Monthly Archives: February 2013

Queer Christians give thanks for success of same-sex marriage bill

Although Queers for Jesus is mainly a blog and discussion site, we’re very keen on ensuring that queer, radical and Christian voices are heard in the media. Today we have issued the following news release:

Queer Christians are celebrating a vote in the House of Commons in favour of legalising same-sex marriage in England and Wales. But they warned that anti-equality comments during the debate show that the battle is far from over and that Christians need to speak up clearly for equality.

Queers for Jesus – who run a collective blog site exploring gender, sexuality and religion – said that the issue should not be presented as a dispute between religion and gay rights. Many of them demonstrated outside Parliament, singing hymns and praying as well as displaying banners alongside people of other religions and none. They thanked several Christian MPs for backing equal marriage.

They welcomed the fact that several faith leaders had spoken at an event in Parliament today calling for radical changes to the world’s financial systems. Queers for Jesus see the campaign for equal marriage rights as part of the same struggle for a more just and less sinful world.

Emma Anthony, a Christian youthworker in a same-sex relationship, joined the demonstration outside Parliament. Afterwards she said:

“It’s a very good day for equality. For some people, a life-changing decision has been made. I think there is no possible way that Jesus would have voted against this bill. We have to do what Jesus would do if Jesus still had an earthly body.”

Other demonstrators included Symon Hill, a Christian writer who in 2011 walked from Birmingham to London as a pilgrimage of repentance for his former homophobia. He said:

“This is great news for all supporters of equality, including many Christians. Opponents of equal marriage must not be allowed to hide behind the claim that they are defending Christianity. Jesus modelled relationships based on love and justice – much harder than following a set of rules. Jesus motivates many people to work for a more just and less sinful world – campaigning against inequality, war and government cuts. We’ve heard lots from anti-equality Christians. It’s vital that pro-equality Christians speak up just as clearly.”

Pray, lobby and demonstrate for equal marriage

The UK Parliament will vote this afternoon (5 February) on the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill, offering legal recognition to same-sex marriage in England and Wales. This is the “second reading”: if it passes, it could still be ammended in the Commons, and will then go to the Lords, where the opposition may be stronger. So this is not the end, but it’s an important day – not least because of the media interest. It’s important that the media realise that there are many followers of Jesus supporting equal marriage.

Today, please do one or more of the following:

Lobby: You can email your MP about the issue in a few moments by clicking here.

Demonstrate: Rally at the statue of George V opposite the main entrance to the House of Commons from 5.00pm today.

Talk: Tell your friends, family or colleagues why this issue matters to you. Be prepared for genuine dialogue with people who disagree.

Pray: Any time, anywhere.

How they choose to pray: Revealing the attitudes of the Coalition for Marriage

by Jemima

The Christian Institute and their allies produced a prayer that they hoped would be read out in churches today, with the vote on Tuesday (5 February) for the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill. Both sides have tried to use today as a time of reflection and prayer. As Christians we are told to turn to God in times of dispute, however with “Thy will be done” as our guiding phrase.

The prayer released for today shows so much about the worldliness of the Coalition for Marriage that I think it bears close analysis. It reads as follows:

“Heavenly Father,
We thank you for the gift of marriage which you established at the dawn of time, to be a blessing for all generations throughout the earth, down through the ages.
We pray that you would fill each and every marriage with your love and grace, and that every husband and wife would know the joy that comes from sharing and giving.
We thank you for establishing marriage to be a secure and stable environment for raising children.
We pray for all those who do not enjoy those blessings, remembering that you are a father to the orphan and a husband to the widow.
We pray, as you have commanded us, for those in positions of civil authority.
We pray that our Government will act with wisdom and righteousness, upholding marriage as the voluntary union of one man to one woman for life, for the good of all people.
We pray for forgiveness for our nation, as our Government seeks to redefine marriage. We pray that these plans would fail.
And we pray for ourselves, that we would speak out in support of marriage with gentleness and kindness, but also with courage and confidence.
In the name of Christ Jesus our Lord we pray. Amen.”

I will skip over the theological debate about a historical reading of Genesis; it has been fought many times, except of course to point out this excludes many Christians with a deep and sincere faith who do not believe the Fall is a literal fact but a poetical description of the real state of sinful humanity.

The first section has already caused pain to at least one person hearing it in my Church, a victim of domestic violence in her marriage. The coalition might claim they have asked that all marriages be joyful and sharing, but this is clearly not the case. Those who have suffered in marriage, those who are divorced, those who have grown up witnessing domestic violence are put into the box of not quite good enough Christians. By making the marriage of a man and woman a seemingly central tenet of faith, millions of heterosexual faithful are also cast out into the cold.

Again the coalition may claim they do not exclude, citing the next line:

We pray for all those who do not enjoy those blessings, remembering that you are a father to the orphan and a husband to the widow.”

This of course ignores the single parent, the abused child who saw family life as damaging, all those whom the traditional structure of marriage has failed. Is there no prayer for the teenage mum, struggling to do her best? Or the childhood abuse victim who has cut off contact with his parents to protect himself? Do you have to lose your partner or parent to be worthy of prayer?

This may seem nit picking but this prayer was produced to be read out to pulpits across the land, and presumably thought was given to wording, to who it included and excluded, to who matters in the Church the Coalition believe in.

The next part which is extremely problematic to me is this;

We pray for forgiveness for our nation, as our Government seeks to redefine marriage. We pray that these plans would fail.

During the week of prayer for Christian unity recently we were asked to consider a verse from Michah:

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

It is a wonderful verse, one which the coalition has seemingly never come across. Justice and love are much talked about. Steve Chalke wrote wonderfully of his realisation of the injustice that continuing to oppose equal marriage would be. However the last part, the need to be humble is just as important.

Over and over again in the Old and New Testaments we are reminded of the impossibility of knowing the mind of God, and of the need to trust, like Job, to be aware that it is His plan, His dominion, His path that must be walked. This of course reaches its zenith in the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, when God the Son, our Lord Jesus, is subject to the same pressure as all humanity.

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Mathew 26:39.

It is not the place of the coalition to ask for forgiveness for others, we forgive those who sin against us personally, we do not offer out forgiveness, or call it down on our personal whim. They may believe that the same sex marriage law is wrong, but only God can determine if it is a sin, and only God can decide if a nation as a whole has sinned through the passing of one law.

This attitude is of course at the heart of the belief system of the Coalition for Marriage. In one simple prayer they show over and over again that they believe humans, not God, define sin, define goodness, and define what is acceptable and who passes the test of what makes a Christian. To call a whole nation sinners and assume they can intercede for forgiveness is about as arrogant, and unbiblical as any organisation can be.

This is not simply a fight about inclusion in my view, but about the future of the Church, and whether that future is one of radicalism and faith or belief in traditional structures and following a worldly path of human desires for power. To finish by quoting from Chalke:

Christianity is not about a book, but about a person who is the Word of God made flesh.”