A friend of mine taught me that rather than "giving up" things for Lent, it is better to add something—more quiet time, more prayer. Similarly, I suggest that Christmas be a time not for getting more and doing more, but a time to get rid of some unwanted stuff. For instance . . .
In its series The Question The Guardian asks "What would you get rid of for Christmas?" Anglican clergyman Peter Bolton responds 23 Dec 2009 that he would get rid of churchmen who denounce sexual sins with a fervour they never apply to any other sin.
This is like writing a letter to Santa! Resisting with all my might the temptation to ask for the extermination of certain people who get on my nerves my mind wonders around to the big and worthy issues. Should I ask for the end of war or global warming or poverty or homelessness or child abuse? Well, yes, I should [. . .]
I am going to ask for the end of something that is making me really angry right now. Like most Guardian readers (I hope), I am very angry and upset about Uganda's proposed anti-homosexuality legislation. But my wrath is not directed at Uganda or even its government especially. A little knowledge of the history of Uganda helps one realise that this is too complicated just to be angry with the people who will pass this law.
No, my anger is directed at those Western Christians who feed the bigotry. I can just about understand that Christians might regard homosexual acts as sinful but what I completely fail to understand is why they get so worked up about it. I just wish that churchmen (yes, I do mean that) who get so upset about what they regard as sexual sins would get just as worked up about illegal wars, the greed that leads to global warming, or the violence done to women in the name of Christian marriage. I wish were as vociferous in their campaigning against world poverty, against nuclear weapons or the appalling treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. Why do they seem to get more upset about people trying to love than they do about poverty, the penal system, or the exploitation of women?
So, dear Santa, please get rid of all talk from churchmen about sex unless it is a celebration of God's wonderful gift. [. . .] Come to think about it, though, it might be more realistic to hope for the end of poverty.