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Gay Marriage

An intellectual showdown between church and state on
the status of marriage might once have been something to relish (or fear) but today
it doesn’t promise much of a contest.  The
Anglican conference is too divided on gay rights to put up much of a fight, their
Catholic counterparts are too recently embarrassed by paedophilia scandals, and
the government, though fearful of risking the Christian voting bloc, has all
the dialectic ordnance to win.

And so, this year, despite a few indignant salvoes
across the religious divide, same-sex marriage will go into law in England, as it
already has in six other European countries, and others besides.  Quite right, too.  

The churches have some gall to oppose it, given their
current confused state on homosexuality-related issues, and their arguments seem
to spring less from conviction than from an over-weaning self-regard for the
church’s status. 

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of Scotland’s Catholics, and the Pope’s senior
cleric in Britain,
argues that “no government has the moral authority to dismantle the universally
understood meaning of marriage”.  The
Anglican Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, agreed with him in almost identical language.  The former Archbishop of Canterbury, John
Carey, goes further.  “Marriage precedes
both the state and the church and neither of these institutions (church or
state) have the right to redefine (marriage) in such a fundamental way.”

If it’s the case that marriage was going on before
society either succumbed to divine fairy tales or allowed itself to be oppressed
by politicians, then who’s to say where the moral authority lies? 

O’Brien mystifies even more by equating same-sex
marriage with slavery, both of which, he believes, go against natural law.  “Imagine for a moment that the government had
decided to legalise slavery but assured us that ‘no one will be forced to keep
a slave’, would such worthless assurances calm our fury?  Or would they simply amount to weasel words masking
a great wrong?” 

If anyone can explain this, please let me know.

They’ll have their say, for old times’ sake, but a
Catholic church that refuses to allow its priests to marry – not that many of
them would choose to, by all accounts – or women to be ordained, is hardly in a
position to talk about moral authority, just about mediaeval superstition.  As for the Anglicans, their worldwide
conference is still tearing itself apart on the issue of permitting gay
priests.

Preacher, heal thyself, before lecturing the rest of
us. 

 

 

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