Let’s consider that, yes, I could go forward for selection to the priesthood. And if I tell the church that I accept its view on homosexuality, they’d be fine with that too. Thing is, I do not accept their position on homosexuality. Absolutely not.
For those who don’t know – currently it is possible to be a priest in the Church of England if you’re homosexual, but you cannot be in a same-sex, sexually active relationship while being a priest. So, it’s all: “What do we want?” – “Hypocrisy!” – “When do we want it?” – “Now!”
Where in being forced to choose between our calling and the fullness of our life is God’s unconditional love made visible? What is it that we teach God’s people when we show them that the church is unable to love those who God loves? What does it say about our faith in God’s all-encompassing love when we cause each other this kind of hurt? And what does it say about the church that it accepts our service but not our identity? We can invest all our strength and skills and love into the church – but we have no full place in it?
Where is our calling into truth in this? This is unhealthy religion at its worst. This is like the heresy so many of us grew up with – being taught a God who is judgmental, manipulative and exclusive, but by people who describe this as if it was love, and care, and a kindness. “God is loving but…” and “God loves you but…” In the end, we don’t know anymore what love actually is.
God wants me as I am. I know that by now. But the church does not. The church asks me to deny part of myself. The history of what trouble religion has had with sexuality, we all know it. Apparently it’s still too much to ask that we accept what God made and enjoy who we are. Maybe all this is less about homosexuality and more about sexuality in general. People find it difficult to talk about this aspect of our lives, our bodies, our psyches. So let’s talk about someone else’s sexuality. That’s better. Easier. Safer.
The church has crossed a few watersheds in the sexism debate, and maybe it can now move on to facing its heterosexism… Like Gene Robinson says, once we have addressed one issue (and let’s not kid ourselves – sexism is far from over), the next problem we have to address becomes clear – and we work our way forward step by step until the we have built the kingdom of God in the church. He understands this well. He is living it in and with the church.
Yes, there’s plenty to explore about sexuality – but whatever the church may be exploring, I can tell you very clearly that both my heart and my bedroom belong to me and not to the church. And there’s no discussion around that, and no compromise. I don’t accept being told by the church who I can love or who I can sleep with – or that to serve God, I should deny myself the right to love and be loved as a woman, as a human being, as a daughter and friend of God. I have found that God’s unconditional love is, indeed, unconditional. And the church did nothing but stand in the way of me finding out.
Why is it that the church is so arrogant as to think they should establish conditions for God’s love that God does not set? Why does the church think it knows better than God who can serve God’s people and who cannot?