There was a recent social media fad concerning what Hogwarts house one belongs to. Of course, amost everyone likes to think they’re going to be in Gryffindor. Particularly the liberals in the church like me. We like to think we’re a little bit edgy, eccentric, rumbustious, bold. The reality is more often that we think we’re Gryffendor, but act like Hufflepuff – cautious, careful, not too hasty.
At the recent vote on same-sex marriage, it felt to me that we were being a bit, just a bit, like Gryffendor. We were doing something difficult, but right. And now we have apparently been censured by the rest of the Anglican communion because of it. Although not being allowed to be on a few committees doesn’t really sound like all that much, it is quite a big deal – it means we’re not trusted to take leadership roles in the wider church.
SO when something like that happens, we feel a bit Hufflepuffy: and a bit sad. But being a good Hufflepuff is not a bad thing to be. But there were, I am slowly realising, the true courage of the Hufflepuffs, an inner steel in caution, a determination and heroism which belongs not to the liberals in our church, but to the conservatives.
There has been a lot spoken about how brave we liberals have been in voting for same-sex marriage. But to my mind there has been great bravery and decency on the part of the conservatives in our church. They are the ones who have had to bear the brunt of the implications of our decision; their ecumenical connections with conservative churches have doubtless become strained; they have had to explain to their congregations why this decision has been made, without having the luxury of believing it to be the right thing. Theirs has been a hard road as a result of our decision.
The church of which I am a part has often spoken of radical inclusion. That has tended to mean including those who have traditionally been isolated and sidelined by the church and society, such as LGBTQ people, refugees, women. But what I witnessed in our debate over same-sex marriages was a different but equally profound sort of radical inclusion. The radical inclusion in this instance was on the side of those conservatives who have kept loyal to people like me – who have refused to turn their back on their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, even when they have had every opportunity and every excuse to do so. They stated their views with passion and compassion, they spoke up but not with anger or exclusion. But when the deed is done, they have stuck with us, even though we are, to their eyes, leading us in the wrong direction.
Why they have done this is truly I think the grace of God. They know, in some way, that we need them. We don’t often tell them that we do, but hopefully they know it. Perhaps they even think that in some way they need people like me. Their desire to keep faithful to God’s call to be one church is stronger than this one issue. But now they are suffering the consequences of the decision that we made against their better judgement, and with the Anglican communion’s decision about the piscy church, they are being excluded by the people who agree with them.
I feel honoured to be a part of their church. That sort of bravery may be more the bravery of Sam Gangee than Frodo, tmore Hufflepuff than Gryffindor, but it is as courageous, and more loyal, more decent and more brave, than those of us who like to think of ourselves as Gryffindor.
I think the Anglican communion can learn a lot from the SEC about how to debate things with courage and decency. But I think much of that learning can come from the conservatives in our church, who never let anger or frustration calcify into opposition. I have never felt I didn’t belong. And that is a radical inclusion the church can listen to.
I profoundly believe our decision was the right one, and that in time God will show us the next step forward. But I have learnt something more that I thought I would in this time. I have learnt about qualities I don’t really have, qualities that the conservatives in my own congregation, my own diocese and my own province possess. And I am truly humbled and honoured to be part of their church.