So the Anglican Church has reached an applauded compromise: Gay stuff is indeed anti-biblical.
Unless the church building and diocese resides in a society that says gay must be okay. Then it’s okay to be gay as well. Whereas, if the church resides in a society that says gay is not okay, then being gay is also not okay. Which – unless I am missing something – says less about the bible – isn’t even about societal norms – but is more about keeping the institution, power and wealth of church intact.
Got to tell you – I am so happy that this illustration of “correct bible teaching” is so clearly exposed. Because I advocate not reading the bible at all. Not, if like me, you have come to see the bible as teaching just one thing: love. Teaching that love is love and nothing in those four letters needs anything added or taken away – nothing in those four letters needs interpretation or teaching – nothing in those four letters is “correct” or “incorrect” – it can’t be or it is not love.
As a baby I knew love (and the absence of love). As a child I knew love (and the absence of love). As a teenager I learned the difference between the “words of love” (and love). As an adult I learned that love is love and that I had been taught a pile of bullshit by society and church when it came to love: the gooey pop-song valentines-day-commerce that we must be “perfect together” – and (hi church) that we can never love unconditionally on this earth – that only God can do that. That “love” sells stuff but isn’t of love – it’s a love of selling stuff.
Here is love I knew without being taught ….
I love my wife, I love my grandchildren, I love my friends, I love a stranger in a moment of need, I am loved by a stranger passing-by in my moment of need. I love the partners our children choose, I love the choices they make whether or not I agree, and I forgive them as they have forgiven me all their lives. And not once have any of us discussed what any of us should do with our private parts when we speak of love when we demonstrate our love for each other, or when we love each other because we love each other. Love isn’t perfect – love is or is not.
As a family and individuals we fight and forgive (or choose not to). We are different and the same (but pick when those times are). We change always. We are not the same all day let alone all month or all of our lives, And we change differently – in time, space and being. And we can impact ourselves and others for good and bad – often without realising which it is. And living in our own heads is perhaps the worst company we can choose to keep. And that doesn’t mean we need to be told or taught. It means we need to be loved and love always.
Private parts ?
On a personal note I grimace inside when I see a man kiss a man with sexual tension. My wife the same when she sees two ladies doing that. That “sex on display” isn’t love and that is where the church seems to be stuck: that “that” is love-sex-dirty-wrong-sin-fucked-up and not be forgiven. But two men-women in love and expressing love as we all express love in public – as I express love – as you express love in public? No grimace at all because it is of love and not “sex”.
I grimace as much with the public sexually charged “get a room” displays of any preference.
And if one of our children or grandchildren found fulfilment in that expression of love then I would be proud. An accident of their birth we made happen together – loved and loving. There would be only concern as with any blossoming relationship – will either be hurt or hurt the other in their journeying
What they do with their private parts in private is irrelevant to love just as are my private parts and what I do in private.
I have seen discrimination all my life. We are addicted to making something a label and a category that can only include some so that others are excluded. So that one is correct whilst the other is incorrect. So we can have yet more and more division and strife – more and right and wrong – more and more woke and unwoke – more and more inclusive whilst we exclude more and more. And the institution of church thrives on all of this – teaches that only the bible (and its imperfect verses and chapters and books) with the institution of church’s correct interpretation can save me.
I was taught the bible was perfect. That teaching made it above reproach and question. And those “don’t ask” teachings became institutions even before the ink had dried. Except that institutions are of imperfect societies created by divisive and exclusive people who have been taught by those same divisive and exclusive societies. Which is what the Lambeth Conference so wonderfully demonstrated. Making the
perfect bible fit everybody’s different correct teachings so that the institution survives in order to save me.
I advocate not reading the bible at all.
What reason is there to keep studying and dissecting, evaluating and interpreting, arguing and convincing – if not to divide and make yet more exclusive a church whose teaching is about numbers. The numbers of bums on seats, of increasing-decreasing the number of those who fit in, of promoting those who lead the fitting-in and increasing numbers, who have the power-prestige-celeb-status of increasing numbers of followers following their correct teaching.
I don’t just see this in the Anglican Church. Every religion suffers (enjoys?) the same tension. Every faith penalises those who disagree – calls them sinners – imposes societal norms in the name of scriptural teaching and correctness. Our children have taught me forgiveness as we have taught them. My parents taught me unconditional love. So too my brothers and sisters. Friends and strangers. Never a bible, verse or church.
Just the kindness of love without condition – loved and loving – a being of love without thought for what love is – for what “correct” should be. I knew love (and the absence of love).
And something else I was taught.
How living with my mum and dad as an adult was so damned irritating. That the very behaviours and traits that wound me up about them (and them about me) were the very ones I had adopted and taken as my own. My version of them. My interpretation of their teaching. The same with our own children. Our similarities are the fodder for fights. Then we just add the fuel of our differences – of “if only you were more like me” (when we choose where that works best to win) – and we have a perfect lifetime of not being understood-heard. Or we can choose to allow each other and empower each other even in the tough times. No bible required. Not even church. I wonder …
If reading the bible could became only: love yourself, love each other and love something bigger than binds all of us together … isn’t THAT the real uncomplicated unconditional love much more than the institutional-scripturally-correct need-us-to-keep-you-on-the-godly-straight-and-narrow “love” taught both of and on and in this earth?
I know love and the absence of love in myself and others. I always have and always will.
Love isn’t abusing another. Excluding another. Terrorising others. Ignoring others. Nor is it working so damn hard to make disciples that our own loved ones never see us and have to live lives unloved in the real sense of love. An absence of love no different to addict-a-holics to anything but love. Love that empowers. Love that frees. Love that is without condition other than of love itself.
Anyway … what do my “private parts” have to do with love – real love?
Because so long as “non-gay” is being scripturally correct more than being pragmatically “gay okay” (but not scripturally correct), then the “love” that the Church teaches remains as conditional as it always has been. It’s only about private parts and “sex”. And that isn’t love at all.
And if foxes me why the church refuses to see that distinction.