The question I heard the Church asking long ago in my youth and that I internalised and that continues to haunt me because people are still posing the question, is: “Am I allowed to be who I am, feel what I feel and think what I think?” Am I allowed to be gay, am I allowed to love who I love, am I allowed to feel desire for whom I choose, am I allowed to think outside what still seems to be a narrow, dogmatic, Church-think box?
It would be good if we were able to live together with our differences, openly and honestly, with our legitimate varieties of belief about sexuality and gender, the authority of Scripture, the nature of God, the core teachings of Jesus, and the differences between realism, myth and metaphor in the Bible. But at the moment we can’t. Intimidation by conservatives who style themselves “orthodox” and “mainstream” is suppressing conversation in the church about issues beyond sexuality and gender and which are ultimately far more important to the radical changes in human awareness and divine truth that we are immersed in and into which some of us are living.
In my experience, a paradigm change is taking place in the Church of England, difficult though it is to discern if you look at the central structures of the Church. Change is happening at parish level and in the many friends I have and networks I am part of. Many of my friends have abandoned attendance at or involvement with the Church, despairing of its teaching, worship and leadership and finding it no longer fit for purpose.