I got my feathers ruffled today by something I received in the post. A petition. That looks like this:
It made me pretty mad, mainly because I thought it was sickeningly audacious to assume that this ridiculous campaign is the sort of thing I would have any interest whatsoever in signing. Along with the sheet for me to sign was a letter from the CEO of Christian Concern, 'urging' me to sign this petition against the current 'misguided attempt to redefine marriage' and the 'unwanted proposals' regarding the possible legislative changes which would result in two people of the same sex being able to use the label 'married'. I have sent a letter right back politely but not really politely at all telling them exactly what I thought of this propaganda that had violated my doormat.
It got me thinking, and it got the activist/revolutionist within me (ok, deep within me) rising forth. I do not understand how there are people who can think this way. In any other guise this would be deemed homophobic, criminal in fact, but under the guise of religious freedom of speech, these people are allowed to say these things, furthermore, they are allowed to intrude upon my personal life with them, by posting them to me (me of all people, I mean come on!). Of course, I usually couldn't care less that some nutters calling themselves christians hold some ridiculously fundamentalist views, butthat's not quite how it is. The supporters of this 'coalition for marriage' are big names, reputable names, in fact organisations that I have mindlessly supported in the past. They canvas their ideologies at places like New Wine and Soul Survivor, places where you'd think you were safe from their proselytising, places like... my own bloody doormat.
I dread to imagine the numbers of Christians who will sign this petition without really thinking about the divide that they are widening in the church, or thinking about all the people who they are forcing to choose between faith and their sexuality. Condemning an entire group of Christians is not ok, people. It's not alright to place your religious freedom as taking precedence over somebody else's freedom to express their sexuality (through MARRIAGE). The whole point is equality, a christian principle that is being redefined with greater cost than the redefinition of marriage. Also, surely if we're going to say that any group should be excluded from christian marriage it should be non-christians, right? But we marry them all the time (and don't pretend that we don't).
At the end of the day, if anything, we are belittling the depth of 'marriage'. There is this fear over the 'great cost' that redefinition of marriage may bring, and the consequences of allowing two people of the same gender to enter this sacred institution, yet we're basically saying these costs and consequences occur because a certain area of a certain person's body is a different shape. Marriages of convenience can be defined as marriage, as can unions between non-christians, as can marrying people who have previously been married, or couples who have had sex prior to the marriage, these are all ‘threats’ to the sacredness of marriage, these are all unintended in God's masterplan, these are the marriages that are redefining marriage, yet the church lets them all slip by, and instead gets hung up on something as crude as genitals, without any consideration to the love or commitment behind the matrimony.
GUYS AND GIRLS LISTEN UP, the institution of marriage is not going to implode simply because a teensy tiny proportion of marriages include two bits that look the same where they should look different.
An idealistic idea of sacred christian marriages has already been corrupted, using the excuse that marriage should be between a man and a woman to be real is invalid, in my opinion, because then you would have to apply that same principle to all the other sorts of marriages that are allowed to occur which aren't in the original plan, and then suddenly everything collapses. Why on earth are we following on the coat-tails of a bunch of married, conservative (dare I say it, middle class) Christians in leadership who are basically being massive hypocrites and allowing all sorts of non-biblical marriages to take place in their churches, but cannot turn this same blind eye to same sex relationships. If they see marriage, and not to mention God's plan for marriage, as being so fragile that a few willies where there should be lady parts (or vice versa) are able to destruct it then they're kinda fighting a losing battle. I have no idea where this protective, guard dog type approach towards marriage has come from, it seems to me half the time that Christians are fighting against gay marriage just because they can.
What I think has upset me the most about this, is the fact that many of my friends will share the beliefs of this campaign, and will agree with this exclusion of part of the church family. Already gay christians are sidelined in churches, through hush-hush treatment, ousting from leadership roles, through an expectation for celibacy, even through offering therapies and curative treatments. It makes me really sad to realise that some of the most loving and godly people that I have been blessed to be friends with, will hold these veiled homophobic beliefs.
It's all made me wonder in a way I have never really thought before. Can I be friends with these people? Can I comfortably share my Christian walk with these people whose acceptance for others has limits? I mean, could you be friends with someone knowing they had signed a petition campaigning that they will have rights that you cannot? Say you were black and I was white, and I signed a petition saying you should not be allowed the same rights as I, would you be my friend? We can argue the semantics but how about focusing on the sentiment- this petition claims that people with a certain biological/genetic/environmental/whatever disposition over which they have no choice, should be denied certain privileges that the dominant group has claimed.
To be honest I am entirely fed up with it all, this whole division, the argument, the bigoted individuals, the shame that I am being made to feel... it is really making me consider whether I want to be part of this church institution at all, it just doesn't match with what I see and know of Jesus. I feel like hiding under my blankets until this whole storm has passed, yet as I said, a small part of me wants to be one of the David who fights these Goliaths. I really hope this legislation passes through, and that the church cottons on quickly that the world will keep spinning despite the fact they have had to share their precious marriage with the gentiles.