We have a problem.
We have a problem and it seems - as a Former* - that no one wants to talk about it. O.k, correct that. No one really wants to talk about the Awkward, do they? Church or otherwise. For that I am not blaming you.
But seriously. I expect more. You Lovers-of-Christ, those “blessed with abundance”! From a church, from a ‘body of believers,’ Those who Know Christ, I expect more. I must expect more. Otherwise, the Church itself is just a social club, and an elitist one at that.
So tell me the truth, Church. Do you like the gays** or not? Do you endorse abortion? Premarital sex, polyamorous relationships? The bi-curious within your walls? The token asexual? Do you? Do you? I guess the point that I am getting at is this: do you love?
Oh Church! Oh my church.
Do you love? And if so, how?
And if not, how?
These are troublesome questions, aren’t they? And I do not mean to be troublesome. But. But they are the ones - I dare say - that sit up on the shelf, those high and visible, sometimes dusty and - well, often out of reach. But they are there.
I used to have a Hungry Hungry Hippos game.*** My parents bought it for me, I think, when I was about eight years old. I remember this because it was the year of my first surgery. And time missed from school. And what I am not saying but perhaps ought, is that it was the first year that I lived away from my parents. Away from my pets, the yard and my brother, my playmate. It was the year that I knew loneliness.
And that Hungry Hungry Hippo game? I am sure that my parents bought it for me out of love and generosity and an attempt to make things better for me, even minutely.
But it didn’t work. Because it was not the right game for me. Because I was a quiet child. And one already, despite not being able to articulate it then, in grief.
My parents meant well, for that I am grateful. But I never played that game. At least not the way it was intended. Instead, I took the marbles and I fed them one by one to those dang plastic hippos. I recall doing this often, unassumingly and by myself on my bedroom carpet floor. An act of love, one might say. No, I did not play the game correctly.
Oh Church, we need room for those ‘not playing the game correctly’. We need caring and not loud. We need listening. Oh, please do not get me wrong - there is a place for loud. There always is. But sometimes - sometimes these questions - those impossible or otherwise that we pull down from the upper shelf need quiet. They need quiet. And a deep 'unassumingness', if I be allowed to make up a word.
Because at the end of each question, each perceived “issue” is a person.
We have gotten it wrong, my dear Church. We have gotten it wrong and once we wake to this - once we admit that we are forcing some of those amongst us to play a game that they do not want or even know how to play is wrong. It is wrong.
And we - oh dear Church - need forgiveness.
*a Former. someone who still believes in the function and call of the Church. But for personal reasons, has made a choice - for now - to not attend.
**I am using the phrase “the gays” on purpose. Yes, it is offensive and yes, it is still used.
***Hungry Hungry Hippos: a plastic game involving marbles and hippos, and loved by '80's kids near and far. Brought to you by the one and only Hasbro.