So now to the responses to the objections I raised a couple of posts back.
Don’t we simply paint ourselves as homophobic bigots when we speak against the Government proposal to redefine marriage?
Perhaps, but it’s not necessarily homophobic to oppose gay marriage. Obviously, people who oppose it could be. I’m not. I don’t hate people who feel same sex attraction. So let’s not use the accusation of homophobia simply as a way to shut down legitimate and temperate discussion on this issue. In opposing the redefinition of marriage, I’m not actually denying any legal rights to any gay couple. They have the same legal rights as a married couple, if they want them, through entering into a civil partnership. I disagree with the Government proposal because of my support for traditional marriage. That doesn’t make me homophobic and more than stopping breweries from calling lager bitter would make me lager-phobic.
Aren’t we being unjust when we discriminate against gay couples and deny them the same right to marriage as heterosexual couples?
First of all, it’s not necessarily unjust to discriminate. We do it all the time. Unjust discrimination is unjust. But not all discrimination is unjust. Not everyone is treated equally by the law, we make distinctions. We don’t let minors drive cars for example. So not all inequality is unjust. The question is whether the inequality is justified. Obviously some think that it’s unjust to deny gay couples the right to marriage. But the question is why we think that. Obviously, as a Christian who wants to live by the Bible, I’m persuaded that acting on the desire of same sex attraction is a decision of which God does not approve. Consistently doing so, in a habitual unrepentant manner excludes us from the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6). In God’s eyes, it’s that serious. And inevitably that will inform my view of what the Government should approve. I just don’t think that they should approve something the Bible calls sin, any more than I would expect them to approve of theft, greed or drunkenness, to quote three more examples from 1 Corinthians 6. I’m a Christian and of course I’ll want my Government to approve what God approves. There’s nothing remarkable about that. But anyway, gay couples already have all the same legal rights as heterosexual couples through the civil partnership legislation. It’s just that since the dawn of time, or thereabouts, marriage has been understood to be that public, covenanted relationship between a man and a woman. The gender complementarity has been part of the essence of that relationship. That’s up for grabs now.
Aren’t we just arguing unnecessarily about the meaning of a word?
After all, no one’s saying that a heterosexual couple who get married are no longer considered married because homosexual couples can go through the same ceremony. Let’s be clear, we are arguing about the meaning of a word. But sometimes that’s worth doing because you lose something when you redefine a word. For example, if I use the word bungalow, you immediately know what I mean. It’s a one story home usually inhabited by pensioners living near the sea (ahem). There’s no such thing as a two storey bungalow. That’s a house. A house is not a bungalow. It doesn’t stop the bungalow being a bungalow if you call a house a two storey bungalow. It’s just not a bungalow. It’s a house. You can redefine it if you like but it therefore changes the meaning of the word ‘bungalow’. For donkeys’ years, marriage has universally been taking to mean an exclusive lifelong commitment between one man and one woman. Under this Government proposal, ‘marriage’ no longer means the same thing. We’d have to use the adjective heterosexual or homosexual to clarify what type of marriage it is. And describing your marriage is homosexual is like saying you live in a two storey bungalow.
There’s more to come so hold your horses on the comments. Don’t vent your spleen just yet. I may be about to tackle the very issue you raise. Keep your powder dry, just in case I don’t.