Well it’s a good job, isn’t it? Although I did have a few weeks of considering being a) a Missionary and b) a Nun in my teenage religious phase. And I do think I would make quite a good vicar. I would probably be more in the mould of ‘A Vicar of Dibley’ than the Anthony Trollope variety, but in my book that is no bad thing.
This week the Church of England decided that it would be ok for gay male clerics to become Bishops. The proviso is that they must be celibate. In this country the law of the land allows gay and lesbian people to have civil partnerships and legislation may soon be in force allowing us to marry. However the Church is prepared to state that even gay clerics already in Civil Partnerships must be willing to state they are both celibate AND willing to repent of any ‘homosexual acts’. This week comments have been made that the church is obsessed with sex.
As a woman the door clanged firmly shut on the possibility of becoming a Bishop within said church some months ago.
I don’t know where to start but I have to start somewhere and for now what I am going to do is write about it.
My partner and I had our Civil Partnership celebration almost 4 years ago surrounded by over 100 of our closest family and friends. We had the most wonderful day of poetry, promises and music. Singing and dancing, food and friends. Yes it was a civil ceremony. But it was as deep and meaningful as it is possible to be. If you stand up in front of your friends and family and make promises and declare your love to another human being and you have an ounce of soul I defy you to experience that without a spiritual connection. Love itself is a spiritual connection. Sex is a spiritual connection, or should be.Why would anyone want to limit that and insist it be celibate?
I don’t care for myself whether we can be ‘married’ or not. I couldn’t be more married, and another ceremony or piece of paper won’t change the feelings, the committment, the ‘for better or worse-ness’ of our relationship. But I will defend your right to that and honour your wish for it whoever you are. Together we have supported each other through life and death situations, illness and recovery, we are proud of our complex extended family. On Christmas Day this year 13 of us sat down to dinner together. The missus and I, my 4 sons and 2 partners, their Dad ( Mr W) and his wife, her son, daughter ( with bump)and partner and his ( Mr W) mother. And 2 dogs. We alternate who hosts Christmas and have done for years. In previous years my mother, his mother and my mother’s gentleman friend have all also been there. I don’t tell you this to make you gasp, although many do. We have worked this out between us with a lot of love, tolerance and good will. And the success of it all is a tribute to everyone involved. Today we all sat round the table to have a birthday tea for son 3. It works. It’s love.
Most of all it sums up to me that of the two emotions Love and Fear, Love will always drive out Fear. Right now it seems to me that the Church is caught up in Fear. And they are not the only one. It is the Church I know. The one I was baptised and confirmed into. The church my parents were both buried through. I love that church in some ways. I love the language and the music and many of the people. I am not a member of that church any longer and that is for more than one reason. But from time to time I go back, or I have done. On Christmas Eve we went to a Carols by Candlelight service and it was beautiful and festive and yes, spiritual.
But I am not going again. I’m sorry. I love you, bless you and let you go. I will no longer behave as if it is ok by me that you dismiss, disrespect or just ignore the heartbreak you cause. It is not love. It may be religion but it is not even Christianity as I understand it.
One day maybe this will change. But not until you are willing to listen to love.
For me personally I have another spiritual home. I haven’t made a formal committment to it yet, although I probably will. But it is a home that is willing to listen to the voice of love. I am not there just because I am welcome as I am, but it helps. I am not there just because I can be there with my missus and be acknowledged as a couple, but it helps.