We are Created By God – a Mothers' Union Discussion Booklet

I’m grateful to Sheila Redwood of the Mothers’ Union for sending me this discussion booklet as a response to my earlier posts (here and here)) about the MU attitude to those who are gay.

It is a nicely produced book. A shiny cover has friendly stones piled on one another. It is clear that a lot has been put into its production. The booklet aims to discuss four particular issues, Marriage and Cohabitation, Divorce and Further Marriage, Being Single or Widowed and Lesbian and Gay Sexuality. It is the last of these which I will concentrate on in this review as that was the main purpose in my being sent a copy.

Here is what I think. [Read more…]

Listening. Talking. Discussing. LGBT

A while ago, I posted some remarks about the Mothers’ Union (here and here) which surprised a few people, not least members of the MU. The MU, as I said before, is an organisation which does a lot of good things in the world. I was trying to explain why I would not welcome it my congregation. I did this in order to try to¬† explain to people keen on the MU why it might be that clergy (whom we might presume to be supportive of family life, as the MU are) might not want them.

It is worth saying in passing that I wish I had a pound for everyone who has since said to me, “You are a brave man for taking on the MU in public”. I don’t think so. I’ve always found the MU to be full of charming and well intentioned people. However, if that is what people think of them in private, then they have an image problem that they might like to reflect on. The church is no place for a culture of fear, after all.

One of the issues which I brought up was the MU policy on those who are gay. In response, they sent me a copy of a new workbook that they have published which includes a section on LGBT issues and identity. I’ve been looking at it carefully and will post my reflections on it later in the week.

However, I think it is worth establishing before I do so what I think some of the parameters are, for engaging in this debate these days. Here are a few points against which I make judgements about whether or not people are seriously trying to engage with people who are gay or whether they are just giving voice to prejudice:

  1. Mind your language! When engaging in this debate do you use pejorative terms? Do you use language which makes people affected by the debate uncomfortable?
  2. Find positive role models! Have you made any effort to find positive role models amongst those who are gay or do you present those who are gay as troubling, difficult problems. (If you do this, it is quite a good indication to me that you have prejudices which you are not ready to acknowledge).
  3. Allow people to speak with their own voices! Do you speak about people or do you engage them in conversation. Do you try to speak “objectively” about people and do you lump them together in stereotypical ways? Or alternatively, do you seek out gay voices and allow them to speak for themselves.
  4. Name our writers! Do you include links to gay thinkers, writers, preachers and opinon-makers? Or do you miss them out of your discourse? Have you asked gay people whom you should be reading?
  5. Include gay people in the process from the beginning! Can you give me an assurance that gay people were consulted about what you are doing from the beginning? Has their advice on process been sought out and listened to or did you presume that you knew best?
  6. Deal with your history! Do you expect people to enter freely into debate with you whilst you have policies, presumptions or historical events in this area which remain unresolved? If there are difficult issues you can’t resolve, are you willing to name them or do you pretend they don’t exist?

Have I missed anything?