Thoughts on (same-sex) marriage (Pt. 3)

[This post brings to an end my thoughts on the issues surrounding the UK’s redefinition of marriage, continuing with a third thought that I think we need to bear in mind as we attempt to have a healthy conversation on what is proving to be a very contentious debate.]

3. Christians, beware of where you look for support.

The Coalition for Marriage appears to have the most unambiguously (backward) utilitarian reasons for wanting to keep ‘legal marriage’ as it currently stands. These reasons, as far as I can see, seek to perpetuate inequality and refuse the basic right for people to have their relationships formally recognised with fully realised legal approval. That is simply wrong.

Additionally, I don’t understand how marriage would cease to be beneficial for society if more people can get ‘married’ – it’s not like straight people won’t be able to, or are going to be forced into same-sex marriages! Nor is it clear why the moral core of the world would cave in if same-sex marriage was allowed – that a person is different to another does not make them morally inferior or ambiguous. We should also remember that many heterosexual marriages are immensely dysfunctional and are incredibly harmful to children. I also find myself concerned as to whether there is some sort of latent social Darwinism at play – “kids are had this way, therefore it is a moral good and the rest of you are horrific”; this reeks of that psuedo-dictum “survival of the fittest” – this worries me greatly.

Christians should be deeply considerate of where they find their friends on this one. The ethics above are not the ethics of Jesus and while we may agree in some way with the sentiments of these groups (though I don’t know why…) we must practice our beliefs differently.

The Christian is called to live a life of love toward all, caring for their ‘enemies’ and those who seek justice, as well as the oppressed and victimised. We are defined by our willingness to love and seek the good of those who hurt because they have been denied rights and privileges and need advocates. Those who identify as LGBTQ share the imago dei and we must stand, at least, with, if not, for them.

Your church and personal beliefs may make you uneasy affirming what they want religiously, but the state is under no such obligation and has a different set of values and consideration of what is ‘just’ – the distinction between legal and sacramental is key here (at the very least it should move some Christians to silence so they cease with their more or less homophobic impositions). If people hurt because they have been denied what is rightly theirs and have not been represented who else better to speak for, comfort and serve them than the Christians whose God-in-Christ-given role it is to do just that? (It is, to this end, shameful that it is in fact Christians who want to impose their understanding of marriage on a post-Christian country which holds an almost totally different understanding on nearly all the dynamics involved.)

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This all boils down to our willingness to see and feel the world from the perspective of another. If we are not willing to sit and work out a shared future with someone different, in a world we have no right to monopolize, we deserve to be ignored. To insist on your particular viewpoint with hegemonic intensity is to be frightening. This is wholly unbecoming of the people who embody the life of the man for others, who died loving and serving all, so as to open up a new world for everyone. If the ability to seek the good or share the pain of another who hurts, because they have not been treated justly, is not in us we have failed to imitate God – who extended us life, rights, privileges and gifts not our own, in the name of love.

This love is creating a Spirit-filled new creation defined by the radical equalization of humanity in the midst of the old – to cling to what is old is to cling to a world that is dying. If new creation has come upon you, let the world experience it through you. If new creation has come upon those you know, encourage them in it. As Christians new creation is at the heart of how we live, as the novelty bringing Spirit reframes our interaction with the world at the very least as people of love, comfort and welcome (and may even (and I think it certainly does) require a broadening of the church’s sacramental marriage praxis).

May you be a person of the new world, extending the life of love and grace you have experienced to all you meet.
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