The Ministry of Education is trying to force Bethlehem College, a Christian school, to change its statement of belief – a statement that reflects Christian beliefs. Specifically, they are trying to compel the school to remove their statement that they believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman, on the grounds that this discriminates against those who do not share this view or who are in a relationship outside of this definition. On the face of it, this is a shocking thing for a Government agency to do and an obvious affront to the right of the school to freely state its belief on a matter that is hardly a surprise. This is, after all, the Christian view of marriage. But here’s the thing: The grounds on which the Ministry is trying to make the school change its statement of belief on the one hand, and the reason the ministry is being urged to do so on the other, are quite different animals.
It’s a situation, I think, where a government agency is fronting what seem like reasonable grounds for their demand, while serving a more sinister purpose. That’s how a slightly cynical person might read this situation (and cynicism is perhaps wise in this situation).
Don’t create a church’s stance on marriage in order to make people happy or stop them from leaving.
In early 2017 (when I started writing this article, since which time it has sat gathering dust) the general Synod of the Church of England voted on same-sex marriage. Well, sort of. The General Synod voted not to endorse a report by the House of Bishops on Same-sex marriage. The report affirmed the biblical and historic Christian view that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. To be specific, there are three houses in the General Synod. The House of Bishops voted in favour of the report. The House of the Laity voted in favour of the report. But the support of all three houses is required, and the House of Clergy alone voted not to endorse the report, confirming the widely-suspected reality that the clergy are the more liberal element of the Church of England.
There were many issues discussed at the time and obviously I wasn’t present. On Twitter however I encountered a speech by activist Lucy Gorman. When I saw it I raised a criticism of it, but Lucy quickly blocked me so I can no longer see the portion of the speech that was shared there. Ever the believer in dialogue, I found this a little disappointing (especially since she had initially asked me for my view on the suicide of people who felt hurt by the church, but then told me that she didn’t really want to talk about it with me and blocked me).
Earlier this year, the Synod of the Anglican Church in New Zealand and Polynesia made the decision to allow the blessing of same-sex relationships alongside marriages. I took the opportunity to remind us all that yes, change occurs when people come into contact with the Church. But it’s not supposed to be the Church that changes.
This probably won’t shock any of my readers, but I do not support Louisa Wall’s proposed amendment to the Marriage Act, which will make legally recognised same-sex marriage a reality in New Zealand.
The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill recently passed its second reading in Parliament, and our ever-eager-to-say-they-made-a-difference politicians will almost certainly vote it into law this year. The new legislation would see the definition of marriage used by the Marriage Act 1955 expanded to include unions of two people of the same sex. Existing prohibitions would remain in place (e.g. close relatives still will not be able to marry), and the definition of marriage will not be broadened to include unions of more than two people. Continue reading “I do not support the so-called Marriage Equality Bill”→
With the furore over same-sex marriage gaining steam both in the United States and in New Zealand, where the issue is about to be debated in Parliament, I thought I should say a few things about that recent study that’s got some people upset – The study that said the things that we are all supposed to just know aren’t right and, more importantly, shouldn’t be said, that (stated in very general terms) children do better when they have, in their home life, a man who is their father and a woman who is their mother (as opposed to only one parent or parents of the same sex).
Recently I posted a couple of blog entries that made reference to homosexuality. I didn’t seek the subject out, it just popped up in current affairs due to the publicity surrounding a couple of recent studies. However, writing those two blog posts reminded me that I haven’t actually written a blog entry laying out what I think about the legal status of same sex marriage. Contributing at least partially to that end, I submit the following.
I have my share of concerns about the way some Christians view marriage and whether or not those views are really biblical, but that’s not what this blog post is about. Vorjack over at “Unreasonable Faith” has challenged the familiar appeal that Christians sometimes make to “biblical marriage” in their rejection of same-sex unions. He claims that this appeal is defective because marriage doesn’t just mean one thing in the Bible, it means eight different things. He writes,
Here’s a summary: 1. Polygynous Marriage
Probably the most common form of marriage in the bible, it is where a man has more than one wife. 2. Levirate Marriage
When a woman was widowed without a son, it became the responsibility of the brother-in-law or a close male relative to take her in and impregnate her. If the resulting child was a son, he would be considered the heir of her late husband. See Ruth, and the story of Onan (Gen. 38:6-10). 3. A man, a woman and her property — a female slave
The famous “handmaiden” sketch, as preformed by Abraham (Gen. 16:1-6) and Jacob (Gen. 30:4-5). 4. A man, one or more wives, and some concubines
The definition of a concubine varies from culture to culture, but they tended to be live-in mistresses. Concubines were tied to their “husband,” but had a lower status than a wife. Their children were not usually heirs, so they were safe outlets for sex without risking the line of succession. To see how badly a concubine could be treated, see the famous story of the Levite and his concubine (Judges 19:1-30). 5. A male soldier and a female prisoner of war
Women could be taken as booty from a successful campaign and forced to become wives or concubines. Deuteronomy 21:11-14 describes the process. 6. A male rapist and his victim
Deuteronomy 22:28-29 describes how an unmarried woman who had been raped must marry her attacker. 7. A male and female slave
A female slave could be married to a male slave without consent, presumably to produce more slaves.
and of course … 8. Monogamous, heterosexual marriage
What you might think of as the standard form of marriage, provided you think of arranged marriages as the standard. Also remember that inter-faith or cross-ethnic marriage were forbidden for large chunks of biblical history.
The important thing to realize here is that none of these models are described as better than any other. All appear to have been accepted.
So there you go. The next time someone says that we need to stick with biblical marriage in this country, you can ask them which of the eight kinds they would prefer, and why.
Someone who’s unwilling to be a cheerleader for scepticism but who actually a) knows enough to know whether or not the claims being made align with the facts and b) recognises poor reasoning when they see it, isn’t going to be impressed by this. But the reality is, material like this more often than not appears on websites or blogs where the visitors are likely to be visitors to the site because of their hostility to Christianity, and will be gleefully received as ammunition without much effort being taken to check its reliability. I’m sure similar things happen at some Christian websites too. I should say, too, that it is possible that Vorjack isn’t trying to be dishonest. He is merely reproducing material from another source – albeit with some additions of his own. I doubt that he is deliberately lying. I still say, however, that when you’re in a position to produce material to a large audience and peddle it as fact, you have a responsibility to exercise some care. This certainly wasn’t done in this case.