As I see it…. View from a Trustee of ‘Inclusive Church’
My daughter’s wedding
I love my children; I am as proud of them as any father could be. My eldest daughter is studying medicine in Birmingham University and her relationship with her girlfriend has reached the semi-joking-conversations-about-getting-married stage. As the child of two Priests she was curious about what the Church could do on her wedding day.
To my shame I could not offer a church wedding. If I was to follow the guidelines of the Church of England I could not even offer her a blessing. (If she bought her first car – I could bless that; if she wanted to go fox hunting – I could bless the hounds; if she designed nuclear missiles – I could bless them; but (according the Church) her life-giving and life-affirming relationship to the marvellous young woman she loves should go unblessed!)
I would not deserve to be called her ‘father’ if I would not break the rules to bless her love in my Church. So of course I offered her a blessing. I defy any bishop to look me in the eye and say I should not.
But then I got thinking, if I wouldn’t deserve to be called my daughter’s ‘father’ if I wouldn’t bless her, what does that mean for my parishioners, some of whom also call me ‘father’ (admittedly usually with irony – we are not very ‘high’ church)?
I share the ‘cure of souls’ with my bishops, but the bishops have spectacularly failed to support LGBT Christians. As a Vicar I am called to show similar support, love and compassion for my parishioners as I do for my biological children. We must ask the question: ‘Is there a pastoral, moral and Godly imperative to bless loving, faithful and committed gay and lesbian couples?’
I think the answer is obvious.
But we may already be too late.
Returning to my daughter, feeling brave and heroic, willing to disobey the rules of the church in order to do the right thing, I suggested that she got married in a registry office then came to church for a blessing.
With a sad and slightly pitying smile my daughter said “no thanks dad, on one of the most important days of our lives, I don’t think we want anything to remind us that the church doesn’t fully accept us.”
We are losing a generation. Not just the LGBT members of the generation, but all those of good conscience who see the Church’s problem with sexuality as pure prejudice.
The truth is that the Church needs to bless my daughter’s relationship more than my daughter and her girlfriend need the Church’s blessing.
If the Church wants a role as the nation’s moral compass it needs to act like a moral compass and “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before our God.” (Micah 6.8)
The Church of the Ascension, Blackheath
Trustee of Inclusive Church
Father Trevor Donnelly, Church of England parish priest, and Trustee of ‘Inclusive Church‘, offers this stunning reflection on the reaction of our young LGBTI people to the continuing reluctance of the Church to bless their faithful, monogamous, Same-Sex partnerships.
Trevor’s daughter, who just wants to get on with the business of legalising her relationship with her chosen partner – a mark of stability in a world of increasing reluctance on the part of our young to form permanent, faithful relationships with one other person – now realises that the Church in which she was nurtured (and in which her parents serve as ordained clergy) is still not convinced that God would bless her and her beloved, in their intent to remain faithful to one another for their lifetime.
I guess that, until one or more bishops in the Church find their children in a similar situation, and have to refuse the blessing of the church on their relationship, there will remain this obstacle to affirmation by the Church of stable same-sex relationships, that could be a sign to heterosexual couples of the possibility of permanence in marriage.
I commend Trevor Donnelly and his clergy wife for bringing this situation to the attention of people in the Church of England who are against the Church’s involvement in blessing monogamous same-sex relationships – especially when the moral equivalent is to accept the fact that gay people – like straight people – might be more inclined to co-habit without the blessing of the Church.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand