My ‘Conspiracy’ comments on Bishop Devine’s lecture ignited a lengthy sequence of comments – including a dialogue with Phil about the church’s treatment of gay people. You may be interested in exploring that because he moved me out of the comfort zone. I thought it had reached a natural end but maybe not …
In the final comment of the sequence, Kimberly neatly [and I think correctly] summarises the issue as
‘Phil’s concern that church sometimes denies the full humanity of gay people, and David’s concern that no one argument (either a particular view of scripture, or a particular way of expressing issues of justice and inclusion) trump all others without an attempt at mutual understanding.’
When I worked in Northern Ireland, I found myself sharing a church with some people whose views I found difficult, at times not recognizable in gospel terms and – at the extreme end – abhorrent. Some of them, I know, regarded my views as dangerously liberal. I wouldn’t use the word ‘discrimination’ but at times I paid a price for positions I adopted and argued for. I wasn’t seen as altogether ‘safe’.
I think that part of what lies behind our difficulties is the nature of the church – at times untidy to the point of incoherence. It is neither debating society nor democracy. Some of it is people who can hold and articulate strongly-held and opposing views – evenly matched intellectual, spiritual and emotional fire-power. But more of it is all of us some of the time and some of us all of the time stumbling about trying – as the first disciples did – to work out what it was all about. There will be incoherence and incompleteness – that is what the Spirit of Truth is for – rather too much standing for the wrong things and missing the chances of becoming what we are meant to be.
That doesn’t excuse failure to understand, care, include .. It just means that people haven’t got there yet. It explains why I see my task as trying to help a divided church hold together as it learns to find the way forward in this issue.