Friday 29th December, 2024
Homophobia within the church doesn’t take a break for Christmas I notice. The Christian media has been full of stories of the Pope, desperately trying to slowly steer the Catholic Church towards Christlike inclusion by offering blessings to gay couples, whilst, like the Church of England, still stopping short of full equality.
And of course, once again, many who call themselves Christians are out in force stating that the love between two people of the same sex isn’t really “love.” I asked one of them, a retired vicar no less, what love actually is then, I got no response. This, I feel, sums up the problem with the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith process: many of its clergy don’t even know what love is, they just know that gay people can’t possibly love each other because that’s icky!
Grow the fuck up!
This issue of so many Christians being unable to define what love is doesn’t only cause pain to gay people. Many of us are led to believe that as long as our future spouse is straight and a Christian and we’re virgins on our wedding night, then everything is hunky dory, we aren’t ever taught what love looks like in a relationship nor what unloving and unacceptable behaviour looks like. This is why 25% of churchgoers find themselves in abusive marriages.
Jesus told us that the entire law hinges on love. So, perhaps before any churches make any more proclamations about what is sin and what isn’t, before they issue any official statements about church doctrine, begin any evangelical outreach programmes or mess around in the lives of their congregants, they should get back to basics and work out what they think love really is.
Many Christians tell us “The bible is perfectly clear….” when they choose to use it to condemn others, it’s simply not true, the bible is rarely clear, you know what it is clear about though?
So, Church, let’s make 2024 the year we teach, preach and live out the bible’s teachings on love first and foremost, love and only love, once we get that bit right, everything else is sure to follow (at least that’s what Jesus said!*)
Just as a reminder, here’s what Love is, and is not, from The Message because sometimes reading in a paraphrased version like this helps us to think about what those familiar words really mean.
*In Matthew 22:37 onwards.