Today’s Gospel reading reminded me of a recent Dispatches on Channel 4. ‘Hunted’ is a graphic, violent and disturbing account of how the Russian Governments anti-gay laws are being used by vigilantes who kidnap and torture those who they claim to be gay. They also target those who support gay rights, and are not gay themselves, by trying to get them sacked from their jobs, arrested and loose their homes. It is not easy viewing but I would still encourage you to view it here.
Today’s Gospel from Mark was that of the Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30). Here is a someone totally different, different culture, different morals, different religion, different understanding of the world. What does Jesus do? He offers her blessing in healing her child. He includes her in God’s love. He welcomes her as someone who despite everything else in her life, because at that moment and time she wants God in her and her child’s life and grants her, her request.
At another time with another woman Jesus turns to those gathered stones raised against her and challenges them to be the first to throw their stones, the first to condemn her because she is not perfect. (John 8:2-12) Even the dogs. No one is outside the love of God, and certainly no one is excluded because we decide they should be, even if their choices might not be ours or not ones we approve of. Who are we to pick up a stone and throw it at someone else?
There are those who have been quoting from the Canons of the Scottish Episcopal Church in light of the recent Scottish Government legislation with regard to allowing same-sex marriage. Canon 31 in clause 1 does indeed state that:
“The Doctrine of this Church is that Marriage is a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman created by their mutual consent of heart, mind and will thereto, and is a holy and lifelong estate instituted of God.”
However I rejoice to be part of a church that recognises that people are not perfect. With regard to marriage the SEC has made provision for a process in the fourth clause of the self same canon for remarriage in church when a spouse is still living. Within the very canon that says marriage is for life, we also acknowledge that there are times when it might not be. We have stopped casting stones at those who for a variety of reasons have found that a marriage was not sustainable and what is more we have recognised that God will still bless any new marriage, for God is love. Clause 1 of Canon 31 is a statement of human doctrine and the SEC in the past has wisely made provision for the redeeming nature of God’s love within that doctrine. For we are still learning the full depth, length, height and breadth of God’s love a love that can not be fenced in, even by canons and doctrines. Could it be time to be doing so again?
It is quite simple really, this isn’t about what view you may or may not hold on same-sex relationships or marriage. To those individuals who hunt those who are LGTB in Russia or elsewhere whether it be physically, spiritually or emotionally; especially those who claim to speak for God I have but three words spoken by another woman in another place but recorded for history to learn from – “even the dogs”.