Tuesday, 23 April 2013

When the church turns on its own

So it appears that Second Donegore Presbyterian Church in Antrim want to turf out one of their elders. The problem of course comes when that elder happens to be the leader of one of the parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly and also the Minister of Justice.

For it is the church of David Ford that apparently has some calling for him to step aside as an elder. Of course being involved in religion and politics doesn't mean you have to take the churches line on everything does it? I mean we live in a democracy and not a theocracy.

Of course being a church elder means that someone is meant to care for those that come across his path, now I know for a fact that David Ford has come across a number of gay people in the course of his parliamentary work. In fact I'm sure the leader of the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign in Northern Ireland fitted that description, if you really must box people. But he, that individual, was also a fellow Presbyterian and the son of not one but two elders in the Presbyterian Church. The reaction of the one who was at the time that I came out I have mentioned before.

Now Christians are all for saying that they will love the sinner and hate the sin, yet they don't want gay Christians to talk about being gay in front of them. They also don't want us to tell them that we have found someone we love, and they certainly would rather we burned in lust as singletons rather than enter a committed relationship.

Therefore I have a few questions to Second Donegore.

Are you prejudging all LGBT people with the worst extremes whereas most of us just want that one person to love? Do you really want to cause Presbyterians who are gay to confound sin upon sin as they try and fit in with what you will accept of them? Would you want them to marry in a sham ceremony to a person of the opposite sex to potential hurt that person and any children when they later admit to who they are? Or you rather that they were honest at the start?

One final thing before you go casting stones. Are you really loving all sinners equally, or are you condemning some more heavily than others so that they cannot stand being around you and your judgemental attitude?

What Mr Ford is doing is casting aside that judgemental attitude and looking at the wider picture. Offering protections for those like Second Donegore who oppose same-sex marriage, while at the same time offering protections to the desire of those elsewhere who want to be treated equally. After all we are all sinners when we stand before God are we not?

Update 24 April 8:30 David Ford has stepped aside from his duties as an elder in the Presbyterian Church at this time.

As I said last night it is sad that the church should hold our politicians to account in this way. There are plenty of things that politicians have to legislate for that are contrary to a literal reading of scripture, but those that are religious and in politics often realise that there are times that they have to reach out and make a change. The bible after all does lay our rules for how to treat slaves and the anti-abolition movement was as much part of the church as anything else. The same applied to the civil rights movement in the USA, white Christians did not want to have mixed-race rmarriages sanctioned or there to be integration. They looked in disgust at those who looked like them who advocated change, much like that elder member of the congregation [correction] quoted in the article did of Mr Ford.

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