The politicians in N. Ireland recently debated gay marriage and the Assembly members rejected the proposal that same sex couples should have the right to marry. I was not surprised that the motion was rejected as having grown up in and currently living in N. Ireland, I am all too aware of the religious induced homophobia that pervades this society and is rife amongst many politicians, particularly Unionist politicians. Only three of the 45 politicians who voted in favour were Unionist. However, on a more positive note, the defeat was narrow with nearly 50% of elected members voting in favour, paving the way for a future time when the motion is passed.
The article relates that prior to the debate the Presbyterian Church had written to all Assembly members stating its opposition. It stated that this issue was ‘not merely an issue of conscience for Christian people and churches but a very significant one for the whole of society’. Furthermore, it said that gay marriage would ‘effectively demolish generations and centuries of societal norms established on Judeo-Christian values’.
Indeed it is true that Christian people who oppose gay marriage must closely examine their conscience. How can they possibly purport to be a supporter or representative of the love of Christ and yet persist in this discrimination against gay people? It would appear that they have difficulty applying the second commandment to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ (Mark 12:31) and seem to believe that it is only to be applied to those who believe or think the same way as those of the Presbyterian Church. The commandment does not say ‘only love your neighbour if he/she is heterosexual or straight,’ nor does it say ‘love your neighbour as yourself but not if he/she is gay’. Therefore, rather than upholding the teachings of the Christ, those who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds are in fact defying the teachings of the Christ. Indeed, the ironic thing is that many people who do not self-identify as Christian are better at upholding the teachings of Christ by loving their neighbour irrespective of gender, sexuallty, religion, race etc than many who do identify as Christian! Many have left the Christian church because they have listened to the truth of their own conscience and been able to see through the falsehoods of many of the religious teachings. Indeed the church could learn a thing or two from people who do listen to their conscience rather than homophobic preachers.
Of course there are Christians who do see the bigger picture and who are not so narrow in their outlook or understanding of the teachings of the bible or Christ and who do support gay marriage, but the purpose of this blog is to highlight the ridiculousness of being against gay marriage based on the teachings of the Christ.
To say that gay marriage would ‘effectively demolish generations and centuries of societal norms established on Judeo-Christian values’ is perhaps over-stating the mark somewhat. The paradoxical thing is that to support gay marriage would actually be upholding the true teachings of Christ – that sees and knows all are equal. Thus gay people deserve equal rights to marriage if they so choose it. The love between two gay people is equally as valid, as deep, as strong as between to two heterosexual people – there is no difference and their relationships are subject to the same ups and downs as heterosexual relationships. However, if gay marriage did ‘demolish generations and centuries of societal norms established on Judeo-Christian values’ then perhaps it is time that those norms were demolished if they are based on values that lead to separation, condemnation and judgment of one’s fellow human being. We need to seriously examine those values and consider what they have led to in society and whether they are truly representative of the teachings of the Christ or based on a false man-made interpretation that actually fails to represent the teachings of the Christ.
Have those values led to societies that are harmonious, that co-operate to help each other, where neighbours love neighbours or have they led to division, fighting, intolerance and war? Throughout history Christian people have fought and killed in the name of God based on their understandings and ‘Judeo Christian values’. N. Ireland is a clear example of how these so called Judeo Christian values have resulted in separation, fighting, intolerance, hatred amongst communities with walls separating one side from the other – hardly a loving representation and outcome for living these values. So is it the values that are wrong or man’s interpretation of the values or both? The BBC news article does not articulate the specific Judeo Christian values it is referring to, so it is not possible to answer this question but surely one of the Judeo Christian values would be to uphold the commandment to “love your neighbour as yourself” and to endeavour to be a representative of the love of Christ? Those values are true, but are they truly lived? Clearly not – and this is something that we all can struggle with and is often fed by the fact that we do not love ourselves let alone our neighbours. it is our own lovelessness, self hatred and self loathing that gets projected onto others. However, if one is serious in the endeaovour to love oneself and represent the love of God on earth then it is important to examine and question any intolerances or areas where we hold others as somewhat lesser in any way, shape or form and that too begins by addressing those aspects of ourselves that we dislike or hate that are often buried deep within.
The Christ is pure love, that love is completely unconditional and loves all equally irrespective of sexuality, race, nationality, religion etc. Therefore, there can be no justification for discrimination against gay people if the love of Christ is embodied and lived. It is simply not possible. All discrimination is therefore based on a man-made interpretation or re-interpretation that bears no resemblance to the Christ.
The Presbyterian Church can write letters, give interviews, preach and expound on its reasons why the Assembly should vote against gay marriage and no doubt will continue to do so for years to come – but to do so is to defy the very thing they say they are endeavouring to uphold and represent – the Love of Christ.