Homosexual marriage? Just let it happen!

 

Ok, how to begin?  How to explain my thought about this?  Loads of my Christian friends have been sharing a petition to “protect the traditional definition of marriage”.  In other words, to stop the government from allowing same-sex couples to marry.  However, despite loads of my friends sharing the link, I haven’t signed it!  Why?  I’ll try to explain.

Now let me be plan, I do agree that the Christian definition of marriage is “a covenant relationship, between a man and a woman, for life”.  BUT, the key word in that sentence is “Christian”.  That is the Christian definition.  For Christians.  It’s about time we realised that we DO NOT live in a country where the majority of people are practicing Christians. 

Now we also need to accept another fact.  To the rest of the world, Christian sexual ethics have always been “odd”.  Fine!  … So be it.  We teach that sex is a gift, from God, to be enjoyed exclusively within the context of a Christian marriage.  From the earliest times of the church this was at odds with the culture of the world.  During Christendom, this understand was, at least publicly, accepted by society.  In people’s minds, this changed years ago.  Now law is catching up.  We need to live up to that fact.  That doesn’t mean we compromise our ethics, but do we really believe we’re entitled to enforce these sexual ethics on people who don’t share our beliefs?

Now, for the Church of England, these changes in law are causing a lot of nervousness.  Why?  Because we’re the “established church”.  In other words, our vicars can legally marry people (like other churches and religions).  But also, anyone who can legally marry is legally entitled to come and marry in their local Church of England church.  This would mean that any change to the legal definition of marriage would mean that the Church of England would be forced to conduct the marriages. 

To me, this seems to present an obvious solution.  Let’s adopt the system that is used in most other countries (I personally saw it in Germany).  Hand over the legal side of marriage to the state, and then we conduct our own services for people who wish to marry in church.  All people can be required to get married in a legal civil ceremony first, and then people, if they wish, may have a religious service to follow.  This way the church could have a different definition of marriage to the culture (which in practice we do anyway).  We could continue to debate and discuss what the Christian approach should be and then maintain our own beliefs and practice.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying Christians shouldn’t be using their democratic rights to fight for what they think is right.  But we need to argue on grounds that make sense to be people who don’t share our ethics.  You think having same-sex marriages would have a bad affect on society?  Then argue it, convincingly.  You think it would have a bad affect on families?  Then argue it!  But the worry that the church may have to go against its morals is not going to convince people.  If we feel we have to break our morals to stay established, then it’s time we left.

The question all us Christians have to ask ourselves is, what kind of effect is all this debate having on the watching worlds view of the church?  If we can stick to our morals, allow Jesus’ followers to marry in His eyes and show a little understanding to those same-sex couples in the world, then surely that’s a better way forward than what’s happening at the moment? 

That’s what I think, anyway!

About David

I'm the curate at St. Anne's Church, in the parish of Shevington, Standish Lower Ground and Crooke. I'm married to Carole and have two beautiful daughters called Sarah and Anabel
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12 Responses to Homosexual marriage? Just let it happen!

  1. Chris Bryan says:

    Excellent post, David. Nothing in here I can argue with. A very mature and reasoned post, unlike some of the vitriol we see in the press. From both sides. I agree that the Church should not be forced into change it disagrees with fundamentally. Rightly or wrongly. So, decouple the two. As they have in many countries, as you point out.

    You’re in a unique position to push this, David. As wiser men than me have said: be the change you want to see.

  2. Chris says:

    Just a final point to the above: It centres around the perceived hypocrisy. The Bible may well be quite clear on it’s position towards same-sex realtionships, but it is equally clear on cohabitation, sex before marriage, and sex for reasons other than procreation (no time to find the exact passages, but I’m sure you know them better than I!). However, the Church seems (look, I’m arguing purely from an outsider here) to be perfectly happy to turn a blind eye to this, and will marry divorcees and people who have clearly been cohabiting and enjoying everything that comes with that, but finds the idea of same-sex relationships abhorrent. You can see why this looks to be hypocritical. *Especially* in the absence of any reasoning. Pete, you say same-sex marriage would be “a destructive avenue for our confused world”, but you don’t say *why*. I suspect, reading between the lines of your later post, that it’s because there are many confused young people out there who, if they have a same-sex encounter, may ‘go that way’. Therefore, you must limit their choices until they’re truly ready to make that decision. Well, then you must limit their expose to heterosexual encounters also. It’s almost saying ‘they only became gay because they had a homosexual encounter at a young age. If only they had waited, they may not have become gay’. It still comes from the point of view that being gay is somehow wrong. And it is this ‘wrongness’ that no one in the church seems willing to address. Why is it wrong?!

    • David says:

      Hey Chris, I’ve responded on facebook to some of this.
      I take your point about sex before marriage etc (although, for the record, the Bible says nothing about only having sex for procreation, and instead supports the idea the married couples should enjoy sex for “fun” within marriage). This is part of the misgiving about legalising the whole thing. I don’t know, but I do know that I can see, from an outsiders view point, why it must look hypocritical. From the inside, its really not, but I get that it must look that way!
      I think me and Pete probably share the same moral view point, but see the way forward in it as different. Whereas, mine and your moral view points are clearly very different, but we can agree on the initial way forward!! Strange but true!

  3. Chris Bryan says:

    Perfectly put. :o) I suppose I’m happy enough to black box the reasoning so long as the answer’s the same. (though as a scientist, black boxing is somethong that runs agaimst my nature. ;o) ).

  4. Chris says:

    Pete, thanks for taking the time to comment. I don’t wish to extend this debate, as we would go on and on and on. No bad thing, but my work would suffer and I’ve not responded to a previous comment thread David and I had going!

    Thanks also for putting some reason to your arguments. I see your point, but obviously I can’t agree. But we’ll not debate that now!

    I would argue one thing: It’s interesting you see support marrying divorcees and those who have cohabited as you see it as a movement in the right direction; putting them on the right path. I wonder if they think they’ve changed their path at all?

    But I see your points, as much as I disagree! :o)

  5. Mark Hopkins says:

    Hi David,

    Interesting blog post this – I find your others interesting as well, but it’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who didn’t sign the marriage petition. Actually my reason for not signing it was more personal – at uni of my friends who is gay asked me to sign a gay rights petition. I refused at the time, saying (in a pretty insensitive manner) that I was a Christian and so I believed homosexual acts were sinful. It ruined our friendship. I’ve reconsidered a lot of my attitudes since then towards men and women in the gay community and so decided for me it wasn’t right to sign the petition this time as I believe the church is alienating and hostile to gay men and women and we need to think hard about what we say and do.

    Incidentally, I have recently been spurred on to launch my own wordpress blog as “sparkyhopkins”, now I have a long Summer and more time on my hands to muse about life!

    • David says:

      Thanks Mark, I look forward to seeing what you have to write. I’m still thinking through this issue and trying to figure out what the best way forward is. But I definitely agree what the way the church has handled it has alienated and hurt many people and we need to think very carefully what the best, most loving way forward is, while sticking to biblical truth. Not an easy balance to achieve.

  6. Mike Peatman says:

    Just caught up with this conversation. Absolutely with you on the ‘disestablish’ option, David. There’s nothing intrinsically Anglican or Christian about being established – the C of E is alone in the Communion in being so. It also carries with it all the problems of the conflicts of moral and legal codes this issue highlights. If we want to commend marriage, I think there are much more positive things we could do that would be much more constructive.

    • David says:

      Good to know me and you agree Mike. I’m actually still not sure about this, and out of all the blogs I’ve written this is the only one I am not sure about. I really struggle with how we go about balancing Christian sexual ethics, with pastoral demonstrations of God’s love. But I still hesitantly think this is probably the best way forward.

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