“Living it out” by Rachel Hagger-Holt and Sarah Hagger-Holt (Book Review)

Daphne and John Cook

Living it outby Rachel Hagger-Holt and Sarah Hagger-Holt, Canterbury Press 2009. ISBN 978-1-85311-999-6.

This book was shared with Daphne by the mother of a friend of Rachel and Sarah’s who is referred to in their writing. A friend who is an evangelical heterosexual Christian. It was therefore a great delight and privilege to meet them both when they addressed a group in St. Martins-in-the-Fields in June.

Their book is filled with stories offering plenty of practical, positive help on managing relationships with God, the Church and other people. The authors state that the book bears witness to the many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual people that they have met during the last ten years who hold an active faith, lived out in their daily lives. This journey alongside them and with thanks to them, has enabled the authors to build a renewed relationship with God and with the Bible, and negotiated their paths through church to a place where they continue to learn and grow in their Christian faith through good times and bad.

Each chapter offers a challenge to the reader’s faith journey under the title, ‘Action” and then it offers a prayer that may be spoken. So the suggestion to the reader at the end of the first chapter is to draw a map of their faith journey on a piece of paper. To then mark the times when God’s love has been especially known, and the people or experiences that have helped them. In addition to note the wrong turns taken and time spent in the wilderness. Then to reflect on what this shows about the past and what hope it gives for the future.

When growing up Rachel and Sarah had to come to terms with the fact that they were not heterosexual, they found girls attractive, and were not drawn to love boys. They also had to face the fact that many Christians condemned them for being lesbian. Many Churches did not welcome them.

After they met, they found themselves drawn to one another, and they wanted to enter into a life-long, faithful, loving, partnership. They were led to believe that God loved them as they were, and that God would bless them in their permanent faithful relationship.

Eventually a Christian Minister was found who would conduct a wedding ceremony for them. That was five years ago. A daughter was born to them two years ago.

In their book they quote (with permission) freely from the 54 contributors. Many are gay or lesbian or bisexual (LGB). Some are heterosexual (“straight”). Some are parents of LGB people. Some are Christian leaders who condemned LGB people but were led to change their minds. The Christian contributors are from a variety of denominations and traditions. They include practising Roman Catholics

The book offers help to LGB people and to their relatives and friends. It has a good list of books, organisations and websites including a website for Eastern Orthodox Gay and Lesbian Christians. It is a challenge to Churches and to all who call themselves Christians. Is our ignorance, our prejudice, causing us to condemn those whom God loves and accepts?

This is a book to be read and re-read. Colin Coward of Changing Attitude writes, “It is full of wisdom, a resource not only for survival in a confused church, but an inspiration to those longing to be true to themselves and to God who calls us unconditionally to love and transformation”.

Daphne and John Cook

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