I generally enjoy reading articles by secularists and atheists in the media. That might sound like a strange thing for a Christian to say, but if you only ever read things that you agree with, you’re never really going to get challenged and have your thinking stretched. When you read something by a writer who disagrees with your beliefs, if you’re open, it will give you questions that either you will have worked out an answer to or if you don’t it makes you go away and find out what your response should be.
I do get annoyed sometimes when I read a poorly considered piece that lacks thought and respect. Last week though, I read something that really riled me.
The Huffington Post article in question was entitled ‘A Two-Faced, US-Style ‘Moral’ Campaign Is Threatening LGBT Progress in the UK’ and was written by Conor Marron who Co-founded the Coalition for Equal Marriage in response to the launch of the Coalition for Marriage in February.
Though I support what the Coalition for Marriage (C4M) is doing and the view that the definition of Marriage shouldn’t be changed by politicians on a whim, I don’t have a problem with what the Coalition for Equal Marriage (C4EM) is doing. Both sides have just as much of a right to voice their opinions as the other and try to garner as much support as possible. As it currently stands C4M’s petition has 441,000 signatories compared to C4EM’s 46,000. This gives a clear picture of the level of support each campaign is receiving and probably goes some way to explain the level of anger that comes across in Conor Marron’s article.
Marron seems incredibly surprised that there has been a backlash against the Government’s plan to legalise same-sex marriage:
‘The proposals received but a smattering of media attention, and a polite welcome from LGBT groups. ‘Separate but equal’ legislation would be a thing of the past. The final, uncontroversial baby-step toward equality was underway.
But since February this year, a well-oiled PR campaign against the proposals [C4m] has been busy giving the false impression of a public backlash to the proposals.’
As he goes on he displays plenty of ignorance of Christian belief assuming that only religious fundamentalists are against gay marriage. He can be forgiven for his lack of knowledge, after all I don’t know an awful lot about what goes on in gay circles and I don’t expect him to have an in-depth understanding of the finer points of the Christian faith. He is not a politician or an experienced public leader, just someone who decided to set up a petition in favour of gay marriage.
However, despite needing to do some homework on matters of Christian orthodox belief, he is more than happy to shoot down some Christian organisations:
‘The Coalition for Marriage (C4M) is a network of evangelical Christian groups in the UK (the kind often described as “US-style”, not without reason). The exact composition of this coalition is not advertised on their website. However a bit of digging unearths a few quite extreme organisations (more extreme than any mainstream UK church, anyway).
One of C4M’s members is the Christian Institute… Another of their members is the fundamentalist group Christian Medical Fellowship, which campaigns against women’s choice over abortion rights, and welcomes good Christian doctors as long as they believe “The Bible, as originally given, is the inspired and infallible Word of God.”‘
I’ve never thought of the Christian Medical Fellowship in particular as fundamentalist of extremist. Knowing some of its members I suspect that they would be horrified to be described in these terms. As the article progresses, Marron continues to snipe at those supporting what C4M is doing.
I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea. What really saddens me about this article is that Conor Marron feels that the best form of defence for his cause is to throw stones at the other side and hope that a few find their target and cause damage. Usually this sort of thing happens when someone feels that they are losing the battle and they begin to resort to desperate measures. This type of action isn’t likely to win him any new friends though. He’s failing to present his case in a positive light and is doing his cause more harm than good. It’s not a race to the bottom to find out which side is the most intolerant. Ironically having claimed that C4M is carrying out a ‘US style’ campaign, it is his comments instead that remind me of American politics where so much time and effort is spent trying to undermine the opposition.
Jesus famously said that we should love our enemies and do good to those who hate us (Luke 6:27). I’m not sure how much love the gay community is feeling from Christians right now. I hope and pray that those running C4M don’t resort to throwing stones at the other side, even if they are antagonised and provoked. Jesus showed us a better way to go about our business. Showing respect rather than intolerance even if you don’t agree with someone is much more likely to win them over than trying to pick a fight.
We are in a moment of time where Christians in this country have the opportunity to engage with gay people and try to begin to heal some old wounds despite the path that the Government is taking. We shouldn’t be ashamed to stand up for what we believe, but it needs to be carefully presented. God loves everyone, whether straight or gay despite the fact that we all do things that he doesn’t approve of.
Let’s get that message out as we continue with this marriage debate.