Comments: update on same-sex marriage laws

When we're in France we go to RC churches (because they feel much more 'homey'). Nevertheless, the statement of the Council of the Fédération protestante de France is way, way more sophisticated and sensible than that of the RC church or Anglican churches more or less anywhere. Vive Henri Quatre!

Posted by John at Sunday, 21 April 2013 at 7:59pm BST

The New Zealand MP's speech is fabulous - worth 4 minutes of anyone's time.

Posted by peter kettle at Sunday, 21 April 2013 at 8:07pm BST

The French Protestant statement is particularly interesting, with its reference to Reformed theology, and its sensitivity to minorities. It takes a formerly persecuted minority (under Louis XIV, and again under Vichy) to recognise a current one?

Posted by Iain McLean at Monday, 22 April 2013 at 8:51am BST

Re the violence: it is almost always the oppressive forces that resort to violence. I have never hear of pro-gay demonstrators physically attacking straights or public officials.

Our bishop received death threats and was spat on by the "traditionalists" when he suggested compromise. This was during a time when he had suspended ordination of LGBT persons and all blessings, things that had happened before his time. The LGBT community and our supporters were quite hurt by his actions, but no one spat on him or sent a death threat.

The fruits...

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 22 April 2013 at 8:14pm BST

One of the problems, I think, of the current anti-homosexual feeling among those who see the LGBT claims as denying the biblical evidence; is that they are not rigorous enough in identifying those proscriptions in the Bible as matters that cannot continue to hold water in the light of today's more privileged understanding of biological and social reality.

Tradition can never trump Reason. That is why our Anglican three-legged stool of theology is so important - especially in the light of new information based on the experience of people living in the world of today. 'Semper Reformanda' is quite an important understanding of evolution - in both the material and spiritual worlds.

'Infallibity' in the human sphere - based on any understanding of human development - is surely out of date, either biblical or human.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 22 April 2013 at 10:25pm BST

If you want to read another badly put argument, try Andrew Goddard: He says that the Church of England is likely to be guilty of choosing irrationally a middle choice (ie OK to Civil partnrships) just because an extra choice put on the table (Gender-free marriage), but then he undermines this product analogy by admitting that many gay couples will upgrade from Civil Partnership because Gender-free marriage will affect the definition of Civil Partnerships (which, then, presumably, the Church of England and others could bless). His argument is itself the muddled thinking he accuses of others.

Posted by Pluralist at Tuesday, 23 April 2013 at 1:45am BST

I am no fan of gay marriage, but I am horrifed to know that Christians would spit at each other or send death threats - I just can't take it in.

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 23 April 2013 at 12:35pm BST

Yes Cynthia, they re so 'traditional' that they ignore the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, let alone The Beatitudes !

Yes, ron you are right about the Bible. I have bveen studying it for over half a century, and not one word of Prohibition have I found on same sex permanent relationships of any kind. And indeed much to support lgbt in fact.

(Queer Bible Commentary -SCM press, an invaluable guide.)

With my Brethren background, I (unkindly) find Anglican Evangelical attempts to claim Biblical warrant somewhat lacking in conviction, as they fail to convince that they are steeped in the Word themselves.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Tuesday, 23 April 2013 at 2:29pm BST

Yes, the MP's speech is wonderful and from a Christian perspective. Quite uplifting !

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Tuesday, 23 April 2013 at 2:50pm BST

I was amused by Andrew Goddard's claim that those who remain, or seek a Civil Partnership rather than getting married are indirectly supporting the view that marriage is God's gift to heterosexuals.

The logic is compelling .....?

Otherwise it seems to be a slippery slope argument.

Andrew picks up arguments just as the balance has turned against him. He seems to have a sixth sense for promoting lost causes, just at the time the become hopeless.

The final moment of humour came when Andrew wags his finger at the CofE and says it just can't go on ducking and diving and speaking out of every orifice in every direction. It's time, he says, to sort out the sexuality business.

Andrew must have missed the launch of the new document on marriage recently. The highly successful strategy of the CofE was magnifently on display in the way the newspapers carried the story the next day.

Totally contradictory headlines signify that the Church is hardly likely to abandon a technique it has refined so perfectly.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 23 April 2013 at 4:11pm BST

"I am no fan of gay marriage, but I am horrifed to know that Christians would spit at each other or send death threats - I just can't take it in."

Steven, the deal is that "Christians" were not spitting on "each other." Anti-gay "Christians" were spitting on a bishop who was in discernment and suggesting compromise. No one spit back. The hate was all one-way.

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 23 April 2013 at 6:49pm BST

Steven, I hate to break this to you, but christians do far worse things to lgbtq than spitting at us !

Do you not speak to gay people - or at least follow the world news ?

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Tuesday, 23 April 2013 at 9:51pm BST

To Cynthia and Steven
No I don't think I have heard of gay rights folk resorting to physical violence or death threats, but I have certainly observed some pretty unChristian behaviour and rhetoric from the pro-gay end of the spectrum, a position where I unreservedly place myself.

I have always been greatly assisted in this regard by a discussion from Professor James Dunn, when I was studying Theology at Nottingham University in the early '80s. In a reflection on the section of Romans 14 dealing with what Paul called "strong" and "weak" Christians, Dunn argued that on almost any issue you can think of (in our case, issues around same sex attraction), there will be a spectrum of opinions from right wing/conservative/"weak" to left wing/liberal/"strong". There is an almost universal tendency for those toward the conservative pole to judge those taking a more liberal view, and for those from the liberal end to despise those of a more traditional opinion.

Paul's own words illustrate the point. "Strong" and "weak" are not very kind descriptors for conservatives, but suggest a despising attitude, rather than a judgemental one.

Possibly, (this is not Paul, or Dunn, but Prebble) a judgemental attitude makes one somewhat more prone to violent responses - I don't know. But it is clear that St Paul calls both judging and despising inappropriate for Christians.

Posted by Edward Prebble at Tuesday, 23 April 2013 at 11:01pm BST

Edward, you sure you've read Paul?

The same guy who threatened congregations that he'd, as it were, come down there and lay down the law? Who defended judgment under the description "discernment" - but only for those God chose? Who uttered imprecations against his "enemies?"

By what seems to pass as allegedly-Christian behavior in mainstream liberal circles, he wouldn't qualify. Neither would Jesus, for that matter. Call evil evil, don't invite it for drinks and just hope it'll all work out.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 24 April 2013 at 4:58am BST

the difference is that we are not "pro-gay", we ARE gay. For us, this is deeply personal. You should have private conversations with many of the people who regularly post here and find out what each of them experienced in their own lives, over decades, from people who have passionate ideas about how our lives should be regulated but on whom none of it has the slightest actual impact.
The stories I hear from people can still make me weep.

I am deeply humbled to see how many manage to remain polite, despite all of that.
Forgive those who occasionally lose their cool and don't reply with absolute top notch politeness. Seriously, if you could live the lives some of the people commenting here have lived and still not write an unChristian word, I would personally send you a medal.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 24 April 2013 at 8:14am BST

"issues around same sex attraction" writes Edward. Would one call the whole business of heterosexual courtship, love, marriage, divorce, bereavement, childbearing "issues around other sex attraction"? -- of course not, unless one were a visitor from another planet.

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Wednesday, 24 April 2013 at 9:31am BST

The document issued by the French Protestant organisation is not in favour of gay marriage. It is important to read to the end.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 24 April 2013 at 6:57pm BST

This from Rhode Island:

It's going to be state-by-state in the US, I'm afraid. But it looks like all of New England has it now. Looking forward to seeing what happens in Old England.

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 25 April 2013 at 2:24am BST

It seems I misunderstood the point Cynthia and Steven (and possibly others) were making, for which I apologise. Therefore It is clear that those who have commented since have misunderstood the point i was making, so I'll have another go.

Let me declare myself first. I have a sister who is in a 20+year same-sex relationship. I am proud to say I am very close to her,to her partner, and to her ex-husband, also gay. My daughter, like me an Anglican priest, has been in a same-sex relationship for well over 10 years. They have two little boys, whose natural father, another priest, is in a 20+year relationship. Furthermore, given the notoriety I have developed in the NZ Anglican Church as an outspoken advocate for the ordination of GLBT people and for equal marriage, I have a number of intimate GLBT friends. So I am not short of opportunities for the kind of private conversations Erika recommends. I absolutely agree with her and with Mark Brunson. If any of these friends or relatives find themselves resorting to intemperate language in discussing the despicable ways they have been treated, especially by fellow-Christians, they will not hear me criticising them.

No, I was discussing the ways we debate these issues. (Yes, "issues around same sex attraction" was an unfortunate phrase to use - "the whole business of homosexual courtship, love, marriage, divorce, bereavement, childbearing" is much better).

I am strongly of the view that as long as we leave the lobbying for law changes, both secular and ecclesial, to GLBT people themselves, we participate in their oppression. It is essential for gay-friendly folk to speak out long and hard. The challenge is how to do that lobbying it vigour - yes, including the naming of sin when we see it - without despising those who take a traditional view.

Yes, Mark, I have read Paul. As well as the things you accurately quote, he really did tell us not to judge, or despise each other.

Posted by Edward Prebble at Thursday, 25 April 2013 at 5:05am BST

I'm sorry I misunderstood you because the point you make is very valid.
It is also incredibly difficult not to end up despising some of those who so strongly lobby against us.
And to be so exasperated with others who have not been talking for decades, who suddenly become interested but demand that we must start from scratch so they can catch up while we put our lives on hold for a bit longer.

For the sake of our own peace and for the sake of the process it is important that we remain polite and factual. But it is SO difficult at times!

And there does come a point where the national temperature changes. I no longer have to justify in heated conversations why black people ought to be treated equally and why women should have the right to vote. Yes, the BNP exists but no, I don't have to go slow in my own life and live according to their principles.

And I believe that in the lgbt conversation we are getting to this point. It will take a little bit longer, a few more years. But the time where these views will no longer be tolerated in polite society are not far off.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 25 April 2013 at 8:31am BST

I hear you, Edward. I don't despise the traditionalists, but I am very passionate about WB and LGBT equality. Like most LGBT persons, I have been hurt. But now I know the healing power of acceptance and love from my God and my church. I want that liberation for everyone. And I'm certainly not going back in the closet!!!

Now is the time to speak truth to power and to Witness. And it is time to counter the "traditionalists" with compelling readings from Scripture, and to hold their feet to fire in telling them that their views cause suffering.

Maybe the words could be kinder, but truthful might be more important right now.

It isn't about hating or disposing. It's about justice, and decency, and the belief that all people really are created in the image of God. It's about lifting people up instead of kicking them down.

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 25 April 2013 at 9:27am BST

Martin: indeed the Huguenots don't support SSM though they seem more worried about SS adoption. My point was that they accept secularity - the right of the state to enact civil marriage . At least the English translation of their statement does.

Posted by Iain McLean at Thursday, 25 April 2013 at 3:51pm BST

I await with bated breath* the apology of the traditional Church to lgbt for the dreadful treatment meted out to lgbt down the centuries and on into the present.

*(but not held)

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 25 April 2013 at 4:56pm BST

What he said and what he did are two different things. When Jesus referred to people as whitewashed tombs, was that just good-natured ribbing? To say that pharisees were "children of Hell" seems hard to interpret in any positive, non-judgmental light.

The whole "isn't-it-nice-to-be-nice" thing is mere moral cowardice. If you supposed respect these people, have enough respect to tell them they are doing evil, and if they won't stop, they're no longer welcome, because there are other people whom you love and respect who are being hurt. I do despise - in myself, no less than others - cruelty and stupidity, especially when it masquerades as piety and love, and don't tolerate it. Perhaps that makes me a bad liberal, but it also makes me a decent person, most of the time.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Friday, 26 April 2013 at 6:31am BST
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