C.S. Lewis, Anglicanism’s most praised son, said ‘to love at all is to be vulnerable’. Never has this been more evident in my life than in my enduring passion for, and delight in, my beloved Church of England.
It was a mild Spring day in 1999 when my father fainted. He was not, nor is, a man of weak spirit, however, the news of triplets appeared to have caught him unawares. My parents’ Christianity, or more narrowly, Anglicanism, was integral to our birth. It would have been incredibly easy to have heard the news it was three and aborted one, or even two. In fact, the medical advice at the time was to have the youngest (myself) as a sacrificial lamb. My parents refused the advice. I am here.
So Anglicanism saved my life before I was legally eligible to live.
My grandad was a keen churchgoer, ringing the bells until deep into his 80s and attending weekly until his death in 2013, aged 93. His Book of Common Prayer and King James Bible centric Anglicanism sustained and inspired him. In fact,it has been an ever present hope in times of trouble for every generation of my family for 500 years. Even now I am entering into training for Ordained ministry for its cause.
So why is the Church symbolic of the vulnerability of love? Because though I have not moved from the Church of my grandad, it has moved from me.
What would my mother do now if faced with the same moral conundrum of expecting one child and being told of three? The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullaby, would inform my mother she was ‘more pro choice than pro life’. In all honesty, I am of the resolute belief that if my mother turned to modern Anglican clergy for advice today, they would be kind and supportive, but they would not be loving, and I would not be here.
Love is not kindness. Love is pursuing the good. Modern Anglicanism regularly falls foul to aberrations of love on pragmatic and social issues. Sometimes the most loving thing to do is to tell someone they are wrong. To announce this far, no more. It is to distribute justice, as Fletcher said.
On every social issue in recent times, the Anglican church has sought to be popular, not to be like Him that is only good. This is the ‘dictatorship of relativism’ of which Pope Benedict spoke, and it has held reign in my Church for half a century. Through our false love, we have enabled evil. For it is always the greatest of evil that clothes itself in love.
The Bishops must ask themselves the simple question asked of us all in an age of infinite pleasure. ‘What doth it profit a man, to gain the whole world, but loseth his soul?’. Yet there is hope. I shall continue to fight for the Church I love and, God Willing, shall enter into Ordained Ministry in a handful of years. We must never give up hope on our Church, it was there for our relatives for five-hundred years and in Her moment of need I shall not abandon Her. We must once again make our Church worthy of the God it serves.
To err is human; to forgive, divine.