This is a reply to a blog post by my twitter pal @PME200 in response to his blog post. Peter’s website said my post was too long! I have a tendency to ramble.
Peters blog post is here.
• The formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife:
• (in some jurisdictions) a union between partners of the same sex
This is the definition that I have found on the Oxford online dictionary website. I was rather surprised that no reference was made to religious ceremony. The dictionary on my phone states;
• The social institution under which a man and a woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc
• A similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage.
Either way both give reference to the marriage of partners of the same sex. The latter example is US based software. The former I found interesting because if we apply the letter of the law to the second point, “marriage” in this country does not mean that at all. Though they do place a qualifier before it.
I’ve read through your blog again and again and have found this the most difficult reply to make. I don’t believe I have any solutions but I do believe that debate and awareness is the way to resolve this situation. The problem with the written word is that it is very easy, (if not written with perfect clarity) to be misinterpreted. When applied to an emotive topic then the chances of comments being misconstrued and thereby branded a bigot, homophobe or racist are vastly increased. Calm, mature, rational debate is a must in order to move forward. I hope to add to this and hope my words are clear.
I am a heterosexual male married to my beautiful wife, with three wonderful children and I’m a Christian. As a Christian I’m sure that many of you will expect me to support Mr Carey and his recent claims? As a Christian I’m sure many of you will expect me to follow what it says in the bible about homosexuality and this will reflect my opinion?
Having read this blog and the reports in the Mail I was somewhat shocked at the comments made. I visualised a raging man, pointing his finger and waving his fist as he made his speech. Having watched a clip of some of his speech on the Telegraph website I was somewhat reassured that it was presented in a calm and sensible manner. That said I don’t agree with everything he said.
I had a debate recently with a female colleague who about a year ago joined her partner in a civil partnership. I’ve deliberately written it like that.. bear with me. She claimed her partner to be her wife and that they were married. We went through a discussion that for all intents and purposes it was exactly the same thing but that from a strictly legal perspective she was not married. This was a very calm discussion and not an argument. She finally accepted the legal point but stated that regardless of that, she was, as far as she was concerned, married. I agreed with her. There isn’t a sensible noun other than “married” that fits the state of her union.
To that end I suspect that many other people who have joined in a civil partnerships will consider themselves to be married too, regardless of what the letter of the law says. Therefore, if the argument, in this case is to simply allow somebody to say they are “married” when they have joined together in a civil partnership then I’m all for it. I cannot see what the use of the word “marriage” in this context can cause anyone offence.
I’m no expert in Christian doctrine or the Bible. I’m sure there will be those who either know more than me or have a different view that will rebuke me for this stance. I have a very simple belief and it hangs on a short section of the service that we use regularly at church;
“The Lord said. The first commandment is this. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this; Love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the laws and the prophets.”
My place in this world is not to judge others. My place is to comply with the above. I try and repeatedly fail at both which pretty much puts me in the same camp as all other Christians. None of us are perfect. Then again neither is anybody else. If I am to love my neighbour as myself then I must love my neighbour.. it doesn’t make qualifications; i.e. unless he’s gay, or she’s Roman Catholic or he’s black.
Marriage is a word that has changed. As society has changed the word has changed it’s meaning. Does this mean my marriage is anything less? No. Does this mean, if the law is passed, that a civil partnership is anything more. Not really no.
Some people choose to get married at the registry office. They have no faith and no desire to be married in church. Others get married at church because they like the sense of occasion that the church gives. They have little to no faith or at best a dormant one. These people could easily be turned away from the church. That has not been the business of my church. We encourage people to get married at church and strive to make them feel welcome. We hope in the process to show them that the church and belief in God is not what they may have believed it to be. If they never come back then at least we tried. If we sow a seed that grows immediately or that lies for a while before growing then we have a success. Shutting the door in the faces of people is not the way to show them Christianity. Then there are those, like me, who got married at church because they believe in God and they see Him as the ultimate person to stand before and make their vows.
I think anyone who joins in a union with another person in the “marriage” sense of the word should be allowed to consider themselves as “married”. How they choose to get married and before whom they make their vows is up to them based on their own beliefs and convictions.