Thursday, 1 August 2013

Too Far?

The House of Lords accepted it, the Commons was always going to push it through, and the Queen has singed on the dotted line. Gay marriage is now a fact of life, and it is something that we are just going to have to deal with, even though it might not be the best thing. We shouldn't take this opportunity to march to 10 Downing Street, white flag in hand, in order to declare that they won, and that we must therefore be wrong, but we do have to accept that, at least for now, it is going to happen whether we like it or not.

What is not sorted out, however, is what the legislation actually means. The law has passed through parliament, but now it actually has to be implemented by the government, and possibly challenged in the courts, a time that can very easily be the unravelling of all the government's plans. This story is far from any sort of conclusion.

The challenges to the law are likely not to come from those who have fought it for so long, because many of us have now turned our minds and hearts to praying and working for other causes, some of which are in urgent need of attention. After all, gay marriages are just civil partnerships by a different name, and we have left the matter in the hands of God now. Marriages in a church will remain between a man and a women, if we want, so at least we have that.

Except, of course, that this is the thing that is under threat. Barrie Drewitt-Barlow, someone who already made history by being a member of the first gay couple to get their names put on a birth certificate in the UK, has said that he still does not have what he wants, and that discrimination according to sexual orientation is still acceptable by law. He is going after the protections that the church has been given, determined to force the courts to declare this protection is discriminatory.

Essentially, he is going to ask them to make the decision about who's rights matter more; Christians or homosexuals, in a battle that the government really did not want to happen.

The problem is that churches are places where people get married, and this has been a key part of our culture for a long time now. A traditional marriage is one that takes place in a church, and some who are now allowed to marry would like that opportunity as well. By allowing churches to side with traditional marriage, and not carry out ceremonies which would be against their consciences, the government has allowed discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

In addition, since the Church of England is an established church that has a key relationship with government, it seems strange that the Church is not implementing the policies of parliament. Why should the government say one thing, but the church that it is meant to have a close relationship with be able to say something completely different? Shouldn't the Church be doing what it is told, and simply get with the times?

The simple answer to this is the law should be maintained as it is, and churches should not be forced to turn against their belief and forced to bless relationships that they find to be against God's plan. This is not an act of intolerance, or discrimination, but one of love for the people who are in same-sex relationships. If you believe that a homosexual relationship is one that is not healthy, and doesn't fit how things are supposed to be, then saying that this relationship should become marriage is actually something that you would view as a disservice.

As for the Church of England, I believe that this too should be allowed to maintain the right to not marriage homosexuals. It is not something that exists to do the will of the government, nor is it something that is meant to be a tool to be used, but it is a church of Christianity, which is meant to love and follow God. It is the presence and representative of Christianity in government, not the government's representation in Christianity, or at least that is how it should be.

To challenge to protections given to Christians would be an act of intolerance, and would simply be about forcing good people to act against their beliefs. Even for those who support gay marriage, this should should be seen as a step too far. This is something that we should pray about, and trust that it will all work out in the end.

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