“Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless. Let’s Argue This Out” Isaiah 1:17
Why is it that it feels antiquated to be a Christian in this day and age? Along with our protracted debate about the role of women in our church, Gay equality is an issue which pains me to call myself a Christian. There are days which I’m ashamed to mention my faith to some people, to purely avoid the fighting and the label of homophobic or bigot circling around my own head, let alone the mouths of others.
How is it the legacy of a group following a celibate man that marriage be their biggest debate? I have seen people use the bible to suggest all manner of horrible things, when all I read is Jesus (and Paul for that matter) suggesting we abstain from marriage at all, if we can, and that such things have no relevance to our heavenly father when heaven comes.
Yet for some reason, on earth this issue is set to tar a generation of Christians as evil. Mentioned in the same breath as other groups like racists, fascists and bigots. To put so large a distance between the Christian religion and secular culture that soon Churches may find themselves in the European Court of Human Rights, or worse. This debate has been shallow and confusing in our Churches, many still believe it is mandatory for clergy to bless gay weddings as a result, there has been much scepticism and fear surrounding the legislation. It is no threat, to religious freedom, however it is a threat to the legacy of a generation of Christians and the mission of the Church in years to come.
Why is it people have chosen to fight on this issue, rather than celebrate it? Some people see it as an erosion of a Christian morality within society, whilst concurrently laying claim to marriage as a symbol of Christian practices and values. If we claim marriage to be a Christian ritual, then surely any attempt made by civil society to mirror that should be encouraged, otherwise we should campaign against Christmas and Easter with equal passion?
Surely it is so much better for the gay community to marry, and attempt a life of fidelity and love, than to deny them and force them into legal exile as merely ‘civil partners’? Especially since many of their heterosexual equivalents make such a mess of it. Marriage is a blessing God gave to the world, commitment and faith in another human mirrors God’s love for his people, why are some of us so quick to deny this to gays?
The Church is a broken body, and all are welcome, we risk posting a metaphorical sign upon our door barring those who we disapprove of, despite the fact love is no sin. We have spent too long debating who to open our doors too and allow to be bishops, we have lost sight of the meaning of the gospel and the very mission of jesus himself.
We do not spend enough time trying to help people open doors themselves, more specifically the poor and oppressed. If the organised Church spent less time trying to defend itself it would see that civil liberty is no threat to anyone, the more freedom anyone enjoys is a guarantor of our own choice. Choice is the beauty of liberal government. If a gay man wishes to get married, celebrate with him and his husband, it is a symbol of our right to get married ourselves, even if you don’t know them personally, their joy is a joy allowed to you as well. Jesus was once the guest at a wedding, you did not see him try to stop it or spoil it, we are told to be gracious to all men and women who live, not just the ones who agree with us.
The word of marriage is meaningless, as powerful as the paper it is written on, a redefinition of such a word doesn’t affect anything. The ring on a finger is cold, imperfect no matter the quality of gold, small no matter the size of diamond. It is love and only love that dictates the power of a marriage, the LGBT community will love each other no matter what Christians say, or call their ceremony, and God will love gays no matter what we try to paint on our banners and shout from our mouths. This is not the erosion of Christian morality, it is civil society embracing the age old command of God himself, to love each other like he loves us.