Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Monday, 20 February 2017

Sorry I upset you

I seem to have stirred up something of a hornets nest with my post of last Thursday.   I know the general rule of polite conversation is to avoid politics and religion, but I'm not that strong on polite that I will avoid talking about the most important things in life.   I fear that one of the things that these two now have in common is an increasing polarisation of views.   Just as in politics we see the rise of the extreme left and right, almost a tribalisation with the middle ground rabidly diminishing.   I grew up in a time of consensus in British politics, that started to disappear with Margaret Thatcher, we now see the results of that separation here with the reluctance of many "Remainers" to accept the outcome of our recent referendum and the lack of understanding of many "Brexiteers" that many of us do not want to cut off totally from all aspects of the EU.   In the States we see the antipathy between Trump and Hilary supporters.

I don't want to go into the rights and wrongs of either side, just to observe the phenomenon.

I feel that the same is happening when people consider religion.   All too often I see people abandoning calm rational consideration.   People who in their professional life will be totally calm and sensible when asked about religion will become passionate and maybe irrational.

Now I want people to be passionate about their faith, but I also really want them to be rational and considered as well.   I suspect that a lot of the problem with religion within the LGBT community is the broad brush of terminology. There are one or two things I would like my readers to understand how I think about my faith. It may just help to understand where I come from in everything I do, who I do it with, and why.

First the thing that drives me in my faith is simple, it is the knowledge that God loves me. Everything else is a response to that simple knowledge.

Christianity is not about belonging to a Church, it is not about following a set of rules, it is not about criticising other people, or indeed trying to reform them into our idea of what people should be.   As far as I am concerned Christianity is simply about our response to the knowledge of God's love.

In my experience Churches have put more people off Christianity than anything else, and at the moment assemblies like the Westborough Baptists are not helping.  It makes me ashamed of my fellow Christians that I find I need to explain that these people who spout bile and hate are not displaying Christ's love, they are not typical of Christ's followers, and do not represent the wider Church (The fellowship of all believers!)

I think the point I was trying to get to in my last post was that the Church, especially the Church of England, needs to engage with the LGBT community, as we are people, people who are loved by Christ and as such disserving of love from his followers.   The LGBT community needs to engage with the Church (and of course other faith groups) because they do represent a very proportion of  society, and society is still not fully inclusive, is still in need of reform.   The question is how to engage?

It is no good Faith Groups coming to our community (or individual members) and spouting Bible verses or the Quran and expecting understanding and engagement, on the other hand it is pointless for our community to try and engage faith groups by proclaiming civil rights, societal standards, or indeed even human rights.   Faith groups generally consider themselves to be counter cultural, so it is pointless to try to engage with them from the stand point of  societal culture.   Just as the faith groups need to understand that they need to engage with secular society from a standpoint that is relevant and understandable with the context on modern secular life so too the LGBT community needs to engage with Faith groups from a theological point of view.   There is no point in protesting outside the meetings of groups who revel in being hated.

We can all learn from Jesus, he wanted to help everybody, so yes sure he spoke in the Temple and synagogues, but he also spoke by lakes, on hills and in pubs, engaged people where they were in terms they understood.   What we all need to do is what Christ himself did, go into the places that others meet and show them love.
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