Gay Marriage – The Bishop has a point – but only one

I want to talk about gay marriage, or rather the reasons given by certain archbishops for opposing the government’s proposals for gay marriage.

If you are undecided about gay marriage then I recommend you compare the web sites of the Coalition for Marriage and the Coalition for Equal Marriage. You could even sign one of their petitions if you want.

You can probably guess which side of the argument I favour and yes, I do think people who love each other, and want to make a public pledge to each other should be allowed to get married.

I also think it’s pretty selfish and mean spirited to say that some people shouldn’t be allowed to do this just because they happen to love someone of the same sex.

However, I also think that at least one of the archbishop’s objections is actually correct and that the response of the government, and us liberal secularists, to that argument is less than honest.

So let’s look at some of the archbishop’s objections.

“Throughout history and in virtually all human societies’ marriage has always been the union of a man and a woman.”

This one is just simple nonsense. We don’t have to look any further than the bible to see examples of polygamy and other unusual set-ups. So the churches first argument is contradicted by its very own holy book!

“If marriage is redefined, those who believe in traditional marriage will be sidelined.”

Yes, like men were sidelined by universal suffrage and white people were sidelined by the ending of apartheid

“Marriage predates any government – ministers do not have the authority to change its meaning”

The first part might be true but the second part does not follow. The government has changed the definition of marriage before. Notably in changing the law on divorce and the age at which people can marry.

“This will lead to the church being forced to carry out gay marriages”

This is where I think the Archbishop has a point.

Yes I know the current proposals don’t force, or indeed even allow, churches to carry out gay marriages. But, because of the way marriage law works, churches are essentially performing civil marriages, under license, for the state. Given this situation, how long do you honestly think it will be before someone goes to the courts to claim that the church is denying them their human right to a marriage in the place of their choice? The Catholic Church knows this; it sees it the same way it sees what happened with catholic adoption agencies.

I don’t want churches to be forced to perform gay marriages. I don’t want churches to be forced to do anything they don’t want to do.

It’s their club – they should be able to set their own rules with no interference from me, or the government.

For them to have that freedom though, they should, no longer act on behalf of the state.

The government, if it wants to support a particular type of partnership, should be free to define a legally recognised ceremony to legalise that partnership. It can call it marriage if it wants.

The churches, or anyone else, can then be set free to define, and perform, their own marriage ceremonies any way they want, but these non-state, relationships should have no legal standing.

This way the Catholics can restrict marriage to only men and women who have not divorced etc.

Quakers, Mormons, Moonies, Scientologists, Muslims, Buddhists, and even humanists can marry whoever they want to as well. And the state doesn’t have to recognise any of them.

It’s really just a special case of the separation of church and state.

One last thing, I am not gay and I am an atheist but It must be tough if you are a gay Christian who really wants to be married in their church but can’t.

However if your church says you are abnormal, your love is a sin, and you are going to burn in hell forever … maybe it’s time to rethink your religion.

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