"We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice,
we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself." Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison (1943-1945)

Honesty is the best policy...

Posted by Dermot O'Callaghan on 13th October 2016

The Editor
Church of Ireland Gazette
3 Wallace Avenue
BT27 4AA

Co Down


17th September 2016

Dear Sir,

The Revd Stephen Neill (Gazette 16th Sept) believes that “It is no longer possible to participate in a charade that seeks to give equal weight to the arguments pro and con the full inclusion of LGBT Christians within our Church.”  It may indeed be true that for some people ‘shared conversations’ are really ‘charade conversations’, but he tilts the playing field so that he thinks he no longer has to listen, and devalues the views of people like me, likening us to racists.  Yet I think he would acknowledge my integrity, as I do his.

So why do we disagree?  He makes two category errors.  First, he assumes that same-sex marriage is a human right.  In 2012 the European Court of Human Rights ruled otherwise.  This is not “a justice issue”.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9157029/Gay-marriage-is-not-a-human-right-according-to-European-ruling.html

Secondly, his Apartheid analogy is flawed.  Apartheid mandated two different laws according to skin colour: the white man could marry the white woman, the black man could not.  By contrast, traditional marriage mandates only one law for all – both gay and straight.  Each person may marry someone of the opposite sex.

Of course the gay man may not want to marry a woman – but that is a different question.  Apartheid imposed an objective legal difference between black and white people.  With homosexuality the difference is entirely subjective.  Indeed, a closer analogy might be that ‘Apartheid marriage’ and ‘same-sex marriage’ should both be rejected as both require marriage to be redefined. 

And if marriage can be redefined once, it can be redefined many times.  Does “full inclusion of LGBT Christians” require bisexual men to be allowed a partner of each sex?  And many sexual minority groups want to be next in line.  What about two brothers?  Or five polyamorists? 

Does Mr Neill’s “inclusion” have any boundaries?  If it does, he will be likened to a racist by those he excludes.  If it does not, the Church will follow society into sexual confusion.  Either way, he must tell us what he believes.

Yours sincerely                                                       

Dermot O’Callaghan