Mistake #3: Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage is a Religious Issue.
In the U.K., David Cameron and Nick Clegg have tried to frame the issue of same-sex marriage as a battle between free-thinking reformers and religious reactionaries.
They have shouted down opposition to their bill by promising that churches and mosques will be protected from being forced to conduct same-sex marriages on their premises, and the Church of England has been flattered into playing along in exchange for a seat at the discussion table. Even if we believe Cameron and Clegg (and let’s face it, it’s hard to do so when Cameron has just warned the church on another issue to “get with the programme” or face the consequences), it is missing the point entirely.
It isn’t just Christians, Jews and Muslims who want to have a say in this issue. Marriages make families and families make society. How we define marriage affects all of us. To deny this is ridiculous.
I received a letter from David Cameron a few weeks ago when I corresponded with him about same-sex marriage. He told me that he thinks marriage is so important that he wants to open it up to same-sex couples as well, which is about as logical as me saying that I like Italian food so much that I want to declare that every cuisine in the world be Italian. It isn’t just an issue for religious people when our governments start redefining marriage with political double-speak which wouldn’t be out of place in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
Even in decadent Rome, when Emperor Nero briefly legalized same-sex marriage, his pagan Roman subjects opposed his law. The historian, Tacitus, complained that Nero “went through a formal wedding ceremony with one of the perverts named Pythagorus,” and implies that this added to the general public disgust with Nero which eventually led to his forced suicide (Annals 15.37). If the most anti-Christian city in the world opposed gay marriage (remember, these were the people who threw Christians to the lions), then let’s not pretend that opposition to same-sex marriage is a religious issue.
Besides, when Barack Obama refers six times in his inauguration speech to God and four times to the Creator or to Creation, it reminds us that religious people have always had an important role in shaping public policy for good. Not least among them were Abraham Lincoln (a devout Christian) and Martin Luther King Jr. (a Christian pastor). Politicians can’t have it both ways: either they want to associate themselves with God and with the great religious thinkers of the past, or they should come clean and say that they don’t want to.
The reason Barack Obama referred so much to God and to the great religious thinkers of the past is that every U.S. President knows he needs to stand on the shoulders of the founding fathers — who were religious thinkers — thus, to dismiss religious thinkers as nothing more than a group of political lobbyists is an act of insanity. They are those who have routinely submitted their own generation’s thinking to the scrutiny of the wise men and women of old, and who have learned to speak up for what they have learned.
The true political lobbyists are the pro-gay activists who have filled the staff roles in 10 Downing Street and in the West Wing. It is this small, but powerful, clique that has so influenced the politicians that they can’t see the three big mistakes which they are making. Same-sex marriage isn’t a religious issue any more than it is a civil rights issue. It is the coveted ambition of a group of powerful lobbyists who want to stifle debate by claiming the debate is already over.
We mustn’t let them succeed in rushing through this piece of hasty legislation.