For several months a ‘friendship group’ called ‘You and Me’ has been running at the church, consisting of tea, biscuits, cakes, conversation and board games – and a number of people. But this month Linda (for it was she) branched out a bit and made a conversation game. This consisted of topics on cards which we took turns to pick out of an envelope and on which we would have to speak for two minutes before conversation became more general. The first subject out of the envelope was ‘My Favourite Hymn’. So far, so predictable – and I had no problem talking for two minutes on this subject, invoking memories of my childhood when the church organist had offered to play my favourite hymn and the only thing I’d been able to think of was ‘O Jesus I Have Promised’.
But we were rather startled to see this followed by the topic of ‘Same-Sex Marriage’. This was a bold move; normally at the Martyrs we steer clear of – or skirt around – controversial subjects. But it turned out well. I opened by saying that I had no problem with same-sex marriage but that forcing churches to marry gay couples might prove a step too far for many people at the moment.
I was heartened to find out that most people agreed: not just with the second part of my proposal but with the first. If I’d been asked for an estimate I might have said they would be dubious about gay marriage or possibly even homophobic – but others in the group showed themselves tolerant and compassionate. There was a consensus that people can’t help being the way they are, and that it is wrong to condemn people for something they can’t help.
So that was good. And the lesson I learned is that if you avoid controversial subjects you can end up having a false idea of other people’s opinions. Yes, we’ve moved on a lot from this:
We’ve moved on a lot, in fact, from the days when divorce, sex outside marriage and homosexuality were no-go areas.
OH! And watch this – Mark recorded it in our wet and windy tent last weekend:
PS Oh, and big congrats to Laura Robson who won her third-round match yesterday.