Church, Current Events

On Disagreement

Recently the Rev. Steve Chalke wrote an article in which he outlined his support for marriage equality. It’s an article that has been misread, misquoted and even just missed by many. You can read it here

It’s worth a read, it’s full of honest questions, personal reflection and creates space for great dialogue to commence. Already some who disagree have come out in force to attack the article and it’s writer. To accuse him of heresy or straying from the truth. To label him errant or worse and to generally attack his character and ministry.

This week the Guardian newspaper covered the story (which you can read link) and something that stuck out in that article was the paragraph that mentioned Tony Campolo as one of a group of people who have “come out firmly, but politely, against Chalke”.

I’ve read and heard Tony Campolo many times. His book “you can make a difference” was the first on faith I ever read and his stories and sermons have inspired me many times over the years. A couple of years ago I went to hear him speak in Chelmsford and left there really challenged by his words.

I read the article in which he outlines his disagreement with Steve Chalke (you can read it here). It’s full of honest questions, personal reflection and creates space for great dialogue to commence…you can hopefully see a pattern developing here. So let me put my cards on the table;

I’m in favour of marriage equality. I believe that same sex couples should have the right to marry. I think any registrar, minister, priest, vicar, pastor…anyone who can, should be able to perform or bless these ceremonies. And I believe any place that currently holds marriages should be available for all marriages to be performed. If you agree with that point of view you’ll be pleased to read that.

If you disagree with that point of view…well that means we’re going to have to learn to disagree. In the meantime I’m pleased that there will be plenty of churches that open their doors and plenty of Christians who will make sure those marriages begin surrounded by people who want the best for them, care for them and provide a place for this incredible act of commitment to take place.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, the question of marriage equality will not be resolved for a while to come yet. And while we wait we have a choice – we can choose to respect other views, no matter how much we disagree, to have honest conversations and promote open dialogue.

OR

We can choose to protest, to start legal campaigns, to shout, make placards, use hateful words, write angry letters, articles and blogs.

We can choose to listen to each other and to try and learn from other viewpoints

OR

We can just repeat our own viewpoint louder, with more Bible verses thrown in or more labels thrown around at each other for good measure.

My position is clear to me, but I have more to learn both from those who agree with me and those who don’t. Like, Steve Chalke and Tony Campolo, to find ways to engage meaningfully and graciously with other people, no matter how faithfully I or they disagree with one another.

I believe Steve and Tony are still friends, they’ll still chat, they’ll still seek each others counsel and they’ll still share laughter, learning and love with each other over the coming days, weeks, months and years. The conversation has started, albeit from different starting points, but this type of grace-filled, loving conversation should only ever lead us into better places, even if we don’t know or agree on what they look like yet.

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