I am currently walking from Birmingham to London as a pilgrimage of repentance for homophobia. This post appeared originally on the website for my pilgrimage on Saturday 18 June. Please see http://www.repenting.wordpress.com .
My pilgrimage took an unexpectedly different turn today, when two friends asked (at the last moment) if they could join me for my walk from Coventry to Leamington Spa. I hesitated, because it is important to me to do most of the walking on my own.
However, I’m very glad that I said yes to them. It was great to have a day with company – for the conversation, for the shared prayer and because both the friends concerned are considerably better at navigating than I am.
I am pleased that my pilgrimage combines solitude with company and prayer with conversation. Both have already become very important to my walk.
I’ve had interesting, helpful and enjoyable discussions with both friends and strangers. Not long after writing yesterday’s blog entry, I had the privilege of visiting Coventry Peace Church for the evening. They are a grassroots group of Christians inspired by Anabaptism, who meet to worship and share food in their members’ houses.
They had invited me some time ago to visit them when passing through Coventry on my pilgrimage, and I really appreciated their hospitality, excellent food and Christ-centred worship. We talked informally about my walk, and there were lots of questions and suggestions about the issues involved.
One issue that came up several times was the relationship between sexuality and other issues, in particular between homophobia and other injustices, and between the struggles against them. I feel that it is important not simply to campaign on various issues but to draw the links between them.
As if I needed a reminder of the reality of prejudice and inequality, Tory MP Philip Davies popped up in the House of Commons yesterday to suggest that employers should be allowed to pay disabled people less than the minimum wage. Disabled people are already being unfairly targeted in the government’s vicious cuts agenda and it seems that at least one government backbencher would like to go much further still.
As a Christian, I believe passionately that Christ offers us a way of looking at the world “upside-down”. The meek will inherit the earth. The merciful will receive mercy. Those who hunger for justice will be satisfied. Christ calls his disciples to radical lifestyles rooted in love.
Jesus showed a different way of for people to relate to each other. This means a rejection of relationships (in any sense) based on power, domination, economic exploitation, tradition or legalism. Instead, we have the chance of relationships rooted in love, compassion, respect and forgiveness. This is not about living by rules but about living by the Holy Spirit – which is much harder but far more fulfilling.
This radical approach to ethics concerns sexuality as well as many other aspects of human relations and behaviour. Thus the campaign for inclusion and equality with regards to gay and bisexual people is not only related to, but is part of, a struggle for a whole different way of living.
This is an issue I will continue to wrestle with as I walk. Your thoughts are very welcome!
(c) Symon Hill is associate director of Ekklesia. For more information on his pilgrimage of repentance for homophobia, please visit http://www.repenting.wordpress.com .