Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Life in Tension: I struggle with the idea of "good disagreement". I grew up in a world which was much more binary than this. If you won the argument, you were right, if you lost it, you were wrong. And then you all shut up. That maybe is a masculine, and perhaps schoolboy, way of looking at the world. But we're in this discussion because we're thinking about the hows and the whys of the way we think about things, and how and where we start that thinking is a big part of it.
I grew up blissfully without religion. If I'd been born straight, my life might have remained that way. But that God who loves us unconditionally, well, I really liked that God. My family had told me that the way I was was unconditionally bad. Jesus seemed to say I could be loved, and might not be bad at all. No one taught me this - I read the New Testament in the sixth form. On my own.
My father could have stomached my religion if it didn't come with being gay. But for me, the thing about being loved by God was that it freed me up to have a go at loving other people too. I wasn't a great chooser. But God stuck by me.
And then there was the long slow, dreary, battle for ordination, and the fact of it, and the joy of ministry, mainly to people who had no idea what my sexuality was, and couldn't care less, and why should it have even mattered?
And now? I've done the research, read countless commentaries, I know where I am. I am a gay man, and married to another. The C of E can't cope with this. I'd say "that's their problem" but actually if it weren't, it would solve a huge problem for me.
If you tell me I'm a sinner, disordered, confused, I sha'n't listen to you. I've read all that stuff. And you don't tell the truth about love.
If you tell me I must respect the views of those who think my marriage is wrong, perverted, a freak of nature, a mistake, I sha'n't listen to you. You're not listening to the truth about love.
If, however, you will go to the altar with me, to Holy Communion, then I shall go with you, no matter the view you hold about me and my kind. Because in that pilgrimage we will both risk becoming bigger and better people than we were at the outset, because we go to engage at the deepest level with what it means for us mere human beings to be made in the image and likeness of God. The God who is love.
Richard Haggis
Barton-upon-Bayswater, Oxford
December 2015

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