It’s very rare that I get angry, but at the moment I’m really not overly happy.
On Thursday last week the Guardian published an article by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, setting out his views on same-sex marriage. It’s not the first time he’s done this, but given that he may make the shortlist for Archbishop of Canterbury, it’s fair enough that he lets us know what he thinks.
The day after, Giles Fraser who was Canon Chancellor of St. Pauls and regularly appears on the radio and in the press tweeted, “Absolute rubbish from the Archbishop of York, I’m afraid.” This was then picked up by Ruth Gledhill who wrote an article in the Times on Saturday that The Church of England had been plunged into another row over gay marriage.
Once again the public is left with the impression that the Church is full of infighting and intolerance. Not exactly honouring to God.
I’m growing weary of this same-sex marriage debate that has in fact become a war where dirty words and tactics are increasingly being used.
To make my point, the Coalition for Equal Marriage website has published a flowchart to counter any arguments people may have against gay-marriage. Again fair enough in principle. There is no problem with them doing this until you read the language they are using to counter opposing views. Some of the statements are:
“You are dumb. You are a stupid person.”
“Accept it you’re wrong. Stop being so stubborn.”
“Basically you’re a terrible person. This dead end represents your development as a human being. Game over. You lose.”
Given that this is the flagship site for supporters of same-sex marriage you would hope that they would have chosen their words much more carefully. It’s official supporters include Mumsnet and the Lesbian and Gay Christian movement. Are they really happy to associate themselves with this type of provocative language?
It feels like this whole thing is getting completely out of hand. Ok. It’s time for my rant…
I’m annoyed with David Cameron that he brought up this whole subject when it wasn’t in his party’s election manifesto. I’m annoyed that the Government is having a ‘consultation’ that states that decisions have already been made. I’m annoyed at church leaders who are arguing amongst themselves in public. I’m annoyed that too many people who should know better are so stubbornly entrenched in their views that they make no effort to listen to anyone else’s point of view. I’m annoyed with those who are deliberately trying to antagonise those they disagree with in the hope of provoking a reaction. I’m annoyed with those people who make claims about those they oppose either deliberately or through ignorance that are clearly wrong. I’m annoyed that we’ve had such little real and open debate on this. I’m annoyed that the voices of those who are trying to build bridges are being ignored. I’m annoyed with those who have decided they have the moral high ground and are treating others with contempt as a result. I’m annoyed that some people think it’s funny to belittle and insult those who don’t agree with them. And I’m annoyed that all of this is stirring up more hatred and mistrust when it didn’t need to happen.
Now that this can of worms is well and truly open, there is no going back. We’re in a huge mess. No one appears to want to make any attempt to engage productively with the other side. Where are the voices of reason who are attempting to get some perspective on this and enter into some intelligent dialogue?
Stuart James at eChurch has written an article explaining why he officially is finished with the gay marriage debate. He’s had enough and I don’t blame him. He wrote in a recent tweet that trying to quietly reason in a tornado is futile. That’s absolutely what it feels like.
Jesus said, ” Love your neighbor as yourself” and “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” I see very, very little of this happening at the moment.
I’m tired of this saga and some of the quite frankly pathetic behaviour. I seriously can’t believe there aren’t others who feel this too. It’s about time that the voices of those who long to bring peace and reconciliation to this destructive conflict are given the platform they deserve. Without peacemakers we’re all going to be losers.
Categories: Church, Homosexuality, Marriage
While I may come to different conclusions on this debate to you I agree that the way that it has been handled by it’s proponents is utterly childlike – you cannot simply call everyone who disagrees with gay marriage a homophobe and not engage at all with their arguments. It puts to shame all of those who seek with grace and tolerance to consider how same sex couples might have a meaningful union.
The Guardian butchered Sentamu’s article on his website taking about 20% of the text, changing the order and changing the meaning. I thought that it was a thought provoking, well written and humble consideration of the issue from the position of sincere Christian faith. This along with other such worthy contributions (such as Vincent Nicholls writing in the tablet a few months ago) have been summarily ignored. It greatly greatly saddens me.
Thank you. It doesn’t make any difference which side of the argument we’re on. No one has the excuse to treat others with the level of disrespect we’re seeing from some quarters.
Also the media isn’t helping by fanning the flames for the sake of publicity and sales.
Well said. What happened to love and grace and responsibility and being a bit grown-up with words? Knowing ‘we’ are ‘right’ doesn’t dissolve us of our ethical responsibility as a follower of Jesus to be full of grace. Whichever side of ‘right’ we fall.
Sadly the tone of the debate forces people on all sides who could talk peacefully into our respective shells. Jeremy Kyle tabloid rantery is fast becoming the only level of discourse engaged in in any sphere- though the earliest example I recall is Prime Minister’s Question time. People seem to like shouting and meanness. Kingdom people should be learning to do better, surely?
Prime Minister’s Question Time today was a prime example of how not to address people. Calling Ed Balls an “idiot” might have given David Cameron’s fellow Conservatives a good laugh, but I doubt it will have won him many fans outside of Westminster.
I thought Sentamu’s article was very balanced, he used measured language and i pretty much agreed with what he said. The tone of the debate though is so shrill. I have been on the pink news site a bit recently and anti Christian sentiment is incredibly strong there, homophobic is the least of what we are called. The hurt in the Gay community runs deep and they demand equality because they see themselves as capable of commitment and love as anybody else and this meets THEIR marriage definition. They are fighting for an equality which oddly will confer no new practical legal rights other than the title. What is natural to them we call a sin so i suppose we must expect it to some degree. What’s depressing there, is the lack of willingness to consider the Christian viewpoint at all and we are in the main trying to do so in a way that does not offend. As predicted this is a terribly divisive issue within the church also. The crazy thing is the amount of homophobic comment within church congregations is almost non existent though it does appear on some Christian web sites Some clergy seem to identify more with their sexuality than Christ.Everyone is claiming Christ and interpreting scripture through their own particular bias. One of the conclusions from the Theos debate was that the Christian and Gay community need to engage with one another in a more positive way ie listen. There are real people with real feelings on both sides of the debate. Where we find compassion love and peace in this debate i just don’t know.
I thought that John Sentamu’s argument was quite coherent. I don’t know which bit Giles Fraser thought was “absolute rubbish”. I also agree that visiting a site like Pink News is a very concerning experience for a Christian. I doubt many Christians realise just how much we are hated by some of the gay community. When two sides are so divided and entrenched propaganda can easily take hold and lead to a distorted and inaccurate view of the other side that fuels hatred. Can you think where we’ve seen this sort of thing happening before? The consequences are usually disastrous.
I guess Christians are hated by some. Historically speaking, we are doing quite well. If we were to reap the hate we sowed when we had earthly power, then we would know what it is to be hated.
Thank you Tracy. Very valid point.
Dirty washing in public……. a lack of exercising reconciliation…….. and somehow there is an expectation and desire for people to come to a Christian faith? The public exposure doesn’t represent Christ……
Exactly. Thank you.
Totally agree. You are right Gillian, “No one appears to want to make any attempt to engage productively with the other side”.
The sad thing is that the debate has forgotten the real issue – people. Ideologies and entrenched attitudes have been the staple diet of protagonists from both sides.
With so much evil going on in the world, with the government penalising and persecuting the less fortunate, the ill and the disabled to ‘save money’ Christians should have been in the forefront. Once again ‘they’ seem to be more concerned as to who has consensual adult sex with who than the plight of the poor, the ill and the sick, the persecuted and the outcasts – refugees, illegal immigrants who can not be sent back to their country of origin because they have no passport and they cannot be taken on to work legally – the government deliberately causes vagrancy by law – so they live as homeless forgotten and ignored people. But hey lets concentrate on who has sex with whom via ‘permission’ and ‘acceptance’ of the state – Civil Partnerships [the end of the world as they know it is about to happen] and Same-Sex Marriage [the end of the world as they know it has happened]. The same can be said of the LGBT groups, especially the Christian based groups. Shame on them.
So, taking a Jewish stance, I say Vey! Enough Already! Ideology, entrenched past fears [and experiences] have ruled the rhetoric. Both sides need to think before they speak – and if they cannot say something nice or something in a polite manner then may I suggest the say absolutely nothing at all. There are much more important issues to be involved in than this issue – which by the way is a good Cameron trick to prevent interaction and debate about the other issues – don’t fall for it. Don’t take sides. Help those who are in need of help, sustenance and spiritual uplifting under the reign of the Cameron rule.
I actually quite enjoy Pink News. Sure there are those in the LGBT community that don’t like Christianity/Christians…just as there are football fans who don’t, Australians who don’t, women who don’t, teachers who don’t, physicians who don’t, etc…it doesn’t mean that I’m ‘afraid’ of all football fans, Australians, women, teachers, and physicians (though I do hear that English football fans can get quite rowdy…so maybe I *should* be afraid of them! haha).
What you quoted from the equal marriage people is upsetting though. There are so many better statements that could be made; I have no clue why they resorted to those. Perhaps they were trying to be funny? Still, I support many individuals and organisations that I don’t support 100%. I often feel that I don’t always agree with myself! So I have no issue support an organisation (or person) who doesn’t always get it exactly right.
Thanks Rhea. You’ve made some very valid points. When we vote we choose a party we agree with most but if we only voted for a party if we agreed with 100% of what they say then almost all of us would never vote.
It’s refreshing to have someone who is gay commenting here engaging in sensible debate. When I have commented at pro-gay sites I’ve been shouted at which has put me off making the effort to do it again. I think the c4em site is trying to be funny and provocative at the same time, but they’re not going to gain any credibility by doing it and it doesn’t make them look very professional or particularly intelligent to those on the outside.
There is some civil conversation going on, though it’s unlikely to make any headlines… Shadow Dancing: A conversation about faith, hope and gay love in the church; but be warned: it’s kinda long…
Wow you’re not wrong about it being long! However having gone through some of it there is some really considered discussion that gives food for thought. I think we all understand that there is never going to be a simple solution to these arguments. For Christians it’s a case of priorities. God loves all of humanity full stop and the church should reflect that love to the world. We mustn’t forget that at any cost.
I feel exactly the same way. I’ve been horribly disillusioned by this argument and shocked by the level of hate. I’m deeply depressed and ashamed of Britain. I thought that Civil Partnerships had solved most of the injustices and that we could now agree to disagree over a few things. How wrong I was! As one blogger put it recently ‘the gay marriage debate is no debate … entering into it now is less like having an argument and more like getting punched in the face by a Snorlax on crack.’ That about sums is up. The government has handled this issue incredibly badly. They’ve started a totally unnecessary row and deepened the divisions in society. I don’t know how we’re ever going to come back from this.
Thank you Liz. I think you’ve summed it up very well.