Posts Tagged ‘Church’

Over the summer, some big news hit the Christian world. Vicky Beeching announced that she is gay. She is a broadcaster, commentator, singer-songwriter who spent many years living and working in the US, and her music is sung all over. Shock waves reverberated all over Twitter and the trolls came out for breakfast.

The first comment I want to make is that in no way am I anti-gay. I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that it is only in that context that sex should take place but I believe that God loves everyone gay, straight and all variations in between. And for those who have missed the mark there, there can be complete forgiveness, because God loves us and wipes the slate clean. Cleaner than Daz.

But at the same time, when I heard the news, something inside me was really disappointed. Disappointed because Vicky is a good looking young woman who had as yet remained unmarried. Disappointed, because someone else in a similar situation had been outed “accidentally” on TV by a careless interviewer. Because these two had been some sort of proof that normal people didn’t have to marry young.

Because, as I’ve been getting older, gradually, the single friends have been getting fewer. Now it seems that everyone has somewhere to go, someone else to share with, and a new set of concerns and cares. Families are started, new lives begin.

And when you’re in that situation, it becomes easy to question whether there is something wrong. Whether there is a reason that no eligible bachelor has shown up in my life and whether that means that I’m just not particularly fanciable, or lovable, or even especially likeable. Or whether people might be looking at me, asking the question, “is she gay?”

But I had been at peace with my own singleness. People in my church are keen to match me with someone, seeing it as a waste that I am not married. I had rejected that, and tried to model attractive singleness. That I don’t need to be paired with someone else to be a complete human. That life has not passed me by simply because I don’t have kids by the time I’m 30.

It seems that gradually just as one by one friends have started to meet the love of the life, those role models for being single and living and enjoying life have also gradually started to be picked off, one by one. It feels as if I might be soon the only one left.

I refuse to believe that it is only through relationship with other humans that we are made complete – actually, it is only through being in relationship with God that we can be whole and healed and free. I dream of the day when I might have a husband and a family, but I know then that life will never be perfect and I’ll probably want the single dream after the 4am sick episodes and the smelly nappies and the unwashed socks.

Right now, I can go where I like when I like (as long as my job allows). I can stay up late or go to bed early and it is only me who has to deal with it. I can even use all the hot water. It is great being single. And it is also fairly normal – we no longer live in the world where unmarried women of twenty would be declared spinsters. But we need not to be a church which rejects those who are single and tells them that they are incomplete or unfulfilled. We need not to concentrate on families at the expense of single people.

Together, we can be God’s family on earth. Young and old, single, married, male, female, and everyone. Sexual relationships are not the be all and end all of life, even if they can be rather nice. And most of all, my identity is that of a child of God, not in my gender, sexual orientation or my marital status.hearts

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The other day I went to a different church for a change. Also, partly because I didn’t get out of bed early enough to go the other one. Anyway, I went somewhere different.

It seemed a fairly normal service. Then the sermon started. And things got a little messy. Somehow, the preacher managed to link what he was saying to contemporary culture via the link of Jimmy Saville. As far as I’m concerned, that’s pretty bad news.

Yes, the news about Jimmy Saville broke a while ago. And yes, the abuse that happened to me was years and years ago. And through many a counselling session and many a good chat with a friend, it has been dealt with. With a few wounds along the way.

But I used to spend hours with my brother watching Jim’ll Fix It. We loved it. Jim even wrote a letter of support to my school choir once upon a time. He was a charismatic figure we all loved.

And he came crashing down from his pedestal when the news broke last year – I don’t even remember when. But then it was like someone turning the knife in the wound as day after day, I woke up to hear the headlines reporting even more allegations about him. Newspapers splashed his picture all over their front pages. He was everywhere. Truly, it was horrible.

Yes, what he did was completely wrong and he should have been brought to justice, a LONG time ago. But surely now that’s old news? The media got it very wrong, by making it be so present each day. And Fragmentz wrote a fantastic blog entry about it at the time and about being a survivor. Fragmentz – Some thoughts on being a survivor and Jimmy Saville

So when the preacher mentioned Jimmy Saville, I was angry. I didn’t need to go there again. And I’m sure I wasn’t the only one there to have found it hard.

But then it got worse. Society can condemn Jimmy Saville because they consider what he did to have been morally wrong. But it considers sex outside of marriage as ok when it is between two consenting adults; something which the Bible tells us is wrong. Yes, I can see that point of view, in fact, I do believe that any sex outside marriage is not part of God’s plan for us. Yes, just because there are two consenting adults it doesn’t make it right.

However, by this time, something inside me was screaming You can’t liken sex outside of marriage to child abuse and paedophilia!!! I’m not even sure I heard the rest of what the guy said, as I was so angry. Abuse is morally wrong, and it has to remain separate from other sexual sins, simply because it is that. That doesn’t mean it cannot be forgiven, but it seemed to me like comparing the stealing of a penny sweet to murder.

After the service, I calmed down a bit. Spotting the preacher by the door, I decided to talk to him about what he said, and tell him that it had been totally unreasonable. That abuse affects something like 1 in 5 people (maybe even more) and that what he said would have been very difficult for many people to hear.

As I talked to him though, it turned out that he had no intention whatsoever of likening sex outside of marriage to child abuse. He hadn’t quite thought through what he had said enough to make the link – it had been a total accident. He accepted my criticism, said he would write it down for the future. And Jimmy Saville had also been one of his childhood heroes.

Instead of me seething throughout the rest of the day, and possibly descending into a place which I might have regretted, I felt alive. I had a life-giving conversation with someone who treated me as a valid conversation partner. And I’m hoping it made a difference for the future.

And whatever, it was another battle won for me. Another time when I didn’t descend into the dark and lonely place from where it seems impossible to escape. And I only hope that when someone gives me friendly criticism, I will be as ready to listen.

“If a brother or sister sins, go and point out the fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” Matt 18:15

Preachers – just don’t go there with Jimmy Saville. It’s not cool, nor is it helpful. And please, read through what you have written before you proclaim it to a congregation…just in case. These things do happen.

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