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Finding Hope in a TV Show

Freedom Requires Wings | by on




An equal marriage themed episode of Rev gave me hope this week. (x)
I am sure it will be breaking news to very few of you that on 29th March, the UK finally achieved marriage equality. The first same-sex weddings took place at midnight, the news was filled with adorable pictures of same-sex couples, conservatives were suitably outraged, etc. It was an excellent day.

Of course, equal marriage in the UK has a number of restrictions and rules, including the fact that it is illegal for same-sex weddings to be conducted by the Church of England. 
As a Christian, one who is in a relationship with another woman, and who would very much like to get married one day, this is the rule which hit me hardest of all. A year ago, the legal barrier was one which I couldn’t begin to see or imagine the other side of, but over the last few weeks, things have happened to give me hope. 

The last year has been one of mixed emotions for me. While I was overjoyed that my LGBT friends would have their chance at marriage, it would be a lie to say that I wasn’t just a little bitter about the whole thing. However, on the 29th March I celebrated as much as anyone else, because why wouldn’t you? It’s a happy, historic day, whatever you think about the legislation that let it happen.

In spite of the happiness and celebration though, I still had my mixed feelings about the legislation until Monday night when I tuned into one of my favourite programmes on TV at the moment: Rev.

Rev is a comedy about the life of one Church of England vicar. It is often hilarious, always compelling, sometimes very sad; a consistently painfully realistic, poignant reflection on the church. And on Monday night its subject of choice was same-sex marriage.

The episode shows two men asking the vicar if he would conduct their wedding ceremony. He explains to them that this is against the law, but that maybe he could say some prayers for their marriage. The pair agree that this is a good idea, and then proceed to show up at the church with confetti, rings, flowers, and many guests all dressed for a wedding.

The vicar has a dilemma. How does he give the people what they want while also staying within the law? The answer is with difficulty. Someone reports to a local church leader that the vicar has been conducting gay weddings in his church, and the leader shows up to question the vicar in a hilarious exchange.

The upshot is that the vicar questions what God wants him to do. He asks God if He wants him to get in trouble, and he wonders whether it’s worth it. He reflects on whether he should be trying to please everybody, which ultimately leads to him pleasing no one. Clearly he finds some answers, because the last few moments of the episode show him conducting a real proper same-sex marriage (not just a blessing or prayers, the real deal, of the thoroughly illegal kind) in his church.

(As a side note, if you get the chance to watch this episode, you definitely should. It’s a brilliant piece of television, funny and enjoyable as well as thought-provoking and boundary pushing.)

I know that this episode was very challenging for a lot of people, but for me most of all it was hopeful. The thing is that the world is changing. While there are many people with conservative views, both people of faith and people of no faith, there are also many people who are liberal and are struggling to do the right thing and create change within a society that isn’t really favourable towards them. On my TV I saw a vicar, very like the ones that I know personally, who made a choice that took courage and bravery, and resulted in a really beautiful statement. It gave me hope that things could change, that barriers could be broken down, and that the religious community that is so important to me (and to many others) is changing, and fighting, and might just have the potential to embrace equality.

You could say that this was just a TV show, and that probably the majority of people in the church disagree with the view put across in that episode, but I would disagree. I have seen a lot of discussion since the episode, and it seems that at the very least people are talking about the issue, and at best people agree with the vicar’s actions. It’s a hopeful situation to be in. The discussion is positive, and if it makes people think then that is a result for the LGBT community, especially within the church.

On a personal note, when I was leaving church on Sunday, my vicar (who is perfectly aware of my sexuality) told me to come to him when I want to get married. If that’s not proof of a positive result, then I don’t know what is.
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