The gay marriage debate: A Church sucked into the cultural war vortex

I’m no proponent of “gay marriage”.

Having said this, what follows may surprise and even disappoint a few folk.

I have already reached the point whereby I am utterly wearied by the “gay marriage” debate. I don’t think there is an argument or counter-argument I haven’t read.

The Christian Interweb is absolutely awash with this issue, day in, day out, and yet I do wonder if the average pew sitter is as absorbed with this.

In terms of “gay marriage” I have now reached the point where I no longer feel strongly either way. I feel that there are more important issues, and if homosexual folk wish to marry civically, then so be it. As long as there are no legal challenges to force the church to solemnise these unions under “equality” legislation, then I won’t be losing any sleep over it.

I believe that the political will is now in place for “gay marriage” and I don’t think there is any stopping this momentum now.

Call me pessimistic if you will, but I believe this is a reality that Christians must face head on.

I feel that in some respects the church’s mission has been subverted into a cultural war that detracts from her true purpose; namely, the Kingdom. By this, I mean the kingdom not of this world, but of the one to come, and that indeed is already amongst us, and growing at a furious and unprecedented rate globally.

By this we should be encouraged, not despairing.

It is not the church’s mandate to impose a ‘regenerated’ morality on the heathen (I use this tongue in cheek), but to declare the wonder of our God.

I don’t believe that my reality, or that of many others, will change due to “gay marriage”. In fact, I think that most folk will carry on viewing the institution of marriage in exactly the same way as they always have. I don’t believe the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony will be affected in the slightest.

Regardless of the outcome of the consultation on “gay marriage” proposals, orthodox Christians will continue to view “gay marriage” as an oxymoron, irrespective of cultural shifts, or legislation.

I feel that getting sucked into the vortex of the cultural wars is exactly what those most opposed to the Church would wish for, and we play into their hands.

Sadly I believe that the relaxed attitude on divorce in some quarters of the Church has helped to precipitate the situation we now find ourselves in.

Perhaps it would be more appropriate for orthodox Christians to direct their ire at those liberal minded Christians that have publicly declared their support of gay marriage, and those clerics that will happily solemnise these unions, rather than at the government.

Whatever the outcome, we all still need to live together.

That’s just how I feel about it all right now.

My views may change.

Let me know your thoughts.

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22 Responses to “The gay marriage debate: A Church sucked into the cultural war vortex”

  1. Modern Comments Says:

    The thing is, the entire issue isn’t about civil marriage. Civil marriage of same sex couples could have been achieved years ago, even by simply not referring to it as “marriage” but that wasn’t good enough.

    It’s in the same vein as the issue re: contraceptive coverage. Those who support contraceptive coverage say a church — regardless of its beliefs — must do the same because “it’s the law.”

    So when gay marriage is the law, guess what? The same folk will say, “Churches — regardless of their beliefs — must perform, bless, accept, etc. gay marriage because it’s the law.” Failure to do so will result in lawsuits, penalties, fines, etc.

    This is why few states with gay marriage laws have any religious exemption with teeth. And why politicians in the UK are already banging the drums to force churches to perform gay marriages (because, as I said, it’s the “law”).

    I agree that Christians should be far more vocal and less tolerant of divorce, but even that doesn’t quite address the issue (as if gay marriages won’t end in divorce, right?).

  2. marc Says:

    I appreciate your sentiments – and your implied tiredness both physically and mentally over the issue – I have passed through both as I have relatives who are gay.
    We will simply have to move on and perhaps listen to the experiences of those Christians who do enter into a gay marriage. Perish the thought (or rather the question) – are there practising, faith filled and faith experiencing Christians who are going to go through with this! Some will tell us they cannot possibly be Christians while others will tell us they are Christians. Perhaps we need to keep our ears tuned over the coming years to hear voices which might seem to us to be discordant with our own beliefs and practices and which will perhaps be strange voices from a new era.
    I wonder what Jesus would think of all this – He has hardly been allowed into the debate – or at least we do not seem to find His words on either side of the issue really. Strange . . .

  3. Goy Says:

    In hoc signo vinces†

    I sympathise with your sentiments webmaster, but the fact remains that on all levels of U.K. society we have and are being sucked into the cultural war vortex, not to engage in that war and believing your indifference will be respected by the discordians is reckless abandon.

  4. Simian Says:

    I’m with you on this webmaster.
    If there’s a civil ceremony of marriage for same sex partners that is not the same thing as the Church being forced to conduct these ceremonies. There is no evidence I am aware of that forcing the Church to do so is contemplated. If it were I would join the opposition to it regardless of the fact that I am not religious.
    But I have a perception that whenever the Church pronounces on something, it is to stop people behaving ina certain way, yet when non-Church pressure groups champion something it is to give people the freedom to do something. Not a helpful way for religion to be perceived…

  5. Kevin Says:

    I felt similarly, civil partnership can be called what they want: who cares – then I read this article titled “What is Marriage” in:

    Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 245-287, Winter 2010

    web link for a free download is at the Social Science Research Network.
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1722155##

    This changed my mind and convinced me to protest, the important point is NOT that Catholics can continue unhindered, the well argued point being made in the paper is that same sex marriage will inexorably undermine those who try and protect the next generation by fostering sustainable marriages. Further it will be impossible to restrict marriage to just two people on any rational basis which in turn would also undermine the ability of society to foster stable relationships.

    This is argued from a non-faith perspective which in itself is very interesting, and should have a wider acceptability and persuasiveness beyond the church community and while I cannot do it justice I would recommend it to anyone to read.

  6. Goy Says:

    In hoc signo vinces†

    Gay marriage as religious ritual is politically the normalisation and promotion of homosexuality as the rule in society, the precursor to the separation of the sexes in society generally, the ultimate end result being the subjugation of women. Gay marriage a very islamic mneme.

  7. Maureen Says:

    If Christians can’t agree that God calls anything sins, then obviously it’s a bit difficult to Christians to call anyone to repent and not sin again.

  8. Thirsty Gargoyle Says:

    I sympathise with your tiredness, Stuart, though curious as it my sounds, my direction of travel has been, if anything, opposite to yours.

    I think the abandonment of a societal ideal, one which has always reflected our basic biological reality as a species, would be a very bad idea. I’m not sure the State should be passing any kind of comment on people’s relationships with each other unless it’s very obviously beneficial for society at large for it to do so. And I don’t think the State should be legislating to change language in such an Orwellian way. But, of course, you’ll be familiar with all of that.

    Of crucial importance in this debate, I’ve come to realise, is the fact that most people confuse weddings and marriages. I don’t think there’s much danger of priests being compelled to perform same-sex weddings.

    I do, however, think there’s an enormous danger of priests, teachers, catechists, and parents being compelled to recognise same-sex unions as marriages, when the Church teaches that they are nothing of the sort.

    This is of vital importance. At the very least we would have to agree that mainstream Christian teaching holds that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, ordered towards the bearing and rearing of children. This reflects the relationship between Christ and His Church. It cannot be otherwise.

    That’s why Timothy Radcliffe begins his current Tablet column by saying that Church isn’t opposed to same-sex marriage; it believes it’s impossible.

    If the State institutes same-sex marriage, it cannot grant religious exemptions to the recognition of such marriages. It cannot say ‘These are marriages, and everybody has to accept this as a matter of law, unless you disagree, in which case you don’t have to recognise them.’

    And without such an exemption, every time a Christian says what marriage is — which implicitly carries the statement of what marriage is not — they open themselves to prosecution for hate speech. Quoting the Catechism could become a section five public order offence.

    As long as Britain has hate speech legislation, supporting the institution of same-sex marriage is supporting the criminalisation of Christians.

  9. Lisa Graas Says:

    Your bishops are right to fight this as ours are in America.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17329902

    Read this letter from Archbishop Vincent Nichols.
    http://www.catholic-ew.org.uk/Home/News-Releases/Archbishops-Letter-on-Marriage

    You need to stand with them, Stuart.

  10. webmaster Says:

    I do support them Lisa and I posted the letter on this blog.

    I’m no supporter of ‘gay marriage’.

    I suppose I’m just so tired and wearied with it all the moment. Sometimes I feel that we are only defined by what we oppose and there’s so much more to us than that.

  11. Gordon Says:

    Does anyone know the catholic churches position on civil marriage? They seem to partially recognise them as valid even though they are not done via a sacrament. I find this confusing. if they didn’t recognise civil marriage then their position on gay marriage would be simpler.

  12. Richard B Says:

    Well said Stuart, and my thoughts are close to yours. We’re at such an important time for the Kingdom as is clearly evident by the increasing, manifold opposition. But Father’s plans show this was all foreseen and He has this in-hand.

    Comments of ‘weariness’ remind me of the explanation given to Daniel for the ‘end-times’ vision of four beasts (Daniel chapter 7). One beast, unlike the previous three empires, has a ‘little horn’ who speaks pompously against the Most High and ‘persecutes’ His saints (Dan 7:25). The latter’s Hebrew is literally, ‘wear out’ or ‘harass constantly’ (Strongs H1080, ‘bela’). Isn’t that what’s happening these days?

    Lisa – yes indeed we must stand! For some years I’ve been encouraging friends to do so as a result of a personal vision (see http://wp.me/p1Y1yB-gS) and find that many are also becoming more resolute in their stance. Only recently I met someone who’d received similar vision of Britain as a sleeping giant awaking and rising up.

    So let’s ‘put on the whole armour of God that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil’ (Eph 6.11).

  13. Richard B Says:

    May I add to my previous and respond to Marc’s closing comments, “I wonder what Jesus would think of all this…Strange” ?

    First, let’s recall believers are instructed to obey his commands – so all else, especially on this topic, is ultimately irrelevant.

    To my mind, Jesus’ thoughts are clear from his recorded answer to the legality of divorce (Mark 10). In answering the Pharisees’ question Jesus explained that Moses permitted divorce because of mens’ ‘hardness of heart’. Next, he reminded them God had created men and women for the purpose of becoming joined as one flesh. He explained to his disciples that splitting this unity is adultery. (Hence the concept of Godly and ungodly soul-ties, which have a supernatural reality.)

    Jesus probably did not mention ungodly marriage because such was not permitted under the long-established laws of sexual morality ordained by God to prevent defilement of not only people but also the land (Leviticus 18)! And they knew that Abraham’s nephew had escaped with his life from the infamous Sodom (Genesis 18-19).

    And what about the unfortunate victims Luke reported upon in chapter 13 of his account? It was presumed they must have been great sinners (whatever the sin) and thus had brought about their demise. But Jesus corrected that mis-conception by repeatedly warning:

    “I tell you no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish!” (Luke 13. 1-9 NASB)

    Such stern admonishment we all need to heed, no matter our belief in Jesus Christ. Being the Way, the Truth and the Life, he simply spoke it as it is.

  14. Gordon Says:

    “Hence the concept of Godly and ungodly soul-ties”.

    How do you get that from that passage? My understanding is that “soul-ties” is a doctrine specific to a part of pentacostalism that practices deliverance ministry – or do you mean something else?

  15. Richard B Says:

    Gordon – good question. I can’t comment re. pentacostalism but from practice of prayer ministry, and hope this brief note may help:

    My understanding of soul-ties is that they’re formed through bonding process, the closest of which are parent-child and sibling relationships -and the most intimate being physical union of a couple. That is, it’s not only a physical act but it also incorporates bonding of soul and spirit.

    Also, family relationships connect each member’s soul and spirit. To my mind, the Genesis 2:24 ‘leaving and cleaving’ principle ‘to become one flesh’ may be the original definition of what many now recognise as a ‘soul-tie’.

    As God created and ordained family relationships then such soul-ties are Godly ones. They may become ungodly when we go against God’s directives and make that choice affect our relationships, eg when using control and manipulation. So one may grasp how adultery introduces a number of ungodly consequences into all parts of all affected parties.

    I hope that makes the concept a little clearer. Application of such Biblical principles, with others, is a very effective means of healing.

  16. Gordon Says:

    Where is this biblical principal in the bible? I don;t have any recollection of this being mentioned by Jesus or any of the Apostles.

  17. Goy Says:

    Presumably the bonding process – “soul-ties” or marriage between a man and a woman does not need the State to legitimise it as a Christian bond, is State sanctioned marriage not a very false and modern invention?

  18. Richard B Says:

    A brief reply for you Gordon whilst busy today – I referred to Mark 10 and its connection to Genesis 2. Meanwhile, before I take time to list other references perhaps you’d like to check out instances of and meanings of ‘join/joined’ and ‘knit’ (equivalent of ‘soul-tie’) in a concordance? Also, an interlinear Hebrew-Greek-English Bible would shed some light.

  19. Richard B Says:

    Gordon, further to my previous quick reply I could also add ‘yoke/yokes’. As you seemed to not grasp my remarks, or maybe mixed them with misconceptions, I hope you may fare better with this:

    Here’s a selection of additional verses which cover the topic of bonding, as founded upon the law of love in Christ – Genesis 44.30, Proverbs 18.24, Galatians 6.2, James 2.8 ; on ties of marriage – Ephesians 5.31 and Matthew 19.6; on brotherly ties – 1 Samuel 18.1, 1 Corinthians 1.10 & 6.19, Ephesians 4.16. Enough said?

    And these exclude references to ungodly soul bondages, one such actually proves the principle you query – 1 Corinthians 6.15-17, viz:

    ‘Do you know not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you know not know that one who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two shall become one flesh”. But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.’

  20. Gordon Says:

    Not sure that hustifies a doctrine of soul – ties, which usually means supernatural tuies which prevent someone progressing in their life, and need prayed over by other people. Thats how I have heard it used.

  21. Adamm Says:

    Candide: “If marriage is divine, of course,
    We cannot understand, sir,
    Why there should be so much divorce?
    Do let us know the answer!”
    Dr Pangloss: “Why marriage, boy, is such a joy,
    So lovely a condition,
    That many ask no better than
    To wed as often as they can,
    In happy repetition!”
    Chorus: “A brilliant exposition!” (attr. Lillian Hellman et al, after Voltaire)

    It seems to me that marriage is an honourable estate, and that civil marriage should be open to anyone wishing to make a life long commitment to another, to the exclusion of all others. I respect those that feel is should only be between those of the opposite sex – let them hold fast for themselves. If a particular religion or denomination wishes to consider marriage within their faith as a sacrament, and limit to whom they will make this sacrament available, then they should be free to do so for adherents of that faith. If marriage is solely a sacrament of the Christian faith, this invalidates marriages contracted by other faiths – and this is a dangerous precedent. Accordingly, I believe there should be no religious impediment to a civil right – and as long as there are civil laws regarding marriage then should be civil freedom and equality of access.

  22. Richard B Says:

    Thank you Gordon, especially for the train of thought you’ve stimulated. So I’d like to share this by way of analogy. (Webmaster: this topic may seem to be off-thread but, inmho, it may well be at the core of the issue.)

    We’re all unconcerned about the means of commenting on this blog – for all we care it could be by invisible carrier pigeon or wave of magic wand over a plastic page. We do know though: it’s done digitally without our awareness through wired or wireless kit via the the internet and ISP protocols through central servers. But we’re aware of our security responsibility to keep out and clear out viruses, tracking cookies, etc.

    Now, the Holy Bible’s had similar, working principles for interactive relationships millennia before the internet. Along with others, the verses I referred to previously are God’s instructions for making effective, as it were, plug ‘n’ play and/or wire-less connections, downloading updates, and protection from hackers. That is, his Word covers physical hardware (our bodies), application programs (our souls) and operating systems (our spirits). When we fail to use these as directed, our programs can get corrupted and need sorting out and repairing so we can function properly, even by auto-repair!

    Perhaps, as you say, Biblical principles don’t justify the idea of soul-ties. But this concept puts ancient truths into modern terms which, along with the essential ones of forgiveness and repentance, enable us to move into the fullness of freedom Jesus bought for us. As in a well-known song:

    “It was for freedom that Christ has set us free,
    no longer to be subject to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1)

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