Friday, 14 December 2012

Being C of E this week: same-sex marriage

This blog post follows the news that the UK will be legalising same-sex marriage with a quadruple lock to protect religious freedom.

I understand that the provision about the Church of England in the newly proposed legislation for same-sex marriage is a legal thing to do with Church of England canon law not being in conflict with common law. It makes sense, legally, when you read about the details.

The major problem for me is the truly idiotic stance of the CofE against same-sex marriage in the first place, never mind this hoo-hah about their own caveat in the law.

The true meaning of marriage is committing yourself to the one person you love and will share your life with, plain and simple. It is a social declaration of this commitment, and a legal contract that binds you to them in the eyes of the law - whilst still an individual, you are half of an intrinsically interconnected whole.

It is complete bollocks that marriage is anything to do with the "complementarity" of the "distinctiveness of men and women" (as the official line of the CofE goes). Bollocks! Just because straight people are the majority, and so the concept of a social contract started with them does not mean the man/woman element is intrinsic to what marriage is in society!

I just don't understand this official view of my church. The people who think this in the CofE must not have much interaction with society and the world around them, because they are simply behind the times - society does not consider marriage to be what the CofE considers it to be.

The Government's response to the consultation has it right - "At its heart, marriage is about two people who love each other making a formal commitment to  each other. We do not believe that this commitment is any different whether it is made by a same-sex couple or an opposite sex couple. We believe that by allowing same-sex couples to get married we are further strengthening the institution of marriage." As a bisexual, I can wholeheartedly standby the assertion that the commitment is not different whether your partner is the same or opposite sex!

We Anglicans are not Catholics, who believe that marriage is "based on “the biological complementarity of male and female and on the possibility of children”", and it is disturbing that we seem to be anywhere near this line of antiquated thinking. It is unreasonable to not realise that Christianity has no grounds on which to be against same-sex marriage, and the church is falling behind society by hanging on the views on marriage that the people of this country have left behind them. And I'm disappointed in me church.

The Archbishop of Wales: "What can the church do to show that this relationship is not simply something between my partner and I but that somehow God is in our midst as well and longs for our wellbeing?"

The official view doesn't make sense, it does not reflect what society and many CofE Christians think, and it breaks my heart. Come on now, my dear Church of England. Open your eyes.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Quotes from N. Frank: Is Homosexuality a Sin?

"The Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, actually contains two different kinds of sin. One is an act considered morally wrong because it's hurtful or dangerous. This includes obvious violations of the social contract, such as murder and theft, as well as sentiments that are discouraged because they can lead to unfairness or harm: greed, envy, idleness and arrogance. It also includes violations of more minor rules that can seem like mere rituals but which evolved to keep a population safe or healthy from perceived dangers, such as rules about diet and sanitation.
The second kind of sin is a violation against social conventions. This is where the word "moral" comes from, as in "social mores." These refer to practices and beliefs widely shared by your community, but which are not intrinsically beneficial or harmful. These mores exist as a way to bind the community together, often in opposition to another group.
Which kind of sin is homosexuality, according to the Bible? Certainly in an era of tribal rivalries and high infant mortality, procreative sex was encouraged as necessary to population growth, making alternatives potentially harmful to group survival. This, at least, is a popular explanation of how both masturbation and homosexuality became taboo in biblical times and would place them in the moral category of intrinsic harm.
what becomes clear from actually reading the Bible on homosexuality is that the anti-gay taboo is, above all, a badge of team membership -- of a piece with opposition to outsiders and nonbelievers. Leviticus appears to condemn same-sex desire unequivocally, forbidding "lying with a man" as an "abomination." But the word normally translated as "abomination" is more properly understood as simply "taboo" -- something forbidden by custom, largely because it's associated with other groups. Indeed, the literal meaning of "taboo" is "set apart."
The Old Testament taboo against homosexuality appears in a passage that's all about the duty of Jews to honor and obey God, meant to set them apart from pagans. It begins with God telling the Israelites to worship only him and follow only his rules and not those of the whacky Egyptians and Canaanites just because they may pass through their lands. In other words, when in Rome, do notas the Romans do, or you'll mark yourself as a member of the wrong team. The so-called "abomination" really denotes a non-Israelite cultic practice, like the worship of foreign idols. It's an act that the Israelites were forbidden from doing because others did it, not because it was intrinsically bad.
Like the Hebrew scriptures, the New Testament appears to condemn homosexuality in no uncertain terms, most notably in Paul's letter to the Romans, which bemoans men who relinquish their natural function and "burn in their lust" for each other. But it turns out that this desire is not so much the cause of harm but the punishment for a much greater violation: denying God. "Even though they knew God, they did not honor him," writes Paul. "Therefore, God gave them over" to such desires -- along with a long list of others. Like the Jews, Christians threw homosexuality into a bucket of no-nos (along with gossip, insolence and apostasy) to solidify their team membership against nonbelievers and outsiders.
Looked at in proper context, the biblical taboo against same-sex desire was a product of one key fact: that foreigners and apostates practiced it. That fact, above all else, appears to be what made it unacceptable, more than anything intrinsic to same-sex acts, such as their association with depopulation."