Things that make me think #3 Why I agree with Equal Marriage:

marriage

This is the first in a series. I am not going to delve into doctrine in this edition, I don’t know if I ever will as there are people who do it far better than I could ever hope to. I am talking from my heart in this introduction. There is a list of recommended reading at the end.

I think God created us all in His image. We all fall short of that image.  He loves us all the same.

1 John 4:16
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

He tells us to love each other all the same. He tells us whoever love lives in God. The only definition of God that ever appears in the Bible is that he *is* love.

Love is everything.

There are many ways to love and many types of love.

I think to love we need to ensure everyone has the same opportunities as everyone else and then we can all live freely in our the ways we think own faiths require us too. Anything else is oppression and injustice. Anything else, binds people up in regulations based on what we think is holy (at the moment anyway), is pharasaical.

Brian D McLaren says this (slightly altered to make sense out of the context of the chapter):

“Blessed to be a blessing by the true and living God of all creation is not an either-or thing; it is a both-and thing. We can rediscover the calling of election as an instrument of peace, an instrument of blessing. To do so will require us to make a radical break with hostile identities we have inherited – identities of domination, revolution, assimilation, purification, competition, victimisation and isolation. It will require us to venture out ‘ not knowing where we are going’ – learning to embody a new, strong identity, an identity of mission and reconciliation, blessed to be a blessing, being an ‘other’ for the sake of others, giving and receiving blessings with other blessed people, and thus joining God in healing a world torn apart by human hostility.” [1]

We have to provide a level playing field for all and not victimise, purify, assimilate, dominate, compete with or isolate any person on this planet.

Jesus really only gave one commandment: love.

How are we loving if we say – you’re different to me so you don’t get to have what I have, you should go and be a different subset of humanity over there in the corner and hopefully you’ll figure out how to function in a way that won’t affect me?

Specifically, I do not think the church should be involved at all in the legal side of marriage. We should get out of it altogether. Churches can then bless whichever of those marriages they deem fit into their particular idea of marriage. I mean, for goodness sake, the definition already changes from church to church, let alone denomination from denomination – let’s not pretend it doesn’t – faux unity doesn’t help anyone. There are numerous different models of marriage in the Bible, all of which reflected the social attitudes of the time. Such emotive language such as “marriage has been one way since the dawn of time” are just laughable on any historic level, let alone from any reading of the hebrew Bible.

As in many other nations, let the law have the legal partnership – with legal ceremonies taking place in town halls or on river banks, and let the church bless its own – not even the ones who just want to be married in a pretty place, which also takes the mickey but apparently is an evangelical tool!

There are a number of MPs who hold this position who subsequently voted no including my own, and I applaud that. My default position is to vote whichever way my heart goes regardless of the anticipated outcome. By that I mean even if even if there is no prospect of my candidate getting elected, I’ll vote for them anyway. And so a bill that would get the church out of marriage would be my preference. But that wasn’t on the table and so in this case, supporting the bill more strongly reflected my views and will create equality where there is at present distinct inequality. I do not accept a Civil Partnerships, only available to gays and lesbians is an equal opportunity.

Every time we try to turn our beliefs into legislation, trying to impose our views on people by using [democratic] law, we get into trouble. We need to be political, we need to protect our freedom to express our faith. But we can’t legislate people into following Jesus.

But on that note, let’s keep our lobbying to the bear minimum – seeking religious freedom for all and after that we can work out the details within ourselves and most importantly live them out.  

I remember when the General Synod rejigged their approach to allow divorcees to marry in church and I know people who remember when it stopped being ‘wrong’ that mixed race couples married at all.

Here’s the crux of the matter. I do not know exactly ‘where I am going’ but I know I want to be on the side that loves, accepts and reconciles and maybe gets stuff wrong, than on the side that rejects, over-protects and excludes. the side that is, in my opinion wasting time and resources preserving a wonky, inconsistent tradition that we’re all pretending isn’t abused and misrepresented on a daily basis. In so-called Christian marriage (a woman, a man) 2 women are killed every week through domestic violence[2].  And yes, we allow that to happen and I’m excited by lots of the way the church gets involved in untangling and preventing relationship breakdown and nurturing family life and marriages.

McLaren also said something else I need to echo here. Hopefully it speaks volumes about my thought processes:

“I’m sure I am wrong about many things, although I’m not sure exactly which things I’m wrong about. I’m even sure I’m wrong about what I think I’m right about in at least some cases.”[3]

Remember that good old saying ‘Love is spelled R.I.S.K.’ Maybe here is a chance to put it into action rather than just on a wristband.

[1] Brian D Mclaren “Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World” 2012, Jericho Books. pp123 Kindle edition

[2] Figures from Refuge

[3]Brian D. McLaren, “A Generous Orthodoxy 2006, Zondervan Publishing Company

Recommended Reading. As I mentioned at the beginning, there are plenty of people out there weighing this issue much better than I ever will be able to and so to get a holistic view I am offering these for your digestion:

Blogs/articles

Rachel Mann [June 2013]  Response to Telegraph Letter from ‘heads’ of religion in the UK. 

You should basically read everything Bishop of Buckingham Alan Wilson has ever written on the subject, but start with this: My Marriage Equality Postbag. He separated out all his blogs on the subject here.

Something that just made me love more: video of New Zealand parliament breaking out in a Maori love song after the group passed an Equal Marriage bill.

Changing Notions of Traditional Marriage by Sally Steenland

‘If the church is hypocritical about sex, the media are hypocritical about hypocrisy’ NT Wright at The Guardian.

How Being a Pastor Changed My Thinking on Homosexuality by Dave Barnhart at Gestating a Church

“Tolerate one another as I have tolerated you” by Joe Lenton at Musing, amusng, confusing

Books:

Andrew Marin: Love is an Orientation

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