At St Catherine's I conducted 80 or so weddings. It was always a privilege. The minister has a special view of proceedings matched by no-one else - you get to see the nerves, the hopes, the fears, the little signs that go on between people. Mostly, you get to see the love up close.
It's terrific! So I support anything that supports marriage.
But I won't be supporting the Coalition for Marriage's online petition that is currently doing the rounds, & I urge you to with-hold your support as well.
Let me explain why.
The Coalition for Marriage, on their website, have as their tagline "Don't play politics with marriage". That, however is exactly what they are doing here, and a quick look at their four statements of belief make it clear.
1.MARRIAGE IS UNIQUE: Throughout history and in virtually all human societies marriage has always been the union of a man and a woman. Marriage reflects the complementary natures of men and women. Although death and divorce may prevent it, the evidence shows that children do best with a married mother and a father.
What's wrong with that? Well, it's a bit of a twisting of history. A man & a woman? Virtually all human societies? Well, except for pretty much all Islamic nations where polygamy is still legal; and many Buddhist ones; and of course throughout Old Testament times in Israel itself polygamy was common - think David, think Solomon. Marriage has changed a lot over the years even in Anglican England, where current practices have been shaped by hundreds of years of legal, parliamentary interference as well as pure Bible thinking. After all it's not that long since any argument about the uniqueness of marriage would have referred to its "for life" status. I'm a wee bit disappointed this coalition doesn't dare go there.
2.PROFOUND CONSEQUENCES: If marriage is redefined, those who believe in traditional marriage will be sidelined. People's careers could be harmed, couples seeking to adopt or foster could be excluded, and schools would inevitably have to teach the new definition to children. If marriage is redefined once, what is to stop it being redefined to allow polygamy?
What is the logic here? This reeks of scare tactics, of Reds under the beds, of finding enemies & making people who are different into people who are evil. That's just not on. I tell you, traditional marriage has been redefined - in my time as an ordained priest - and these guys are happy with it. The change that says "divorce is OK" is in many ways far more fundamental than the change that these guys are wanting to object to. For here we are getting to the core of things. Really, they aren't just saying "marriage is good" they are saying "marriage for straights is good". They are kind of happy with the sentiment that second & third marriages are fine, for people should be allowed to make mistakes. Now, I agree. But I think all people should be allowed that right - the right to be wrong. And I’d argue it's the Church's role in the midst of that to stand tall and and say "BUT the ideal is love for life".
Love is no respecter of orientation. And if someone is gay, why should their love be worth less? Why should we not offer them the same recognition, the same hope, the same joy? The same opportunity to begin a life - or to make a fool of themself?
This sidelines no-one. Careers aren't harmed. As a minister I married some divorced people, and not others, so why not grant the church that role when it comes to gay weddings & the state the blanket duty? And why don't we, the Christians, instead of fighting a line that sounds frightfully close to "these dreadful people aren't quite as good as the rest of us & their love certainly doesn't get to qualify as being on our level" shout out that marriage is for life? For life! Love is for life! Let's have schools teach that new definition in the mix.
What's to stop polygamy being allowed? For goodness sake - it already is for Moslems. And so are arranged marriages, for various sections of society, and though I don't like these, I don't think they belittle the way I'd want to get married. Creating monsters reveals ignorance. Get over it.
3. NO NEED TO REDEFINE: Civil partnerships already provide all the legal benefits of marriage so there's no need to redefine marriage. It's not discriminatory to support traditional marriage. Same-sex couples may choose to have a civil partnership but no one has the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us.
In our munificence, we have granted these people certain privileges, why are they asking for more? Where do they get off? You'd think they thought they were equal to the rest of us!
That's the issue here. This point simply stresses how much the Marriage Coalition doesn't like gay people who want to enjoy equality with their straight peers. Who want to be looked at in the same light and given the same respect and name. Who don't want to be told, "Yes, but you're not married". Gays don't want to stop anyone else getting married. They don't want to devalue marriage. They just want to have access to the same rights as everyone else. Same taxes, same vote, same value on their love. They aren't re-defining anyone else's marriage, but everyone else gets to define their relationships. Gay people don't get to tell straight people the value of their love; straight people like the Marriage Coalition believe its their right to judge others. I'm not sure it should be like that.
4. SPEAK UP: People should not feel pressurised to go along with same-sex marriage just because of political correctness. They should be free to express their views. The Government will be launching a public consultation on proposals to redefine marriage. This will provide an opportunity for members of the public to make their views known.
Because of political correctness? That doesn't enter into it. How about - because of fairness? Because of love? Because people are people? Because there's something wrong here and we can right it? How about because people feel second class & as Christians we should always fight to put that right, even if we are uncomfortable with the outcomes of that fight? It's better to raise people up than to put them down, period. That's not political correctness, that's what Jesus did. I can just see him now - he's spoken to some Canaanite woman, or to a gentile centurion, and in the background a fundamentalist pharisee says, "Political correctness gone mad; call himself the Messiah? No Messiah of mine would be seen dead talking to these folk."
Jesus smiles. Half turns, holds his hand up and speaks just loud enough for everyone to hear: "But who needs a doctor? The well or the sick? You should learn what the Scripture means when it says - I desire mercy, not death."
Don't play politics with people. Don't play politics with love. Don't play politics that make some second class - it's unlovely, uncaring & unChristian. We may or may not be fans of marriage being for everyone regardless of orientation, but I urge you not to become one of those who thoughtlessly adds your name to the number of those who sign this petition. It's not nice.