In the run-up to today, there has been desperate overtones running through the veins of the Church of England – the clerical whispers are whispers no more; the game is on. In declaring their opposition to the right of equal marriage, the Church is showing its true colours. Never mind that any legislation proposed won’t force any congregation to hold same-sex marital sermons, these folk are left so red faced by the suggestion that a man might love another man, or a woman another woman, that they must stage a protest in the only way that an ever more inessential church can – via a mass petition. A petition which is a brainchild of the traditionalist ‘Coalition For Marriage‘ who as of this second have garnered 558, 431 signatures – a number that is likely to rise as the subject gains traction.
The arguments are always the same. ‘Marriage is Unique’, ‘No need for redefining same sex marriage’, and the personal favourite of ‘Profound Consequences!’. The petition is littered with professional jargon but today as the mist clears and the opinions of the ministers are out in the open it’s apparent that they are guilty of at least some degree of hatred, homophobia and discrimination. It is astounding that a subject such as sex, which the church has many rules against, is one that it seems constantly obsessive over.
The petition uses terms such as “Throughout history and in virtually all human societies marriage has always been the union of a man and a woman” as if that means anything of substance. “People should not feel pressurised to go along with same-sex marriage just because of political correctness” they state. “If marriage is redefined once, what is to stop it being redefined to allow polygamy?” they bumble.
However misguided the church has seemed on this issue, it’s difficult not to feel some form of sympathy for its leaders – if only for a second. They have been brought up with the beliefs of Old Testament judgement – which would be pretty terrifying if were in any way true – and passages that talk of ‘abominations’ and of being ‘put to death’ for such supposed horrid actions. As The Independent reported today:
You can say that Jesus was nice and kind and said that you shouldn’t judge other people, or throw stones. But you’ll still find that when it talks about men having sex with other men (but not women having sex with other women, which nobody in the Bible seems to think is possible), it uses words like “vile affections” and “against nature”. It’s quite hard to sound the trumpets, and bring out the confetti for something your religion tells you is “vile”.
As they report, the Church of England, and most good Anglicans that go with it, hardly ever use language as rough as the likes of ‘vile‘, and instead choose to deal with emotional issues with a kind, gentle approach normally reserved for teaching assistants and people that read poetry for a living. Which gives us the impression that nice words are equal to a nice organisation. The actions behind the words leave another impression as well as a dry taste in the mouth – a church that is clinging onto outdated beliefs, which much like religion itself, has never been under more scrutiny.
I think marriage is incredibly important. Its definition predates the Government and the Christian church and I don’t think it’s for politicians to redefine it.
Mike Judge, spokesman for C4M
The fact remains that power is being stripped slowly but surely from the congregations all over the UK and Ireland. Secularisation is taking its toll on the ministers and bishops, who are clutching at straws to retain some sense of power. Congregation sizes are decreasing – a two percent drop from 2009 to 2010, from 944, 400 to 923, 700 – and recent years have not been kind to the image of organised religion as a whole. Be it the Catholic Church being found altogether guilty (in all but a court of justice) of conspiring to cover up multiple cases of child rape, the effects of ‘Islamisation’ on many peoples impression of those that live in the Middle East, or the effects of ‘New Atheist’ authors showing the contradictions of religious texts – it has never been tougher to be spiritual with a straight face.
Of course, to date there are at least 558, 431 people that would tend to disagree. After two days of this being reported in the national media, it is clear that in spite of these people – a church that claims to be inclusive and warming is not matching up with the society that is surrounding it – which is leaving them in the position they most fear; of becoming ever more sidelined.
Words: Jason Murdock