Tag Archives: God

Reflections on Change and the Church

20130303-084625 PM.jpg

St Paul’s Cathedral is one of those masterpieces of old architecture you come across in certain parts of England and the world, the sort of place you need know nothing about to be in awe of. I was one of two Christians on my school’s Philosophy trip to visit it; the two teachers were strong atheists and the rest of the students were either of the ‘Everyone knows God isn’t real’ hipster-atheist type or agnostics who had not given the idea much thought (until our God and the World module). Yet no matter our personal ideologies, everyone who entered that building went silent.

I’ve often wondered what it was that fell upon people in such places. Is it the idea that millions of others have walked where we walked, or that so much time had been devoted to religious art? Is it God? As a Christian, I don’t know. I do know that the Church is changing. I know that I, personally, have never been very fond of the Church anyway. Perhaps it is my history with African or ethnic churches, but I’ve always been inclined to seek God elsewhere. Today, many do. Apart from school students (my group and some primary school children), the vast majority of the worshippers I observed at the Cathedral’s Eucharist were at least over 50. The other Christian in our group, a girl, didn’t go up for Communion. In her own words, it was ‘embarrassing’ in front of the other students. Times are changing.

No matter your religion/irreligion, what do you think of the Church as a whole?

A few weeks ago, here in England, a same-sex marriage bill passed through the preliminary stages of Government approval. There was uproar from the Church, who felt their position would be weakened by it (I’m not entirely sure how, but that was one of their major complaints). A few days ago, yet another Catholic priest (Scotland, this time) stepped down from his position due to sexual misconduct. Around the same time, the Pope resigned from the Papacy (though obviously for different reasons).

I know some of you are religious, and I know that some of you are not. And that some of you are not sure. But we live in fast-changing times, and even if current change became minimal change would still happen. The world and its culture is constantly evolving, and like it or not the Church has continuously changed along with that evolution. Not that anyone would admit it, but it has. It’s members have changed too. Amongst other things, few people really believe the Bible word for word anymore and in the face of hypocrisies and controversies which have rattled the church, many have or have at least contemplated turning away.

Does this mean the death of God? Of course not. Perhaps it is the slow death of religion (well, decline, as I don’t believe religion will ever ‘die’) though, as people come to the realisation that faith in God or a god or gods is an entirely separate thing from religion. Because of this, religious institutions and believers are changing. Changing their attitudes and their behaviours and their lifestyles. They are not, though, really changing their faiths. Humans are naturally irrational creatures, and regardless of whether or not God exists we will always still believe in something ‘more’ out there. Maybe it’s God, maybe it’s nothing; maybe it’s aliens.

Advertisements

Mind the Gap: I’m Gay and Christian

This is the 21st century in the free Western world, yessir.

Yes, I’m wading into this whole debate. Well, not wading, more like already stuck in the middle and trying to be as quiet as possible. GAY-BASHING CHRISTIANS, the papers and protesters say. GOD HATES FAGS, the Christians say. And I’m there, sitting right in the overlap: I’m Christian, and I’m gay.

All this means is that 1) I happen to believe in Jesus: I follow his commandment to love God and my neighbour, upon which all other rules of the faith hinge, and 2) I also happen to be interested exclusively in women. The media doesn’t show us a lot, they like to show the two extreme views in the gay-Christian debate.

In the media: Christians aren’t fans of gays.

All the Christians in the headlines talk about is stoning the gays, how sinful being gay is, and how much God hates the gays. They mention how people like me pick and choose which parts of the Bible to believe, so that we can justify our wicked ways. As usual, they neglect to mention that every Christian does that. After all, I’m not sure I know a Christian who observes the Jewish festival of Yom Kippur, a festival which must be observed according to the book of Leviticus, which is also the book of the Bible admonishing gay sex between men. Neither do I know of any good folk who stoned their child to death for (inevitably) speaking back to them–can’t have your kids disrespecting you now, as the Bible said.

In the media: Gays aren’t fans of Christians.

I have a few friends, formerly of faith, who abandoned it once they came to terms with the fact that they were gay. Because they believed the two were incompatible. And many gay rights activists dismiss the homophobic Christians by making light of their faith, by equating a belief in God to a belief in fairies. For people who preach about equal rights for all, they don’t do a very good job of expressing that belief, and they alienate a potential support base in gay Christians (we do exist!) or Christians who are straight but support equal rights.

Both opinions are stupid.

Well, in my humble opinion. Both sides are so busy shouting at each other, they don’t even try to look for a way forward. They could, should, find a level playing field by getting to understand the mindset of gay Christians. The activists could attempt to understand the convictions of our faith, the Christians could attempt to see why we believe we are God’s gay children. If either side could, for one moment, believe what we believe, maybe we could end this war. Instead we are dismissed as self-hating by gays, and as false Christians by those of faith. It’s a sad state of affairs.

Anyway, next time another such a debate kicks off (next week, probably), I just wonder if someone’ll say: hold up, let’s stop shouting and talk. If we can’t be friends, we don’t have to be enemies. There are people who have reconciliated their sexuality with their faith, and maybe we can do the same.

Or maybe not.

————————————-

A follow-up article: The Thank You Post