The church militant against gay marriage

Today’s other “big deal” in church was the fact that priests up and down the UK were reading out a letter calling on parishioners to oppose government moves to legalise gay marriage and to sign a petition to that effect.

That event seems to provoke mixed reaction and, not having poked into the detail sufficiently, I am unclear how relevant some of that reaction is.

There are parishioners who follow the church line all the way. There is also a sizeable chunk broadly in favour of the principle of gay marriage (yep – even within a catholic congregation), and these split two ways.

On the one hand are a fair few folk who just don’t like the church view. Period. More prevalent amongst the younger folk…but support going all the way up the age groups. These most definitely won’t be signing any petitions circulated by the church. Spoke to a few today and last week, who are quite adamant about not signing.

On t’other…probably the largest chunk by far… are those less than impressed by the government tinkering in matters religious. Whether that’s a fair sentiment is the bit I can’t work out, since it feels very much as though the government is playing around with civil marriage, which is within its purlieu – and saying nuffink about the status of religious marriage.

In which case, that particular strand of opinion would, I think, be ill-founded: suggestive more that the gov hasn’t been getting its message across.

Still, it also highlights a very strong reason for not being quite so beastly to religious types. There IS strong support for gay marriage within every Christian denomination: but if people insist on having a pop at each and every opportunity, I suspect that support will dwindle, as people resile into tribalism. We’ll see.

jane xx


21 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    I think that it’s church leaders interpreting govt moves on same-sex marriage as invading their space. Surely it isn’t, since govt is not insisting that churches all offer their space for marriages of all kinds. It’s rather a case for church leaders to create a new layer of “religious marriage” that has clear criteria for who is eligible. And an explanation. Then couples who fit the criteria can positively choose this kind of marriage. They will be a minority.

    I tussled with this today (one could say, muddled) at because the church message has been one of respecting tradition and I tried to work out the real rationale for “traditional” christian marriage and why the church(es) don’t want to include me in it.

    • 2

      Shirley Anne said,

      I think the Church message is, or should be if it isn’t, not respecting tradition but what it says in Scripture. It is Scripture, The Bible, where you’ll find opposition to homosexuality. It is written in the Word of God. Unbelievers rant as much as you want but man cannot change the rule of God. You either believe in it or you don’t. This is why it is important for churches to make a stand as they see it as the thin edge of a large wedge. People protest that the Church shouldn’t interfere in the running of State but they seem not to object to State interference with Church. If the Government is truly not considering to force churches to accomodate this proposal then there isn’t an issue but the Church reserves the right to witness to the unbeliever.

      Shirley Anne x

      • 3

        Marriage existed in very many cultures and long before the Judeo-Christian presence. The Judeo-Christian traditions of marriage belong to members of those faiths, just as other traditions of marriage belong to other faiths and none. Marriage itself does not: that is a matter for civil society to confer benefits as we democratically see fit. The state here is not interfering with the church, and I only here a church reaction to these proposals, not other faiths.

        Did you read my blog? It isn’t a rant so much as discussion of origins of what the tradition actually is – and isn’t. I do have two university degrees in biblical studies, and so understanding origins of what is described as a singular “scripture” and why anyone calls the current collected writings as “the word of god” has been important to me in a way beyond populist opinion. If you accept some Levitical law as a modern requirement, you must accept it all. I don’t think you want to do that. Read carefully all the chapters around the plucked references to marriage and sex. All or nothing: or understand why you are being selective.

        We respect the many religious faiths, but many religious faiths do not respect LGBTI people. My blog question was not just the origin of the church marriage tradition, but the origin of LGBT people in our society. We did not choose to be like this – a point that had not yet arrived even by the last edit of the new testament writings. Paul and Timothy were not experts in human sexuality and gender, they were people of their time.

  2. 4

    Stace said,

    I think that you have hit the nail on the head with the civil vs religious wedding remark.

    I don’t like the idea of the church having a say in what the legal definition of marriage is. That is not their remit as far as I am concerned.

    However, being able to decide on what goes in within their own church is not my business or concern. (OK… As long as what goes on there is legal and not harming anyone).

    I can see that for those inside the church it makes life interesting though…


  3. 5

    misswonderly said,

    Are we not to interpret that bishops letter as ‘a pop’? I find it hard to see it as anything else. As far as I’m aware nobody is trying to force any religious group to officiate at any marriage in their worship place if they don’t want to. So why the fuss?

    • 6

      janefae said,

      Because its about hearts and minds, miss w: if there’s a large chunk of people who may not wholly like the message being promulgated from on high, you have a choice. Respond in a way that makes them huddle together and basically support those poor beleaguered bishops. Or find ways to work with them.

      Though to be honest, i wasn’t thinking about beastliness on THIS issue, so much as beastliness on other fronts….there is some very vicious stuff said in respect of religion that would have almost every other minority prancing up and down in outrage…and yet that passes muster as everyday “polite” discourse in some parts of la progressivita.

      What i missed this morning… or rather only caught part of was a for once interesting “Big Question” on the Beed, which asked whether fundamentalism was “killing religious belief”. A far more intersting debate ensued than what you usually get when you line up a bunch of liberals, a bunch of religiose, and then go “fight!”

      jane xx

      • 7

        misswonderly said,

        I avoid religion. It’s none of my business. I’m delighted to embrace anybody who behaves in a civilised manner. This doesn’t alter the fact that there are those in authority within various organised religious groups who constantly ‘pop’ at me and others without provocation. My own view is that it is unhelpful to respond with insults to these ‘pops’. I do not believe history is on the side of these people. and their hearts and minds seem so damaged by bitterness as to be sadly irreparable. If they didn’t have such influence over others who are not irreparably damaged I would not even engage to question the validity of their stated beliefs. However this does not alter the fact that it is they who constantly ‘pop’ unprovoked.

      • 8

        janefae said,

        Well, i’ll mostly agree, apart from adding that it is also something or other to do with perception. You reckon tis THEM that “pop” unprovoked…though if you look at some recent exchanges on the TMW board, where some pretty vicious stuff is posted on religious matters without ANY provocation, you’d possibly ask about perspective.

        I think, as with any other issue, there are grown-ups at the top who are making public utterances which are actually rebuttals of the other side’s position, and that happens on BOTH sides, and we should encourage that. Grown-up dialogue is always good. There are also some folk, both in the hierarchies and in the ranks and files (?) who are more rottweiler tendency.

        They are seriously problematic.

        In the end, there needs to be accommodation between the two sides: not ONE side thinking it can or should obliterate t’other.

        jane xx

  4. 9

    misswonderly said,

    I agree. My position would be that no side should be seeking to obliterate the other in the first place. I suppose I can be fairly objective having been brought up in the C of E which was certainly forced down my throat but more as social conformism than anything spiritual [not sure I even know what that word means… nor feel a need to]. I’ve always regarded religion in the way I regard cricket and football [religions to some] in that I’m perfectly happy for these activities to go on as long as I and nobody else is forced to take part. I even sometimes find a glimpse of religious observance comforting in the same way as I find a cricket match on a village green of a summer’s evening picturesque … so long as I’m driving quickly past and don’t have to stop. If I had been brought up in a religion which loaded me with guilt and condemned me as a lesser human being, I suspect my attitude would be considerably more militant and I do come across people whose wellbeing does appear to have been irreparably damaged by extreme forms of religion. I find it hard to condemn their anger.

    • 10

      The problem essentially is that religions don’t assert their notions of sin and salvation only to members of their particular faith or denomination, they assert that the whole world must agree and fall into line. After all, if their god is omnipotent etc. then theirs is a god of the universe (or all multiverses) and the rest of us are wrong and excluded until we agree. Unlike cricket, where I would just be a hopeless nuisance!

  5. 12

    Chris said,

    It is always convenient to “redefine” something when an aggressive minority group starts getting above its station…..which is what is happening here. Oh, they say, but this is the twenty-first century, we must be “kind” and “compassionate” and welcome gays into what has always been a holy arrangement between Man and Woman.
    It is quite staggering how this nasty little minority group has elevated itself up society’s ladder, demanding “rights”, “equality” and lobbying government to create hate laws that will protect their poor pathetic little egos.
    Beforehand, few people even bothered about these individuals. We knew they existed but were content to ignore them, as long as they didn’t mess around with our own lives.

    Let’s get one thing straight……the homosexual act is sodomy. It has NO PLACE claiming equality with the natural and biological act between man and woman. Thus it has no right to claim the title “marriage”. It is an insult to those of us who have married in church, in the eyes of God; how dare any government try to redefine marriage just so that some manipulative minority can feel that they are “equal” in some way.
    They’ve got civil partnerships……that ought to be enough. But no, they want more and more and more; don’t think that things will stop here.

    Any Christian who claims to support gay marriage isn’t a Christian. That ought to be obvious, but I am staggered at the number of people who like to bend God’s rules because it’s the “modern way”.
    I doubt very much if God landed on Earth now that he would condone the idea of gay “marriage” because he never intended same sexes to carry out such a disgraceful physical act together.

    And tell me this; how come the world is suddenly full of homosexuals? What has gone wrong with the human reproductive process, to continue churning out such people? Isnt it a sign that something is seriously wrong? After all, if it goes on, there would eventually be a massive reduction in human numbers, as men marry men and women marry women. Finally, all will be extinct.

    Don’t care what anyone thinks of this; I do not seriously believe that any decent moral person is going to accept gay “marriage” as the norm. If government makes these changes, what on earth will get taught in schools? Are we to now teach our children that it’s “ok” for men to sleep together like a traditional husband and wife? Are we to teach them that when they grow up they can have sex with men AND women, as a “normal” part of their lives?
    Can you imagine the utter confusion that it will create in young children’s minds? And are you aware that such confusion is EXACTLY what evil people have had in mind for this world, all along? It has been planned for decades….the gradual erosion of moral standards, using the gay agenda to promote and undermine traditional family values.

    Think about it, anyone reading this. Signing that letter/petition should be your duty. Absolutely. If you don’t, then you are no better than the Sodomites themselves. Shame on you all.

    • 13

      janefae said,

      OK. I am going to leave this here for now…although it is on the cusp of what i think i am prepared to accept. And sorry, Chris, but if you have read this blog for any time, as opposed to just stumbling across, you must know full well that i don’t agree with any of the above.

      I’d also suggest that you are somewhat out of line for the bulk of the traditional and established churches…though that may make little difference to your views.

      What i WILL add, though, is please don’t step any further into viciousness (cause i won’t accept that!): it is possible for you to put your personal view without adopting a style and tone that is disrespectful of individuals or openly abusive of them.


      jane x

    • 14

      A god as big as that, and a mind so small? A god of love, and so much hate? A mind with so much capacity to know and learn, yet so unknowledgable? For such limitations you assume to know rather a lot about god … and rather less about humankind.

    • 15

      Anon said,

      I’ve enjoyed reading this blog & the comments – too many to address in one post. I was struck by this comment by Andie:

      “The problem essentially is that religions don’t assert their notions of sin and salvation only to members of their particular faith or denomination, they assert that the whole world must agree and fall into line. After all, if their god is omnipotent etc. then theirs is a god of the universe (or all multiverses) and the rest of us are wrong and excluded until we agree.”

      If ever there was a tailor made example of such it was the post by ‘chris’ above. I skirt around the edges of Christianity (I’m not as well versed in the Bible as Andie but I have read some of it), know some wonderful Christians who are an inspiration. My initial response to Andie’s point would be that Christians believe they are duty bound to spread the word, Christ (I believe) tells us those who don’t accept God through him will be condemned.

      Chris’s post is something else… For the record the biggest danger facing the world today is not a dwindling population, it’s an increasing one, we are far from extinction. Another point – men & women often do all sorts of things together intimately that would never result in reproduction. I’m not having a go at you, but let he who is without sin cast the first stone as the bible tells us Christ himself told us.

      I’m sorry Chris, as I say I skirt around Christianity, but it’s ‘Christians’ like you who make this heterosexual married woman turn away (fortunately not all Christians are like that).

  6. 16

    Shirley Anne said,

    With all due respect Andie, I am not concerned in what other religions believe. I believe in the Word of God and in the salvation He promises through our Lord Jesus Christ.
    I once met an academic theologian, probably equally as educated in that field as you appear to be but he confessed at that time that for all his knowledge he was yet to become the Christian he was supposed to be. At that time he was a pastor in a Christian church. He later became born again after realising that it isn’t a question of knowledge it is a question of having that important relationship with our Creator God. Jesus said, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father but through me’. People with very little theological knowledge become Christians. The invitation is open to you too and it’s free. All you have to do is repent and turn to Jesus unless you’ve done that already. It would appear from your own words that you have yet to make that decision.
    Jeremiah 8:9
    The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom do they have?
    1 Corinthians 1:19
    For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
    In His love

    Shirley Anne xxx

  7. 17

    All this debate really centres around perceived “privilege” and in the UK that perceived privilege centres around only the difference between the word “marriage” and the term “civil partnership” in law as far as I am aware there is no difference in that all marriages conducted by either the Church or by a registry office are in fact civil marriages the effect of civil partnership contract in law is in point of fact equal. i e In law there is no difference between the two. So in other words to be quite clear about this, the effect of the difference between the two contractual systems is in fact identical. It is the emotional difference that is being debated here.So of course emotions and tempers may run high.

    Marriage, real marriage is both a practical contractual state and an emotional state. It is quite possible to have an emotional marriage without having that emotional connection embodied in law. But the fact remains there is an effect that a contractual marriage has on the relationship in the event of occurrences like inheritance and in visiting as well as medical rights. A responsible and caring society must make provisions in law if it is too remain faithful to any ideals it holds of social equality.

    All marriages at their inception were civil contractual arrangements that essentially “sold” a woman and her property as well as social entitlements to her husband. The Christian Church did not involve itself in these contractual arrangements until relatively recently. As the laws stand surrounding marriage as they relate to formal gay relationships they are wholly unsuited to such things as the inheritance of “Titles”, hence the introduction of the “Civil Partnership Act” Added to which they really are no more than a “get out of jail free card” to Religious groups. Who do not have to participate if the don’t want to. Personally I think that fair and reasonable. Especially since State is constitutionally separate from Church of what ever denomination. God help us if the muslim faith ever dominates because religion and state will again be inseparably entwined.

    Personally I really don’t see what the continued fuss is about other than gay pressure groups justifying their continued existence. The debate was won move on.


    • 18

      Yes, it’s nice to see the emotional reality behind the bureaucracy,but society is making statements nonetheless. I find it unnecessary and hurtful that a gender recognition certificate require annulment of marriage and a new civil partnership. It isn’t just a bit of paper, it’s saying “you aren’t entitled to the relationship you’ve had for 30 years” as if I’m not the same person or have the same rights any more. It’s not a gay rights issue for me at all, it’s common humanity.

      • 19

        “You don’t always get what you want but if you try sometime time you just might find, you get what you need” (rolling stones)

        The thing is Andie you are not the same person and to claim you are is to deny what you claim you wished to become. Actions all actions have consequences. You can’t have it both ways. You are either a husband or a wife, make your mind up.


  8. 20

    My parents are church going Catholics – neither believes that equalising marriage would have any effect on what they understand marriage to be. I do suspect that their approach is more prevalent, In reality, Catholicism is a pragmatic religion; the majority of followers have their own take on the basic principles and the majority of the clergy know that. They are just not allowed to acknowledge it.

  9. 21

    Angela Kay said,

    When change comes in an institution as large as the Church, it frequently does so from the bottom up (no pun intended), so it is conceivable that opinions such as those expressed by Romola’s parents and Jane will eventually win the day… but don’t hold your breath.

    We are all, in some way, beneficiaries and victims of our history, and the Catholic Church has long upheld the importance of procreation in marriage. A current BBC web article quotes Father Ashley Beck of St Mary’s University College, London, as saying “If [a couple preparing to marry] were going to rule out having children, then we wouldn’t marry them.” Against that background it isn’t hard to see where the opposition to same sex marriage is coming from.

    There seems little hope that the arguments will ever be resolvd over whether homosexuality is, or is not, forbidden in the Bible, with both sides quoting their interpretation of scripture in support of their beliefs. The issue is already threatening to split the Church of England, which is a great shame as we will yet again be seen to be more interested in what couples get up to in bed than in proclaiming the love of God to a world that desperately needs to hear it.


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