Tag Archives: church

Not easy on a bus⤴

from @ blethers

I was reflecting the other day how much more difficult simple faith (in God, mostly, on this occasion, but not exclusively) has become in the past century or so. And I think I was ruminating ruefully - do you have a vision of a sad cow? Trouble is, we know too much. All of us, in varying degrees, are equipped with more awareness of what constitutes our surroundings than were our forebears.

Start with something non-religious. Think of these medical dramas which show even the time of my own childhood, the documentaries which show doctors as white-coated invincibles, the patients as wide-eyed innocents ready to believe that all will be well as they descend into what Robert Frost called "the dark of ether". Nowadays fully-fledged hypochondriacs like me can look up procedures, statistics, symptoms, photos (God preserve us from the photos) and learn doubt. We realise when we are being soothed, and the best that can happen is that when we're actually in extremis we feel soothed. It's when normality returns that the doubt arrives.

And I think it's much the same with religion. All the old certainties - from hell to heaven and places in between - are now subject to the scrutiny of science and knowledge. We know what's up there, out there, beyond ... it's not a mystery any more. We can no longer feel sure that God's in his (note - his) heaven, which is up there in the sky. I remember wrestling at University with the teleological and ontological proofs of the existence of God, at a time when I didn't believe in anything. It was a struggle, but not a spiritual one. It changed nothing; it was easier than Formal Logic; I passed the exam.

All this conspires to make me increasingly irritated at people who assume that if you adhere to a faith you are either "throwing reason out of the window" (what my father said when I announced I was going to be confirmed at the age of 28) or are somehow sufficiently ill-informed to accept a child's version of religion. (I also become irritated at Christians who insist that that's the only way, but that's another story). Someone who thinks and challenges and argues is going to bring that attitude to what they call God - and if having done so they can find themselves happy with the language and attitudes of a faith system, that is where they will exercise their minds as well as their souls.

God - that word we use to describe the indescribable, remember? - God hasn't shrunk because we know the workings of the world that we used to consider a sacred mystery. God isn't the little shrivelled creature of some celebrated fiction. My understanding of this word, this concept, is of something at once all-encompassing and omnipresent and at the same time tiny enough to be within every mind that allows itself to wonder, every heart that allows itself to melt. God is in every moment of thankfulness; still there when the heart hardens and shuts God out.

When a faith-structure allows for this kind of vision, provides the framework of beauty and wonder and loss of the self-consciousness that inhibits, gives space for sorrow and joy and the tears of both, that is what I call Church.  When I find myself in it, I am grateful. When it is threatened - and it can so easily be threatened - it is like an impending death. When it solidifies into something else, I'm better off without it, sad though that feels.

But try explaining that over the dinner-table. Or on a bus.

Not easy on a bus⤴

from @ blethers

I was reflecting the other day how much more difficult simple faith (in God, mostly, on this occasion, but not exclusively) has become in the past century or so. And I think I was ruminating ruefully - do you have a vision of a sad cow? Trouble is, we know too much. All of us, in varying degrees, are equipped with more awareness of what constitutes our surroundings than were our forebears.

Start with something non-religious. Think of these medical dramas which show even the time of my own childhood, the documentaries which show doctors as white-coated invincibles, the patients as wide-eyed innocents ready to believe that all will be well as they descend into what Robert Frost called "the dark of ether". Nowadays fully-fledged hypochondriacs like me can look up procedures, statistics, symptoms, photos (God preserve us from the photos) and learn doubt. We realise when we are being soothed, and the best that can happen is that when we're actually in extremis we feel soothed. It's when normality returns that the doubt arrives.

And I think it's much the same with religion. All the old certainties - from hell to heaven and places in between - are now subject to the scrutiny of science and knowledge. We know what's up there, out there, beyond ... it's not a mystery any more. We can no longer feel sure that God's in his (note - his) heaven, which is up there in the sky. I remember wrestling at University with the teleological and ontological proofs of the existence of God, at a time when I didn't believe in anything. It was a struggle, but not a spiritual one. It changed nothing; it was easier than Formal Logic; I passed the exam.

All this conspires to make me increasingly irritated at people who assume that if you adhere to a faith you are either "throwing reason out of the window" (what my father said when I announced I was going to be confirmed at the age of 28) or are somehow sufficiently ill-informed to accept a child's version of religion. (I also become irritated at Christians who insist that that's the only way, but that's another story). Someone who thinks and challenges and argues is going to bring that attitude to what they call God - and if having done so they can find themselves happy with the language and attitudes of a faith system, that is where they will exercise their minds as well as their souls.

God - that word we use to describe the indescribable, remember? - God hasn't shrunk because we know the workings of the world that we used to consider a sacred mystery. God isn't the little shrivelled creature of some celebrated fiction. My understanding of this word, this concept, is of something at once all-encompassing and omnipresent and at the same time tiny enough to be within every mind that allows itself to wonder, every heart that allows itself to melt. God is in every moment of thankfulness; still there when the heart hardens and shuts God out.

When a faith-structure allows for this kind of vision, provides the framework of beauty and wonder and loss of the self-consciousness that inhibits, gives space for sorrow and joy and the tears of both, that is what I call Church.  When I find myself in it, I am grateful. When it is threatened - and it can so easily be threatened - it is like an impending death. When it solidifies into something else, I'm better off without it, sad though that feels.

But try explaining that over the dinner-table. Or on a bus.

No scones, no stereotypes⤴

from @ blethers


I found myself thinking about Mission in church yesterday. I suspect something in the sermon triggered such thoughts, and the reflection that the word tends to make me uncomfortable. I have never been able to contemplate standing on a street corner with a sweet smile and a bible in my hand, nor picture myself chapping on doors to ask the bemused inmates whether or not they're saved; I'm not the kind of person who invites neighbours round for tea and scones because I don't bake, much, don't eat scones, and drink tea that makes most people turn up their noses. So there's never been an area, especially since I stopped teaching, where much mission seemed a possibility. (Note: I never tried to indoctrinate my little charges; there's just so much Christian background to our literature that it was easy to hold it out, as one might a visiting card...)

But yesterday I realised that I'd been indulging in a spot of Mission (with a capital M) on Saturday. Yes, it was on the initiative of Provost Kelvin and his pals in St Mary's Cathedral, but there I was walking through the streets of my native city, in the middle of the Pride parade, holding aloft a placard saying "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You". And as I've remarked already, people clocked this, pointed out the placards and the big plastic banner (quite heavy after an hour) and took photos of us and - on more than one occasion - gave us the thumbs-up.

The surprise element in Mission. That's what was up on Saturday, and what used to work, I felt, when I was teaching. It was underlined by Kelvin's wee badge: Yes, I am real. Not for me the polite presence behind a tea-table or the lone voice on the doorstep - because both would put me off religion for a start. Mission as the unexpected presence, the assertion that one can be a Christian and not conform to stereotypes - that's where I belong.

Another problem nailed. Cheers, Kelvin!

No scones, no stereotypes⤴

from @ blethers


I found myself thinking about Mission in church yesterday. I suspect something in the sermon triggered such thoughts, and the reflection that the word tends to make me uncomfortable. I have never been able to contemplate standing on a street corner with a sweet smile and a bible in my hand, nor picture myself chapping on doors to ask the bemused inmates whether or not they're saved; I'm not the kind of person who invites neighbours round for tea and scones because I don't bake, much, don't eat scones, and drink tea that makes most people turn up their noses. So there's never been an area, especially since I stopped teaching, where much mission seemed a possibility. (Note: I never tried to indoctrinate my little charges; there's just so much Christian background to our literature that it was easy to hold it out, as one might a visiting card...)

But yesterday I realised that I'd been indulging in a spot of Mission (with a capital M) on Saturday. Yes, it was on the initiative of Provost Kelvin and his pals in St Mary's Cathedral, but there I was walking through the streets of my native city, in the middle of the Pride parade, holding aloft a placard saying "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You". And as I've remarked already, people clocked this, pointed out the placards and the big plastic banner (quite heavy after an hour) and took photos of us and - on more than one occasion - gave us the thumbs-up.

The surprise element in Mission. That's what was up on Saturday, and what used to work, I felt, when I was teaching. It was underlined by Kelvin's wee badge: Yes, I am real. Not for me the polite presence behind a tea-table or the lone voice on the doorstep - because both would put me off religion for a start. Mission as the unexpected presence, the assertion that one can be a Christian and not conform to stereotypes - that's where I belong.

Another problem nailed. Cheers, Kelvin!

No scones, no stereotypes⤴

from @ blethers


I found myself thinking about Mission in church yesterday. I suspect something in the sermon triggered such thoughts, and the reflection that the word tends to make me uncomfortable. I have never been able to contemplate standing on a street corner with a sweet smile and a bible in my hand, nor picture myself chapping on doors to ask the bemused inmates whether or not they're saved; I'm not the kind of person who invites neighbours round for tea and scones because I don't bake, much, don't eat scones, and drink tea that makes most people turn up their noses. So there's never been an area, especially since I stopped teaching, where much mission seemed a possibility. (Note: I never tried to indoctrinate my little charges; there's just so much Christian background to our literature that it was easy to hold it out, as one might a visiting card...)

But yesterday I realised that I'd been indulging in a spot of Mission (with a capital M) on Saturday. Yes, it was on the initiative of Provost Kelvin and his pals in St Mary's Cathedral, but there I was walking through the streets of my native city, in the middle of the Pride parade, holding aloft a placard saying "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You". And as I've remarked already, people clocked this, pointed out the placards and the big plastic banner (quite heavy after an hour) and took photos of us and - on more than one occasion - gave us the thumbs-up.

The surprise element in Mission. That's what was up on Saturday, and what used to work, I felt, when I was teaching. It was underlined by Kelvin's wee badge: Yes, I am real. Not for me the polite presence behind a tea-table or the lone voice on the doorstep - because both would put me off religion for a start. Mission as the unexpected presence, the assertion that one can be a Christian and not conform to stereotypes - that's where I belong.

Another problem nailed. Cheers, Kelvin!

Being Wilma, or a day in the life of a church organist.⤴

from @ blethers

I shared the joke on the right the other day, on my Facebook page. Dead funny, eh? Wee Wilma with her big organ and her shotgun. Snigger. But it got me thinking, and then I was talking to an organist. (I do this frequently, you understand). And what follows is the result of my chat, and the sniggers we shared about Wilma - a joke I first saw on the timeline of another organist of my acquaintance.

Now we can't tell from this picture if Wilma is any good at the organ. After all, she's a wee old wifie who'd be fair game for a sneer anyway. But that's not the point. This is:

If the organist plays a prelude (the music before the service, if it's not a familiar word) he or she (I shall give this dual gender up from now on - take it as read) has probably taken time to choose what to play (I can't do that one again - someone will notice I did it last week ...) and had a bit of a practice at it. If she wanted to use the pedals, that would probably mean spending time in the unheated church (midweek church is usually baltic) because she doesn't have an organ in her sitting-room.

Sunday comes, and Wilma is there early enough to change her shoes and get her music out. She may have to put the hymn numbers up as well, but she hopes someone will be there to help with this. Five minutes before the service begins, she sits on the organ bench. There is bedlam in the church as people greet one another loudly, argue over whose turn it is to read, or just catch up on the week's news. She starts to play, straining to hear the quiet passages above the noise. It's still noisy as she finishes, but as if by magic the very fact of her ceasing to play quietens people - because someone will likely announce the first hymn any minute now.

And that's only the Prelude.

By the end of the service, the valiant Wilma has played five hymns and accompanied the singing of the Liturgy. (We're in a Pisky church ...). Depending on the preference of the celebrant, the procession will either wait for Wilma to play something else (a Postlude) or will start processing in the expectation that she'll get going in a moment. So Wilma plays again. This week, she's playing something rather beautiful by Orlando Gibbons. Last week, she hadn't had time to look out something and instead extemporised on a tune that had been used for a hymn. She has a gift for improvisation, but is never satisfied with her own efforts. This matters not a jot: the congregation had burst into spontaneous applause at the end. Not so this week. The Gibbons flows serenely to its conclusion and, released from prayer and politeness, the congregation gets back to its conversations.

Wilma isn't happy. She knows all too well that the Gibbons met the musical needs of perhaps two people in the church besides herself. She also knows that she could improvise tear-jerkers or rabble-rousers every day of the week, but that wouldn't make her happy either. She can't help wondering if the people who applaud one week and not the next know how insulting they are. She ponders the possibility of playing nothing outwith the actual service (and did you know that the use of "outwith" is confined to Scotland and that's why I have a red dotted line under it just now?) Would it worry people, having nothing to signify that it was time to be quiet, time to go for coffee?

Who knows. Most of all, actually, Wilma wishes one thing.

She wishes they wouldn't applaud.

Long ago, in a universe far away …⤴

from @ blethers

I have been thinking I ought to write to the College of Bishops about that pronouncement that is now all over yesterday's Herald, quite apart from anywhere else, but my exhibitionist side actually prefers to ruminate here, where anyone can see it and no-one can decide to interpret it in their own way in private. Strangely, it was learning of the death of Bishop Michael Hare-Duke that stirred up the memories that, it seems to me, make this latest situation so absurd.

Long long ago, when I was very young and had only been a member of the SEC for 5 years, I was chosen to be one of the two lay representatives from Argyll and The Isles to sit on the Provincial Synod. This relatively small body met annually in Perth, and it was with some trepidation that I travelled there that first year (it was 1978, the day Pope John Paul 2 was elected) to find that I was the youngest person in the Synod and hadn't a clue what was expected of me.  I remember spending many hours debating the language of the New Liturgy - what is now the 1982 Liturgy and itself regarded as positively old hat. As the years passed - during which the Provincial Synod abolished itself and the RCC and I vanished from the wider church and concentrated on my day job - I became aware of what was going on and who was who in the hierarchy - and one of the most interesting of the bishops was Bishop Michael, the poet and thinker who did so much to shape the 1982 Liturgy.

But to my point. One of the first issues I recall being involved in voting about was The Remarriage in Church of Divorced Persons. This gave rise to much heated discussion and seemed a Very Important Matter Indeed. And then there were women. In the run-up to this particular Synod my husband answered a phone-call (I was out). The conversation ran thus:
"May I speak to Christine, please?"
"I'm sorry, she's out. Who's calling?"
"It's George."
(Suspiciously) "George who?"
(Plaintive)"George the bishop."
"Oh. Hello. She's not here."
"Give her a message, will you? For God's sake tell her not to vote for women priests."
"Oh. Right. I'll tell her."

And he did. At the Synod the next week, a lovely older woman (maybe the age I am now) told me I was the kind of woman who ought to be ordained. I didn't know whether to be gratified or horrified. Her son became one of our bishops, incidentally, but he is no longer with us.

It should be painfully obvious why I'm telling these anecdotes. I'm now older than any of the current diocesan bishops, and have a far longer memory than to be able to let their current burst of ill-placed authoritarianism pass without asking them what in all seriousness they think they're at. If it weren't so serious, so damaging to people I care about and the institution I still, after all the years and all the setbacks, care about also, I'd laugh. I'd laugh the way I do when I hear small children playing - "Let's make it that you're the mummy and I'm the daddy"... "Let's make it sound as if we can actually tell people what to do/think/believe."

I'm sorry. We're adult Christians. We've learned about justice, compassion, equality, fairness - not to mention common sense. And long ago, Bishop Michael Hare-Duke exemplified these qualities to a very young, very inexperienced new Christian. The last time I met him was some 7 years ago - at the first Provincial conversation about the status and experiences of gay Christians. We were both much older - but he at least hadn't changed.

Time to think … about Synod⤴

from @ blethers

P's & G's, complete with MDF gallery?
By the time I finish writing this, I'm sure everyone else will have moved on. But if I had attempted a blog post about Synod at the weekend, when all the other bloggers (sounds rude, that) were getting their posts out, I would have written something I'd subsequently regret. No; I needed time to reflect. And I'm glad I did - I hope I remember to return to why later.

Having been one of the signatories to a Rule 10 motion that would have hastened us along the path to legislating for same-sex marriage in church, I was pretty fed up when the motion failed to attract the two-thirds majority that would have allowed us to deal with the subject in open debate. Synod wanted the debate - but not quite enough of us wanted it. I have a strong suspicion that the secret ballot, as we tautologously referred to it, along with the confusion resulting from a bishop-led objection to a show of hands, led to several inattentive or merely poor souls voting the wrong way - in other words, not as they actually thought they were voting.

This raises another scunner (no, auto-correct, not scanner: I'm Scottish.) The venue for this year, the once-grand and now modernised cavern of P's & G's, didn't make for the same contact with the chair as we had in the more regimented but better-lit surroundings of Palmerston Place. Punters in the middle or rear of the space couldn't communicate confusion or unreadiness without a great deal of palaver involving roving mikes and the bearers of the mikes peering into the throng to try to find the confused/challenged/challenging one. This being the case, it was more than ever important for the various chairs to speak with clarity and decision, and certainly not to rely on the overhead screens to make up for the deficiencies in their own communication skills. (People don't always cast their eyes screenwards in moments of stress, especially when they're rummaging through their Synod papers and have their reading glasses on anyway.) And, as every teacher knows, you can't simply assume that everyone is paying attention the moment you open your mouth; the table-group layout makes (again, as every teacher knows) for covert communication or simple distraction.

But the single thing that got to me this year was the sudden descent of a whole bunch of protagonists into fuzzy, warm and ultimately vapid religious jargon. And tone. There. That's it. There's a whole raft of expressions that belong in this jargon, and some others that are pressed into service and will never be quite the same again (like Francis of Assisi after Margaret Thatcher had appropriated his words).  "Unpack" comes to mind, and they're not talking about the messages (shopping, if you're not from these parts). No-one called a spade a spade, let alone a bloody shovel, and there was no place for what one commentator has described as "honest fury". Those who were feeling such fury had nowhere to go, because it would have been smothered in soft fuzziness, smiled at and forgiven.

Now, I was personally grateful for individual kindness and concern in the aftermath, even as I still raged for friends old and new whose hurt and frustration were all too apparent - but I have huge problems for this kind of institutionalised, forced gentleness. For a start, I think it betrays the god I believe in. I think it castrates the prophet and makes a virtue of passivity. And where was the passion, the leadership that would have given some sense of a vibrant community realising its past and grasping the opportunity to move into a new, juster present?

I can't at the moment think if I'm actually at the end of my time on Synod, or if I have another year to go. Maybe someone reading this will be able to tell me. The Primus gave us a sliver of hope that things may move in 2015, but who knows whereI'll be then? A friend gave me even more hope in that  his perceptions have changed post-Synod, and that is joyous news. That's the news that makes me glad I waited to post this, as there would have been nothing to redeem the situation had I leapt in. But if anyone is planning any more soft play areas for the church, any more padded "conversations", I'll be returning to a quip that was going the rounds on Facebook recently:

If anyone asks you "What would Jesus do?", remember that overturning tables is always an option.

Cascading across the years …⤴

from @ blethers

Next week there is to be a meeting in Pitlochry - a Cascade Conversation called Listening across the Spectrum. Cascading I understand - I was once sent on a course on managing stress, on the understanding that I would share with my colleagues in school the insights gained over four sessions. Perhaps it was my failure to induce a hypnotic trance in my cascadees that rendered the cascading less than fruitful; I did enjoy the afternoons away from the weans, and found the experience of being almost-hypnotised fascinating but that wasn't really the point. But this conversation won't be about stress, and I shouldn't imagine it will be facilitated by a hypnotherapist. No, this is part of the process for discussing same sex relationships throughout the Scottish Episcopal Church.

What - again, do I hear you ask? Well you might, especially if you have nothing to do with church circles. But I'm saying it too. I was invited to attend this conversation, and part of me is deeply scunnered that a standing commitment prevents my going - but part of me is cheering quietly. Why? Because it's years - yes: years - since I asked the previous Bishop of Argyll when we were going to begin the so-called "Listening Process" in our neck of the woods; it's years since the powerful day of intense conversations in Oban led to a province-wide day in Stirling. It's almost two years since our Synod threw out the Anglican Covenant. I don't think I can bear to pussyfoot around the same elephant in the room again. What are we playing at?

This is what it says in the most recent online InspiresThe Cascade Conversation is being held because the subject of human sexuality is one on which there are differing views and because it raises controversial and challenging issues not just for the Scottish Episcopal Church but for all denominations.  During the Cascade Conversation, it is hoped that participants will engage with the subject, and with one another, in a way which synodical procedure does not always permit. In trying an alternative way of addressing a complex subject such as human sexuality, it is hoped that the Church as a whole will both learn and benefit.

And that sounds just fine, doesn't it? Or does it? What do we actually mean by "trying an alternative way of addressing a complex subject such as human sexuality"? I shudder to think. In my no doubt naive and thoughtless fashion, I long ago reached the realisation that the faith I had come to well into my adult life meant that I was going to have to get away from the comfortable and the customary and do things that part of me shrank from - like lying down in the road in front of a foreign power's nuclear sub base, for example, like standing up in a court of law and saying yes I was a Christian and that yes in moments of extreme provocation I would use bad language to a police officer (the Sheriff thought that was perfectly reasonable, since you ask), like making political speeches from the back of a lorry, like going on telly. And it meant also that I was going to have to stand up for justice and truth and fairness in society - and in the church.

I have to confess that I've shed much of the respect for form and authority that I had half a lifetime ago. So any injunction that what transpired in the confines of an assembly was to remain secret would tend to have the opposite effect on me - because I've had enough of hugger-mugger discussions and decision-making. People find it difficult to accept that some of their fellow-Christians are different from themselves? Tough. I find it difficult to accept that some of my fellow-Christians are narrow-minded bigots. I find it really tough to keep a civil tongue in my head when provoked. And I really, really struggle to love people who behave in an unlovely fashion - and that includes myself. But I look at congregations and I see in them gay people, with and without partners, and I see people like me who have been a part of the conversations in the wider church, and I wonder: why are we ignoring this elephant in the very rooms it currently inhabits? Why do we need to wait till conversations between carefully selected people have taken place before we learn more and learn to be more whole? Are we so terrified of the real struggle that loving and understanding will involve?

And it's that struggle that matters. If this Cascade Conversation is going to pour over the church (see - I'm expanding the metaphor) in such a fashion that it will sweep away complacency and sheer bloody ignorance and will in its place bring understanding and a sense of shame for the awfulness of our past  attitudes and an urgent desire to right the wrongs done to LGBT Christians over the years, then it will be a joyful flood indeed, and I shall be deeply sorry not to have been a part of it.

I'm not holding my breath. But I'd love to be proved wrong.


Stormy Monday…but it IS time⤴

from @ Mimanifesto - Jaye's weblog

This week is a momentous one for Equal marriage as the legislation finally reaches the chamber at Holyrood for its first debate. It has been a long road, particularly so for those of us who have been involved in the campaign over the past few years.  MSP’s on both sides of the argument will be honing their speeches and interventions and no doubt the media will be sharpening pencils and cranking up the cameras. From where I’m standing it certainly is a momentous week, and there will probably be many opinions aired, both written and spoken. Ruth and I have been involved in this campaign, and I apologise unreservedly to everyone who has had to watch me repeatedly throwing the wedding bouquet every time there is a news item on equal marriage on the television here in Scotland (and just to correct a point, we didn’t actually hold a ‘mock wedding’ as many in the media have termed it, but we did have a blessing on our marriage). We are fortunate to actually be married which was important for us and so keenly feel the pain of those who are unable to marry currently or unable or even unwilling to have to travel abroad to marry, as we did.

Most people who have travelled this journey on both sides of a very polarised debate have managed to remain respectful whilst debating robustly over their strongly held views. Some people, unfortunately, were not able to exercise such restraint and we have seen some particularly nasty individuals creep out from under the furniture whilst the consultative and legislative stages of this process have been polished up. I’m still involved in criminal and civil proceedings  surrounding this  (both of which are still rumbling on, and will be for sometime yet as the various processes run their respective courses in the higher courts) so I can’t comment on this at the moment. There have been some notable causalities along the way, none more so than Cardinal Archbishop Keith O’Brien (whose own homosexual advances towards other priests were uncovered) and the spokesperson of the Scottish Roman catholic Bishop’s conference, John Deighan,who rather spectacularly lost the plot, and went completely off-message whilst debating with the ever cool, calm and reasonable  Tom French from the Equality Network during a television news show.

It is absolutely not ‘homophobic’ to disagree with same sex marriage, but the abusive and derogatory language used by some people and organisations during this campaign has most definitely been beyond what anyone would term, robust debate, and that has certainly been homophobic and unacceptable in a just and equal society. Free speech carries with it a responsibility to keep within the law and those who are unable to step up to such a responsibility put themselves outside of the debate, and of relevance to the arguments taking place within the law.

One thing is for sure though. The legislation itself has received a huge amount of scrutiny and the vast majority of the legal and political opinion is that it is a good bill with completely adequate protection for those faith groups who don’t wish to celebrate same-sex marriages, as well as empowering those faith groups who do wish to be able to solemnise such marriages. Freedom of religion has to cut both ways and this legislation enables this. Churches and faith groups do not carry out marriages which are against their own belief systems and this just won’t change. Roman catholic priests don’t marry divorcees do they? And you can’t marry at a Mosque if you’re not both Muslims? Priests can refuse to marry a couple without having to give a reason (although most would) as they have freedom of conscience in this respect.

One regret, for me anyway is that individual clergy will still not be able to celebrate same sex marriages and this will undoubtedly be a cause of great sadness for a significant number of Church of Scotland ministers as well as Scottish Episcopal and Roman Catholic priests. I know that any of the clergy team at our church  would have been very happy to have been able to marry Ruth and I. So I suspect that many of these ministers and priests will simply opt out of doing weddings at all until their own particular faith groups change their own  canon laws which currently do not allow same sex marriage.

Many people have changed their views on marriage equality as this proposed change to marriage law has progressed over the months. This is perhaps in no small part due to the excellent and respectful campaign run by the Equality Network which has concentrated on facts rather than dogma and love rather than rhetoric. Stonewall Scotland  has also been involved.  If you contrast these with the scare campaigns run by, amongst others, the oddly-named Scotland for Marriage then you’ll see why so many people including a huge majority of MSP’s and all the political party leaders now support full marriage equality. The consultation exercises, contrary to what some might say, indicate that a majority of the Scottish people are in favour of this change. Professor John Curtice, one of Scotland’s foremost statisticians explains how and why this is so here.

So anyway, here are six very good reasons for  supporting same sex marriage for you undecided folks out there to ponder upon…

It has been a long road, with some bumps along the way, but the journey’s end is now thankfully in sight. And so if you’ve not yet watched it, here is the wonderful, touching, beautiful short film made by the Equality Network.

So yes, it is time…


Filed under: change, Equality, Family, homophobia, LGBT, marriage equality, Pastoral care, Personal, Same sex marriage Tagged: belief, Church, Equal marriage, Equality Network, faith, faith in marriage, freedom of speech, Gay Marriage, homophobia, It's Time, John Deighan, keith O'Brien, Marriage, religion, same sex marriage, Stonewall Scotland, Tom French