Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Should Clergy Have Choice?

The MSP John Mason has certainly created discussion - which he claims was his objective - with his motion against the proposal that gay marriage should be enshrined in Scottish law.

Divisions within the SNP have called Mr Mason's objection 'a nasty little anti-gay marriage motion' - and that comment was from my own MP Pete Wishart.  How I do wish Mr Wishart would stop sinking into the Westminster bubble and view public opinion realistically.  It was only the other week he was promoting 'Britishness' on a Scottish group blog and I decided he was now a lost cause to recognising Scottish society.  Too much time spent in the Westminster bar Pete.

Mr Mason is concerned that the proposed legislation does not allow anyone who conducts a marriage ceremony to opt out should they not approve of same sex partnerships. The gay lobby have gone as far as calling for the definition of marriage - currently defined as the joining of one man and one woman - to be deleted from dictionaries and redefined as the joining of two people, regardless of gender.

I understand Mr Mason's concerns. Nobody should be forced into performing any service if they disagree with any part of the applicant's reasons for wishing to have a religious ceremony.  Over the years I've known ministers in the Church of Scotland refuse to marry men and women because they did not attend their churches or were not fully paid up members of the CoS. Those people found another minister to fulfill their wish for a church service.  Also ministers have refused baptisms for similar reasons, although I've yet to know one refuse to lead a funeral service.

What right has anyone, unless they are members of a particular church, to demand a minister or any other religious person, carry out a service?  None. If they're not a paid up member then they can't complain.

Lawyers provide legal services but they're not obliged by law to accept a 'customer'.  They have choice.

Without the safeguards Mr Mason's motion proposes, people of religion who are legally able to undertake such ceremonies may well be sued or even worse, hounded from their vocations.  At present we have choice in this country, but if a proposal which insists that all members of the clergy of any religious denomination or none must perform same sex marriages, that denies choice.

The criticism about Mr Mason's motion is not about same sex marriages because, if his comments on Newsnight Scotland last week are to be believed, he is ambivalent about them. Personally I see no harm whatsoever in marriages between same sex couples or a male and female and I'm very much pro-marriage where children are concerned - preferably before the children arrive, but I do see a deeper agenda here from the gay lobby who may be happy to humiliate anyone who refused to carry out their request for a marriage service, then, of course, to claim compensation in accordance with the HRA. Such actions are few and far between but they do occur and cause consternation in communities.

I've yet to hear of a CoS minister who has refused to conduct a same sex marriage ceremony so who is pushing for this legislation?  We have serious social and economic problems in Scotland which need the urgent attention of our parliament and affect the whole of our society, yet same sex marriage is taking priority.

Our politicians should stop spending valuable time on this matter and begin to address the serious issues such as job creation, improving educational standards and ensuring the vulnerable in our society are cared for - not to mention doing something to alleviate the increasingly unaffordable utility costs.

Leave those who are legally registered to perform marriage ceremonies to make their own choices.  After all, we live in a democracy, don't we?


William said...

As a Baptist, John Mason should know that the Bible defines marriage as that between a man and a woman. A 'gay marriage' simply cannot and does not exist, in Bible terms.

I expect John Mason does know this but is simply reluctant to go the full way on this given the vitriol he's received already.

There is simply no way a Christian church, or a Christian minister, can perform this in all conscience and keep their vow to uphold Scripture. John Mason is right to say so. It's unarguable.

You're right, SR. Why would a gay couple want to get married in a church when they don't submit themselves to the authority of God in the first place? It's a sham and it's intended to catch out good, principled people who just want to follow God's Word.

Quiet_Man said...

My church, my rules...



Grogipher said...

You've entirely missed the point of the argument though SR...

NOT A SINGLE PERSON is saying that anyone should be forced into anything. If you don't want a gay marriage, don't marry a homosexual. If you don't want to officiate, don't.

Nowhere is any campaign group saying that any religion should be forced to officiate at anything they don't want to. This is about EXTENDING the religious freedoms of groups such as orthodox Jews or the Quakers, not restricting anyone else's. Churches (and other religious groups) have the right to refuse to baptise/marry/bless/bury/cremate whoever they wish, for whichever reason they wish. If the RC Church don't want to marry gays or divorcees, that's up to them. But the state shouldn't stop other churches from doing the same.

The main problem with this motion is that it entirely misses the point. It creates a strawman, a bogeyman, which simply does not exist. It takes the argument away from finding out what the public really want, it makes a lot of fire and heat with no light brought to the subject. It has exposed nasty bigots such as Bill Walker.. And we're still no far further forward, in any direction .

If someone wants to put this (sensible) argument forward in the proper way, they'd put it into the consultation that's happening. This just gets some negative publicity without bringing anything to the debate. That's why Pete (and Alyn Smith) were right to say what they did.

Edward Spalton said...

Years ago when the decriminalisation of homosexuality was being debated, there was a comic sketch, set in an airport lounge, where a reporter asked what various people thought about it.

One of the characters was a very masculine Australian
"Well I'm getting out before it's compulsory" , he said.

Now that the homosexual agenda is promoted even in infants' schools, I think we can say that we are getting close to that point.

Civilised toleration for grown-up people's private behaviour is one thing but this is part of an on-going, never ending agenda. In schools it's called "Queering the curriculum".

subrosa said...

I'm sure John knows that William and I'm also sure the heid bummers in the SNP thought him the best person to put forward the amendment.

We're supposedly a tolerant society but toleration has its limits.

Clergy should be able to choose.

subrosa said...

Well said QM.

subrosa said...

Ah I don't think so Grogipher, because the campaign doesn't say they won't be forced. That's John Mason's point and he wants to see the detail of their proposals and not have compulsion slip in through the back door.

I have heard little from other religious groups here in Scotland so I know nothing of their opinions. All I've heard is the BBC promoting their 'poll' which says same sex marriages should be allowed. I agree, but my argument is that those who are asked to officiate are allowed the freedom to refuse.

You know my opinion of Pete's response. Using nasty as a description of John Mason's motion was uncalled for, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was all stage-managed by the SNP.

subrosa said...

It does seem to be a never ending agenda Edward when the country is in chaos socially.

Grogipher said...

But the "proposals" won't come from any of the gay rights groups - they will come from the Government.

As I say, if the Government is having a consultation, and you have a point to make, there is a way of doing that properly. And that goes for all sides of the debate. I don't think it's right for people - from either side - to either pre-empt that consultation, nor to create false debates.

From my experiences, I wouldn't have thought it was stage managed...

I don't think John is nasty, I have spoken to him at some length on this issue, and he is a lovely chap. However, his motion is nasty, for the reasons I've given. It is not bringing anything sensible to the debate, nor is it the correct arena.

I do not wish to see any church forced to do anything against its will. That's not tolerance, nor equality.

JRB said...

In his post Grogipher rightly observes - It takes the argument away from finding out what the public really want.

I am by definition and by status - a member of the public. This is what I want –

Like most of us, I would wish to be considered as being accepting, inclusive, uncritical, non-judgemental, without prejudice in maters of race, religion and sexual orientation.

If any couple of the same sex wish to participate in a public show of commitment, a civil ceremony, an act of union, then so be it and I would wish them well and every happiness for their future.

But …

In my mind, it is not, and can not, ever be defined as a “marriage”.

Some years ago we had the era of the overly active and vociferous feminists who did little good for their cause, sadly, we now seem to have entered the era of the overly active and vociferous homosexual.
To them I would say, take ‘Festina lente’ as your motto, ‘society’/’the public’ will not be brow beaten into accepting your ethos.

subrosa said...

I don't think I said the proposals come from gay groups Grogipher but I know pressure to address this will have come from lobbying groups. You can't tell me that the SNP government suddenly decided to do a consultation on this matter because their great minds thought it so important. There are thousands of other issues which should be addressed, which affect the whole of society directly or indirectly, before this I think.

I know the procedure of political consultations and do not consider I've created a false debate.

As for John being nasty that is not what I meant and I'm sure you know quite well it was Pete's twitter comment which accused John's motion of being 'nasty'.

Do you really think Alex Salmond and co. haven't cleared John's appearance on Newnight or known and given their approval that it could be made so public ? If I'm wrong then the inner workings of politics has radically changed in the last decade.

Certainly I do think Pete's use of nasty wasn't appropriate so we'll have to agree to disagree about that.

Your last paragraph perhaps puts the point of my post more eloquently.

subrosa said...

Well said JRB.

Grogipher said...

"There are thousands of other issues which should be addressed, which affect the whole of society directly or indirectly, before this I think."

We all have different priorities ;)

The manifesto promised a consultation - so a consultation we will have.

Hopefully we should see some more concrete proposals in the next few weeks.

If you want to be cynical - think of the money we could make from the number of gay couples coming here to get married if we do it before other people. It might go some way towards helping the loss of revenue from the "UK" riots.

Indy said...

The latest – and pretty authoratitive survey of public opinion – is the annual Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. It shows 61 per cent of Scots support same sex marriage with 17 per cent opposed. In other words more than three times as many people support same sex couples being allowed to marry as oppose it. That finding is in line with other opinion surveys and is in line with opinion within the SNP as well.

The objection that nobody should be forced into performing any service if they disagree with any part of the applicant's reasons for wishing to have a religious ceremony is of course perfectly valid – but under equality legislation no religious organisation could be forced into conducting a same sex marriage ceremony if their religion is against that. And since, when John was an MP, he was on the committee that drafted that legislation he knows that perfectly well.

At present however religious organisations which do recognise same sex marriages are prevented by law from conducting them. The proposed legislation will change that and will also allow for same sex couples to get married in a civil ceremony.

It may be that the focus of John’s motion was actually to enable registrar’s who have a religious objection to same sex relationships to refuse to be involved in a same sex civil marriages. However I don’t think that is a reasonable position given that civil ceremonies are by definition non-religious. The official line is that: "As a civil ceremony is non religious in all aspects, all readings and music must be of a secular nature." I cannot see any reasonable basis therefore for a registrar to impose their personal religious beliefs into a ceremony where the couple have specifically chosen to be married in a secular and non-religious setting.

I should say that I have known John for many years, I like and respect him very much but his intervention in this case was anything but helpful. The SNP government is committed to holding a full consultation before legislating and that is the point at which people should put forward any concerns that they have. At this point we do not have any kind of draft proposals in front of us so what is the purpose in trying to pre-empt the consultation before it has even begun?

pa_broon74 said...

Not sure why a gay couple would want a church wedding anyway, I don't believe a registrar should be allowed to refuse doing civil partnerships because that's a job, but there is something quite ironic about getting worked up when a faith system that thoroughly condemns your lifestyle refuses to allow you go through some daft ritual that somehow affirms your love for one and other in the eyes of a god that hates your existence. How odd.

Bill Walker is getting worked up about being bullied, but then he is suggesting that a gay marriage is some how less meaningful than a straight marriage, although marriage to me is as foreign a concept as couscous; it does raise my hackles slightly.

Religion is a vocation, not a job so they shouldn't be forced and if they had to be, it's not exactly imbuing your special day with joyjoy feelings. Civil ceremonies should go ahead, it's a job you're doing, a public service and there are sections of the public that would like to enter into a marriage with their own gender.

The word 'Marriage' seems to be emotive, it's just a word that describes two things coming together, you can't usurp words in general use for religious purposes; it's silly.

Also this notion about 'promoting' homosexuality in schools is a nonsense. From where I'm sitting, they also then 'promote' heterosexuality in schools too. I don't think people quite realise that homophobia is self-perpetuating because it's not really mentioned in schools at all, of course it's not the norm for the majority but when your sitting listening to someone bang on about getting it on with lady, raising a family on top of all the Hollywood family film endings you get to feel quite isolated.

The lessons or mention of homosexuality in schools won't make people gay, again, thats a stupid idea because you can't deny what you are in your DNA and that's where it comes from. At worst, you might just feel more comfortable with the idea and is that a bad thing? I don't think so.

If you think the mention of homosexuality in school will make your kids gay then consider this; under that logic there would be no gay people because up until fairly recently all they taught was straight relationship stuff. Needless to say, there are a ton of gay people kicking around and always has been which totally undermines the argument that kids will be 'made gay' by these lessons.

Indy said...

Incidentally the SNP leadership would probably have ordered John Mason's appearance on Newsmight but they certainly did not ask him to put forward his motion to parliament. You may be unaware that only 3 SNP MSPs signed that motion while 21 SNP MSPs have signed Patrick Karvie's amendment to it.

Government ministers are not allowed to sign parliamentary motions for reasons of protocol but we know that both the First Minister and Deputy First Minister are in favour of equal marriage and I would be surprised if there were any Cabinet members who were against it, apart perhaps from Roseanna Cunningham.

Equal marriage is something that is going to happen without impacting on the rights of religious minorities - but it could have happened without some of the unpleasantness which has already ensued if people had waited for the consultation.

Apogee said...

Hi SR. I doubt very much that the population of the country gives a damn about this matter. It has been promoted for at least the last ten years in the way of "the big lie".
As Doctor Joseph Goebbels, Reich minister of Propaganda said ,many years ago now, keep repeating something long enough and people will believe it.
And this is what is happening with this matter. Unless it is continuously brought to peoples notice it would disappear rapidly.
The ones active are the only ones who care, apart from the governing class who by reason of their job , have to respond.
The education system has been used as a Trojan horse to promote homosexuality against the wishes of the majority of the citizens of this country, one wonders why the educators have promoted this so much,and what their interest is? Far better if they had promoted little things like ,Reading, Writing, oh and..Arithmetic , but then we are told these are not the best subjects of the majority of teachers, so a report in the papers said. Be far better if the kids leaving school could read their paypacket and add it up,if they ever get one, they don't need to be taught sex,through the ages they learned pretty well without formal education in the subject.
Finally, can some one tell me of a church that is reasonably wide spread that promotes homosexuality in any way.And, by the way, I agree with MR Mason.

Grogipher said...

Apogee, you're treading on Godwin's Law there, and if you carry on, I won't discuss anything with you.

No Church "promotes" homosexuality - but there are plenty who do accept it, which is all that I personally would like to see.

As well as the two I've already mentioned, there are, that I know of:

United Church of Christ

Metropolitan Community Churches

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

As well of course, non-christian movements.

pa_broon74 said...

The education system isn't being used as trojan horse to 'promote' homosexuality. Homosexuality is as much a fact of life as is heterosexuality, it's just not what people like you would call the norm.

Also, while the majority of people aren't homosexuals, I doubt very much the majority of people are against the mention of homsexuality in schools; you can't teach kids to have a sexual preference. You can however teach them to be accepting of those that have a different one to them and that is the point.

I imagine the majority of people just don't think about it.

Apogee said...

Hi Grogipher, invoke Godwin's law if you wish, but does you invoking it have anything to do with the fact that the government which Herr Geobbels was a part of had a rough way with homosexuals?
The fact that some churches reluctantly accept that it exists, in no way says that any church approves of it, which was my point.
Hi pa_broon74, the majority of kids probably don't think about it either, until the education system thrusts it at them.Still , when they go out at night they will be able to put their learning into practice. Can't read or write but...what the hell!
What the hell are kids in school for....? To learn so they are not a burden to themselves and others.
A lot of them probably know more about sex than the teachers.

pa_broon74 said...

I don't think the kids are sitting in school all day looking at porn, as I understand it, they still have time for the three r's.

You're right, kids don't think about it actively but you would agree that they are impressionable from a very young age? I remember at age 9 not understanding why most of the other boys were making lewd comments about the girls, I was entirely bemused at the concept. It's a subtle thing, it just would've been easier for everyone, growing up straight or gay if the people we looked to for guidance (if not teachers then who?) just said "It's ok you know, it's not wrong to feel that way it's just different." The minority who are gay would feel less isolated and the majority who are straight wouldn't perpetuate the notion that is was the worst thing ever thus isolating the minority who are a gay.

Everyone wins.

In a sense, the argument put forward by Mason perpetuates the crapness, not a good word but it describes quite well how you feel growing up thinking your a crap person and some how not as worthy as your peers. Kids pick up on that kind of thing, in films, on the news; everywhere.

Obviously I'm an adult now and as such big enough and ugly enough, growing up though is an entirely different story and I get quite exercised when young people are faced with yet more negativity having a terrible time because I know how shit it can get.

Indy said...

Churches have every right - and will continue to have every right - to disapprove of same sex relationships, to refuse to recognise them and to refuse to conduct same sex marriages.

That really and truly is not the issue here.

pa_broon74 said...

I know and I agree but it's part of the problem to which I allude and I would happily tear strips of any religious type if I heard them speaking in negative terms to young people about homosexuality, in fact; I'd go out of my way to do so.

I would prefer religions to drop that view entirely, as usual though, it's all about power and control so they won't.

From the gay POV, I don't really understand why you'd want the church rubber stamping you're relationship; it just seems pointless and self-defeating.

Stephen Glenn said...

Subrosa I' ashamed at you saying that other things should take priority to the exception of all other legisaltion that is just not how things work. That is also sadly too often the excuse for not doing anything to deal with minority groups that don't affect directly people who have an issue with the changes.

When I was born due to my sexual orientation it would have been illegal for me to have sex either in Scotland or in Northern Ireland. When I turned 16 and my heterosexual friends (some of whom were not virgins at 16) could have sex legally I had to wait until another 7 years. It was well after I turned 21 that the age of consent was equalised. I am one of those people who is a Christian who happens to be gay. I'd like the choice of inviting one very important person to any committment ceremony to a life partner, that being God.

There is a consultation out there. As one of the few parties that actually have a policy on the issue of equal marriage the Lib Dems policy does say that the option of performing same sex marriage is up to whatever group that wishes to do so, because as has been stated above there are some religious groups that wish to be able to carry out marriage irrepsective of the genders of the two people being joined in marriage. I'd like to see them enabled to carry out what they want to, rather than being religiously tied to what other (more dominant quite possibly) religious groups say. If you want freedom of religion it has to be freedom for all religion as it sees fit.

Apogee said...

I try not to make the mistake that that kids are totally ignorant of things around them, it 's a long ,long time ago now but as kids, we had a reasonable grasp of life around us, we knew the teachers that were "safe" what you could call normal, the one's that should never have been teachers,And anything wrong very quickly was known to all.The grape vine could be faster than twitter!
Yes, we knew all about the birds and the bees ,theory, if not practice,That was one thing we learnt in science, But we were at school to learn,like to read and write ,even to be able to count more than your fingers and toes, not to waste time on things which would not help us pass an exam , and which we would learn about when we left school anyway.
But we had lessons on theology , not very deep but enough to get an idea what religions were about, all religions had do'es and don'ts, from what I recall, homosexual activity was a no-no in all religions. I still think it's only the people that want it are pushing this,I begin to wonder if there is some reason to deliberately promote it , like a long term way to reduce the world population?! ;-)

pa_broon74 said...

Heh! :-)

I don't even think the gay lobby groups are that evil.

While I don't beleive any sexuality should be rubbed in peoples faces (if you'll excuse the phrase) homosexuality is no more being promoted in schools than heterosexuality, it's just not like that.

There needs to be some normalisation taking place about the gay issue, I know that is emotive among people who think it is an abomination but its as much a natural state of being, if less common, than heterosexuality.

Until it can be normalised then you're going to have young people killing themselves at 14 and 15 years of age because their lifes are being made hell for them by bigots who in part are fueled by the kind of rhetoric spewed out by the catholic church among others.

School isn't just about exams either, especially in this day and age with latchkey kids and parents having to work all the hours just to make ends meet.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Set rules and you encourage hypocrisy.

Love is the core of a relationship - marriage is only a definition for legal purposes.

Live and let live; rules are only somebodies attempt to control.

McGonagall said...


subrosa said...

I'm usually cynical Grogipher and if someone makes money from any religious ceremonies led by those who are willing to affiliate, rather than force to by law, then grand. I'm all for enterprise. ;)

subrosa said...

From what I gather of John's motion it's about clergy and not registrars Indy, but I'm happy to be proved wrong.

From information I've gathered here both secular and non-secular are willing, with the odd exception, to carry out a civil partnership ceremony.

I don't know John Mason personally but as you state, I believe him to be a man of principle. If he's spoken out on this matter against the wishes of senior SNP members then good for him. I'm all for debate in any issue because I consider it healthy and I don't feel his 'intervention' is in any way harmful to the Scottish government. In fact it could do good and show that SNP MSPs are not under oppressive party control. On Newnight he said he wanted to peruse the small print of the proposal and have a public debate and he's got it. Good for him.

It would be interesting to know the exact question people were asked in that poll. Were people asked if approved of same sex civil partnerships or marriage?

Perhaps it's a generation thing but folk of my age group define marriage as I say in the post.

subrosa said...

Ah I see you don't approve of marriage pa broon. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion.

I think the coming proposal uses the word marriage and not civil partnerships. No difference in the legal sense I understand but it will alter the definition of marriage as it's been known for centuries.

Regarding teaching of sexuality in schools - I'd prefer our young to leave schools with the ability to read and write rather than understand the complex issue of sexuality. Our children don't spend enough time in schools to have non-academic subjects taught to them.

I'm not aware of anyone being unpleasant about this - except perhaps Pete Wishart's public comment about John Mason's motion being nasty - certainly not the folk who have commented here. What is there to be unpleasant about?

Most folk I've discussed it with are quite content for it to go ahead as long as the officials concerned have the choice to officiate.

subrosa said...

I'd much rather see a debate about how we're going to improve formal education Apogee. It would be good to see Scotland rising up the statistics rather than being average.

subrosa said...

Pa broon, can you honestly say that sex education in schools had benefitted our young folk in any way? Teenage pregnancies haven't reduced greatly, folk who are gay are still gay and heterosexuals are still heterosexual. No matter how much time is spent on sexual awareness education nothing has changed in the past 20 years.

Time spent on teaching tolerance, in all aspects of life, of your fellow man would be a much better use of teaching time.

subrosa said...

As long as they have the right of choice Indy, that's fine with me.

subrosa said...

Stephen, sorry you feel ashamed that the economy, jobs and the cuts that are coming down the line are less important than this issue. I disagree.

As you're aware I think the gay lobby has done an excellent job in recent years negating the stigma associated with homosexuality and bringing equality into the issue.

You've covered my point succinctly. If religious officials want to partake in leading ceremonies that's fine. If they don't then that's fine too. They should be entitled to choose, the same as they do for baptisms, blessings and heterosexual marriage services at the moment.

subrosa said...

Pa broon, if you can lay your hands on the material teachers have to teach 8-9 year olds then you may change your view. I had a look at it last year and was astonished how detailed sex education is to children. It certainly wasn't a biology lesson.

However that's not the topic here.

Fifty plus years ago I was a latch key kid. Both my parents worked to improve their lot. That's what people do and I did too. I made arrangements for my family to be cared for after school by a responsible person until I got home. They don't appear to be badly adjusted.

subrosa said...

Crinkly, as I've said many times, I'm all for marriage if children are going to be involved in a relationship. Otherwise I really couldn't care less whether folk want to be legally bound to each other or not.

Since marriage went out of fashion there are more and more children who will have problems later in life should they wish to trace their roots. In another few decades that will become obvious.

subrosa said...

Thanks for the link McGonagall.

Surreptitious Evil said...

I think the Scottish Episcopal Church, at the moment, would happily allow gay marriage if the law permitted it. I know our current Rector would (and the previous one was actually gay.)

Personally, I think the givernment should butt out of marriage, extend civil partnerships to the heterosexual, and let the churches get on with doing their own things.

Just one point, though. If a church permits or does not permit gay marriage, I don't think it should be up to the individual minister to change their minds (although, admittedly, I come from a church with a somewhat stronger hierarchy than CoS).

Highland Cooncil said...

Kill Homosexuals
"If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives." (Leviticus 20:13 NAB)

Grogipher said...

Ahhh, Leviticus 20:13... It's fine though - I don't lie with women like that anyway. Never have, never will.

It's only the bisexuals that need worry then, eh?

But yes Surreptitious Evil - I agree, to some extent. Although the state can't "butt out" altogether if you want the legal protections and rights that marriage brings, I would agree that the churches should be left to do their own thing - which is why this legislation could go some way to extending religious freedoms in this country. For which reason, I find it obscure that certain religious quarters are so firmly against it. Do they want state intervention?

Stephen, sorry you feel ashamed that the economy, jobs and the cuts that are coming down the line are less important than this issue. I disagree.

SR, that's entirely NOT Stephen's point, at all. The machinery of government can do more than one thing at once. The army of civil servants don't all work for John Swinney you know! By your arguement we should never fight for equality, so sorry, I cannot agree. Besides, Scotland adopting gay marriages would help improve the economy in the short term - something you seem keen to ignore.

Surreptitious Evil said...

Grogipher: yes - point - what I should have said is that a church marriage brings with it no different privileges than a civil partnership. (In fact, being a pisky, I had to register my marriage at the Registry Office and take the paperwork to the church.)

More generally, isn't the whole point of being a Christian, rather than an Orthodox Jew, that the new covenant in Jesus replaces the old covenant?

For example, I don't obey any of Leviticus Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, much of 6, or any of 7. 8 through 10 are narrative.

Although I haven't eaten camel or rock hyrax, I wouldn't consider myself unclean if I did. And I'll be cooking pork for dinner. And I like shrimp, lobster and crayfish. And there's plenty more where those came from.

As somebody is likely to bring up St Paul, please review Titus 1:12, if you insist on biblical literalism or, have a look at some of the work being done around Paul's writings being distorted to bring Christianity into the Roman Imperial model.

So why all this venom aimed at gayers as opposed to people who like a bacon buttie in the morning, or tandoori king prawn, or aren't circumcised?

Grogipher said...

As someone who isn't Christian, I feel as though I shouldn't really get stuck into the arguements about Biblical interpretations, but I would agree with you wholeheartedly.

For more information though, you may wish to consult - http://www.humanistsofutah.org/2002/WhyCantIOwnACanadian_10-02.html or a wonderful satire of our Baptist friends from Westboro, http://www.godhatesshrimp.com/

Surreptitious Evil said...

More non-levity from Leviticus ...

20:10 - Death for all adulterers? That'll cut the population quite a bit.

20:27 - Death to astrologers? I think they're idiots but that's hardly reasonable.

22:7 - that's me in trouble. Mrs S-E is a divorcee.

23:3 - That's me really in trouble, being in the TA and all.

etc, etc.

Surreptitious Evil said...


You don't need to be a Christian to debate the logical point. There are two extreme positions and a whole bunch of middle ground.

One is - covenant in Christ wholly replaces the covenant in Moses and Aaron. Therefore all of the Mosaic law is simply an irrelevance for Christianity.

The other is - every instruction in the bible is still valid.

Of course, what people do is pick and choose yet insist that their choices are divine writ.

Can I recommend to all of you "A Year of Living Biblically" by A J Jacobs - an a-religious American Jew who decided to do it "properly" for a year. A very interesting read. With some outstandingly quirky characters.

Grogipher said...

I will look it out, thanks.

Stephen Glenn said...

Grogipher, thanks that is just the point I am making. The machinery of civil servants are sub divided on a number of tasks simultaneously. Having worked in the civil service in a devolved department (btw which happened to be Enterprise, Trade and Investment) I know that what was happeneing down the corridor was only loosely connected to what we were doing in our office. As to what happened down the stairs, or up the road at the other departments, or further afield, we weren't all focused on just a few small tasks, if we were the country would have ground to a halt on so many levels which weren't economy or employment or whatever.

Any parliament cannot focus on one narrow subject all the time, after primary readings there is committee stages to deal with the minutiae and then the government moves unto something else. Many things happen simultaneously it is why most members only serve on one or two committees that sit regularly and add to that a few ad hoc ones. They cannot have their individual fingers in every pie, but hopefully their party does.

William said...

The Ten Commandments are not part of Mosaic law. The laws of Leviticus were written by Moses; the Ten Commandments were written by God.

It has always been forbidden to murder, steal, lie, commit adultery and have false gods. Adultery is sexual relationships with anyone to whom you are not married. Now, you might argue, and you'd be right, that many heterosexuals break this commandment all the time. But the church has never promoted promiscuity either.

In the eyes of the church, homosexuality can never be accepted as it breaks this commandment and Christ himself endorsed marriage as being between a man and a woman.

subrosa said...

I don't know the opinions of my local clergy SE and agree government should have nothing to do with it. You have me confused though. I didn't realise there was any legal difference between marriage and civil partnerships. I thought that was the reason civil partnerships were introduced.

subrosa said...

Aye there's lots of religious quotes about it HC.

subrosa said...

Jings Grogipher, can I say I'm a little aware how governments work and I'm also aware that the whole of the civil service is not solely working for John Swinney. He has his own strong team.

When did I say that you shouldn't fight for equality?

I thought you already had equality but perhaps I'm wrong. I do know my gay friends, who have been together 30 years, are now very embarrassed by the continuing determination 'to be on the front pages' (I quote).

They have never felt any need to have a public ceremony (each to their own) and many years ago made appropriate legal arrangements regarding their affairs.

Then perhaps they're more comfortable in their skins that others.

subrosa said...

SE, stop right there. My conscience won't let me sleep at night. :)

subrosa said...

Thank you for the lesson in governance Stephen. I learned it back in the 70s, long before computers and when wives were allowed to be MP's secretaries.

subrosa said...

Thanks for your contribution to the debate William.

Grogipher said...

I'm sorry if you thought I was harsh SR, but as Stephen said, you seemed to think that Government could only do one thing at once.

I can't work out how your last comment to me marries (sorry) up with your comment that "the economy, jobs and the cuts that are coming down the line are less important than this issue. I disagree" - but maybe that's just me??

If your friends are happy with the current state of equality legislation in the UK - then good for them. It's come on leaps and bounds since I'm sure they were young, but from the prospective of people my age and younger, I think we can see a lot of things that could still be altered- this being one of them.

You ask about the differences between marriages and civil partnerships - some info is here - http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/17/gay-marriage-civil-partnerships

I've also seen Brian Paddock quoted extensively as complaining that rights over, for example, pensions are not the same in CPs & Marriages.

But more importantly than that, it's the separation, the segregation. If a couple wish to have their marriage before their God - who are the state to say "no"? That is not freedom of religion in any way, shape or form.

Stewart Cowan said...

Marriage is between one man and one woman. That is the definition and nobody has the right to change it.

There are sound reasons why homosexual activity is taboo throughout the world, because it is detrimental to the tribe as a whole.

When homosexuality becomes accepted, that society naturally suffers the decline that comes with hedonism.

So, for anyone to say, "It doesn't affect me," well, I'm afraid it does.

subrosa said...

Not to worry Grogipher, I'm old enough to handle having my intelligence insulted. My response to Stephen and yourself was rather polite don't you think? :)

No, it's not freedom of religion at all, I agree, but I don't want to see religious officials taken through the courts if they refuse to conduct a same sex marriage and if there is to be legislation about this - and I don't think that is necessary - then people who are able to officiate must be protected.

The recent case of humiliating and suing elderly hotel owners I found shocking - not only from a legal aspect but from a human one. The elderly couple didn't have freedom of their religion in any way, shape or form because, as the judge said, our courts are secular.

subrosa said...

Many laws affect all of us in some way Stewart although we may think they don't.

Surreptitious Evil said...

And yet, William, when Jesus was asked which were the most important commandments, did he pick anything from the tablets?

Err, no. He picked something from Deuteronomy and something from Leviticus.

And your definition of adultery is non-standard - not biblically canonical either (unless you take Matthew 5:28 as the cornerstone of your moral system in which case few of us are going to make it past our teens!)

William said...

When asked for the two greatest commandments, he didn't pick anything from Leviticus or Deuteronomy but said 'love God and love your neighbour, on these hang the entire Law'. No-one can disagree with this.

1 Cor 7:2 makes it clear that Paul considers marriage as the only moral grounds for a sexual relationship.

Surreptitious Evil said...


I'm really disappointed in your biblical knowledge for somebody quite so keen to (ab)use it to condemn others.

The commandment to love the Lord your God is, as I believe I suggested, in Deuteronomy. Chapter 6, verse 5.

The commandment to love your neighbour is, would you believe it, in Leviticus. Chapter 19, verse 18.

Paul, indeed, is quite clear in first Corinthians. Of course, you are clearly quite sure both that Paul's letter has been preserved exactly as it was written and that, when he wrote it, he was divinely inspired rather than representing the moral code he was committed to (as an observant Jew - and I'm clear that there are proscriptions against homosexuality in Mosaic law.) The currents versions of the letters show Paul, as the previous verse and 7:8 suggest, not much keen on marriage. Or, really on women.

Surreptitious Evil said...

I apologise for the stray 's'.

Might I also ask those Christians amongst you to consider the reported words of Jesus in John 8:7 and Mark 2:17. You may also want to consider Matthew 21:31.

William said...

SE, I'm aware those verses contain those texts but it does not mean Jesus was referring specifically to those verses. Jesus is referring to God's Law, the Ten Commandments which are eternal, not Mosaic Law which was created for different reasons and was only ever temporary.

It's common for people to argue that the Scriptural text might be false especially if they disagree with it. It's a classic case of God making man in His own image and man returning the compliment.

John 8:7 - Often quoted but what does Jesus finish up by saying in John 8:11? 'Go now and leave your life of sin'. John 8:7 was never intended as a licence to do whatever you liked.

Mark 2:17 - Of course Jesus came to save sinners. He can hardly save the righteous i.e. people who don't believe they actually need saving.

Matthew 21:31 - A variation of the above. The crooks and prostitutes recognised their sins and repented. The 'righteous' did not.

Who is the 'righteous' in this discussion and who recognises the sin and calls it a sin?

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