Wednesday, 16 July 2008

God loves gays, and bigots too!

At house group last night, we were looking at Mark 7, and 'Corban' and the way that adhering to tradition can become more important than following the Word of God. It was all very positive discussion - interspersed with wonderful anecdotes from our differing backgrounds, and we agreed it was hard to be consistent in our witness. Particularly the who 'in the world, not of it' thing - and wanting to show people that we have a positive attitude to life, not a negative 'Thou Shalt Not' approach to everything.

So this morning, I found myself sorely tested on this...

Having had a haircut, I caught the Park'n'Ride into town. I arrived just as the previous bus pulls out - so when the next bus pulled in, there were a few of us waiting, and there had been general conversation in the group about the weather and holidays and stuff. Then the bus arrived and we all climbed on.

If I am on my own, I often get out the paper and try and do the Killer Sudoku on the journey. So, I settle in my seat and unfold the paper, and the gentleman in the seat behind says "So what's in the Times today, then?" [Go away,I have a cold, I do not want to chat really...] "The picture is of the two brothers whose father feigned death in Seaton  Carew" "Nobody's honest anymore, that is the trouble with the world" "Mmmm"[that was me, murmuring non-commitally] "Don't you think everybody's dishonest these days?" "Well...some people seem less honest than others" Then there followed a diatribe about politicians and how they all have 2 houses and what did I think of that? "Some of us would like to own ONE housejohnlewis, never mind two" "Then there's that dreadful John Lewis List" At this point, the gentleman's wife joined in "We used to have a Lewis' in Leicester, you could get ham on the bone and lovely haberdashery. Can't get that anywhere these days"

HERE I made my fatal error - I replied to her comment! "Oh, but you can, Button Boutique is brilliant for all sorts of haberdashery" and the man began again."Gay Bishops, what do YOU think about that dreadful gay bishop?". Except he said it rather loudly and I was very conscious that the busload of passengers were all quite silent. PANIC set in. Should I have recognised this couple? Did they know I was the Pastor's Wife? Were the other people on the bus who had recognised me? I suggested that he was asking the wrong person, I was strictly Nonconformist and didn't feel I should comment on the behaviour of the Church of England, as they do things differently.

"Yes, but what do YOU think?" Tried again to wriggle out of it by saying that there was too much media hype, I didn't know the full facts and furthermore the media always emphasis the negative side of the church and ignore good things. After all, we were running a children's holiday club in the village in a couple of weeks and I don't see any newspapers covering GOOD stories like that.

"But all these lesbian mothers and gay bishops, it's all wrong don't you think? and they will be letting them get married in church soon. You must think that is wrong?"

"Actually, I think that's a side issue - I believe the really important park'n'ride thing about Christianity is having a personal relationship with Jesus"

He looked very uncomfortable and said no more, just turned away and stared out of the window. I busied myself with sending a text and then I got off the bus at the early stop - along with kids I recognised from school, and their parents, who were smiling and friendly.

Should I have said more? Was he listening to my words anyway or just wanting to get someone to back up his arguments? And why do I always get tempted to respond with provocative remarks like "Oh, but don't you think that God loves sinners then?" or "Jesus was kind to prostitutes - what makes you think he was nasty to homosexuals?" or even "I am a mother, married to a clergyman - how do you know I am not lesbian and he isn't gay?" [OK that would be a bit extreme, I admit!] Fortunately this morning I held my tongue - it didn't seem the right time or place.

I don't want to be judgemental - of anyone, be they gay bishops or bigoted bus passengers. Neither do I want to compromise my belief in the truths of Scripture. But finding the common ground to even begin a sensible discussion is so difficult sometimes!


  1. Too many nuts are out now a days. You never know what to say or do when confronted. You did a lot better than I would of. I think I would of just sat there with my mouth open and a startled expression on my face. LOL!

  2. Tricky one...sometimes it's best to say nothing...sometimes it's needful to say lots...if only we knew which was which when in the thick of a situation!!

    Thank you for your comments on my blog...come by any time!

    Love, Tina :)

  3. People in pain use different things to comfort it....I would be thinking that though I haven't chosen the gay lifestyle to avoid pain (perplexing, I know), I do have issues that I do use other methods for comfort than God Himself, therefore, putting me in the same category, in a way. What's hard is when it is a "spiritual leader" that uses such visual methods of comfort. He loses credibility as a leader.... In my own life, I am starting to see the futility of comparing myself with someone else (like that guy was doing, ultimately), in the hopes that God would think better of me...... I might have tried to turn the conversation to "what he thought" so he carried the load.
    You did good, though, I thought. In the case of someone just wanting to fight--no listening--it's best to let it drop. "Teach a wise man something and he will listen", not many listeners now a days....

  4. Thanks for your all your comments.
    Isn't it hard to know when to speak, and when to shut up?
    I'm am trying really hard lately to be pro-active and give a strong but gracious response when my faith is challenged - but I take Eydie's point that often people just want a fight and not a real conversation.
    I am also aware that being the Pastor's Wife of a largish church in a smallish village, people may recognise ME even if I don't know THEM, and I wouldn't want to appear impolite!


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