I’m blessed in my marriage and as a Christian I thank God that my wife and I not only found each other, but that He gave her the strength to put up with me for all these years!
However, when faced with a militant campaign against the reform of marriage laws by evangelical Christians, I have to ask myself, what if I was born different..? What if I grew up to find that I was only ever attracted to people of the same sex..?
As a straight man, my sexuality is not something that I could ever be in any doubt about, so when I have friends who’ve only ever been attracted to the same sex, and for whom straight feelings are as incomprehensible as homosexual feelings are to me, who am I to question them?!
Well I suppose I might say, “I have a Book and it says this…”, but it’s my interpretation of that book against their very sense of being. It’s my doctrinal belief against their suffering and strength in the face of persecution. And it’s my ‘spiritual’ understanding against scientific and medical knowlege which tells us that gender and sexuality, while unremarkable and settled for about 80% of us, is far more confusing, both physiologically and psychologically for another 10%, and down right messed up (by my exclusive religious standards) for the remaining 5-10%.
So am I prepared to say that at the expense of the freedom, equality and physical & emotional well being of millions of people world wide, that marriage must and can only be between a straight man and a straight woman?
No, I’m not, and neither should you.
“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand”
“One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind”
“Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil”
“Because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval”
[Exerts from Romans Chapter 14]
I’m sure some will argue that the scriptures that I’ve quoted above were given in a specific context, (the observance of ‘holy’ days and the eating of food which has been sacrificed to an idol). I would point out that: 1. This doesn’t stop the principles being applied in a more general context and 2. The ‘anti-gay’ scriptures generally quoted in opposition to homosexuality were also given in a specific context; that of temple prostitution, and as such have little or no application when it comes to loving, committed human relationships.
I wonder what (if anything) we stand to lose by reforming the laws around marriage..? Will this take anything away from straight married couples or those entering into straight marriages in the future? Will it detract from the ‘institution’ of marriage, either as a social or religious convention?
Millions of people get married in this country every year, and while many of them see the act in a strictly or broadly Christian context, very many more do not; some are Hindu, some are Muslim, some are agnostic and many are conscious atheists. Some have a religious ceremony and some make every effort to remove any spiritual aspect and have a purely civil ceremony. Are some of these marriages ‘better’ than others? Is there some kind of sliding scale with atheists at the bottom and True Christian Believers at the top? (And civil partnerships not even counted..)
On their website the Coalition for Marriage argue that same sex couples already enjoy all of the legal benefits of marriage in the UK under civil partnerships, but similar arguments have been made to justify discrimination throughout history; blacks had their own exclusive seats on buses in segregated America, so why would they need to sit anywhere else? Similarly in South Africa under apartheid the state claimed it wasn’t about persecution, only recognising and separating out ‘differces’. Some would argue that sexual orientation is a choice whereas race is not, but try telling that to the mortally persecuted and terrified homosexual minority in Uganda; many of whom would like nothing more than to be ‘normal’, but for whom there is evidently no choice.
The fact is that the Coalition for Marriage campaign is not about preserving any particular view of marriage, or saving marriage its self from some profound loss or denigration. Rather it’s about exclusivity and saying ‘this particular group are not worthy and don’t deserve to enjoy married life together or in the eyes of society’. It’s about intolerance, inequality, religious bigotry and social apartheid.
Just to be clear, (in case I’ve left you in any doubt), I do NOT endorse the Coalition for Marriage petition, and I would NOT encourage anyone to sign it. The legal institution of marriage should be available to all within society, whatever their gender or sexuality, (and if we are to retain civil partnerships in the UK then so should they).
As a Christian my beliefs might still be at odds with some in the LGBT community; I believe that unbridled promiscuity can be physically, psychologically and emotionally harmful, and that an exclusive sexual relationships within the bonds of monogamous marriage are a high human ideal. I would want to encourage anyone, of any sexuality to strive for that ideal, but how can I do that if I hold an exclusively hetrosexual view of marriage?
Therefore, in conscious opposition to the Coalition for Marriage petition and in support of marriage for all of God’s children, I have signed this petition, and I would very much encourage you to consider adding your own signature.