Saturday, June 15, 2013

Diarmaid MacCulloch on How Same-Sex Marriage Is Leaving the Bishops Behind

All this threw a spotlight on the mess that the Church of England leadership has gotten itself into, and the disconnect between the bishops and the rest of the country, even from many in the church pews. Nationwide there is a majority in favor of same-sex marriage, and that percentage is not significantly lower among those who declare themselves to be churchgoers. Yet only one diocesan bishop, Nick Holtam, bishop of Salisbury, has declared that same-sex marriage is a good thing. The rest have hidden behind a statement commending traditional marriage prepared for the church’s theological think tank, the Faith and Order Commission. 
The Church of England bishops have been caught between trying to conciliate noisy conservatives in the church and wanting to be nice to the gays, because (to episcopal surprise and alarm) gay people have ceased to lurk in the shadows and have entered mainstream society, demanding to be treated as ordinary human beings. Some are even clergy in same-sex partnerships.

MacCulloch is talking about the Church of England bishops--the bishops of the Anglican communion that right-wing Catholics and evangelical Protestants love to use as a cautionary tale about the disasters waiting for any Christian church that treats gay folks with dignity. He's talking about the Henny-Penny strategy the Church of England bishops have adopted to deal with gay marriage and the increasing openness of LGBT human beings in various cultures (and religious groups) around the world.

And so I'd ask, If even the "liberal" Anglicans are capable of such astonishing Henny-Penny hysteria in the face of marriage equality, is it any wonder that a large percentage of LGBT people regard the churches in general (and, in particular, Mormons and Catholics, whom they lump with Muslims) as the enemy? What can one expect sane and healthy gay folks to do in the face of such cynicism and such hysteria--not to mention, such astonishing callousness about the real humanity of those used as bargaining chips in cynical political games that are ultimately not even about the gay human beings used in this cruel reductionistic way--than to shrug their shoulders and ignore churches and their leaders?

Human beings are human beings, after all. We who are human have real feelings. When pricked, we bleed real blood. The pastoral leaders of too many Christian churches have far too long had the luxury of assuming that the LGBT human beings whom they had previously relegated to the shadows and never gotten to know or understand don't feel much at all when we're kicked about, used as examples of moral decay, condescended to, buffeted about, and excluded from churches that slam their doors in our faces . . . 

Causing those "All Are Welcome Here" signs nailed to just about any church door these days to bounce about a bit as the door slams resoundingly shut in our faces and the ministers inside prepare their sermons on love, hospitality, kindness, and justice.

Thanks to Alan McCornick of the Hepzibah site for emailing this article to me.

No comments: