Saturday, 9 April 2011

Mostly angry

I am mostly angry at the church today.

I am angry on behalf of all the women who were never ordained because it "wasn't time yet" and all those who will not be consecrated bishops. I'm angry on behalf of the lesbian and gay priests in relationships who have been forced to decide between honesty about their relationships or recognition by the church. I'm angry on behalf of those who have chosen celibacy when they might not have done so. I am angry on behalf of those people who have loving, sacramental polyamorous relationships and so are turned away, and on behalf of those who would best express who they are in a polyamorous context but do not because of the church's disapproval. I'm angry on behalf of those who courageously commit themselves to another in every way except legal marriage and are sent the message that this doesn't count, doesn't mean anything. I'm angry on behalf of anyone denied any sacrament because they don't fit into a tickybox, whatever the sacrament and whatever the tickybox.

For Christ did not come to condemn the world.

What are we doing as a church, what are we doing as the Body of Christ, if we condemn those who do not fit our received, preconceived notions of sanctity?
Lord, have mercy.

What are we doing as the Body of Christ when we draw a line in the sand and say that those who stand on one side of it are worthy, and the rest are somehow not in receipt of God's grace?
Christ, have mercy.

What are we doing when we define priesthood in such a way that some who feel called to it are excluded, not by their selfishness but by their integrity, commitment and honesty? What are we doing when we define membership of the church that way, or say that church membership is somehow many-tiered with one standard of goodness for laity (which is just a fancy way of saying "people") and another for clergy?
Lord, have mercy.

What foul deception is this, this idea that we get to decide who God invites to serve in one way or another? Oh, we have to take an active part in the discernment process, certainly. But "I don't understand your choices, so your experience of vocation means nothing" is not discernment; "You don't fit into this tickybox, so you can't possibly be obedient to God's will in your life" is not discernment; it is rejection, condemnation. This rejection, this condemnation holds the entire church ransom to fear, so that those who would ask the questions of discernment (try "What is God doing in this situation? What do this person's experiences, in light of Scripture, tradition and reason, say about God's will for them? How can the church encourage this person to grow to be who they really are, for the greater glory of God?" for starters), those who have open imaginations and loving hearts, can only do what is right by pretending that they don't know, making sure nothing is official. Of course, it isn't those who are fearful of anyone different from them getting authority who are blamed for "putting the church in a difficult position" -- it's those who are trying to make the best of a bad situation, those who have got their toe caught in the door and are trying to pry it open despite the crushing weight of all that fear, those who would rather display mercy than demand sacrifice, those who act with love and welcome in Christ's name despite being told they must condemn and judge, those who hunger and thirst after God despite being told in no uncertain terms to go away until they can behave themselves and conform to the received cultural norms -- those are the people who get accused of putting the church in a difficult position.

Is this, truly, the Kingdom we are invited to help build? I don't think so. It saddens me, sickens me, this scrabbling at boundaries, bickering over control of grace as if there isn't enough to go around. Do we really think the Holy Spirit follows our measly little rules?

And yet... Love is stronger. Love is stronger than fear, love is stronger than death, love is stronger than any of the hogwash the church might throw at anyone.

I just wish I knew what that means about what I should do next.


UKViewer said...


My heart cries for you.

Will be praying for your struggle.

Nancy Wallace said...

Praying you will know what the Holy Spirit is calling you to do next. One step at a time.