"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)

Questioning the Rationale of Same-Sex Marriage

Posted by Dermot O'Callaghan on 3rd November 2015

Understanding the question

It’s a matter of human rights, isn’t it?  And it amounts to little more than allowing James and John to have the same rights and support from society and the Church that are afforded to Jeremy and Janet. 

No it’s not. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that same-sex marriage is not a human right.[1]  There is more to this than meets the eye.

This submission will argue that, far from being a simple ‘James and John’ issue, human sexuality is an immensely complex matter, and that both Church and society risk the unravelling of the web of the Judaeo-Christian traditions that, though often unrecognised and unappreciated, serves to hold society together in the western world. 

Janna Darnelle gives a harrowing account of how her husband declared himself gay and abandoned his family:

Every time a new [U.S.] state redefines marriage, the news is full of happy stories of gay and lesbian couples and their new families. But behind those big smiles and sunny photographs are other, more painful stories. These are left to secret, dark places. They are suppressed, and those who would tell them are silenced in the name of “marriage equality.”

But I refuse to be silent.  I represent one of those real life stories that are kept in the shadows. I have personally felt the pain and devastation wrought by the propaganda that destroys natural families.  In the fall of 2007, my husband of almost ten years told me that he was gay and that he wanted a divorce. In an instant, the world that I had known and loved—the life we had built together—was shattered.

I tried to convince him to stay, to stick it out and fight to save our marriage. But my voice, my desires, my needs—and those of our two young children—no longer mattered to him. We had become disposable, because he had embraced one tiny word that had become his entire identity. Being gay trumped commitment, vows, responsibility, faith, fatherhood, marriage, friendships, and community. All of this was thrown away for the sake of his new identity.

In 1971 the Gay Liberation Front issued a Manifesto.   Peter Tatchell, one of its leaders, describes it in these terms:

The GLF Manifesto articulates a radical agenda for a non-violent revolution in cultural values and social institutions. It critiques homophobia, sexism, marriage, the nuclear family, monogamy, the cults of youth and beauty, patriarchy and rigid male and female gender roles. As well as opposing the way things are, it outlines an alternative vision of how society and personal relationships could be, including living communally, gender subversive radical drag and non-possessive multipartner open relationships. Our message was “innovate, don’t assimilate.”

GLF’s idealistic vision involved creating a new sexual democracy, without homophobia, misogyny, racism and class privilege. Erotic shame and guilt would be banished. There would be sexual freedom and human rights for everyone – queer, bi and straight.

This vision is in clear opposition to the Judaeo-Christian tradition on which western society is based.   Targets identified for ‘revolution’ include marriage and the traditional family (in which children are born and raised by their biological parents).  ‘Sexual freedom for everyone’ is promoted as the utopian ideal; this contrasts sharply with the Church’s teaching of the virtue of self-control, with genital sexual activity constrained within opposite-sex marriage. 

This GLF manifesto has been clearly and publicly articulated, and the Church must either affirm or reject it.  There is no via media here and no room for ‘twin integrities’.  We must be either cultural, taking our lead from secular society, or counter-cultural, opposing it.

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement has chosen the first of these options.  In 1977 Malcolm Macourt, one of its leaders, set out his vision for ‘gay liberation’ in a book entitled Towards a Theology of Gay Liberation[1]:

“I suppose that the society to which they [lesbian and gay people] aspire is one in which young people, as they grow up, will become aware of a wide variety of life patterns: monogamy - multiple partnerships; partnerships for life – partnerships for a period of mutual growth; same-sex partners – opposite-sex partners – both ...” 

The use of the phrase ‘gay liberation’ in the thinking of both the secular GLF and the Christian LGCM clearly indicates the key factor driving the gay movement both inside and outside the Church – sexual licence is the demand: “innovate, don’t assimilate.”  It’s about freedom from the constraints of a world which is said to be ‘heterosexist’, and of a Church which is seen as the cause of this wicked heterosexist culture.

The consequences of this position are truly radical: if, for example, a bisexual man can have two partners of different sexes [as both GLF and LGCM propose], a heterosexual man must be allowed two partners of the same sex – we cannot permit sex discrimination.  So we must allow everyone the right to bigamy, and all the other sexual choices mentioned above.  And of course, men will take most advantage of such societal norms, and women and children will be the first to suffer. 

[1] M Macourt, Towards a Theology of Gay Liberation, SCM Press (2007), p25

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9157029/Gay-marriage-is-not-a-human-right-according-to-European-ruling.html