There was no heckling or massed protest, no social media flame-throwing, and a marked lack of animosity. Which I guess means that the answer to our question at last Wednesday night’s CCL event on ‘Can we talk about same-sex marriage?’ was … ‘Well, perhaps we can’.
The video and audio of the evening will be available in the next week or so, but in the meantime here are five things that I personally took away from last Wednesday’s stimulating discussion:
One: thinking publicly and socially, it’s important for Christians to speak up about same-sex marriage, for the common good. The consequences of same-sex marriage becoming law are very likely to be bad: for marriage as an institution, for children raised in genderless families and an increasingly genderless society, for religious liberty, and for free speech.
Two: ‘genderless marriage’ is a better way to describe what is being proposed, because that’s what is really at stake—whether marriages and families in our society will continue to be gendered realities (with husbands, wives, mums and dads) or not (partner 1, partner 2, parent 1 and parent 2).
Three: in our personal conversations about the issue, there’s nothing more important than asking and listening. People’s attitudes to ‘genderless marriage’ come from lots of different places, and sometimes reflect deeply personal commitments and values—or not. Some people are just riding the wave of popular sentiment; others are deeply invested.
Four: in every case, it is worth taking the time to expose the real nature of our disagreement, which comes down to a profound difference in how we see the world—as the creation of a good God and ruled by the risen Jesus Christ … or not. It may take some time and conversation to bring this to the surface, but unless we do so our non-Christian friends are likely to believe the media caricature of why Christians are opposed to same-sex marriage (bigotry, homophobia, traditionalism, repressed sexuality, and so on). Explaining the real basis for our view is part of our vocation as God’s people—to proclaim his excellences to the world (1 Pet 2:9), and to give the reason for the hope that we have (1 Pet 3:16).
Five: one of the many profound consequences of our belief in the risen Jesus Christ is that we have (at last!) a solid sense of who we are, and secure hope for the future. Particularly for those who have a personal stake in same-sex marriage, these are massive questions, and worth unearthing in conversation. The push for same-sex marriage is about identity, hope, affirmation and acceptance. We should never tire of testifying to the identity, hope, affirmation and acceptance that we have found in Christ.
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