PR: "Rather than thinking about the human population in terms of a fixed binary division between two sets of people, those who are straight and those who are gay, it seems that we need to accept that while there is a large majority of people who only ever experience heterosexual attraction and a smaller number who only experience homosexual attraction, there is also a significant minority of people who either experience some form of bisexual attraction or who move between heterosexual and homosexual attraction at some point or points in their life."
So there is an institutional awareness of bisexuality, and things have VERY SLOWLY been going the right way for a while. There's certainly condemnation of treating LGB people negatively.
I am scared however. There is anecdotal evidence that anyone who openly has same sex attraction is grilled harder when they put themselves forward for discernment, because they are a bigger potential scandal risk. I fear not just my openness about my sexuality will be a barrier, but my general liberal attitudes to all things sex and gender, which I am not willing to either change my mind or be silent about, because silence means people continue to suffer.
It's not definite that it'll be a problem: "As the 2005 Pastoral Statement from the House of Bishops acknowledges that clergy are fully entitled to argue for a change to the Church of England’s teaching on human sexuality, it would not be appropriate for candidates to be questioned in ways which imply that they may not so argue in the course of their ministries."
I do already argue for change and I will not stop. Official statements about sex are so inaccurate to the human condition, which has finally found a voice in the 21st century, that it's laughable. Just look at those 4 points above, I can agree with hardly anything there! Liberal ideas about sex ie. sex is not just one thing, it is a vast number of possible things depending not just on gender but context, relationships, abilities, time and place, pleasure, love, necessity, boundaries, desires; it's emotional, social, physical, psychological; it's SO MANY THINGS - these ideas are not new, and the current attitudes and policies are so restricted now that it's becoming clearer. And don't get me started on gender.
This isn't a generation making stuff up, it's a generation that has FINALLY broken down taboo and been able to express and discuss sex in a mature and compassionate fashion; we can now actually be truthful about sex, and not be ashamed of the truth. It's the same with everything, shame generally comes from ignorance, and once educated, the shame disappears and acceptance of the full scope of truth leads to happier people, fruitful societies, good all round. Surely it is right, and good, and proper to live our lives truthfully? I can't understand how anyone can still think so narrowly, and use it to judge and condemn people living their truth without negative impact on the world.
The question remains how detailed are the questions going to be about my conduct and what I'll be asked to promise to do or not do. For I very much plan on living my love life with integrity, respect, love, honouring myself and others, in line with my personal faith, my relationship with God; and being leader in the Church who doesn't disregard it's teaching outright, who engages in dialogue and seeks to live a life centred on the Great Commandment, love God and love neighbour. But I don't know if that's enough.
Looking at the details, the criteria for selection simply says "Candidates must be willing to live within the discipline of Issues in Human Sexuality."; and there are two relevant questions in the ordination service:
I think 'the way of Christ' is found in my above declaration of integrity etc, and 'respecting authority' has room for interpretation. The criteria bit is a tad tricky, but I'll get to that when it comes to it, and I'll seek advice as well. I maintain that I have a right to privacy, regardless of how the CofE wants to get to know me. We'll see how that flies. I may have to take a good long hard look at whether I want to work for an institution who might reject me because we don't see entirely eye to eye on one matter within my private life. But I've always said, with the beginning of this blog, I am willing to be a flag waver, I will step up and speak out for a better world, and to be honest that's partly come from my faith; I follow a political rebel after all. So maybe it's worth it.I just hope I don't get crucified.
- Will you endeavour to fashion your own life and that of your household according to the way of Christ, that you may be a pattern and example to Christ's people?
- Will you accept and minister the discipline of this Church, and respect authority duly exercised within it?
Opinion: Freeing sexuality from an either/or model‘Church Times’ 18 September 2015Bisexuality is often misunderstood, but has the potential to refocus discussions of gender, argues Symon Hill“NOBODY’s really bisexual.” It’s a sentence I have heard often. It has been said by gay people as well as straight ones; by “liberals” as well as “conservatives”. The evidence is mounting against it. A survey last month suggested that 23 per cent of British adults did not regard themselves as exclusively heterosexual or homosexual. The figure rose to 49 per cent among 18-to-24-year-olds.As Christians, we need to be aware of this. Whatever our views on sexuality, we are called to recognise truth, and to witness to it. Bisexual people, like everyone else, need pastoral care, and that means acknowledging their existence. Bisexual Visibility Day will be marked around the world on Wednesday (23 September).There is another reason for Christians to pay attention: the reality of bisexuality gives us a different starting-point in discussions of sexuality. Church debates are bogged down in name-calling and predictable arguments. At the same time, many churches are slow to recognise the reality of church-based sexual abuse.In this context, we urgently need new questions, as well as new answers, if we are to respond meaningfully to issues of sexual ethics and to proclaim God’s love in the context of sexuality and human relationships.THE tendency to ignore bisexuals seems particularly prevalent in Christian circles. The Pilling report made almost no reference to bisexuality (News, 6 December 2013). It repeatedly used the phrase “gay and lesbian”. At certain points, it seems that this is meant to mean “people who are not straight” or “people in same-sex relationships”. At other points, it seems to involve the more usual meaning of “people attracted only to others of the same sex”.Church discussions on sexuality are confusing and controversial enough without using sloppy language and ignoring a sizeable number of people. The Pilling report is far from being the only culprit.Campaigners on both sides of the argument say “gay marriage” when they mean same-sex marriage. As a bisexual Christian, I know that marrying a man would not make me gay, nor would marrying a woman make me straight.I am not trying to say that bisexuals are more hard done by than gay people. This is not a competition. In some ways, bisexuals may suffer less from prejudice than gay people. In certain contexts, however, bisexuals experience additional hostility.Homosexuality challenges traditional gender notions, but a gay person is at least looking for a partner of a particular gender. Someone who says that the gender of his or her partner does not matter may pose far more of a threat to those who are keen to defend binary gender categories.THIS very challenge gives us a different angle from which to approach theological questions on sexuality. One of the most shocking aspects of the New Testament is its challenge to gender roles.In the Gospels, we see Jesus allowing women to make physical contact with him, in a culture that found this shocking. We see him challenging male-centred divorce, and telling men who committed adultery in their hearts to take responsibility for their sexual behaviour towards women. In St Paul’s early writing, we read his assertion that “There is no longer male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.28).Things changed. Later writings such as the First Letter to Timothy (which, in the view of most scholars, was not written by Paul) encourage women to obey their husbands. But the radical tendency was not stamped out.A second-century letter, Second Clement, declares that “a brother who sees a sister should think nothing about her being female, and she should think nothing about his being male.” The letter was read alongside scripture in some churches until as late as the fifth century.SUCH attitudes raise questions not only for those who exclude sexual minorities, but for others who wish to allow gay people into the Church as a sort of exception. I have known Christians who say that gay people should be tolerated because they “can’t help” being gay. This degrading statement implies that bisexuals can help it, and should choose a partner of a different sex.If we ignore these issues, we reject both Christian history and the needs of people who do not fit into neat categories of male and female, or straight and gay. The radical New Testament message of “no longer male and female” has the potential to free us from these human-made categories altogether.This emphatically does not mean adopting an “anything-goes” approach to sexuality. Rather, it frees us to concentrate on what really matters. Most of the people whom I find attractive are women; some are not. Most of them have dark hair; some have not.Society regards one of these issues as trivial, and the other one as a vital aspect of my identity. Perhaps if we were to regard them both as trivial, we might give more attention to what really is vital.By taking gender out of the discussion, we can focus on what really makes a relationship right, how we truly live in love, and what it means to follow Jesus’s example in all areas of life.These are tough questions that require a great deal of thought and prayer. We will not all reach the same conclusions, but at least we will be starting with helpful questions. As a popular bisexual slogan puts it, love has no gender.Symon Hill is the author of The Upside-Down Bible: What Jesus really said about money, sex and violence, which will be published by DLT in November.
I had loads of fun making this video. Paring down the story to short sentences that fit into two minutes whilst trying to maybe be entertaining was a challenge, but I'm just glad I have a colourful collection of sharpies!
This is part of a campaign to address the issue that people often see bisexuals as 'now' gay or straight once they enter into a committed relationship, rather than being still bisexual, as the title suggests. To find out more visit stillbisexual.com; there are loads of wonderful stories on there; and if you're inspired to make your own video, there is a clear instructions page.
Here's the script of my video, but I recommend watching it first.· I fell in love with a boy at drama group in 2004.I was 12. It was unrequited. I was heartbroken.· The first guy to ask me out asked me that same year.We went to the cinema with his mum. He didn’t kiss me :(· I met another boy at a fancy dress party age 13.He was Danny from Grease, I was Pocahontas. He was soooo cute.We went to the cinema, alone. He didn’t kiss me either :(· I fell in love with one of my friends at my girls-only school in 2006, age 14.We went to the cinema, alone, and I was so happy just to spend time with her.We made out in the back row :DShe was my first kiss. When she dumped me, I was heartbroken.I let my friend kiss me to cheer me up, he was very sweet.I came out as bi to a new group of friends at a new school age 16.They were totally cool with it.·A boy asked me out, we had fun, we even went on a canal holiday.He dumped me; God told him to.·I asked a girl out and she said “I can’t think of a reason not to.”·After her, a boy in my friendship group and I had a fling but no one understood why.I came out as bi to my parents when I was 18.I thought my mother had a problem with it for years.I was wrong :)·A boy in first year at uni almost, but then didn’t, want me.I had fun with some of my friends who were boys. I was 20.·I went to a party, met a girl, we got our faces painted.In the morning, there was paint everywhere.Had another one night stand, with a boy. We had fun. We never spoke again.·Had a failed first date with a boy from a party.·In 2015, I went to the aquarium with the boy from the drama group.That went well :DI think we are such a cute couple.I am #StillBisexual.I have been lucky. Others haven’t.Help me stop the suffering. Spread the word. We as #StillBisexual.
Rehearsals Mon-Sat 8.30am-7.30pm (sometimes later)
Technical/Dress Rehearsals 8.30am-11pm (sometimes so much later it's early again)
Show Call 5pm-11pm or 12pm-11pm on matinees.
- rehearsals for the next job might start whilst I'm on show call for the previous one.
With such a cycle, I have no time that I can guarantee I will be free on a regular basis so my ability to have a hobby is somewhat limited. Downtime that I get is either spent on essential rest (which trust me, you need as well as enough sleep to function) like watching TV and painting my nails; or catching up with life stuff, like doing my grocery shop/cooking/laundry/accounts/reminding friends I'm still alive.
I don't count TV or reading as real hobbies, as they don't feel interactive enough to elicit the term, and I mostly do my reading whilst travelling anyway. And the fact that I manage to have any sort of love life or sex life is almost miraculous.
The only activity that I do on a regular basis is church. Sunday mornings are the only thing close to a regular free slot, and even then I do work on Sundays occasionally anyway. So I would count church as a hobby, "an activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure", as well as my faith, religion and a social event. I get a lot out of it, I miss it when I can't do it, and because I sing the choir, it has some level of improving a skill.
The only other thing I see as hobby in my life is my interest in my sexuality. To be more specific, my interest in the experience of bisexuals, the changing understanding of what it means to be a bisexual, the way bisexuals are seen and treated in the world, and beyond that the implications on gender, and the changing understanding of gender and biological sex.
I'm not a fanatic hobbyist. As you, dear reader, know, I don't keep up this blog with any efficiency, nor my erratic attempts at Youtube videos. At best, I keep abreast of LGBT related news, discuss things like "is the soul gendered?" with friends, and I'm generally vocal about being bisexual in a sort of understated flag-waving way.
The point of this post is it's interesting, and seen as a little bit odd, to deem one's sexuality as a hobby, even to the low level with which I am involved. Such a personal part of my identity is somewhat private anyway, so to toe the line of talking about my sexuality without delving into the details of what I get up with whom - which is a breach of trust with said partners - is a tricky situation to be in. For me, it's more of an interest that I dip into when I can. Is it narcissistic? Is it just wanting to talk about myself and learn about myself? I think that's part of it. But it's not the route cause of calling my sexuality a hobby.
As I said in my list above, my interest is broader than my own personal sexuality. It is beyond psychology, into sociology and anthropology. That includes my general desire to make the world a better place for bisexuals, because I'm lucky enough that it doesn't bother me a lot in my life, so I have a duty to do what I can from my position of privilege to work on behalf of those less fortunate to improve their lives and prevent others from suffering in the first place. My hobby, as in the activity, is bringing it up in conversation, being proactively 'out', calling people out of biphobia, sharing posts about bisexuality on social media, consuming material written and made about bisexuality, even signing petitions that are relevant to improving the world we live in for bisexuals and other minorities that do not conform to social gender expectations.
That said, it's still only my hobby. It's not my crusade. I'm in awe of those who dedicate so much time and effort into the cause, but I would not want to be one of them. It's an odd place this middle ground. I feel a kind of sense of guilt that I don't do more, but I do feel I at least do something, and right now, I don't feel in a position to do more.
People find it a little strange. It is a little strange. But if my minor involvement in the bisexual community, my nudge here and complaint there IRL against biphobia, my rambling blog posts that appear at odd and prolonged intervals - if both I and other people get something out of that (and from messages and comments in response to posts and videos, other people do) then it's a great hobby. I can't help it if some people don't want to talk about the complicated and fascinating way humanity falls in love, has sex, and deals with relationships - I do. And I think the world would be in a better place if it wasn't hushed up under an cover of propriety and the myth of spontaneity, this pedestal on which organic romantic and sexual relationships have been put, as if anyone has any idea what they are doing until they learn what others have done before them, to then work out what is right for them. Talk about love, talk about sex, get educated, spread ideas, communicate with the people you have relationships with.
That is why my sexuality is my hobby and I don't care if it's weird, I enjoy it, others do too, and I think we're having a small but positive impact on making the world just a little bit better.
I have a lot to thank older bisexuals for. I know they aren't going to like that term, but 23yr old bisexuals are older bisexuals to me! So it's a large group and of the ones I've met, there don't seem to be many bisexuals who act 'old' anyway, so I use the term out of respect that many bisexuals have been working so hard for decades before I was even a twinkle in my mother's eye, and meant I could eventually tell said mother of my swerve away from the norm and not get thrown out the house immediately.
The stalwarts of the community and pioneers of our campaign for awareness, equality and respect amaze me when I look back at all they have done, and are still doing. The reason for this post is that I was struck by how young I am with only 7yrs involvement when I came across the Bisexual Manifesto. I clicked the link thinking "Oh my God, we have a manifesto??" As a stage manager, the sheer organisation alone was inspiring. And then I read it.The 1990 Bisexual Manifesto
We are tired of being analyzed, defined and represented by people other than ourselves, or worse yet, not considered at all. We are frustrated by the imposed isolation and invisibility that comes from being told or expected to choose either a homosexual or heterosexual identity.
Monosexuality is a heterosexist dictate used to oppress homosexuals and to negate the validity of bisexuality.
Bisexuality is a whole, fluid identity. Do not assume that bisexuality is binary or duogamous in nature: that we have "two" sides or that we must be involved simultaneously with both genders to be fulfilled human beings. In fact, don’t assume that there are only two genders. Do not mistake our fluidity for confusion, irresponsibility, or an inability to commit. Do not equate promiscuity, infidelity, or unsafe sexual behavior with bisexuality. Those are human traits that cross all sexual orientations. Nothing should be assumed about anyone’s sexuality, including your own.
We are angered by those who refuse to accept our existence; our issues; our contributions; our alliances; our voice. It is time for the bisexual voice to be heard. - From the wealth of knowledge that is the Bialogue Tumblr (original attribution: the historic Bay Area Bisexual Network publication Anything That Moves)
And all my inspiration and pride deflated slightly, as I thought "24 years later, and not a lot has changed." However, the one thing that can be said as a positive over two decades later is our voices are being heard. There are more of us speaking, we're louder, we're in the White House for pity's sake, and whilst we're only inching our way to true change, we seem to have got somewhere. For example, my friends' responses to my intense Celebrate Bisexuality Day Facebook output, and my less intense but still visible Bi Awareness Week Facebook contributions, were all positive.
Sure we still have to make a lot of noise, A LOT, to finally be heard, but our strike rate seems to have gone up. So I stand behind this manifesto because it represents part of a wave that I am part of now when it is bigger and stronger than it was then.
I'm not trying to accuse anyone of egotism or narcissism, nor am I disparaging the great work that bi activists have done for decades, flying our flag and making our voices heard. The work must continue; on this Bi Visibility Day 2014, we have every duty to be loud and proud (if we want to, and if we're in circumstances where it will not lead to harmful consequences) I don't disagree with that. But I want to take this opportunity to remind us to not get caught up in our own hysteria and start thinking of the bisexual community as superior.Not many do. Sure, there are militant bisexuals who take it too far, but there aren't many of them, and we need to keep it that way. It is a great temptation, to me as much as any other person under the bisexual umbrella, to feel smug at my liberal and progressive gender knowledge/opinions; to scoff at ignorant plebs who still work on the gender binary system; to feel intense hate towards those who will not listen and spread suffering among the LGBT people that I love as my extended family.But my love is like anyone else's love. Yes, there are polyamorous lovers, asexual lovers, and aromantics, plus a whole host of people who you could say technically love differently to me personally. What I mean is that I am a human being, and complex as I am, every other human being is just as complex, and more importantly, every other human being is worth no more and no less than me. So I have no right to feel smug, to scoff, or to hate - in fact, if being bisexual is a core part of my identity, and so if the way I love is so important, I am betraying myself by hating anyone or anything. It's not just unhelpful and nasty, its unbisexual.Today is a day to celebrate. Take today's joy and love and carry it through the difficult times, and don't give into hate.
This year, on the tip of a friend at church, I applied for an internship with the events company hired by the Greenbelt charity to put up, manage, and take down the site. This meant spending three weeks stuck on an estate in the arse end of the middle of nowhere (but don't get me wrong, it was gloriously beautiful http://www.boughtonhouse.co.uk/boughton-estate/), and during the four days of the festival itself [the August Bank Holiday] I experienced as much as possible of the music, arts, debates, talks, and worship that was put on outside of my shift hours.
Professionally and spiritually, I felt inspired and enriched. But I was a little blindsided by how much I was affected personally in my experience of the LGBT events put on be Outerspace. I had googled whether there was anything LGBT at the festival and resolved to go to the Outerspace stall. It was when I was there that I was delighted to find several LGBT events taking place as well.
There was a interesting debate about marriage, and how the church is dealing with it. It was a little sad to hear one of the participants advocating a third option to add the choices of marriage and celibacy, and seeming to be under the illusion that he was advocating something fair and just, when in fact his ideas were plain suggestions for inequality. There was a conversation about the general state of LGBT issues in Christianity, followed by lovely worship that included various LGBT Christians sharing their stories. The much acclaimed Rev Andrew Cain spoke of being the first ordained priest in the CofE to marry his husband after the UK instigated the marriage bill in April, and being stripped of his licence to minister; and a woman spoke of meeting another woman, falling in love, and feeling a call to marriage, but realising that she had to choose between that call and her call to ministry and ordination - she chose the latter and they are now civilly partnered as she starts her training. They sang an a cappella two part harmony duet version of Down By the River to Pray, and whilst the singing was gorgeous, it was the glances at each other that tugged at my heart strings.
These were all wonderful, but it was one other event that hit me to my core. At 10pm on the Saturday, one of the small venue marquees filled up with people, and so began the Outerspace Eucharist. It started with a quick introduction to Outerspace, and then there was an invitation to those who, since Greenbelt last year, had had an anniversary, gotten engaged/civilly partnered/married, or come out to stand up so we could celebrate with them. I was surprised and elated to see a member of my own home congregation stand up at the call for those who had come out; I made sure I went over to him at the peace and gave him a great big hug.
It was a solid Anglican service after that, barring the rainbow altar cloth and rainbow stole on the gay priest. His sermon made me cry. I don't remember all of it - I think it was mostly about how we're slowly getting to a good place with the church and we need to keep going - but he ended by holding up a piece of yellow paper. He said he had been tidying around the Outerspace stall earlier that day, and found it on the floor, and upon reading it, immediately wanted to send it to every bishop in the CofE, with a note saying something along the lines of "In regards to how you treat LGBT people and issues in the church, read and take note." He then explained that it was a child's wordsearch, and the theme was 'Tips For Keeping Friends'. And he read out the list of words to find in a quiet, measured tone, and it was this that brought me to tears.
Don't tease or belittle
Talk openly about disagreements
Apologise when you've done something wrong
Listen to each other
Give each other a compliment
Respect each other
Care about each other
(see the wordsearch here: http://inclusive-church.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/wordsearch.pdf)We try and teach our children to be good people and good citizens, and this list may seem simplistic in the face of the complex theological, scriptural, religious, philosophical, and sociological arguments about being LGBT in Christianity. But we cannot let the gumpf and fluster make us forget the simple truths we learnt as children in how to treat each other. The preacher was right when he pointed out that it sometimes feels like that has been lost in the conversation, and this needs to be fixed.I've been lucky to not meet people who disapprove of my orientation. I have been blessed to find a church that not just accepts me, but welcomes me and even celebrates me! And I have 'known' that there's Christian support for LGBT people outside of my church as well. But at Greenbelt, I was overcome by the realisation that it was the first time I had truly believed it, because I experienced it, I saw it, and heard it, and my cup runneth over with the support and joy of Christians for LGBT people on a grand scale. It was heart-warming and inspired great hope for the future.