Rob the Dentist

Do you remember the ad with the dentist who can’t show you his face on television?

Well, I feel a bit like that. I am employed by a faith-based organisation, and, as a condition of my employment, I had to sign a contract that says I will adhere to the *denominational* ethos in all aspects of my life. I was actually concerned about signing, given my clear and unequivocal support for LGBTIQA concerns, and my less than orthodox views on sexuality, gender and marriage, not to mention the fact that I am a strident feminist. So you will find no reference to my employment on my Facebook page. I keep my privacy settings quite high. And my blog has a generic name, and no clear identifiers. The last time I was employed by a faith-based organisation, I quit because of the complete lack of integrity shown by the leadership. You might say I am holding my breath this time.

Not usually one to back away from an argument, I find myself unwilling to engage in conversations at work, because I don’t want to hear the same tired old arguments, and not be able to respond with my honest opinions. This is true of the current marriage–equality vote, but it was also true in response to the recent Royal Commission on institutional child abuse, the churches treatment of women, and other social justice issues. The bum-covering and protestations of innocence – in clear cases of harm and guilt – make me furious.

However, I am also one who tends to think that working from within an organisation to change it is much more effective than working from without. So, for the moment, that means holding my tongue until I have built up some social capital, and my employment is less tenuous. I am aware that choosing to say nothing gives tacit endorsement to oppressive views, and that evil flourishes when good people do nothing. So, escaping into my office to avoid difficult conversations feels like complicity.

If I was sure there would be no repercussions this is what I would say:

  • I have studied the texts. I have read about historical gender and sexual identity. I don’t agree with the traditional interpretations any more.
  • This is not about children. This is not about other unions. This is not about church and state.
  • This debate is asking us whether all members of society should have the same access to legal protections within a certified, monogamous union.
  • The way the church deals with this will impact people. Within and without. Theists and atheists. Adults, teens and children. Actions speak loudly.

So, if the church chooses to sack people because they enter a gay union, or if they vocally support people who do; if they fight to deny one small segment of the population equal rights, it will send a clear message that they believe God’s love is contingent, that some are born more worthy than others, and that God endorses discrimination. The message of these actions will drown out any attempt to speak a message that God is love. Is that what we really want?