Friday, August 09, 2013

Why I campaign for homosexual acceptance

In reply to discussion on my previous post where I was led to relate some of my experiences in Evangelical churches in Sydney.

As a young man I was a youth leader at church, a leader in the Evangelical Union at University, a worker at Beach Mission, involved as a student and later a teacher in the Inter School Christian Fellowship, taught Scripture (in my 'preparation periods') at school, a parish councillor and a counsellor at the final Sydney Billy Graham crusade.

Many of my friends of that time went on to become priests or academics in religious studies. Actually some did reject their faith and others went to other dioceses  but that is too long to relate here, except to say they have been far more accepting of my sexuality when I have met them in later years than those still involved with the Diocese of Sydney.

I expected to teach for a few years then enter Moore College.  I gradually began to realise that would not be possible as I wrestled with my sexuality.

Sometimes I regret that but at other times I think I would probably have not made a good priest and I have had a generally fulfilling career as a high school teacher.

However I soon learnt to keep my head down when attending church.  I went to church to partake of Holy Communion and left immediately after.   Even staying for coffee might lead to too many questions.  There were periods when I stayed away and a long period when I flirted with the Catholic church.  Catholic priests do not (in my experience) shake hands at the door and ask questions then want to visit you at home.  For a number of years I found fulfillment in Acceptance a Catholic gay group which had weekly mass provided by inclusive priests.  While the official Catholic position is bad, many religious and lay people are far more accepting.

Eventually I found my way to the inclusive St James, King Street in the Diocese of Sydney and now to the Diocese of Dunedin.  I still find it hard to be open about my sexuality in church circles and do not volunteer to take any role but I do stay for coffee.

When I was a young man, not only was the church condeming of homosexuality but it was illegal in society.

Today there has been a tremendous transformation in my lifetime. Here in New Zealand there is no longer any official bar to a homosexual.  The first same-sex marriages will soon be celebrated. GLBTI people are able to be open as members of parliament, the legal profession, business, film and stage. There are anti-discrimination laws (from which churches are exempt).

The only place they are not equal is the church.  We are still waiting to see what will happen at the 2014 synod of the Anglican church of Aotearoa/New Zealand.  The Evangelicals are working hard to see there will be no change and the inclusive members (like the Bishop of Dunedin) are not willing to upset them.

Obviously young people today, especially those with a homosexual orientation, do not want to join the church. They see it, rightly so, as the last bastion of discrimination in our society.

That is why I continue to campaign for full homosexual acceptance, same sex marriage and ordination of partnered gay men and women, in the church.

Finally with regard to those who quote the "Word of God" against my position. As the Bishop of Dunedin has pointed out there are 6 passages that condemn homosexual activity.  There are over 30 that condemn usury.  In the past the "Word of God" was used to justify slavery and apartheid.
"the Word of God" condemns the eating of shellfish.  We can go on.

Even in my most evangelical days while at University, I remember arguing against capital punishment and others quoting scripture to justify it.

I refer to past posts

Worshipping in Dunedin

 The Gay Debate and the Bible


More on the Gay Debate

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