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!