This is a post I’ve been trying to write for a little while now, but I’m still finding it really difficult to put my thoughts into words. I hope that my post title sums it all up – there should be absolutely no place for bigotry and hate speech, regardless of the faith, gender, sexual orientation, politics or any other social construction a person uses to define their identity.
Well, so much so obvious I suppose, but I’ve seen a couple of examples of bigotry and hate speech in the last few weeks that have really surprised me – because they’ve come from people who (on the face of it) share similar beliefs to me – though not in the same combination.
It’s perfectly possible to be a Christian (Anglican, in my case, if we’re into the minutiae of belief systems that some find either important or comforting) and support equal marriage. It’s also perfectly possible to be a Liberal and have a Christian faith. I can understand people who hold only one – or neither of those beliefs as part of their identity. I’m happy to break bread, have a drink and share my life with fellow Christians or non Christians, regardless of their sexual orientation. I’m happy to debate with those who hold sincere political views that are different to mine. And so on. Ad infinitum.
Let me say it as clearly as I can – I’m comfortable however you construct your identity, provided that you don’t feel you have to use hate speech or express bigoted opinions about any other human being or group who chooses to construct their identities differently to you. And I love people who try to reach out across the lines that some would use to divide us. Steve Chalke, for example.
If you’ve not read his views on equal marriage and inclusion in the church, it’s worth doing so. To me, they’re a real antidote to all of the ridiculous hate speech and bigotry I’ve seen from the extremes on all sides in the equal marriage debate.