Monday, 22 December 2014

So Ed what about the LGBT Christians who feel marginalised?

Ed Miliband in his interview with Premier Christian Radio this week said:

"I want to say to people who feel that [marginalised] I'm sorry they feel that. 
"Part of being a tolerant society and the kind of society I believe in is that people of all faiths and none don't feel marginalised. 
 "Now that doesn't mean there aren't going to be disagreements, for example on equal marriage, but I think it's really important that Christians don't feel that. 
 "That they feel, not just comfortable in their faith, but comfortable that their faith is respected in our country.

"I think it's something you've got to work at and I think the only answer is dialogue and to listen." 

 But what about those of us who are LGBT Christians? Those who are open and either accepted or ostracised from their church, and those who are sitting in a closet in their pews.

Recently here in Northern Ireland we are hearing a lot about a so-called "conscience clause" but as far as equal (or same-sex) marriage goes there is a built-in conscience clause for people of faith. I should know as the wording "that wish to do so" came in a conversation in the early hours of the morning with Kieran Leach as we discussed how to deal with this in the motion to go before Scottish Liberal Democrat conference.

It was the phrase that was to allow those faith groups, including Christian ones that wanted to to carry out marriages of partners of the same sex, while at the same time not forcing others to do so. But just because a nation decides to allow people of the same-sex to marry in civil marriage and faith marriage where that has been allowed by the faith group, doesn't mean that people faith is not respected. Indeed that faith is still protected under the Equality Act, something that does come out of being a tolerant society.

But the question at times is where is the tolerant church, within that society?

Some churches, some denominations claim they are welcoming to LGBT people. But they place expectations and restrictions on them that nobody else is expected to met to feel accepted, and expectations and restrictions that too many LGBT members are bound to fail. Of course now it is possible (with the exception of Northern Ireland) for LGBT people to abstain from sex before marriage, as marriage is now possible for same-sex couples. But apparently even after that commitment to marriage that is not the point in some church rhetoric.

Some want that same-sex couple to be celibate. Some want them to break up that union. So the question is where is the love, where is the tolerance? Where are those churches' refusal to accept those that they themselves marginalise? And where is Ed Miliband's message to those LGBT people within the church who feel marginalised? Not just during this year but for many years past and still seemingly many more to come.

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