Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bigots, homophobes and the love of God

I like living where I do. Most of the time. But today I'd rather have been in my native Glasgow. I'd rather have been with friends on the Gay Pride march - friends I know because of the church. My church, their church. But instead I was here, reading my local paper - for we all do, you know, even when it's depressing reading, because we don't know what you'll miss if we don't read it. I read the letters page, skipping over it to see if there was anything interesting - and came across one that took up more column inches than any of the others, and certainly more than I would tend to have written in my now defunct church reports.

It made me sick. It seems to be an answer to a letter I've missed - maybe when I was somewhere civilised. It's a homophobic rant in defence of "traditional and well-accepted marriage" which dismisses as "meanderings" the words of Desmond Tutu (presumably  "I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place," ) and accuses him of "erroneously" stepping outside "the clear and wholesome directives of his holy book".

In the past I often wished I had a public voice that wasn't dependent on the whims of some editor or - interestingly - newspaper owner. Now I have, and this is what I want to say to anyone who reads either this or the ghastly outpourings from Ardentinny: I do not wish to go to a homophobic heaven either. I wouldn't go near a homophobic church, and I rejoice in the welcoming openness of my own. All Christians are not homophobic (and this sounds like the start of a syllogism, which if pushed to its conclusion might be interesting ...) The teachings of the bible are anything but clear, obviously - because people like the bigot from Ardentinny don't get it. People who think it's clear scare me to bits.

But what is clear to me is this. I worship a God who loves all God's children equally. Equally = the same, each as much as the other, no distinctions made. We are not here to question that outrageous love, but to try to do likewise. 

Even when it comes to bigots and homophobes. Hard, huh?


  1. I was at Pride today - I joined the march with a couple friends who parents have had a hard time accepting them primarily because of the teaching of their Church (one is in her 40s and is still not out to her family, in fact, because she's not at all sure of the reception she'd get) - and I was particularly proud to see the Episcopal stall (which was busy when we walked passed).

    We were there when the minister for Metropolitan church spoke and whilst I don't know exactly what her words - of both faith AND acceptance - meant to them, I do know that they were important words that brought one of them to tears and that Desmond Tutu's words had also meant a very great deal to these women. The conversation we had afterwards was objectively very frustrating - my friends are both women who fundamentally seem to WANT to have faith, but who've been pushed away from their Churches, made to feel shamed and afraid.

    It's sickening that Love One Another is so difficult for people to understand whilst reasons to judge and find wanting come easily.

  2. Thanks for this heartfelt post Christine. Your integrity and compassionate humanity are evident and welcomed with relief from me.
    I'm not religious. And the homophobia of so many Church and Mosque and Synagague and Temple goers is just one of the reasons why.
    Interesting intensely readable blog to which I'll gratefully return.

  3. I'm with you on refusing a homophobic heaven, Christine. I am often ashamed and horrified at the bigotry I encounter among otherwise kind and courteous people I thought I knew well - as though a hidden side of their personality has suddenly erupted.

  4. Perpetua, I preached about this at the Eucharist today - the lectionary readings were crying out for it! Heart in mouth, but people seemed enthusiastic ...

    1. I so agree. the first sentence of the Isaiah reading says it all: "If you put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word....."