There is a time and a place to say things, but there is also a way to say them, and sadly I don’t always get the way right. I’m not one to pretend I don’t disagree; to me, harbouring disagreements makes friendship disingenuous, and pretending I don’t want the church (indeed, the whole Church) to change isn’t going to convince many of you. But sadly I wrote my thoughts out in about the least sensible way possible on Wednesday, and what has followed has been a necessarily painful learning process. And so I’m going to say sorry. For openness and accountability’s sake, the original is still available for viewing.
Whilst conflict is necessary to achieve change, the kind of conflict kicked up is not cool, and largely non-productive. Conflict just means people disagreeing. It doesn’t mean a slagging match. A sea change might be required, but pissing on someone’s initiatives just isn’t a good way forwards. What horrifies me most is that I actually damaged the case of those for whom I was trying to advocate a greater role. I’m not going to deny a role for people to advocate for others, its a part of that much-maligned concept of Solidarity we humans ought to trade in. There is biblical solidarity, and then there’s what I did, and I just hope that some kind of good can come of the discussions that took place, because right now it feels like I might as well have hit the subject back to the Victorian age.
To show God has a dry sense of humour, the only female I’d included in the organisation of my event on Friday evening in Church had such a bad headache she couldn’t be present. It served me right to be landed running an event with an embarrassing lack of women fronting it. So now I’m in a right good place to say “a woman should fill every service-role on one in four Sundays”. (I also think a man should fill each role too – and for monthly roles, these should be 3 times a year).
I want to clarify some stuff; I had been serious when I proposed some of the ideas for an alternative men’s weekend. I hadn’t seriously thought the Men’s and Women’s weekends should be cancelled. Yes, it doesn’t leave much room for the non-gendered, but it does serve a specific group of people. I do believe that a church of mature individuals should be able to discuss these issues in small groups; the experiences of women need to be explained to men because we don’t see things through women’s eyes. But it must be done from an attitude of love. To flip the quote a little “even if you hate the sin, you must doubly love the sinner”.
Also, I firmly believe that “the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference” (Elie Wiesel, holocaust survivor, author and winner of 1986 Nobel Prize for Peace). This comes back to the issue of conflict as a necessity. If one is concerned about something one doesn’t like, one shouldn’t passively dislike it. Now, I know I’m maybe wired a little differently to others; I prefer all emotions and views on the table and I realise this is intimidating to others. But Politics and politics are two very different concepts, and politics is merely the interaction of two human beings with common or related needs or desires.
I do struggle working in an environment where I feel I’m not supposed to be close to women as a friend. I don’t actually fancy any of the females I work with, but I do feel that if I get any closer to them, that’s what people will think. In reality, I’m a very very huggy person. Seriously, you should have seen me at Shared Planet last weekend.
I don’t really deserve this, but I still want everyone to know that I meant for the best, and I want the Church to value all its members. That anyone would believe me is probably quite heavily in doubt. For churches to demand justice in the wider world, they must have their house in order, but they must also be communities to be effective. Next time I become involved in gender-justice, I want to be a better member of the community at the same time.