There has been quite a lot of attention in the media lately given to various aspects concerning LGBT issues in Northern Ireland and further afield, especially highlighting the apparent gulf that exists between the positions of both the gay community and the Church.
We have had the long-running issue of introducing gay or equal marriage into Northern Ireland, the recent victory of Ashers Bakery in Belfast about perceived discrimination over the so-called ‘gay cake’ and, locally where I live, the voting of Ards and North Down Borough Council concerning the lighting up of Bangor and Newtownards town halls with ‘rainbow’ colours to celebrate Gay Pride once a year (the motion did not pass in the end).
I personally think that the choice of a Biblically-based word such as ‘rainbow’ to represent the activism of the LGBT community could be better served by a non-Biblically-linked word such as ‘spectrum’ or ‘prism’ which would still describe the range of colours in a satisfactory way. The reference to ‘rainbow’ for many Christians is a stark reminder of the account in the book of Genesis in which God destroyed the whole of mankind due to their depths of depravity, and that was long before the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The word ‘pride’ is rather unfortunate too as pride is one of the deadly sins mentioned in the Bible – so I feel both words are not pleasing to the Almighty in their present usage and association.
It must not be forgotten, however, that there are many sincere Christians within the churches that struggle with or experience various levels of ‘gay’ feelings or same-sex attraction.
I myself am in this category and have experienced much gossip, discrimination, and ostracisation within the denominations of Christianity over the years and so one ends up having to internalise everything for fear of rejection, and thereby one becomes isolated and more vulnerable when facing a situation where some pastoral help might be helpful. The pejorative name-calling from many pulpits and from among the conversations of the followers of Yeshua (Jesus) as God’s people teaches any gay-oriented person to remain silent.
For those who may be interested, I am giving a talk about my life having lived through this dichotomy, lost jobs, and been expelled from congregations due to church leaderships being unable to handle this issue in any way other than outright condemnation in most cases.
It is entitled ‘The Man In White’ and will be held in the Marine Court Hotel, Bangor, BT19 5ED on Saturday, October 27, 7.45pm for 8pm start (sharp).
All are welcome and it is hoped there will be food for thought for those who attend and listen to the message.
Colin Nevin, Bangor