In Scotland the consultation on equal marriage is closed and we can expect the report around April, which is just about when in England and Wales, the consultation on equal marriage is to be launched. In England and Wales, David Cameron has restricted the terms strictly to secular marriage: same-sex couples will still be banned from being legally wed in church.
This has not stopped the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, from speaking his mind on gay marriage (he’s against it).
On 4th December the Guardian published a kind of checklist I wrote on what we can expect from the anti-gay marriage brigade. Let’s see how Sentamu matches up against it.
“Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” says Dr Sentamu. “I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just [change it] overnight, no matter how powerful you are.”
Allowing same-sex couples to marry redefines marriage. The ba’s on the slates, the penguins are out on parade, the definition of marriage is already changed. Scotland for Marriage means marriage as a privilege from which some groups are barred – just as Focus on the Family means some families aren’t included. It’s as if they think there isn’t enough marriage or family to go around.
“We’ve seen dictators do it in different contexts”
SCORE! Sentamu wins a point – he came up with an objection which isn’t listed. Well done him. (Have to say, I can understand why someone might call David Cameron a dictator but not for Cameron upholding, at least half-assedly, the principle that human rights apply to everybody.) Mildred Loving, an American hero for human rights, said in 2007 – a 40-year anniversary for her:
“I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights. …. I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”
But evidently Dr Sentamu prefers to stand with Judge Leon M. Bazile, who also believed that the will of Almighty God should be seen in “traditional marriage”. Bazile would certainly have agreed with Dr Sentamu that: “I don’t want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and then overnight the state believes it could go in a particular way.” as Bazile believed:
“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”
Who could argue with the will of Almighty God, Dr Sentamu? What kind of impertinent person would want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in place a long time? Just people like Mildred Loving. Or Desmond Tutu. But you wouldn’t want to be seen in their company, would you? You’re with a mighty army, Archbishop, and don’t you forget it!
“It’s almost like somebody telling you that the Church, whose job is to worship God [will be] an arm of the Armed Forces. They must take arms and fight. You’re completely changing tradition.”
Marriage is one of the building blocks of society and same-sex couples marrying are attacking the block! This is pure horror movie – lesbians and gays as invisible monsters with glittery mouths, an alien threat to civilisation, and the brave forces of the anti-marriage movement attacking the threat no one else can see.
His intervention may serve as a rallying cry for traditionalist Tories who oppose Mr Cameron’s plan. “The rebellion is going to come not only from the bishops,” he says. “You’re going to get it from across the benches and in the Commons.
It’s unifying. In the US, Baptist, Catholic, evangelical, Mormon and Presbyterian churches unite to agree that same-sex couples shouldn’t get married: the alliance of Catholic and Protestant across sectarian barriers in Scotland is like an Old Firm match ending in a group hug.
“If you genuinely would like the registration of civil partnerships to happen in a more general way, most people will say they can see the drift. But if you begin to call those ‘marriage’, you’re trying to change the English language.”
Check! Double points for a repeater. (I’m playing by the Humphrey Lyttleton rulebook. Next, I shall ask Sentamu to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to the tune of “All Are Welcome”.)
Allowing same-sex couples to marry redefines marriage.
“That does not mean you diminish, condemn, criticise, patronise any same-sex relationships because that is not what the debate is about.
They’re not homophobic. They’ll make a point of saying so, that’s how you know.
“The Church has always stood out – Jesus actually was the odd man out. I’d rather stick with Jesus than be popular because it looks odd.”
After years of Christian campaigning on gay marriage, by 2007 young people in the US were sure of one thing: Christianity is anti-homosexual.
Though when you ask Christians to explain why they’re sure Jesus wants them to hate gay people, they can somehow never come up with chapter and verse. Odd, that. There’s always Matthew 8: 5-13, though. That shows you what Jesus thought of a gay couple – he wouldn’t even go to their house!
“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven, but the children of the kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour [his] pais was healed.
And at the end of this round of I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, Archbishop Doctor John Sentamu’s score is six. [*applause*] Points mean prizes. I award him a blind date with Robert Mugabe, or any other dictator of his choice.
Sadly, it is not always popular to do justice, but it is always right. People will say that the ones you are now willing to ordain are sinners. I have come to believe, through the reality shared with me by my scientist and medical friends, and confirmed to me by many who are gay, that being gay is not a choice. Like skin color or left-handedness, sexual orientation is just another feature of our diversity as a human family. How wonderful that God has made us with so much diversity, yet all in God’s image! Salvation means being called out of our narrow bonds into a broad place of welcome to all.