I have said from time to time that although I have very little time for the idea that Christians in the West are somehow oppressed, I personally, in the circles I move in, am far more likely to be attacked for my faith than for my queerness. On reflection, I’m not sure whether that’s entirely true, or if it’s just that I’m more likely to feel attacked for my faith than for my queerness. (Please don't read this as being sure that it is false)
In the immediate aftermath of Tim’s resignation I started to feel defensive even before I saw any reactions, guessing what would be coming. And when I saw those reactions I got more so, and started poring over his letter, desperately looking for an interpretation that would mean that in his heartfelt prayers he didn’t believe my relationships were inherently sinful. I could have found it, could still find it, but somewhere along the line it became clear to me that although it was there, it was far from the most natural reading of the text, and why was I so desperate to find it?
I feel more attacked for my Christianity than for my queerness, but I think that might be a function of my expectations. When I get half-hearted support of my right to love those I love, to marry my partner, to be who I am, I compare it to the outright denial and bigotry that still exists in so much of the world outside my little bubble. When I see Pope Francis continuing to support the idea that gay men are unsuitable for the priesthood, I compare him to Pope Benedict, and make excuses for him.
Being a queer Christian is hard. I have very little time for the idea that Christians in the West are somehow oppressed, and acknowledge that the fact that I still can't get married is the fault of the church and not atheist queers. But I still can't get married, and it is an injustice that I suffer as much because I'm a Christian as because I'm queer.
There are readings of the bible in which loving sexual relationships between men are not sinful, but they are not the most natural reading of the text. There's an interpretation of Tim's resignation letter where in his heartfelt prayers he doesn't believe my relationships are inherently sinful. Why do you think I was so desperate to find it?
On a political level I entirely agree with the argument that what matters is how a politician votes, and what they campaign on, and on that measure Tim's record
has been excellent. On a personal level though, I care very much about whether my relationships are actually sinful. I don't believe they are, but I am not as confident in that belief as I would perhaps like to be.
I am uncomfortable sitting with this uncertainty, and that discomfort is relieved when I allow myself to believe that my view is (or is becoming) the dominant one, and that views of same-sex relationships as inherently sinful are fading away. But I don't want to allow myself to believe comfortable falsehoods. I want to be able to hold in my mind the belief that Pope Francis can be less homophobic than his predecessor, and still think that my relationships are sinful, and be wrong. All three at the same time. I want to be able to hold that Tim Farron can be admirable for separating his private beliefs and political actions, and still think that my relationships are sinful, and be wrong.
I am uncomfortable sitting with this uncertainty, but I am going to try to stop making myself more comfortable by pretending that there is more support for my relationships from other Christians than there actually is, and maybe if I do that, I will find it easier not to feel personally attacked when other Christians are critiqued for their homophobia.