Many of my friends are sad today because the Church of England has said No to equal marriage. It is an argument which just won’t go away. And in a way, I’ll be honest, I’m getting a wee bit fed up fighting it. I seem to have been doing that forever. Ever since I joined the church I seem to have been on the side of the people who are signing petitions. First it was against women priests. I know, can I ever be forgiven about that one? Then it was Changing Attitude and we held meetings and we tried to help people see that there was another way. Then it was gay Bishops and poor, dear Jeffrey John. Then it was equal marriage. Always I seem to be signing petitions and Liking some gay-friendly group on Facebook and wearing rainbows with pride.
Because all my life I have known gay people. No, I don’t mean that. All my life I have known people, some of whom happen to be gay. (My ex-husband was a hairdresser so honey, I knew where the in-crowd, the fun-crowd, was hanging.) Since I joined church I’ve met as many gay people as I did in those hairdressing circles. And if you think that’s an exaggeration then think again. Sadly, in the olden days they had to keep it a secret. And some still do, the ambitious ones, because we still haven’t got the bishop thing right. But gradually in our wee Episcopal church many have been able to come out and a few congregations are now quite used to having two men living in the Rectory. Most of them have entered into civil partnerships. Sadly some of them had to do it secretly and with closed guest lists. But things are changing. And perhaps in Scotland legislation will be passed which will allow gay people to marry in church one day. And I will rejoice and hope that this is the end of all the petitions.
But then I’m left thinking that this is not the end. Because there are still a whole lot of people in our churches who are not happy if that happens. There are still lots of people who would not want two men living in their rectory openly as a couple. And there are a whole lot of young people who never darken the door of a church because they are pretty sure they won’t be welcome. Of course, some churches have got this right. I can think of two who actually openly welcome people who happen to be gay on their website. And dear Kelvin, at St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, is tireless in his promotion of equal rights using every form of social networking known to man, woman, gay or straight. This does not always make him Mr Popular.
Then today I read Benny’s blog and was directed to this blog which has an Open Letter to the Church from my Generation. It is American, yes, but it reads to any church. It also directed me to this song which I’d never heard before. Not my kind of thing normally, but I did find it extraordinarily moving. We need to get this right if we want our church to grow and continue. To the younger generation we are just so irrelevant.
No freedom until we are equal, the man sang. Amen.
You might also want to read what Bishop Alan Wilson has to say on the matter over on his blog too.