This new blog was meant to be more jokey/funny/light ent. Instead the first proper post looks like being far from that, and instead attempting to tackle a current religious/cultural hot potato. Catch.
I feel compelled to write about this week’s gay marriage vote, because on Twitter and Facebook, almost all comments I saw on the issue were from non-Christians (or ‘nonks’, as I hope will catch on), mostly ribbing Christians for getting it wrong. As for the Christians? They were posting, but largely avoiding the elephant in the room and whistling or talking about the weather.
Some Christian tweeters were sticking their heads over the parapet. One or two were defending that marriage should be for a man and a woman, but feeling bad about it. A handful of Christians were at the other end of the spectrum (or ‘rainbow’ seems a more appropriate term), arguing that compassion and equality overrides everything for them.
In the middle, there are many Christians who don’t know what to think – or do know what they think but don’t know how to express it without being branded intolerant. The simplified expression you hear is ‘Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve’, or the French version: ‘Adam & Eve, not Adam & Yves’, or the non-Christians biting back with ‘not Adam & Eve, or Adam & Steve, but dinosaurs’.
So where do I stand? Well I think… it’s none of my business. Who am I to judge what someone else does? I’ve tried looking at the what the Bible says about homosexuality, and some of the verses you can attribute to the culture at the time; others are a bit more clear-cut. I can’t reconcile that with the fact that, for me, Christianity is about compassion, love, and God’s-grace-for-all.
So it’s a mystery. Thankfully it’s not my job to unravel it. It’s none of our jobs. We don’t have to make the theology work. The only reason it’s relevant to even talk about it is because if the government are going to redefine marriage, the church needs to either support it or not.
Here’s the problem: Christians believe that God created marriage, and most will acknowledge that it was created between a man and a woman. But marriage took off in a big way, over the centuries, and so the church doesn’t own marriage. Marriage is above and beyond any organised religion, and in a fair, equal, democratic society, surely if a gay couple want the government to allow them to marry, then that should happen. Christianity’s teaching on respect, love and grace-for-all should surely mean we get behind that?
So government, make us all equal by all means, and while you’re at it, perhaps take over the legal aspects of marriage entirely. I’ve had a wedding, and the official side of it is, even at a church wedding, legalistic, time-consuming and not very romantic. Let’s give the government that bit to sort out, and then if a man and a woman want a church ceremony, they can have one, without even needing to step out and sign a register (no one’s favourite bit). If a man and man, or woman and woman want a ceremony too, some churches will offer them, and bless them, and adapt the liturgy so they’re not preaching all the biblical man/woman stuff.
I heard one vicar say that if he’s forced to conduct a gay wedding, he will, but he’ll still get to choose the sermon, and he’ll preach his little heart out about the wrongs of homosexuality. It hardly sounds charitable, but my advice (and I guess his) would be: get married somewhere else. But do get married. When I grew up, the stereotype of gay relationships was, to be honest, a bit sordid – all parks, public loos and personal ads. Surely we should encourage marriage. It’s a Good Thing, and a lot less chilly than parks.
The Bible’s pretty clear on homosexual sex – it’s not a fan – but equally it’s not a fan of a lot of things that I do in my life, and I’m delighted to say that all of those things are nobody’s business but mine, just as what a gay couple get up to is nobody’s business but theirs.
So let marriage by for all, I say. It’s not about ‘Adam & Eve’, or ‘Adam & Steve’, or ‘Madam & Eve’. Life, as I see it, is about ‘Adam & God’. The rest is just window-dressing.