Recent developments such as those reported here and here, plus I must confess a healthy sense of mischief, have inspired me to finally enter the pointless yawnfest that is the ongoing debate about homosexuality in the church.
At the outset I guess I should declare that I am a raving liberal about a lot of these contentious issues. For instance, I don’t believe that the biblical argument against homosexuality holds much water, because if you’re clever, scholarly, or just plain weird, you can use the Bible to justify all sorts of beliefs – like the Earth is only 6,000 years old, slavery and misogyny are acceptable, and even that God hates figs. A book which was written thousands of years ago often long after the events they document, which was translated many times before we got to read it, and which very occasionally contradicts itself, cannot be seen as the inerrant, infallible and total word of God.
Anyway, what particularly amuses me about the homosexuality debate is that most of the fuss kicked up by the fundamentalists is specifically caused by gays being ordained as bishops. As far as I am aware there’s no mass hysteria about them being members, employees, or even preachers, and no attempts to expunge them from the pews, prayer groups and committees of churches. Only a problem about them being bishops. What the fundies appear to be saying, then, is that it’s fine to have gays in the church just as long as they aren’t in a position of authority or influence.
Why might this be? Two potential reasons spring to mind.
1. Simple prejudice, in that gays are alright when quiet and subservient in the church, but a worrying and dangerous influence when in a promoted position? Nope, it can’t be that – because not only would that be hypocritical and discriminatory (and the church would never be like that, would it?), but also we as Christians strive to love everyone equally just as Jesus did regardless of their background or character, and wish the church to be inclusive of all kinds of people.
2. Homosexuals’ “sinful nature”? No it can’t be that either, because if all sinners were barred from holding office in the church, there’d be no church left.
Instead, the only reason why the fundamentalists oppose homosexuals rising to be bishops appears to be that they think that homosexuals alongside the rest of us have a real role to play in the ministry and service of the church… but genuinely believe that due to their sexual orientation they are inherently ill-suited to positions of leadership and management.
How?? Are gays proven to be incapable of balancing budgets, chairing committees, providing spiritual leadership, managing teams of staff, or directing large-scale projects? Chris Morris’s brilliant spoof television documentary Brass Eye springs to mind. In one episode, a fictitious Royal Navy officer justifies the exclusions of gays from the military, arguing:
Homosexuals can’t swim, they attract enemy radar, they attract sharks, they nudge people when they’re trying to shoot, they always insist on sitting at “The Captain’s Table”… they muck about. Imagine… the fear… when you go to sleep with a gay man on board and think “Oh God, when I wake up, will everyone be dead?” You can’t run a ship like that.
As is often said, Jesus said nothing in the Bible about homosexuality – so I have no idea why we are tearing ourselves apart over something so frivilous, irrelevant and frankly very boring.
Surely we should follow his lead and find something important to argue about instead, such as how to spread the Good News, or how to resist war, poverty, injustice, bigotry and the singing of “Shine Jesus Shine” throughout the world.
With any luck my next post about Christianity will be on a subject that is faintly relevant and interesting. In the meantime, I shall brace myself for the fundamentalist onslaught…