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.”

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3 thoughts on “How they choose to pray: Revealing the attitudes of the Coalition for Marriage

  1. Phil Groom says:

    Thank you: a fair and balanced assessment; and I am delighted to report that the C4M prayer was not used in our church. Anyone can pray for their will to be done, can attempt to dictate to God how prayers must be answered, but that prayer of Jesus — “Let your will be done” — takes courage and humility; it is, I think, the most terrifying prayer a human being can offer. Lord, have mercy.

  2. jemima101 says:

    Thank for your comment, it is a challenge, one I am still growing to understand in its all encompassing depth and importance .

  3. Colin says:

    Quote: It is not the place of the coalition to ask for forgiveness for others..

    Come on that basic stuff you should know…

    Paul tells there various forms of prayer, of which one is intercession.

    To ‘intercede’ means literally “to come in between.” The intercessor is one who comes in between God and those who deserve His just wrath and punishment.

    They lift their hands to God and say, “God, these deserve Your judgement; You have every right to punish; but if You do, You have to punish me first, because I am standing in between You and them.”

    That is vary un-selfish act and is truly an act of love and a very christian way to act so I cannot understand how its “extremely problematic”

    —————————————————————-

    Quote: They may believe that the same sex marriage law is wrong, but only God can determine if it is a sin.

    The scripture is very clear about homosexual relationships. Both the Old and New Testament speak openly and clearly about homosexuality and the God of the Bible consistently denounces the behavior.

    Genesis 19:1-14
    “Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. And he said, “Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” They said however, “No, but we shall spend the night in the square.” Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.” But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand aside.” Furthermore, they said, “This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them.” So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door. But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway. Then the men said to Lot, “Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it. ” And Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, “Up, get out of this place, for the LORD will destroy the city.” But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.”

    This classic passage from the Old Testament describes the mob in Sodom as an evil group of men who wanted to “have relations” with the men of Lot’s family! What kind of “relations” is the Bible talking about here? Clearly the men of Sodom wanted to have sex with the men in Lot’s family. Further description of the situation can be found in 2 Peter:

    2 Peter 2:6-10
    “…and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties…”

    Peter clarifies the fact that the homosexual men of Sodom are under the judgment of God for their corrupt desire to “indulge the flesh”. It’s not just that these men were condemned because they wanted to ‘rape’ lot’s family; it’s that these men wanted to have sex with other men. Jude describes this desire as unnatural:

    Jude Verse 7
    “Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.”

    The homosexuals of Sodom were seeking after “strange flesh” in that they wanted to have sex with other men. The Old Testament consistently describes homosexual sexual activity as an abomination:

    Leviticus 18:22
    “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”

    Leviticus 20:13
    “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.”

    The Old Testament is consistent and clear: homosexuality is an unnatural abomination to God. The New Testament is no less condemning:

    Romans 1:26-27
    “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.”

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10
    Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    1 Timothy 1:9-10
    “…realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching…”

    The words of scripture are direct, clear and uncompromising. There may be many issues and topics that are not clearly addressed in the Bible, but homosexuality is simply not one of them.

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