Treat them like other couples

18 April 2012

The Church should support all who seek stable unions, gay or straight, says Linda Peace

AS A committed, Bible-believing Chris­tian, I am ashamed and ap­palled by the debate about gay marriage. My views are not those of my son, who is gay and who is now an atheist, but result from some ten years of reading, prayer, dis­cussion, and serious thought.

My son came out at the age of 20, having spent much of his previous ten years knowing that he was not growing up to feel attracted to girls, but to boys. I don’t think he even knew the word “gay” at the be­ginning of this process, but he knew that he was growing up differently.

I am now convinced that homo­sexuality is a developmental condition that is not amenable to change at any psychological level; it is not a matter of choice; and is something that has caused many boys and girls to live in shame and fear from their early teens onwards. I know that my son had no access to other gay people through his adolescence, and that it was only at university that he was able to talk this through with hetero­sexual friends, finally coming to the conclusion that he was gay.

We, the Church, over centuries have perpetrated a great wickedness on these children and developing adults, forcing many to live by deceit, in failed heterosexual marriages, and even in an inability to form rela­tionships because of their own private hell.

At least the gay-rights cam­paigners have had the courage to stand up and work on some sort of social change. It is a pity that the Church did not do this in the first place.

It is now clear that most gay people make a decision to live their lives without reference to the Church or Jesus’s teachings. And that is a far more serious decision, with eternal consequences — a decision that makes me fear for my son — and emphatically not anything to do with his sexual orientation.

Ignorance and prejudice form many views on this subject: people with closed and hostile minds are not willing to see the fact of homo­sexuality. A few, short phrases in the Bible have been used to justify their rejection of same-sex relationships. They spare no thought for the real human stories of the development of courtship, love, and marriage be­tween gay people, and the fact that these people by and large are not remarkable, not camp — just trying to get on with their lives decently and morally.

I am concerned that to refuse to term their relationships marriage prevents any children who are being brought up by the couple from being legitimate, and will serve to prevent such a couple bringing their chil­dren to church for baptism, or to Sunday school or other activities.

We must find a way to redress this terrible im­balance and seek God’s will — by find­ing out what it really means, finding out about the rela­tionship within a gay marriage, and trying to get over the ap­parent ob­session with same-sex sex, which is all some people seem to think about when the word “homo­sexual” is men­tioned.

Any Christians who have had the courage to come out as gay seem to be criticised for it. Do we really want people to live a lie? Is it better to bear false witness than to be gay? We need to look at what we are doing to such people.

When a homosexual Chris­­tian couple get to­gether, they are look­ing to make a public commitment to each other with their families and their wider family, the Church. If the only issue is the word “mar­riage”, then it is manifestly not a good enough reason to deny people the oppor­tunity to be married in the eyes of the Church. There is not another word that de­scribes this holistic relationship: marriage is what it is.

I am afraid that we are under a kind of mass blindness here, using God’s word to justify attitudes that are none of his making. A social milieu that completely condemns gay marriage and partnership, and insists on heterosexual unions only, is responsible for pushing people into deceitful lives that will result in adultery, sexually transmitted dis­ease, HIV/Aids, broken marriages, and count­less other troubles.

I cannot see homosexuality as a sin of the individual, as it is a de­velopmental condition over which the person has no control. We should be trying to engender a sensible Christian approach that accepts this, and seeks to encourage moral court­ship and marriage, within the Church and in society.

The Church should blaze a trail:

• preaching clearly what is meant by Christian marriage;

• not waiting until the Government imposes something inappropriate on the Church;

• having as high an expectation of homosexual courtship and marriage as it has for heterosexual couples (for example, in terms of the vows made in the marriage service);

• recognising that a good gay mar­riage can be evidence of the value of stable marriage, just as much as a good heterosexual one, beside showing the importance of marriage and parenting in society;

• supporting all marriage, within and outside the Church, backing its commitment, honesty, security, faith­fulness, care, and sexual and brotherly love;

• putting to shame those factions that bully and abuse gay men and women.

Gay marriage is not a mockery — that is our ignorance and misunder­standing. A gay couple seriously seek­ing to confirm a life commit­ment to each other in marriage, ask­ing God’s and the Church’s bless­ing, should surely be enabled to do this, just like the rest of us.

If what I am saying is wrong, I will have to answer for it to God. If it is right, it is only because he has stirred me up so much about it. I want to see Christian justice. I pray that we, the Church, will in time have the courage to act as a Christian organisation on this, and refuse to be swayed by fear of human con­demnation.

An opposed view: Why RCs don’t back gay marriage

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