A strange kind of anniversary
Tomorrow will be a significant day for me. On 12th June it will be exactly one year since the Church of England issued an astonishingly and uncharacteristically direct statement against the government’s proposals for same-sex marriage, which left me in shock all day and ultimately turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. I don’t want to revisit that right now, but you can read about it here or here if you’re interested.
What makes this anniversary so strange is not knowing how to deal with it. As it was a decisive moment in reaching my current position (which I naturally think is a good one to hold, at least for now), you might think I’d see it as an event that ought to be celebrated in some way. That’s not how I feel about it, though. And not just because the starting point was an illiberal and regressive territory-marking effort.
To me, the most important and obvious consequence of all this is a degree of separation from my family. I now wave my wife and children off on Sunday mornings (often having to deal with begging requests to go with them) and get on with chores and housework without them. I can’t feel happy about that, nor can I bring myself to celebrate a turn of events as if I’m right and my family are all wrong. Respect and love for them makes it distinctly uncomfortable to feel very positive about my current situation.
Having said that, nor do I think of it as a loss. It’s usual to speak of a loss of faith, but that’s not language that makes much sense to me. Faith isn’t worth anything on its own, and people can have faith in things that are true or things that aren’t. In the end, this nudged me into following where the evidence seemed to be leading. If faith points in a different direction from the evidence, I consider it no loss to discard it.
Somewhere in the middle, I try to steer a course combining honesty and respect. Like a messy divorce, even if I feel that I did the right thing, it was painful, disruptive and unsettling, and it’s best for everyone (my children especially) if I can manage not to think of it as a straightforwardly positive event.
So although the date’s etched on my mind, and although I’d probably do exactly the same if I had my time again, I won’t be celebrating tomorrow. In a sense, it’s too important for that.
Image courtesy of Carien, used with permission