I posted a few opening comments to set the context for this discussion here. This is the first of two follow ups to that. Perhaps three. I’m working on another reason and trying not to be careless (and so be misunderstood).
Let me begin by saying that I think I’ve grasped one of the main underlying motivations for seeking a redefinition of marriage. And I have some sympathy with it. As things stand, gay couples do not have the same social approval for their lifestyle that marriage usually confers on heterosexual couples. Gay couples can have all the same legal rights as a married couple. But they can’t legitimately, or legally, describe themselves as a married couple. It feels like a niche arrangement for a marginalised community. And they don’t like that. And they have a point; after all, ‘just civil partnershipped’ doesn’t quite cut the mustard on the back of a VW Beetle as you drive away to honeymoon. Does it? They know that a civil partnership isn’t the same as marriage. And some would like to see that changed.
The opportunity for that appears to have opened up through Equality Legislation. As citizens, we’ve been persuaded that sexual orientation should be put in the same box as race and gender. It would be racist not to treat a black man the same way as we treat a white man, before the law. It would be sexist not to treat a woman the same way as a man, before the law. And so, it’s argued, it would be homophobic not to treat a gay couple the same way as we treat a straight couple, before the law. But those who crave gay marriage want something that the law can’t give them. They want acceptance. They want what’s been marginalised to be considered mainstream. And I understand that ambition.
But even if this legislation goes through (as I suspect it will), will they get what they want? Their understandable desire for societal acceptance as gay people is but a faint echo of a deeper craving for ultimate acceptance than runs deep in the human heart. And so a gay man, for example, may meet the man of his dreams, they may marry and they may even be welcomed by the community in which they decide to live. But will that satisfy the longing for acceptance? Perhaps a little. But not entirely. Not exhaustively Not completely. We’ll only know true fulfilment and satisfaction in Christ. As Augustine said in his Confessions, ‘Y
- ou have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you’. Christians ought to be distinguished for our gracious and compassionate acceptance of gay people. For sure we need to do so without condoning their behaviour, which is but one symptom of their rejection of Christ. But we also need to be distinguished for the gracious way in which we point our gay friends to the gospel because it’s there that they’ll find the ultimate acceptance that they crave.
This is not an argument for or against Gay Marriage, I know. It’s just an observation that those who want acceptance as gay people are looking in the wrong place. They may get what they want and then discover it’s not what they really want. But even so, I’m not persuaded that the desire to seek social approval for homosexual couples into mainstream society is a sufficiently good reason to undermine a centuries old institution like marriage. For that reason, I’ll respond to the objections I’ve raised in the previous post in the next one!
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This is very good. It’s a new YouTube video from the Coalition for Marriage celebrating marriage.
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The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, has written an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald. You can find it here.
Peter responds to the three common slogans used to promote the campaign
First, that the proposed change is demanded by the notion of ‘marriage equality’.
Secondly, that ‘marriage won’t change’.
Thirdly that this shift is ‘inevitable’.
It’s worth a read. It’s not long. And it’s worth passing on.
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It was my wife’s birthday this week. And it gave me an opportunity to tell her how much I appreciated doing life and ministry together with her. I did it in writing because the words don’t always come out right when I try to speak. And this was something that I wanted to get right!
Before we were married, my sponsoring diocese gave me a grant to purchase ministry resources. Technically it was called a book grant. But I preferred the broader definition. That way it gave me permission (in my mind at least) to spend it on the most precious ministry resource I could ever ask for; Rosslyn. I took her to the Tate, lunch and the Phantom of the Opera as part of an extended campaign to persuade her to marry me! It didn’t clinch the deal. But it got me a foot in the doorway!
One day I’ll get round to spelling out the unique joys and challenges of being a Minister’s wife. But for now I want to draw your attention to this helpful article. I came across it by luck, as Calvin would say, on the 9Marks website. It’s all about the role and responsibilities of the Pastor’s wife. And I like its flavour. I like that the author gets the pressures that the Minister’s wife faces. Not many people get that. I’ve actually had people tell me how much easier it is for Rosslyn being a Minister’s wife than having a husband with a normal job because I’m around so much more. How I kept my words to myself and my cool and at that point is a miracle of God’s work in me. I’m just glad that Rosslyn wasn’t there to hear it. It’s true that there are treats to being married to the Minister. But there are not inconsiderable costs. And I’m not just talking about being married to me. I’m talking about being a Minister’s wife with a husband who rarely switches off because he’s always thinking about church related issues, the one day weekend which is’t even sacrosanct, the three or four nights a week out of the house, having to drop the family when congregational crisis hits and so on. In describing what life for his wife will be like when he returns to pastoral ministry, the author of the blog post writes, ‘life and ministry will become more intense on every front. Pressures will increase to fight pride, forgive quickly, ignore criticism, love generously, sacrifice time together, and so forth’. He’s right. If you’re a congregational member you might like to read it, pray for your Minister’s wife and send her a note of appreciation.
I’ve always been adamant that I married Rosslyn because I loved her not because I thought she’d be useful in ministry. I stand by that. I was won by her beauty (in every sense of that word) not because I needed an unpaid female curate! However, there is no way that I could have served at CCB without her unstinting support and encouragement. Like many minister’s wives, she receives far too little appreciation for what she adds to church life and endures as a result of being married to the Minister. I don’t get, or at least take, many opportunities to express my appreciation for all that she is and does. But today, I thought I might. In Proverbs 31:10 the writer asks ‘A wife of noble character who can find?’ To which I must answer; I have. By the grace of God. And no one is more grateful than me.
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