One of the regular e-mailings I receive is from Andre and Jeremy, who are involved with an organization called All Out, which they say is about securing “equality everywhere”, particularly when it comes to gay people. All Out has the strap line “building a global movement for love and equality”. According to its website: “All Out is mobilizing millions of people to build a world where no person will have to sacrifice their family or freedom, safety or dignity, because of who they are or who they love”.
The latest email begins: “An anti-gay wave is sweeping across Europe: in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Croatia, Latvia anti-gay groups are popping up and spreading hate. They’re slowly winning: they’re rallying politicians to strike down marriage equality and marching to take children away from gay parents. They’re pushing anti-gay propaganda laws, just like in Russia. They’ve even got the support of American religious extremists. But we’ve got a plan to counter these anti-gay groups”
This got me thinking about the points being made and whether there is anything I ought to write that I haven’t written already. When I wrote my “The Gay Conundrum”, I tried to cover many of the points and perspectives that I felt needed to be covered, realizing this was not and could not be the definitive last word on the subject, knowing there will inevitably be developments, some of which will be unforeseen, as has turned out. Since starting my life as a blog writer earlier in the year, I have written on many subjects relating to my community activism. My five “gay” posts have been “Gay issues”, “Vicky Beeching coming out”, “Evangelicals: a gay question“, “Anti-gay nurse sacked” and “Gay marriage: equal marriage“, which I wrote in response to some of these new developments.
I have tried to be moderate in my tone and reach out to those of widely differing views, but how successfully will be for others to judge. Surprisingly, I have found posting on anything to do with the subject of homosexuality has tended to be (if the stats are anything to go by) more popular than my posts on many other subjects, many of which I regard as significantly more important, but the fact people have taken an interest here demonstrate there is an interest in the issues that have been and are still being raised.
On balance, I decided it would be appropriate to comment on the main point All Out were making in this latest email, as I felt this to be significant as it raises something that may not be commonly realized. I am of an age when I can reflect on a time when to admit to being or be seen as homosexual would attract discrimination, prejudice, hatred, fear and even imprisonment. Changes in the culture have been such that often when people are perceived to be anti-gay or make anti-gay remarks or gestures that it is they that could well attract the same reaction as all those years ago. Yet Andre and Jeremy’s comments is a salutary reminder that while the pendulum may have swung in the opposite direction, with this anti-gay backlash in particular, we are some way off seeing same sex equality, especially in certain countries.
It got me thinking where I stand on the points being made and to what extent I agree. I do not intend to dissect all these points and suggest, for those interested, to check out the All Out website and my book to see where I stand. In a nutshell, I remain one who sees acting in accordance with the teachings of the Bible and one’s conscience as being extremely important, which is why, for example, I do not endorse gay marriage and have yet to come round to the notion that gay sex is something God approves of (or at least intends), things that Andre and Jeremy clearly regard as important.
Yet I am sympathetic to several of their concerns. I would suggest the following as a way forward, especially for those who read this who are concerned about the pendulum swinging the wrong way: Firstly, we are called to “love our neighbour”, and there is no restriction or caveats to this, one of the two great commands (the other being to “love God”). Secondly, meeting the large number of huge needs of the world around poverty, social justice, peace etc. are too great a task and there is little room for such destructive distractions (my general experience has been that gay folk care about these issues as much, if not more, than straight folk). Thirdly, we share a common humanity, which is far more important than any question to do with sexual orientation.
As a preacher of the gospel, I will continue to do just that, because pointing others to the cross of Christ and calling on them to follow God’s righteous precepts is what I have been called to do. I don’t purport to be a great example of the sort of person God wants me to be, but I am trying with God’s help, having my work cut out becoming that person, which leaves me hardly any room to point my finger at others. Finally, I am reminded of the scriptural imperative to try to live in peace with all people, everywhere.