from Signs of the Times No. 47 - Oct 2012

As I plodded through your July 2012 editorial, I said to myself that if there are differences between men and women, one big difference is that women in general will not try to solve an issue through very long academic argument.

This simply moves our understanding of God – or lack of it – right out of the real life situation and sends it into the brain. It is women's experience that this simply allows the endless war of words to continue, and this can never be won – as proved by over a decade of Synod discussions about women. So I will add two un-wordy thoughts.

The world has plenty of people on it. Perhaps having a few who simply want to enjoy their bodies and committed friendship with God's full blessing is not unreasonable.

When a doctor friend told me that her lesbian sister had committed suicide because she could no longer face society's disapproval, she explained that the sexuality with which we are born covers a very wide spectrum. The big majority of us are mid spectrum, but towards each end are those with extreme male or female tendencies. It is a medical fact and we are all created differently. If God has created us thus, who are we to deny church recognition for the needs of individual status?

PS. Long after having borne three children I have enjoyed a very full sex life with my husband. What's all this procreation nonsense in this day and age?

PPS. Three cheers for all supporters in the vote for women bishops. They will help to bring the realities of everyday life into the church.

Merryn Hellier


Helen Oppenheimer wrote in the July edition:

'Unless a particular human being was also Emmanuel, God with us, in a strong sense, Christians have no answer to offer to anyone who is seized by the problem of evil. If the Cross was only one more painful death, how could the Creator, safe on high, have the right to make a world with so much suffering?'

The words 'safe on high' illustrate the problem. Can we approach it in a different way? All things exist only by the originating and sustaining power of God  - 'If I did not work, these worlds would perish' (Hindu) - or as the psalmist says of the animal world:  'When thou takest away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When thou sendest forth  thy Spirit, they are created.' (Psalm 104). It follows that, in one sense, creation is incarnation.  Humanity is a particular expression of God's outpouring - enlivened by the spirit of God, made in the image of God and watched over by One who is ever with us: 'You keep guard behind and before me' (Psalm 139).

It follows that God is involved in all the pain and suffering - bearing and enduring - but he is also involved in transforming human life from within. We know this through Jesus, in whom God is known "in a strong sense" - and who is to say where divinity and humanity divide? Jesus shows us what, too often, we fail to see; he reveals "my Father and your Father" and he recalls us to our true identity as children of God. Evil lies around and within  but the work of transformation goes on - "My Father works, and I work".

We have no ground on which to stand and judge the Creator, especially as the work is not done, and God is not and has never been, 'safe on high'. That one solitary cross on Golgotha points to that Cross which is writ large  in all Creation, and all things are in travail until all is fulfilled. In the meantime, Emmanuel!

Graham Hellier