the inclusivity barb

I’ve been thinking about inclusivity.

It’s a great word – inclusivity.

It’s like tolerance. Tolerance and inclusivity are watch words for a civilised society, aren’t they? We like to think we’re inclusive and tolerant in the UK. We’d never elect someone who wished to exclude a singled out racial group from moving freely across its borders…would we??? (???!!**)

In the Church of England many are upset that the recently published conclusion from the shared conversations on sexuality did not go further in its inclusivity. The Bishops say they want to change the tone of welcome to LGBT(+) people, but the welcome feels like it stops of short of full inclusivity.

And it’s all about welcome. Welcome is surely the beating heart of God. We all want to be welcomed, loved, accepted unconditionally, not conditionally. This must happen before we are ready to engage with any kind of growth in holiness, which we all have to engage with sooner or later, as disciples. Acceptance and love first. It’s just too scary otherwise.

If you go into a church, with your gay partner, you want to feel that you are both fully welcomed, included; that people are not thinking anything other than “we honestly love having you both here, as a couple”. That’s what I imagine, anyway.

Jesus got into trouble repeatedly for loving the company of people whom others would have preferred to exclude. And don’t we now hate those who complained about him eating with sinners and tax collectors! So intolerant!!

It seems so obvious to us who are the goodies and who are the baddies. So it’s ‘hooray for Jesus’ (inclusive) and ‘boo to the Pharisees’ (intolerant). Yes, I’d far rather have inclusive people in my church and not the horrible intolerant pharisees, thank you very much.

No, I don’t want those nasty pharisaical types in my church…

Except that’s actually not very welcoming, is it?

Maybe that’s how the disciples felt when Jesus introduced Matthew, the hated tax collector into their midst. “What, him? He’s not disciple material, Lord….”

That’s the barb of inclusivity. In wanting to include all, I have to include those who are not themselves very inclusive, who write mean unfeeling things about LGBTI people on social media. If I unfollow them all, aren’t I just committing a kind of digital ethnic cleansing according to my own assessment of who passes my inclusivity/tolerance test?

There may be limits to inclusivity though. There’s a call for Trump to be excluded from visiting the UK till he renounces his recent (completely potty) Muslim ban. Some think ‘Theresa the appeaser’ is a suitable moniker after the UK Prime Minister visited the US and was pictured holding hands with Trump – a photo which made me feel/think, in this order, 1) ever so slightly queasy; 2) is she actually Super Woman, in disguise? and 3) had she been drugged?

Shouldn’t the UK Prime Minister have shunned the shunner of Muslims? Should we include the enemy at the table?

Like a nettle that stings you the moment you mistakenly take it by the hand, it’s the barb of inclusivity that will sting us unawares.

The barb of inclusivity means we may have to include the ones who exclude the ones whom we love. And for a Christian that includes partnered gays, Muslims and anyone else who feels that the Church, or the world, are out to exclude them.







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