Category Archives: Marriage
Marriage and Civil Partnerships
There has been a lot of talk about the dangers of gay marriage over the past few weeks. Allowing gay people to get married would, it is alleged, damage society and harm families. Not only that, but gay people themselves don’t want to get married, as shown by the low take up rates of gay marriage where it is available.
In the UK, we don’t have gay marriage, at least not at the moment. We do have a very similar institution: civil partnerships. These have been around since late 2005, and the statistics are interesting. In England and Wales between 2006 and 2010, there were 40,921 civil partnerships. Over the same period there were 1,184,158 marriages.
In other words, 3.34% of all legal unions in England and Wales were civil partnerships, and the rest (96.66%) were marriages. The figures, broken down by year, are shown in the following…
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Language and Equal Marriage
One year ago today Michael and I formed our civil partnership – that is to day we went through a process of signing paperwork in the presence of witnesses that made our relationship official in the eyes of the law. Had we been an opposite-sex couple, it would have been a civil wedding.
Being a loving and dutiful civil partner, I got Michael an anniversary card. I looked in various shops, and I saw cards that cost 50p and cards that cost £5. I saw cards with romantic designs, and cards with cartoons. I saw cards the size of your hand, and I saw cards the size of a small child. There was one thing I didn’t see. There were plenty of anniversary cards for husbands, and plenty of anniversary cards for wives, but I didn’t see any for civil partners.
“Civil partner” is a very peculiar term, in my…
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A True Christian Position on Same-Sex Marriage
In the UK, and in many countries across the world, there are many different forms of marriage. These are all accepted as marriage, even though they aren’t “Christian”. On its own, that is enough to suggest that conservative Christians should not oppose the emergence of same-sex marriage. True, same-sex marriage isn’t part of traditional Christian beliefs, but neither are Hindu marriages, Jewish marriages, or civil marriages. The religious freedom that allows conservative Christians to celebrate their form of marriage means that conservative Christians should allow other people to follow their religious or philosophical views to celebrate marriage in their own ways – including Christians and other people of faith who want to celebrate same-sex marriage.
There is another reason for Christians accepting same-sex marriage, even Christians who believe that all same-sex relationships are wrong. A recent study showed that where same-sex marriage is allowed, the health of gay men improves. That means that by opposing same-sex marriage, you are effectively encouraging poorer health in gay men, which is hardly a Christian position to take.
Supporting same-sex marriage is not the same as approving of same-sex relationships, any more than supporting civil marriage is the same as supporting atheism. Opposing same-sex marriage is denying other people the religious and philosophical freedom that we all enjoy. Opposing same-sex marriage is wishing poorer health on a subset of the population. A Christian should support same-sex marriage, even if he or she believes that same-sex relationships are wrong.
A Simple Kiss
On Facebook, as with the rest of my life, I am openly gay and I am openly Christian. For example, updates to this blog are published automatically into my Facebook news feed.
For a while now, I’ve been in a relationship with another man, Michael, and on the 6th and 7th May we got married. Lots of friends and family were there, and lots of photographs were taken. On Sunday morning I changed my Facebook profile picture to one of the two of us kissing outside the church – you can see the picture yourself at the top right of this post.
During the day on Sunday, I got the following message from a Facebook friend we will call Q.
I am happy for you if what you have done is what you want. I have nothing against you or any other person, but I do believe the thing you have done to be an abomination in God’s eyes, so feel obliged to remove you from my friends list. I do this with great sadness, but still rejoice in your happiness and pray that God can find the way take you to the kingdom by His love. This may mean that my view is still too narrow, but I see the scriptures on the issue as pretty clear. Your latest profile pic was the last straw I am afraid.
This does not mean I no longer love you and care about you, just that I feel obliged to make a stand against what you did today.
What is the “thing that [I] have done” that Q finds so offensive? What does he have to make a stand against? He clearly has no problem with me being gay and Christian: he was happy to have me as a Facebook friend when I was gay and single, he was happy to have me on his friend list when I was engaged, and he was happy to have me on his friend list when I was publishing blog posts that are supportive of gay Christians.
What is the thing that I have done? What I did was I got married. Q has taken an extremely curious position for a Christian to take. I know there are Christians who object to people being openly gay, and there are Christians who object to gay people calling themselves Christian, and all sorts of variants thereof. These Christians base their objections on their belief that the Bible forbids gay sex.
But if you can tolerate an openly gay Christian man as a Facebook friend, what scriptural reason is there for unfriending him because he has entered into a permanent, faithful, stable lifelong relationship? Where in the Bible does it say that marrying another man is “an abomination in God’s eyes”? Q wasn’t objecting to me being in a sexual relationship with another man, because his message was about a specific event — “the thing [I had] done” — not some (assumed) aspect of my relationship with my husband.
This actually exposes ‘Christian’ opposition to same-sex relationships for what it is: homophobia, thinly veneered with Christianity in an attempt to make it respectable.