Live and let die – Lessons from the Scottish Parliament's debate on same-sex marriage
For some, February 4 was an historic day – a great day for celebration. Like its big brother in Westminster, the Scottish Parliament finally voted for same-sex marriage.
Tory leader Ruth Davidson was typical of many who triumphantly declared that Scotland had become a "more equal, loving and welcoming place for all our children". Who would dare disagree? Who does not want to be more 'equal, welcoming and loving' – especially towards children?! But have we really been led into the Promised Land? Consider the following:
1) In this Brave New World, some people are more 'equal' than others. Alex Neil the minister responsible for steering the bill through said there was nothing in the bill that would hinder people's freedom of speech. But he was missing the point. There is nothing in the bill that will hinder government and other organisations discriminating against those who hold to the biblical view of marriage. For example the Church of Scotland and the Humanist Society recently proposed to the Scottish Parliament that those who do not sign up to a schools equality and diversity policy should not be allowed to lead religious observance in that school.
Given that same-sex marriage is often dubbed 'equal marriage' there is nothing in the bill to stop schools banning those of us who hold to the traditional view. This is just one of the examples of discrimination that we will face in the future. Our children will be indoctrinated and our opinions will be mocked and ridiculed.
Jackson Carlaw, Tory MP, cited from South Pacific 'you've got to be taught to hate''. The implication is that who oppose the new morality are haters. And our children will be taught to hate 'the haters'. And who is to say it will stop there? Is this really equality and diversity? When MSPs voted 95:19 to reject John Mason's amendment to protect those who hold to traditional views, they gave a clear indication of what is likely to happen.
2) In this Brave New World we are governed by opinion poll, sentiment and the media zeitgeist, as much as we are by politicians and policies. Several MSPs pointed out that public opinion was on the side of SSM. Once again we ask simply if they are so confident why did they not actually ask the Scottish people in a referendum? Government by opinion poll does not indicate a healthy mature democracy.
Another declared that the bill is the measure of a civilised and just society and that loving and committed relationships between two people should be recognised in the law. Given those criteria they can have no logical reason for not allowing two sisters in a loving and committed relationship not to marry! And why should he arbitrarily restrict the number to two people? What if five people are in a loving and committed relationship? Our Politicians seem unable to define what marriage actually is – this is quite a serious point-not least because the bill actually redefines marriage.
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In fact the more I listened the more I thought that this was more about enabling same-sex couples to have a wedding day, than it was about marriage. Given the criteria espoused by most of the politicians it seems as though they have just changed every marriage into a civil partnership.
3) There is a strong anti-Christian lobby in the Scottish Parliament – It was incredible how many MSPs felt that they could lecture the church on what we should believe. The ridicule and mockery was barely contained. Perhaps some day MSPs will be prepared to give those of us who actually know something about the Bible and Christian theology, permission to speak and deal with their ignorant prejudice. Meanwhile we give thanks for those Christian MSPs who spoke with grace and truth in the midst of the mess.
4) Some Christians don't know how to engage the public discourse and would be better keeping silent. Opportunity was given to the mockers by a minister who sent out a letter telling them that his conscience was clear but they were going to be judged by God. Telling people they are going to hell because of one particular policy is an absurd way to behave – and really poor theology. And an absolute gift to the scoffers. And standing outside parliament with placards of scripture verses is to my mind almost as detrimental. What did the placarders think they would achieve? Other than encourage those who think the opposition were religious nutcases anyway? Can you imagine the early church picketing Nero's palace?!
5) It won't end here. Patrick Harvie, the Green leader, said that in a few years we will wonder what all the fuss is about. He may be right. We will certainly have moved backwards to other things. The state funded Equality Network will after all need to find another cause to bring the promised Nirvana.
6) This shows how far we have come as a society – Alex Neil said it showed that we can live and let live. That there will be different viewpoints and we can all be together in one rainbow nation. I disagree with this idealistic notion. The consequences of this will not be a more just, equal and diverse nation. It is part of a general regression to a Greco/Roman/Pagan worldview that will lead to increasing disparity between rich and poor, further social control by the elites, and a state imposed morality and intolerance towards all who do not accept it. It is not live and let live. It is live and let die.