This weekend there will be a momentous change in our national way of life, although it has been long anticipated and preparations have been underway for some time in the hope that people might be better able to come to terms with the changes. For the first time in English history, same sex couples will be able to marry each other and be put on the same legal footing as mixed sex couples. Some see this as amounting to a redefinition of marriage, which was instituted by God at the beginning of human history e.g. “therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” Genesis 2:24. While it now has legal sanction, recognizing the union of same sex couples is not something marriage should encompass and will have untoward consequences. More often than not they come to this view based on religious grounds. There will be others who see equal marriage in equal opportunity and social justice terms – people who love and are committed to one another should be able to marry, irrespective of their genders, and this will lead to a fairer and more tolerant society.
While I have gone on record as being in that first category, I am not inclined to give my reasons or express my views on this and other related issues in this post. It is not because I fear the repercussions of doing so publicly but rather it is because I have already done so. I’m conscious having been an interested listener where gay marriage has been debated and seen how heat, acrimony, misrepresentation and ridicule can follow or as a follower of news such as that of street preachers having been asked the question then going on to express the view that sex between members of the same sex is sinful and then being arrested for having committed a hate crime or news like a manager being demoted from his job for expressing his view on his Facebook page that same sex marriage is wrong, that care is needed in choosing the right words and occasion for expressing a view. It is one reason I wrote a book on the subject although my experience is sadly that if your views upset certain people, however measured and respectful you are, you do get vilified, from both sides of the argument, and I can say that having been ostracized by fellow, conservative / fundamentalist leaning, Christians for my views.
My book, “the gay conundrum” is freely available as a download from this website and contains my reflections on what is taking place, why it is happening, what might happen in future and all sorts of issues that are to do with gay marriage and what some might term as “the gay agenda”. It also offers a view as to how community activists with conservative Christian views might best be able to respond. Gay/equal marriage is a thorny subject and one where expressing a view can incite a hostile reaction from one quarter or another, irrespective of what that view is, and at least by writing this short book I have been able to set out my argument, trying but not always succeeding, to address all possible objections, and doing so in a way that genuinely seeks to take in a variety of opposing views.
Some will see my position as middle of the road (which potentially is a dangerous place to be) or, less charitably, wanting my cake and eat it and, while I have had positive responses from those on opposite sides of the argument, I have also experienced antipathy and sometimes hostility from those who see things differently. Given my community activist mantra tries to find common ground with disparate groups in order to achieve the most good, I believe on balance it was right and proper to set forth my carefully considered views on these matters, as my book explains. Having retired from paid employment and without a position where my rocking the boat can give rise to the sort problems we have seen in our culture when people do express their honestly held opinions concerning such matters as gay/equal marriage, such as loss of livelihood or status, I am now in a position I can express a view that does not necessarily represent the status quo and do so in robust, but hopefully respectful, terms and live with the consequences of doing so. I do so in the hope that Christians are not dismissed when they have potentially so much to offer, for simply adhering to the truth and questions a culture that fails to do so.
Very soon same sex couples, some I know and regard, will be marrying under this new definition. It would be churlish of me not to recognize the sincere love they have for each other or not to wish them well. Equally, it would be wrong of me to condone something that God might condemn. I realize that it sometimes begs the question that many marriages, including Christian ones, break down and, moreover, Christians have often accepted re-marriage after divorce, which in many circumstances, if we read the Bible correctly, is something God does not sanction (just like gay marriage). Christians sometimes ignore other sexual sin, such as indulging in pornography. Some Christian detractors turn a blind eye to such things but are outraged over gay marriage, even if it is proven that some/many same sex unions are permanent, loving and give rather than take away from the common good. What is important to remember is to love what God loves and hate what God hates.
Also, if marriage, correctly defined, is a life-long union between one man and one woman, why is it that well known polygamists in the Bible, such as Jacob and David, still continued to have divine approval as did “eunuchs” that some Bible commentators believe could have been homosexuals? I am not a particular fan of the well known, American, evangelical pastor, Rick Warren but, in his interview with Piers Morgan, he made it clear that in opposing same sex marriage he did so because “I fear the disapproval of God more than I fear your disapproval or the disapproval of society” and with this view I am in full agreement. The issue that is of paramount important as far as I’m concerned is the righteousness of God (as I elaborate via the Gospel table of this website) and my own arguments stand or fall when measured against this yardstick.
What we are about to see is a fait accompli since the same sex marriage act is about to be enforced, although there will undoubtedly be further developments as a result of bringing in same sex marriage. While we all have to come to terms with the implications and consequences, which I see as being substantial and sometimes unforeseen, there is not much we can do to change society on this matter other than through the democratic process or by evangelisation. What we must do is obey the law and show true charity, yet act according to our conscience and the law of God, which also includes loving our neighbor, gay or straight, agreeing or disagreeing with us, sympathetic or hostile to our own position.
Importantly, what is about to take place got me thinking: what is marriage all about and especially regarding my own marriage? For those of us who are married, who believe this to be a good thing, there are things we can do to strengthen our own marriages. Sadly, I have lost count of the number of people who I know and regard, whose marriages have broken down, irretrievably and tragically. Obviously, when writing a blog that the world can see, it wouldn’t be appropriate to elaborate on the struggles that have been experienced, especially by my long-suffering wife, in our own 18 years of marriage, but suffice to say there are a number of areas where I can do better! I am blessed in having a good and loving wife and our son. Marriage remains very much work in progress but work that is worth persisting with none the less.