Saturday, 1 June 2013

Why should we pray for the Lords rejection of the same sex marriage bill?

On the 3rd June (this Monday) the House of Lords considers the same sex marriage bill. Many Christians may find it difficult to defend against, or be swayed by the arguments for, same sex marriage. Below I'd like to outline some of the arguments against the main ones put forward for marriage's redefinition i.e. those of equality and love.  I'm going to deal with them both seperateley.


Although Jesus valued everyone equally
(see my previous posts on His treatment of women)
He did not treat them in the same way.
In ethics the main theory which deals with equality is Utilitariansim.  Largely accredited to Jeremy Bentham it's a secular theory as Bentham was inspired by the French and American revolutions and the thoughts of the Enlightenment which underpinned these. Therefore Bentham believed that in order to determine if something was morally good it should be considered in the light of whether it contributes the most benefit to the largest amount of people. This was in stark contrast to how society was run at that time, with a ruling elite who appeared to have all the power which was used for their benefit.

In line with Utilitariansim David Hume argues whether equality is actually beneficial to society. Hume considers property and it's distribution, but his analysis can be applied to the same sex marriage debate.

Hume does not argue that it would be wrong for people to have equal shares in property, but that it would be impractical to expect that this could be enforced on mass as people have different skills and abilities which will naturally result in some people prospering more than others. This can be seen when there was an enforced redistribution of property in communist regimes which never resulted in equality, but a different group of people managing to obtain an unequal share of goods.

Hume compares the corporate redistribution of wealth with the small scale redistribution; the Robin  Hood argument. If items we taken from a rich person and given to a port person people may support this. However Hume extends this to the societal; 'what would be the result of everyone breaking the law of theft in this way?' Again, we've seen the result in history. 

How does this compare to same sex marriage? Proponents of it would like us to look at the issue in its minute, not on it's wider implications for society.  As Hume notes in his treatment of wealth as a result of different attributes, so marriage is a result of the intrinsic nature of heterosexual sex. It produces children. As such altering our understanding of it has wider implications for society. We can ask 'what would be the result of breaking the law of matrimony in this way be?' 

Again, we can see the results in history. We've already seen the impact altering the definite of marriage has had on society with the removal of our understanding of a life long commitment in terms of the introduction of no fault divorce, of our acceptance of the lack of necessity of marriage to bear children in an appropriate relationship.

We can also see where the argument of equality will lead. I will never equate the debate relating to same sex marriage to the inevitable introduction of marriage between man and animal, or man and child, as consent is a necessary element of our marriage at present (although, this could be changed as consent wasn't necessary, at least for women as property, in the past) and with the focus on rights and self determination I don't see this as being over-ruled at present.

Love in marriage is life giving, like the Godhead.
However, marriage with multiple partners has been accepted in various societies, unlike same sex marriage, and each argument applied to same sex marriage can be applied to polygamous relationships.

Ultimately then we can see Hume's arguments holding up here. In secular terms it is clear that the idea of equality is not practicable. There has to be difference within society to a certain extent because there is difference.


The next argument used in the debate of same sex relationships is that of love and how this is linked to marriage. However, as witnessed by the original vows used for the English marriage ceremony from the Anglican Common Book of Prayer the emphasis on love is a relatively new phenomenon;
The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Therefore marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.

Marriage was for the procreation of children and their nurture and as such benefits society. Notice the line 'when it's God's will' in relevance to the procreate of children, it was always understood that marriage was for this purpose, though it would not necessarily lead to this purpose.  However, by entering into marriage even when it was known that he chances of children are unlikely e.g. in very old age, you affirm the importance of marriage in containing heterosexual relationships because of the normal outcome. 

There are lots of other loving relationships e.g. sisterly, brotherly, communities in the form of nuns etc and all of these could be said to be 'for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity', but they are not of the appropriate love of marriage because of their different attributes i.e. the lack of children. 

Homosexual relationships, despite involving sex, are also not of the same nature and with the same attributes.

Homosexuals also have children now?

Some would argue that homosexual couples also have children that need to be protected within marriage. Interestingly civil partnerships offer all the benefits of marriage, however the argument for same sex marriage is that one, civil partnerships, is seen as lesser than marriage between a man and a woman. 

It needs to be born in mind that children in same sex partnerships aren't as a natural consequence of these essentially sterile relationships but of previous partnerships or unnatural intervention e.g. fertility treatments. 

However, this disconnect between the natural procreation of children, even if they are sufficiently nurtured, differs significantly.  The self constraint that should be demonstrated in heterosexual marriage benefits society because unrestrained heterosexual sex results in the production of children and therefore can lead to a a lesser standard of nurturing (although the child the self is always valuable).  This adversely affects society. That is why marriage is given a higher significance, the constraint of partners benefits society to a greater extent.

These are some of the arguments that can help you consider the debate. I would urge you to stand fast in the face of verbal persecution and arm yourself with reasoned arguments in order to defend traditional marriage. Over the coming week please pray for those debating the proposed legislation and that God may guide them.

Jesus, you quoted the Bible and asked “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 

‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 

When those around you asked why Moses had allowed a certificate of divorce you said that their hearts had grown hard. I pray that our hearts at not hard to he True definition of marriage. That those who represent us in government open themselves to the will of God and do not allow the nature of marriage as God intended to be defamed.

Sacred heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Immaculate heart of Mary, pray for us.

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I welcome your posts whether you agree with me or not. Can I ask that people are respectful to each other; no-one has the right not to be offended, but I think that we can talk to each other without swearing or using personal insults.
If you want to use the whole "sky fairy" thing when you're talking to people with faith that too is your perogitive. Just know that for me and many others when you do you've lost the argument.