Gay Marriage; Why you need to decide.

I apologise up front because this is a bit of a ramble but it’s an important one.

The issue is not simple, it involves our view of democracy, of society and of religion.

I’m asking you to read to the end and then decide; but decide with determination. If you agree with my views then sign the petition, write to your MP and make a lot of noise. If you disagree then you also need to raise your voice. This major change to society should not be left to the elite few who believe they own society.

There has been a lot of noise on blogs, Twitter and the traditional media about the subject of Same sex marriage. The UK government, led by David Cameron, has entered a period of consultation about homosexual Marriage; at the end of that period they are going to implement one of the most radical changes ever seen in British society.

Yes that’s right the government has already announced, at the outset of the consultation, that the answer is Yes!. This mockery of the English language and democratic process reminds me of a song in My Fair Lady:

“they will ask for your advice

your reply will be concise.

They will listen very nicely

then go off and do precisely

what they want!”

 The so called consultation is obviously a complete farce but what I want to write about today is something a little more subtle. Throughout the debate on homosexual marriage the media, no doubt influenced by interested, albeit minority, parties, have managed to create a polarised view.

If you are pro, and a Christian, then you are being portrayed, in the media, as a good person; in touch with society, liberal in mind and outlook. There are a number of folk lay and ordained who sit in this camp.

On the other hand; if you are against; you are Homophobic, out of touch with your neighbour, a fundamentalist and have distorted biblical teaching to meet your own ends!

Well I have to fess up:

  • I am against Homosexual marriage
  • I am very pro Gay rights
  • I welcomed the introduction of Civil Partnerships.
  • I am a Fundamentalist Christian.
  • I accept that only God has the authority to judge and condemn

And I can hold all of these beliefs without imploding!

If Fred and Jo or Freda and Johanna want to enter into a partnership I have neither the right, nor wish, to say they are right or wrong. If they want to legalise that relationship, through a civil partnership, I wish them well and am happy that they have the same legal security in the event of death, or other separation, as I and my wife have.

If Fred and Jo, Freda and Johanna or Fred and Johanna ask me what I, as a Christian, think of their relationship I will give them all the same opinion.

The Lord rejoices in love. The Lord also has very clear rules on the expression of love through physical intimacy. What seems to have got everyone in a stew is what are these rules? What can he do with her, or him with him or her with her and still be right in Biblical law? We have all read views that range from complete permissiveness to absolute condemnation.

My view is as follows:

Two people may engage in any sexual activity and call it love making as long as they are willing to stand in front of Christ and say, with sincerity, this is your will.

Ultimately we will all answer to Christ, not the tabloids, not the opinion polls…

When I became a Christian my mentor, knowing the challenges sex presented me, said;

You can do what you like to who you like in the privacy of your bedroom. Just remember that you have now invited Christ into your life so He’ll be watching!”

I understand that sex is a difficult issue!

So what has this got to do with same sex Marriage?

First, I hope I have established that I am not a rabid homophobe. Secondly, that I am not going to judge anyone because of their personal life.

What I really want to do is say what marriage is.

Well that’s very simple: Many people, including Christians, Jews and Moslems share my belief that marriage is:

 “a gift from God, one that should not be taken for granted, and it is clearly intended to be a union of a woman and a man.”

 End of!

I completely accept your right to reject this view, in which case you must surely accept that it has been the received definition of marriage since Adam was a boy! O.K I accept the importance of God may have waxed and waned but the notion that marriage is between a woman and a man is a universal norm.

So why change it? I am told that we need to recognise that there are lots of homosexuals who want the same rights currently provided to married people.

Well, first, those same rights exist through civil partnerships, what will civil marriage add to that? Absolutely nothing. I am aware of nothing in this proposed change that will benefit the homosexual community,

Secondly I question whether there are lots of Homosexuals. I don’t know exact numbers and I am always dubious of numbers derived from surveys but I give you the following. According to the Guardian, not a bastion of homophobia, 1.5% of society was homosexual (Guardian Sept. 23 2010). If this is correct then our government is forcing through a change in social policy that will, at best, be to the benefit of a tiny minority!

So what does the change mean in practice?

At the simplest level, absolutely nothing. Homosexuals will be able to convert their civil partnerships to civil marriages and those that have not yet made a commitment but want to can now have a marriage rather than a partnership. Churches will not be obliged to conduct same sex marriages. So that’s o.k then.

Well not quite; the situation for the homosexual community hasn’t really changed: there are no material differences between Civil Partnership and Civil Marriage, so 1.5% of society sees no change.

The change will be felt by the rest of us.

Let’s take a fictional example; Sanjit and Rebecca, young people of faith, had a civil marriage because they came from different religious backgrounds, their union was blessed in temple and synagogue. Their understanding of marriage was as I described above.

In Cameron’s new world that has changed. Their marriage is the equivalent of Fred and Johanna’s; is that a right outcome? Is that a fair outcome?

The government has promised that this will not impact churches but that is also a nonsense. There is a long tradition of churches recognising civil marriages as equivalent to church marriage when accepting folk for other roles in the church: must that now include homosexual unions? The initial rules; remember they are only draft, say that churches will not be obliged to conduct homosexual marriages can we believe what the government promises?

We have a history in the UK of introducing the thin end of the wedge! When abortions were legalised it was to fight the back street abortionist preying on women for profit. Now we have mainstream clinics performing abortions because a child’s gender is wrong!  No longer in the back street but still for profit. Another change in the law intended to help a minority that grew into something that would never have been sanctioned.

The CofE is an established church; if the government permits same sex marriage how long before there is a call to force the parish church to officiate at same.

I suggest that if Cameron’s proposal becomes law the future of marriage is placed with politicos. While we may never have a Caligula demanding a sacramental blessing on his relationship with a horse! We will be in a bad place.

It may be that as you read this you totally disagree with me; in which case thanks for hanging in. You can now turn to your neighbour and say

I’ve looked at the issues and I’m happy with the introduction of homosexual marriage on the same basis as traditional marriage”.

If you do disagree with me please do make the positive effort of saying so; you see I believe the greatest problem with this proposal is that it is relying on our apathy. David Cameron is gambling that whether we agree or disagree we won’t do anything.

If you do agree with me I need you to take action, it’s simple; all you have to do is click on this

You might want to go further and write to your member of parliament or send her/him a link to this blog saying you endorse it.

Whatever you do please be hot or cold but don’t be tepid.  You can’t sit on the fence; there is no fence!


10 thoughts on “Gay Marriage; Why you need to decide.

  1. May I say that you have presented a very balanced view from the perspective of a modern Christian. I believe that most genuine Christians hold the same views of homosexuality. I find it very vexing that so called Liberals find it so hard to appreciate our religious and immediately resort to throwing vicious insults for disagreeing.

    I’ll extend this further and look at the legal position and extrapolate that for the future of religious marriage.

    The Marriage Act 1949 continues the centuries old law of placing an Ordained Minister in the same position as a Registrar. In legal terms when the State took control of registrations of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the mid 1800’s they created the role of Registrar who was legally empowered to do these things. Prior to this all such functions had been performed by the Church since the reign of Elizabeth I. It was she that introduced the concept of the BMD register to maintain an adhoc census of who lived where.

    From the above an Ordained Minister currently serves two masters in marriage. When he marries a couple he marries them in the eyes of the Church and also the law. His return to the Registrar makes the marriage official and is recorded in the Central Registers Office.

    The current proposal says that the Church will not be required to perform same sex marriages. However the first time that any refusal to perform a marriage of a same sex couple is taken to the High Court will result in the Courts finding that this legislation is discriminatory in terms of Equality Law and the Church will be forced to perform these marriages or face prosecution under the Equalities Act. It is not clear in law which Act takes precedence but I suspect that Equality Law which is more general would be superior to the Marriage Act. Further the Home Secretary is being disingenuous for failing to highlight such a position.

    Almost certainly the Catholic Church and possibly the Church of England will then de-register their Churches as places where people can marry legally. The Catholic Church demonstrated this determination when they withdrew their adoption services when they were required to allow adoption of children to homosexual parents.

    This will result in the majority of the people being denied a religious marriage on the basis of the rights of a small minority of people. Whilst I believe this likely they will probably advise couples to marry in a civil ceremony and then have their wedding celebrated with a Church service which would not have the same wording currently used.

    The other aspect that has not been factored is what reaction could we expect from the Muslim religion? They have been silent so far but if the above steps eventuate and Muslims are forced into the same situation what will result? Islam is not as tolerant as Christianity and could we see violence as a result?

    • I will reply to your comments paragraph by paragraph. First of all no, I don’t appreciate your religious beliefs or any others, and why should I? Religious beliefs are not sacred should be viewed and critiqued in the same manner as personal beliefs.

      As for Priests being forced to marry homosexuals. I don’t believe this will happen as it has not happened anywhere in the world where gay marriage exists. Churches provide the commercial service of marriage. They charge for you to get married in their church. And as I said, religious beliefs should be viewed as personal beliefs, so they should not be allowed to deny anybody a commercial service due to their beliefs. Can a Muslim in a shop refuse to serve somebody bacon as it against their beliefs? No. Can a vegetarian refuse to serve someone meat as it against their beliefs? No.

      If churches withdraw the service of marriage to avoid having to cater for gay weddings well that is not the fault of homosexuals.

      And Islam not as tolerant as Christianity? Really? Quite laughable. Maybe in the past century Christianity has overtaken Islam in the tolerant stakes but only just, and still does not mean Christians are tolerant. For instance if I said I was an Atheist a generation ago, I would have been beaten, quite severely by parish priest. In the USA there are hundreds of thousand homosexuals and Atheists hiding their true nature for fear of reprisals from Christian community. Those that come out are bullied and disowned by their family members. I read many stories every day. Just last week a man in Texas was killed by his best friend because he found out he was an Atheist.

      Finally the only reason Christians are now more tolerant than Muslims is due to governmental and secular changes such as this bill. And you did it kicking and screaming fighting everytime: slavery, racial discrimination, female suffrage, homosexual rights and now this. In 50 years time and new generation of Christians will be looking at how ‘tolerant’ they are by allowing gay marriage forgetting that their predecessors fought against it, just like you have forgotten how your predecessors fought against the very freedoms many have now. Yes Christians are now more tolerant, but only because you were forced to become so by secular society. And this is another example, and once again Christianity is on the wrong side.

      • I’ll reply in the same way.

        Do really think I care or give a damn whether you have any respect for my beliefs or not. It’s irrelevant.

        Just so that you’re aware the majority of people in the UK still regard themselves as Christians and live by the teachings of Christ. Whether you like or agree with this is again is irrelevant.

        Churches are not commercial organisations as recognised by the State and are not subject to tax or VAT. Argument out of the window. I have no doubt that the right of gays to be married in Church is going to be challenged in the courts. So do many behind the c4m campaign which is why it gathering so much traction.

        “If churches withdraw the service of marriage to avoid having to cater for gay weddings well that is not the fault of homosexuals” Really? So the tooth fairy is driving this campaign for recognition of gay marriage

        What is the relevance of the the attitudes in the USA got to do with this current situation. We’re discussing the UK in case you are confused about the location. You can probably find it on Google Earth if you’re still confused.

        Because you have such a closed mind and are so vitriolic about your own atheism, you fail to consider other peoples beliefs as referred to earlier. Christianity sees homosexuality as an aberration of natural order. If Christians start to selectively ignore parts of their beliefs because they become inconvenient to other parts of society then they are no longer Christians because they fail to live within their belief system. Since Christianity is still the predominant belief system in the UK and we have a democracy then such beliefs still maintain control of the legal system. If you don’t like living within such a democracy you know where the door is. I am sure you can find you own way out and don’t slam the door please.

        • If you don’t care then why did you say it vexes you?

          Please read my comments carefully, I did not say Churches were commercial organisations but they provided a commercial service.

          Not confused about the location, was discussing Christianity a whole.

          Vitriolic about my Atheism? Do you know the meaning of the word? I merely mentioned I was an Atheist but never once promoted views, and definitely not bitterly or harshly,

          “If Christians start to selectively ignore parts of their beliefs because they become inconvenient to other parts of society then they are no longer Christians because they fail to live within their belief system”. I love this bit, because yes you do. Do you eat bacon? Then you’re an abomination to God. Have you had a hair cut and shave your beard? Then you’re an abomination to God. Ever work on a Sunday? Then you’re abomination to God. Have you ever stoned anyone to death? Well then you don’t follow bible fully as God proscribes death by stoning for many crimes. Any Christian women wear pants? Abomination to God. I could go on and on and on even further about how Christians of today do selectively disregard large tracts of the bible because it doesn’t suit them, because the vast majority have never read the bible. If they did they’d be horrified as I was to see the cruelty of your God, committing genocide and rape continuously. And as for the sanctity of marriage, polygamy is found in many occasions. Even forced marriage between a rapist and his rape victim. Between master and slave.

          So are you sure Christians don’t selectively ignore parts of their belief system?

          Finally, yes for now Christianity is the predominant belief system. But Atheism is growing and predicted to be the dominant ‘belief’ by 2040. And when we are predominant and hope and I am sure we will treat minority beliefs better than Christians have when you were dominant.

          • Peter, thank you very much for showing an interest in our site; clearly we are on different sides of this argument and I welcome the opportunity to share views. I wanted to address some things you said that I believe are factually incorrect.

            First; marriage is not a commercial transaction for a church; at least not for the CofE. As priests we take not just a religious role but also the role of registrar; as such there are fees that have to be collected but they would also be due in a civil marriage. There can be additional fees, e.g. for choir, bell ringers etc., but I have never taken a personal fee for officiating at a marriage and the church I have officiated in has not made a profit from the marriage.

            Secondly; you are quite correct that no church has been forced to celebrate same sex marriages in any country where those unions have been legalised. However, this ignores the very special circumstances that apply where we have an Established Church. Every inhabitant of England resides in a CofE parish and is entitled to call on the services of the parish for Baptism, Marriage and Funeral. If this legislation enters the statute book it is only a matter of time before a gay couple ask for their “marriage” to take place in church. That will create a constitutional issue if not a crisis.

            Thirdly; you demonstrate a good knowledge of Old Testament law regarding the Sabbath, food and punishment but this is Jewish law not Christian. The New Testament redefined much of this law; for Jesus’ teaching on the Sabbath read Mark 2:23-27, regarding bacon try Acts 10. More importantly Jesus taught us how to interpret the law; have a look at John 8:1-11 and John 4:1-26 two examples of the compassion Jesus taught. While Christians still accept the Old Testament as scripture the New Covenant, established by Christ through His birth, life, death and resurrection replaces the Old covenants.

            In that New Covenant Christ clearly saw marriage as a union between woman and man, see Matthew 19:4-6.

            I am not expecting you to change your view but thought it was important to clarify the above.

            Again; thank you for commenting on our site I hope you continue to do so.

    • Peter I read your blog with interest and totally accept that marriage existed before Christianity and that it existed in most societies. I am aware of cultures, including early Hebrew, that accepted polygamous marriage I am not aware of any evidence for homosexual marriage in any culture before late 20th Century western society.

      Obviously homosexual relationships took place and same sex relationships were recognised as socially acceptable in some societies. But were they really seen as marriage? I am not aware of any major religion that sanctified same sex relationships, some cults in the ancient world but not mainstream religion. Nor have I come across any legal framework that gave same sex relationships equality before the law with heterosexual union.

      Of course there are “Caligula” examples of mad men who legalised all sorts of relationships but no society that legitimised same sex union; if you can provide evidence to the contrary I will happily concede.

  2. Gay marriage will have no impact either way on my life (I am straight and married). Therefore I have no business (and nor do you) in trying to restrict it. Its hard to take seriously the views of people who a) believe in the supernatural (ie religion) and b) use their beliefs as an excuse to restrict the rights of others. You will look back at your comments in 20 years surpised that you were so conceited and off the ball on this very uncomplicated issue.

    Marriage is a human invention. Not a gift from god. You don’t have ownership of it as a Christian.

    • The fact that you are atheist precludes you from understanding the thoughts of someone with religious beliefs and even less right to presume to lecture them on such beliefs.

      Since a majority of this nation profess to be Christian why should a minority group presume to have the right to deny this majority a right to Christian marriage, which will be the result of this Bill.

    • Adam, thank you for visiting our site and commenting; obviously we are on opposite sides of this argument and I welcome the opportunity to share views. Just a couple of comments on your post. You say that Gay marriage will not impact you; that suggests that you see your marriage as a private affair. I believe that it is a public commitment to an institution that represents certain values; and I held those beliefs when I married in a regisrar’s office 25 years ago. If I wanted a non public statement we would have lived together.

      You can’t take seriously people who belive in religion? Well according to the ONS 80% of your neighbours and 60% of the gay community do have a religous belief. Of course you are entitled to ignore, belittle and mock their beliefs but maybe the epithet “conceited” sits better with you.

      Finally, this is an “uncomplicated issue”; religous marriage is embodied in our constitution. The Articles of the Church of England, including its laws on marriage, are established not by bishops but by parliament. The head of the church of England, enthroned in a religous ceremony, is also our head of State. If this is an uncomplicated issue then Riemann’s Hypothesis is a sum that’s a little bit hard.

      Again, thank you for visiting our site.

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