Will you weep with us too?

My name is Michael McFarland Campbell. I have been working to support LGBT Christians in one way or another for a very long time. My first notes on the subject were made in the early 1990s, starting around the time that I was confirmed as an Anglican. Over the years, I have had the privilege of getting to know many other LGBT Christians. Mostly, it must be said, these have been other gay men.

In recent months, following the killing of George Floyd in the United States, a lot has been said about racism. Many people have realised just how pernicious and just how awful racism is. I have seen white, middle-class, heterosexual men weep as they begin to understand what racism means. This is a good thing. More and more people are waking up to how harmful this cancer in society is.

When I think of racism, I think of the message of St Paul to the Galatians:

for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:26-29 NRSV

When the apostle Paul wrote that, he was not writing about some future time, he was writing about how things are for those of us in Christ. How things are now, not how they will be in the future. It is not,

There will be no longer Jew or Greek…

it is,

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female.

In the clear teaching of Scripture, racism is wrong.

In these recent months, I have seen people weep when they consider the world today and the implications of Galatians 3.

But the teaching of St Paul in Galatians 3 goes beyond that of racial tolerance. It goes way beyond.

There is no longer Jew or Greek

is clearly abour race;

there is no longer slave or free

is obviously about economic inequality;

there is no longer male and female

is an obvious condemnation of sexism and—although you may not realise it—it is also condemnation of homophobia.

Racism arises from the idea that there is a difference between different ‘races’, and thatone’s race determines one’s role. Imagine a young Christian tells you that they are in love with someone. They have found the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. You would not ask what race their beloved was, and even if you did, you would not use their race to determine whether or not you thought their relationship was ‘valid’. If you say that the relationship is only permissible for certain combinations of race, then you are saying that Jew and Greek do exist in Christ: if you say that you are rejecting the clear teaching of St Paul in Galatians. 

Now imagine another young Christian tells you that they are in love with someone. They have found the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with. Do you use the sex of their beloved to determine whether or not you think their relationship is ‘valid’? If you say that the relationship is only permissible if one of the parties is male and the other female, then you are saying that there is male and female in Christ: if you say that you are rejecting the clear teaching of St Paul in Galatians. 

St Paul teaches us that we cannot use race when morally evaluating someone else’s relationship, and he teaches us that we cannot use gender either.

I have faced prejudice because of my sexual orientation. I have been removed from volunteer roles in the Church of Ireland because of my sexual orientation. There are clergy and members of the laity who refuse to talk to me. I have had people assume that I am somehow dangerous to children and young people. I have been physcially threatened and I have been blackmailed by other Anglicans because I am gay.

As I said, I have got to know many LGBT Christians including many other Anglicans. They have faced prejudice too. That is one of the awful things about prejudice. It doesn’t apply to individuals: it applies to groups of people. I know of parents who have disowned, or threatened to disown their gay children. I know of gay people who have been pressured into opposite-sex relationships. I know of people who have been thrown out of their parish for the perceived sin of being lesbian, gay, or bisexual. And perhaps the words of all, I have known LGBT people who have an interest in learning about the Kingdom, but have been driven away from Christ because of the attitudes that some Christians express towards gay people. 

I often hear people say things like “same-sex relationships go against everything the Anglican Church believes”. That is fundamentally untrue. There is little in traditional Anglican belief stands opposed to same-sex relationships. The fundamental Anglican beliefs, the beliefs that unite us, are clearly stated in the Word of God, the Bible; the Ancient Creeds: the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed; the Thirty-nine Articles; and in the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer1. As far as I can see, it is only in the Solemnization of Marriage that there is even a hint of the opposition.

You, I hope, will stand up to racism whenever you encounter it. You, I hope, will stand up to sexism. Will you stand up to homophobia too?

If someone is blackmailed because of their sexual orientation, will you stand with their blackmailers, or will you stand with them?

If Christian parents reject their gay son or daughter, will you stand with the parents, or will you stand with their child?

When someone is cast out from their parish because they are gay, even though there is litte in traditional Anglican beliefs that says that is wrong, will you stand with the parish, or will you extend the right hand of fellowship to the one cast out and say “we welcome you here”?

Racism is wrong. Sexism is wrong. Homophobia is wrong. All three are clearly taught in the Bible.

for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

If you treat one Christian differently to another because of their race, you are saying that Jew and Greek do exist in Christ. You are rejecting the clear teaching of St Paul in Galatians.

If you treat one Christian differently to another because of their job, you are saying that there is slave and free in Christ. You are rejecting the clear teaching of St Paul in Galatians.

If you treat one Christian differently to another because of their gender, you are saying that there is male and female in Christ. You are rejecting the clear teaching of St Paul in Galatians.

If you treat one Christian differently to another because of the gender of their partner, you are saying that there is male and female in Christ. You are rejecting the clear teaching of St Paul in Galatians.

It is our Christian duty to tackle racism in all its forms. It is our Christian duty to tackle sexism. And it is our Christian duty to tackle homophobia as well.

In the past few months, many of us have wept about the racism in the world and in the Christian Church. Many of us have wept about the sexism. How many of us have wept about the homophobia? I know I have. I have wept for the young gay man terrified that he will lose his family and his place in his church if anyone knew he was gay. I have wept for another young man who did lose those things. And I have wept for a gay Christian who was so overwhelmed by the stresses he was under that he destroyed his life with substance abuse.

The simple, plain words of St Paul to the Galatians speak to us all of equality.

Will you weep for everyone who has faced prejudice? Perhaps more importantly, will you stand up against racism, against sexism, and against homophobia as the New Testament tells us to?


This article is adapted from one written by my husband, Andrew McFarland Campbell, for a Christadephian audience.


Footnote

  1.  Only in the Marriage Service in the Book of Common Prayer is there even the hint of suggestion that same-sex relationships and opposite sex-relationships are not on an equal moral footing. We have to understand that the service is the “Solemnisation of Matrimony”, the church solemnising what has already taken place. 

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