Pope Francis is right. God cannot bless sin.
That may explain why so many of us cannot find God in the church.
And that isn’t to say that churches are necessarily sinful (some are wonderful), but merely to point out that seeking to speak on God’s behalf carries quite the heavy burden.
When you determine to intercede for the divine, you better make sure you are speaking the truth.
And isn’t that the problem? Religious leaders seem to think that ‘truth’ is what they ought to be about. But Christ’s church is now centuries old, and we can say that its record is at best morally ambiguous. For every speech against slavery and protest for women’s rights is an Inquisition or witch hunt - in one of the many forms that takes.
Clearly the focus on truth has not set them, or us, free.
Maybe, just maybe, the aim for ‘truth’ has been about power.
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Jesus would not recognise Francis’ language, nor would he support this theology. It really is that simple.
The revelation of God from Genesis to the close of the New Testament develops at speed. From a God who floods the divine creation to one who promises restoration, the biblical witness is not solid and stable, but develops and, dare we venture, progresses.
Our experience of God has adapted, expanded and with each generation it seems we are trusted with more and more of the divine.
Francis, ostensibly a leading light for the slow behemoth of the Catholic Church, seems to have capitulated.
He has stopped paying attention.
God did not stop speaking as St John put the final full stop in Revelation.
God never stops speaking. We just choose not to listen.
And where do we hear the Word of God? From the margins. Always from the margins.
The people who speak of Christ most powerfully are often those who have been hurt in his name.
The most powerful revelation of God always emerges from those that the religious leaders seek to crush. That’s a very literal reading of the gospels. And perhaps on this occasion literalism is our best guide.
We go to the margins not with the gospel. We go to the margins to discover the gospel.
God cannot bless sin.
That’s why so many queer people don’t go to church.
They won’t bless sin either.
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All of this would be easier to stomach had Jesus not already dealt with it.
It all comes down to recognition.
If the church cannot recognise the presence of the divine in difference then it is doomed to equate holiness with sameness.
Uniformity is the death of the church.
And if the church refuses to recognise God, God refuses to recognise the church.
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When, eventually, the church en masse decides to welcome queer people in the name of Jesus, I hope it is not surprised by the reply.
I just hope they recognise who said it first.
Away from me. I never knew you.
Andrew Cunning is the director of Left Side Up. The views represented here are his own.