I Beg Your Pardon?

I apologise about returning to the subject of same-sex marriage so soon, but I came across an example of an argument against same-sex marriage today that is just so, well, bizarre.

It is contained in an opinion piece in the Guardian, penned by one Timothy Radcliffe, who turns out to be, as I subsequently learned, a Roman Catholic priest and a Dominican friar. So I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Father Radcliffe starts out well:

It is heartening to see the wave of support for gay marriages. It shows a society that aspires to an open tolerance of all sorts of people, a desire for us to live together in mutual acceptance. It seems obviously fair and right that if straight people can get married, why not gay people?

But then comes:

But we must resist the easy seduction of the obvious. It once seemed obvious that the sun revolved around the Earth, and that women were inferior to men. Society only evolves when we have the mental liberty to challenge what seems to be common sense.

Followed by something that struck me as being simply mind-boggling:

Many Christians oppose gay marriage not because we are homophobic or reject the equal dignity of gay people, but because “gay marriage” ultimately, we believe, demeans gay people by forcing them to conform to the straight world.

As one of the commenters on the piece said, this is rather like saying:

Many Christians oppose the liberation of the slaves not because we are racist or reject the equal dignity of black people but because “freedom” ultimately, we believe, demeans black people by forcing them to conform to the white world.

Many Christians oppose equal rights for Jews not because we are antisemitic or reject the equal dignity of Jewish people but because “equality” ultimately, we believe, demeans Jewish people by forcing them to conform to the gentile world.

I felt neither demeaned nor forced to marry Martin. We got married because it seemed to us a positive step to take, and we didn’t take it lightly.

Here in the Netherlands, every couple who gets married does so in a civil ceremony. The option is then open to them, if they are religious, and if their religion supports it, to follow that up with a religious marriage ceremony. It’s very common here to see a newly-wedded couple emerge from the Town Hall, walk across the market square, and go into the church for their church wedding.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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8 Responses to I Beg Your Pardon?

  1. Al Feersum says:

    Hah! What an extremely narrow perspective, tainted by faith.

    As you say, it is purely a personal choice. My daughter doesn’t want to marry her partner – they’re quite happy living ‘in sin’ if such a thing exists for girls (after all, the scourge of homosexuality, Queen Victoria, couldn’t accept that women could be gay) – it’s their choice. Although maybe it’s her partner’s choice…. ;)

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Al, so long as they’re happy… That’s what my mum (and dad) always said…

      • Al Feersum says:

        Hmm. ‘Happy’. A matter of personal perspective… and always relative… one has a pervasive psychological disorder and the other has a chronic terminal condition (currently in remission)… and there’s a tween to think of too, and whilst he does spend time with his grandma and grandad, and his auntie, sometimes it can be… um… difficult… for all three of them, and indeed for us.

        But other than that, yes, they do seem very happy being together, and this seems to be the longest my daughter has managed to stay with someone, which is great! (‘cos she does need help sometimes, when she goes off the rails).

        • Geoff Coupe says:

          Al, my apologies for appearing to be flippant (well, OK, I probably was). What I was trying to say was that I think we should try and make the best of things whenever we possibly can. Life is ultimately meaningless in the grand scheme of things – but I’m damned if I’m going to let that influence me!

  2. Mike says:

    Odd indeed. It bears some similarities to the argument one hears from some gay activists along the lines of ‘I don’t agree with marriage because it’s an oppressive, patriarchal institution and I see homosexuality as challenging the status quo, not reinforcing it.’ Which is an interesting thought, though it has the obvious weakness that many gay people don’t give a toss about the history of marriage, they just want the benefits it confers on them and their partner.

    But Father Radcliffe, who from other writings appears to be a positive voice in the Church through his support for diversity in sexuality, is making this argument as an outsider. If we’re uncomfortable with gay activists suggesting that marriage be denied to others, we’re even more uncomfortable with friars, not matter how tolerant they are.

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      I suspect that many people, not simply “many gay people”, don’t give a toss about the history of marriage either, but just want the benefits it confers on them and their partner.

      And, I would not blame them for that.

      • Al Feersum says:

        What benefits? Gone are the days of my parents who got a healthy tax rebate when they got married just before the end of the financial year. There aren’t really any other benefits, other than an excuse for a very expensive Eastenders style piss up and fight… nah, not really. My wedding wasn’t like that. But a lot are. And when they end? More expense.

        Should I ever be in the position where I were able to marry again, I wouldn’t do it. It makes life difficult and breeds complacency, and for some people, resentment, as in the case of my oldest daughter who has moved back home due to being married less than a year, but being with her partner for nearly 14 years – but no longer, and no hope (or even wish) for reconcilliation (although my wife and I have always thought he was a tosser).

        So it just goes to show, marriage isn’t everything.

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