Explaining an accepting evangelical position to gay marriage- any tips?

(66 Posts)

Just trying to think how I can explain an accepting evangelical position with regard to gay marriage.

Does anyone have any tips?

I am from an evangelical originally Anglican) background and spent my time with lots of evangelical and sometimes with liberals too! wink

I know the Bible has various passages which appear to say that homosexual sex is wrong and I know that some Christians would say this means all homosexual sex is wrong. I think this is based on how this passages are translated these days and how they are interpreted.

In the past some of these passages may have translated a little differently and their meaning can be a bit obscure. The reason that some Christians will feel these passages refer to all homosexual acts/relationships is (I think) because they are taught to interpret them in this way. This is how they have been interpreted for a while (could someone wiser be able to say more!).

A number of Christians would argue that these passages are talking about different things, for example Leviticus referring to homosexual acts as a form of temple prostitution, which was rife in the time that these books were written. The book of Leviticus was talking about a different situation from gay men and women now, it was talking about temple prostitutes. There is more to it than that and I wonder if anyone can say more?

There have always been liberal minded Christians who were very happy with gay relationships but now a growing number of evangelical Christians are also trying to understand what the Bible says about homosexual/gay relationships (and the answer seems to be not a lot!) but what it does say needs to be properly interpreted.

I know some might read this who are not the least bit interested in what the Bible says so it will mean nothing to them, and that is fine, but to those of us who have made a decision to take the Bible seriously, though not always literally, and to take it in context it is very important to understand what it really means. Here are a couple of links I found.

www.upworthy.com/every-biblical-argument-against-being-gay-debunked-biblically?g=2&c=go1

www.acceptingevangelicals.org/

Those Christians who do not think any kind of gay relationship is OK are totally entitled to their opinion too, and I know and love some very traditional evangelical Christians, I also know and love some liberal ones and some like me who are trying to make sense of what the Bible says for these areas and have found themselves feeling differently to committed gay marriage than they expected to feel! grin

Most Christians I know (regardless of their views) are very loving and kind in their actions towards others, whatever they personally believe about different lifestyles they behave kindly to all, and this is something I treasure and value. But I really want to be able to explain my views as an accepting evangelical. Any help welcome. Thanks.

The other problem I have is that individual Christians and the church are expending an amazing amount of time and energy on this 'issue' when all kinds atrocities are happening worldwide and it seems very sad. sad

I'm not an evangelical but I have debated this issue and others with people from an evangelical background.

The biggest question when talking about any issue with someone from an evangelical background will be the nature of the authority of scripture.

At one end of the scale you have conservative evangelicals who hold that scripture is the actual word of God and as such what is written is true for all times and all places. At the other end of the scale are open evangelicals who take seriously 1 Timothy 16-17 'All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.' but note that God breathed is not God written or dictated. Open evangelicals are open to the work of Biblical Criticism of the last 150 years or so which has included:

Form criticism - what genre is the scripture - poetry, myth, letter?
Redaction criticism - how has the work been edited and reedited?
Historical criticism - what is the historical context of the scripture?
Language - the OT is in hebrew and the NT is in greek and both languages have to be translated.
Post modern approaches which include the impact of the reader on the text.

All of the above are looking at context.

Open (and accepting) evangelicals would say I think that scripture is central to their faith but you have to read for context so the passages in the bible that appear to condem homosexuality have to be read in their historical and cultural context which is different to that of today. The same is true of marraige which was very different in OT and the 1st century context of the NT.

Does that help giving some of the background?

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 09-May-13 08:21:36

I take issue with this kind of argument from a religious standpoint. Mainly because the first argument presented is almost invariably, "the bible may appear to say this, but you have to read it in its original language to really understand", or, "it's all about how you interpret it, you've been told to interpret this way, but you could also interpret that way".

Basically what it boils down to is that whatever your personal feelings on a topic, you can find a way to make the bible support it, either through cherry picking passages or interpreting those passages in different ways, either literally, metaphorically or through different understanding of the definitions of certain words. This is the genius of religious texts, everyone thinks that the text supports their view, thus everyone believes they are right.

Greenheart thanks very helpful. Do you find it easy talking with evangelicals! No, don;t answer that PM me. I am one and I know it is heard!! Thanks, yes, marriage, what it means now and then. I have tons of questions and I would love to PM you.

Pedro why do you say your take issue with this kind of argument from a religious standpoint are you arguing for a literal take on scripture, I don't actually know a single person who takes all of it literally. Or are you saying (as I suspect) throw it all out? Because if the later then I can't see that as a 'religious' stand point.

As my day today is about to be spent getting to grips with the language, context, history etc of Sunday's readings so that I can write the sermon I'm grateful to Pedro for revealing to me that all I have to do is tell my congregation what my personal views are and dressing them up in Biblical language. Horrah!

As the OP was framed within a Christian worldview then that is how I've approached it. Silly me.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 09-May-13 08:33:28

Sorry, I probably could have worded that better. I meant I take issue with people using religious arguments based on religious texts to make their points.

The 'trouble' is we have these religious texts, Pedro how are we to view them?

madhairday Thu 09-May-13 13:17:20

Just posted this by mistake on the other thread, but it's an article by Steve Chalke who still self identifies as (open) evangelical that may help your thinking clickity

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 09-May-13 13:18:42

The texts existing is not the problem. The problem comes when people try to use the texts to determine what's right and wrong. They are obviously ambiguous because they can be used to support pretty much any view you want to hold.

I don't personally think that the bible provides a moral code. It has a list of commandments which could be ok if they weren't mostly about which god to listen to. Thou shalt not kill is a good instruction to follow generally, but not because God says so. It's just generally good for society. I'm sure before the bible came along that people would have been aware that killing other humans was not a great way to keep the race going.

The rest of the bible contains stories, some of which can be used to demonstrate 'moral' actions but no more than any other story which contains such morals. Take Harry Potter, it contains many, many examples of characters demonstrating moral actions (even the 'bad' characters). You could quote these examples to explain why you think certain actions or beliefs are good, but you wouldn't say that HP is a book of moral guidance any more than the bible is. And you certainly wouldn't attribute any truth to the story.

I don't think the Bible is the Highway Code. It is the story of a journey. It has morals in it for sure. I have admitted freely elsewhere it has massive mistakes, David and bathsheba - watch neighbour taking bath on roof, sleep with neighbour, kill neighbour's husband, not exactly a moral guide of what to do!

It's easy to say why you think the 10 commandments are (excuse me Pedro I am paraphrasing!) so old hat! But before they came along would all those things have been obvious. Did the cultures around the Hebrews back in the day view adultery as wrong? For example? Greenheart, any thoughts?

Sorry Greenheart Or Mad?

For starters I'm no expert on Ancient Near East (ANE) societies. From what I can remember from college the 10CC are a form of social contract similar to others in the ANE but the difference with the 10CC is that roughly the first half of the commandments are about the relationship between God and mankind and the second half are about social contract between people. This second part; do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not covert, do not steal, do not lie are simple which is their great attraction and why they endure as the basis for moral decisions today.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 09-May-13 18:34:10

It's easy to say why you think the 10 commandments are (excuse me Pedro I am paraphrasing!) so old hat! But before they came along would all those things have been obvious. Did the cultures around the Hebrews back in the day view adultery as wrong? For example?

I can say with certainty that at least some people considered adultery to be immoral before the bible was written because otherwise they wouldn't have put it in the bible!

FloresCircumdati Thu 09-May-13 19:00:55

The Leviticus passage refers to 'heathen' practices in a neighbouring land which are 'abominable'. 'Temple prostitutes' is a polite way of saying mass abduction of children who were ritualistically abused, mutilated and trafficked. It is trafficking, abuse, mutilation and sex slavery that God abhors, and which any right minded person would find abominable.

So, for me, Scripture has been abusing the word 'homosexual' since it was first used (i.e. before the birth of Jesus). I realise I am in a minority, as I disagree with what leaders of our 3 main world religions preach! I disagree with the leader of the Anglican church in this country, and so I have stopped attending church. I will not have anyone think that I think that God expects gay believers to be celibate and/or single or living a lie and married to someone of the opposite sex! I have a relationship with God, and I am happily married (to a man; I'm female). I was stopped from teaching in Sunday school (nothing about this, I was just deemed 'unfit') because of my stand on this in the women's Bible study group. All I can say is, that church made God (and me) weep. I was battle weary (from praying) when I left.

Steve Chalke is great. Please pray for him, and for more like him.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=560756123965319&set=vb.100000928096156&type=2&theater

RufflingFeathers Thu 09-May-13 19:08:45

Sorry, no time to write properly, but wanted to mark my place.
Think it's important not only to look at scripture but also the big picture of creation/fall/redemption/restoration. It's not simply a case of proving or disproving particular scriptures, but asking if this fits with how God made things.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 09-May-13 19:36:21

Think it's important not only to look at scripture but also the big picture of creation/fall/redemption/restoration. It's not simply a case of proving or disproving particular scriptures, but asking if this fits with how God made things.

What do you mean by proving or disproving the scriptures?

The scriptures exist? Proven.

The scriptures are an accurate account of history? Refuted.

The scriptures are a moral framework? Refuted.

The scriptures fit with how God made things? If they don't, then they're not much good as scriptures. If they do then there's not much discussion to be had.

Pedro do you think things are just in the Bible because they happened to other people around the time, ie not the people the Bible was specifically about? If not, I can't see your argument. Sorry, not being awkward on purpose. Yes, I am sure some people would have thought adultery wrong but wonder what else others of the time did, e.g. ritual worship with sex involved?

Flores so sorry to hear of your experiences. I personally (as a non-Anglican) think the C of E is actually full of quit a lot of tolerant people. But I know the structures are not exactly reflecting that at the moment. With tolerance we must always ask the question, should we tolerate it (whatever it is) obviously tolerating things that are wrong is wrong but I guess this is the crux, deciding what is wrong! I am speaking of the C of E in relation to this topic only.

Hi Rufflng.

Greenheart I am curious if all cultures in the past would value all things we do now. I am not sure stealing would be viewed as 'stealing' if it was a fight for survival. If that makes sense? Only asking you as I have a hunch you are pretty wise! wink

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Fri 10-May-13 07:13:16

Pedro do you think things are just in the Bible because they happened to other people around the time, ie not the people the Bible was specifically about?

I'm sure people back then had a variety of views on what was moral and what wasn't, just like they do now. But someone must have thought adultery was wrong or they wouldn't have included it as a commandment when they wrote the bible.

niminypiminy Fri 10-May-13 09:55:11

As Greenheart says, there are two kinds of commandments in the 10 commandments. One kind has to do with the relationship between humans (specifically, in this case, the Israelites) and God, and the forging of monotheism out of an ambient polytheistic culture. The OT is many things, but one of the things it is is the story of how the Israelites came to see that there is only one God, the creator of the universe and all that is in it, who embodies the righteousness and justice that human society must strive for.

The second kind of commandment formulates a basic moral code -- as Greenheart says, of a kind that was known in other Ancient Near East societies. But it is not so self-evident that it is universal among all societies and therefore simply a collection of nostrums. Very different moral codes have existed. For instance, the warrior code of honour and virtue, which was the basic moral structure of Ancient Greece, did not forbid adultery or murder (for instance infanticide was an act which was not considered morally bad at all). One of the effects of the Mosaic code is that it makes any form of blood feud, and the wiping out of one wrong by paying back in kind, a sin.

Another effect of the Mosaic code is that it unfies the social order with the cosmic order. To murder is not only a socially catastrophic act, but it is also an act of violence against the divine order that underpins the cosmos. That is a very different conception from other ancient moral systems, in which the gods were themselves seen as moral actors, capricious and capable of doing wrong things, beings who needed to be placated with sacrifice. One of the major themes of the later parts of the OT is the struggle to get the Israelites to stop the practice of sacrifice, and to realise that what God wants is for us to live his way rather than to sacrifice animals, food and so on.

niminypiminy Fri 10-May-13 10:27:03

Italian, I wonder if another thing to think about would be to weigh up what scripture has to say about love, and faithfulness, against what it has to say about particular sexual acts. It is clear that fidelity and love are central to the biblical account of what is ideal in human relationships (even though there is a clear recognition of how often we fall away from living out that ideal). In particular, in the gospels, Jesus reiterates this message whilst remaining silent on the subject of sexual acts. So perhaps the question should be less about how we might understand particular sexual acts in the light of scripture as whether people can live out the scriptural injunction to 'love one another as I have loved you'. Are gay people capable of sacrificial love for each other? If they are, then that is all we need to know.

madhairday Fri 10-May-13 12:47:36

Great posts niminy smile

Thanks Ninny great post, very helpful.

neontetra Fri 10-May-13 19:44:47

Niminy has said, very eloquently, what I, much less eloquently, would like to say. Any whole-text reading of the NT will surely reveal to the reader that the text argues for love, tolerance, acceptance of difference, etc. Can any reader really see Jesus emerge as someone likely to be a homophobe? If not, job done!

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Fri 10-May-13 20:31:10

Can any reader really see Jesus emerge as someone likely to be a homophobe? If not, job done!

So why so many anti-gay members of the church then?

niminypiminy Fri 10-May-13 20:39:13

We all fall away from living out that ideal -- as I said. But I think you will find there is a diversity of opinion in the church -- and even a good number of gay Christians. That wasn't the point, however.

What I was suggesting was that there is a good scriptural basis for accepting and celebrating gay marriage. I stand by that and would be happy to defend that view in a church context.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Fri 10-May-13 21:51:57

What I was suggesting was that there is a good scriptural basis for accepting and celebrating gay marriage. I stand by that and would be happy to defend that view in a church context.

Well I think that's a good thing.

Do you know why some people claim that the bible suggests that being gay is a sin? Do you understand their position? Can you reconcile their argument with your own? (genuine questions).

niminypiminy Fri 10-May-13 22:09:14

Yes, yes and no.

niminypiminy Fri 10-May-13 22:12:23

(Or, less telegraphically, I think there is a difference of opinion that is profound, but it's important for me to remember that the people I am disagreeing with are my brothers and sisters in Christ. One of the things I pray for is the unity of the Church, but unity doesn't necessarily mean uniformity.)

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Fri 10-May-13 22:13:27

Ok. So how do some people come to interpret the bible differently to others? (and who's to say who is correct?)

Ninny what do you think is behind many Christians concern about gay marriage specifically? Just curious. I have my own thoughts but wanted to hear yours!!

niminypiminy Sat 11-May-13 07:06:43

(Pedro, I'm not biting. Take your spoon elsewhere.)

Italian, I think it's a really interesting question that doesn't have a simple answer.

It seems to me that partly the concern is about the relationship of the church to the culture that surrounds it, and in what ways the church is shaped by that culture and to what extent it stands outside and critiques that culture. Probably it is the case that the church in general, and individual churches and denominations in particular, are more determined by their cultural context than we would care to admit, and more associated with particular strands (dominant, emergent, conservative ways of thinking, for example) than we would like to think.

I think it is interesting that gay marriage has become a popular cause at a time when rates of marriage in general are declining (can gay people save the institution of marriage?), and at a time when people are less likely to identify with any institution. In that sense, I think that church membership and marriage have a good deal in common, because both ask you to sign up to something greater than yourself; both ask you to make a public commitment to that institution for better or worse. There's a good deal to say for the way that both the church and marriage stand in opposition to the prevailing culture of individualism.

It is undeniably true that the church offers a place for those who are frightened and angry at social change; it's also true that where there are more out gay Christians there is more theological inclusiveness. What I think is less remarked upon is that anti-homophobia (to coin a phrase) has suddenly - and this is good news for those of us who campaigned against section 28 and went to Pride when it wasn't fashionable - become an easy position for people to hold. And homophobia has become a soft target -- something that can comfortably be attacked without risk to the attacker. (Of course, this does not change the fact that gay people are sometimes at serious risk - merely that supporting gay marriage has become an easy way to show how right on you are.)

I suspect that for some sections of the church the issue of gay marriage has become a marker of where the church separates from and critiques its surrounding culture (of course, elsewhere in the world, say, in parts of Africa, opposition to homosexuality is seen as a cultural value that the church supports). I do think it is really interesting that evangelical churches, which on the one hand have wanted to adopt worship styles that mimic and incorporate elements of popular entertainment, have on the other hand - by and large - been more conservative on the issue of gay marriage. And vice versa.

Finally I think it is quite likely that the issue of whether to support gay marriage is more important, and more divisive inside the church than it is outside it. I wish, really, we could get on with building the kingdom, but it seems that we'll be tussling over this one for some time yet.

Sorry, that wasn't a very clear answer -- more a digest of the thoughts I've been having. I'd be really interested to hear what you think.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sat 11-May-13 08:40:46

Pedro, I'm not biting. Take your spoon elsewhere.

I'm not trying to do anything with a spoon, I'm just trying to understand and it seems to be a big problem for you because you refuse to discuss it. So by that measure I'm finding less and less value in the bible, which is a shame because I was hoping someone could explain this to me.

Ninny brilliant answer.

My not-quite-so-well-thought-out-thoughts are! It's fear! fear of 'letting God down', fear of conforming to the prevailing culture and most of all fear of being forced to do what they don't want to do (marry gay couples in churches) which is fuelled itself by fear... of letting God down etc.

I mean traditional evangelicals would also disagree with sex before marriage, as would I ... in a kind of it is not for the best (personal opinion here no trying to actively stop anyone else doing it at the moment smile). Yet despite this view (that sex before marriage is wrong) I don't hear the church fearing that Christians need to make a stand and not sell beds or flats or houses or holidays to single couples!

We accept that the culture of the day for some can be quite promiscuous, which many many Christians would disagree with, yet the thing some Christians choose to make a stand on is gay marriage. It has become an 'issue' and is seen (I will never work this one out!!!!) to devalue 'traditional' marriage.

'Traditional' meaning monogamous one male to one female, not traditional as in parts of the Old Testament where there was polygamy!

I think in some ways that certain 'gay activists' have not helped the situation and have created a culture of fear in churches by 'targeting' actively staying in Christian B and Bs and therefore brought legal cases, which I do not think is fair. I do not think it is fair because I think gay people should be allowed to run B and Bs for gay people (or indeed anyone should be allowed to) and there are B and Bs targeted at gay people, and likewise those who wish to should be able to run ones that are for straight married couples or singles. I am not talking about big hotel chains refusing people on the basis of their sexual orientation! Or indeed on any big business refusing anyone at all. But there is a niche market for 'gay' B and Bs and there are quite a few, I looked on line before making the assumption they were for gay people only and some do say they welcome gay people and so I am talking about Christians who wish to only have married straight couple or singles in their home for a B and B.

Because of fear of being prosecuted etc for not complying with these rules about inclusivesim if we do get equal marriage, many Christians are (I think) more opposed to gay marriage than if they genuinely thought they would be allowed to 'follow their conscious' on this matter. This does not mean that I think people who are celebrants should be allowed to turn down marrying gay people but I rather feel they should be allowed to be not forced to do it. It is not a sticking point for me but I think if I were gay and getting married I would not want my wedding officiated at by someone who did not agree with it, so have a list of who agrees and who does not and those who are gay would presumably rather have an agreeing celebrant at their wedding. It would take away the fear for those who don’t agree and would not restrict those who are gay. Or would it?

Like maybe having a list of employees who do not want to work on a Sunday might have been a way in the past for a shop opening on a Sunday! Remember that 'issue' of Sunday opening, it was huge, and it was another example of churches feeling that society was being pressed by the culture around!

Ultimately, I feel sure equal marriage will come in and the church will live with it, but it will make life difficult for some churches and it seems unfair because many will probably end up stopping marriage services to all/ pre-marriage courses etc if they feel threatened and a spirit of fear is unhelpful to all.

I agree totally it was wrong for gay people not to be married but it is not just teh chruch who has stood in the way of that, I think that non-religious public opinion has changed a lot (thankfully).

Also, there are lots of Christians who will want to perform marriage services and provide preparation services to gay couples, not because they are forced to but because they want to.

Would it really hurt gay people not to be able to use the services of any wedding celebrant or church? Genuine question.

Not sure if gay marriage will save marriage, but it might help the wedding industry!

No desire to cause offense to anyone reading this, whether gay or straight, married or single, Christian or no. Smply musing that fear is not helpful but I do understand the law is the law and although we totally have equality we have exceptions which are deemed acceptable - e.g. Brownies and guides for girls, which as a mum to a Bronwie is a good thing 3 even though I totally believe in the equality of the sexes. And even thought I Passionately believe in women bishops I don't want the church to be forced to 'allow' women to become bishops, I want the church to work it out itself. Is that being fair or unfair, genuine question.

Nimmy has made very good points and I agree that churches which hold 'traditional' or conservative views on gay marriage, marriage in general, women in leadership etc are ones that do stuggle with the surrounding culture. They appear to go with a Christ against culture model rather than Christ in or with culture yet they are often the first to use technology to support modern worship music.

I've got two partially formed ideas to add to this.

Firstly churches which are traditional/conservative seem from the outside to be very boundaried and want black and white answers to life's grey and confusing questions and my experience is that this reflects the personalities of the people in those churches. I know the leadership of a number of these churches in my town and before they were ministers they were policmen, lawyers, soldiers, accountants etc so people who operate best within rules and boundaries. Good and faithful Christians all, but not personality types are comfortable in these sorts of churches.

Secondly stages of faith. People in the more conservative/traditional churches may be in the earlier stages of faith as marked out by James Fowler and others. When people are new Christians there is a desire to get answers but as a person matures in discipleship and encounters the paradox and mystery of God then the simple answers (it is in the Bible and I believe it, there is one model of the atonement only etc) are not satisfactory. Moving between stages of faith is painful. One writer talks about this as being like the catapillar that moves to the chrysalis stage and that is the painful bit where the questions and uncertainties are faced and ultimately Christians emerge as the butterflies but not without a stuggle. Butterflies have insight into the the catapillars and chrysalis but butterflies look like aposate heretics to some catapillars!!!

So my take on the Bible is that it is a complex document. It is not a rule book. It was not faxed directly from heaven (to quote my college principal) but it can speak to the human condition in the present day as it records humanities interaction with the divine and insight from previous ages and thinkers. I'm looking for wisdom rather than answers I think.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sat 11-May-13 20:04:05

My not-quite-so-well-thought-out-thoughts are! It's fear! fear of 'letting God down', fear of conforming to the prevailing culture and most of all fear of being forced to do what they don't want to do (marry gay couples in churches) which is fuelled itself by fear... of letting God down etc.

I have no issue with the church not performing gay marriages, that's entirely up to the church, but when the church suggests that it has the final say on marriage and tries to stop it being legal full stop, that's when I take issue.

I mean traditional evangelicals would also disagree with sex before marriage, as would I ... in a kind of it is not for the best (personal opinion here no trying to actively stop anyone else doing it at the moment ). Yet despite this view (that sex before marriage is wrong) I don't hear the church fearing that Christians need to make a stand and not sell beds or flats or houses or holidays to single couples!

Quite right too! Personally I think not having sex before marriage (and presumably living together before marriage) is dangerous because you don't really know if you can live together properly.

We accept that the culture of the day for some can be quite promiscuous, which many many Christians would disagree with, yet the thing some Christians choose to make a stand on is gay marriage. It has become an 'issue' and is seen (I will never work this one out!!!!) to devalue 'traditional' marriage.

Yes, I agree, this a bizarre concept.

I think in some ways that certain 'gay activists' have not helped the situation and have created a culture of fear in churches by 'targeting' actively staying in Christian B and Bs and therefore brought legal cases, which I do not think is fair.

They wouldn't bother if the b&bs didn't discriminate against them, they're just trying to demonstrate a point.

I do not think it is fair because I think gay people should be allowed to run B and Bs for gay people (or indeed anyone should be allowed to)

They can.

and there are B and Bs targeted at gay people

Do they prevent straight people staying?

and likewise those who wish to should be able to run ones that are for straight married couples or singles.

But not allow gays? Why? What about single people who are gay? What about, say a man who is actually gay but happens to be married to a woman?

I am not talking about big hotel chains refusing people on the basis of their sexual orientation! Or indeed on any big business refusing anyone at all.

But it's ok for small companies to discriminate?

But there is a niche market for 'gay' B and Bs and there are quite a few, I looked on line before making the assumption they were for gay people only

Are they only for gay people?

and some do say they welcome gay people and so I am talking about Christians who wish to only have married straight couple or singles in their home for a B and B.

If you discriminate in this way then you shouldn't be running a b&b. Do you think it would be acceptable to run a b&b and not allow women to stay?

Because of fear of being prosecuted etc for not complying with these rules about inclusivesim if we do get equal marriage, many Christians are (I think) more opposed to gay marriage than if they genuinely thought they would be allowed to 'follow their conscious' on this matter. This does not mean that I think people who are celebrants should be allowed to turn down marrying gay people but I rather feel they should be allowed to be not forced to do it.

No one's forcing the church to change. Except perhaps its own members.

It is not a sticking point for me but I think if I were gay and getting married I would not want my wedding officiated at by someone who did not agree with it

I completely agree, if I were gay, there's no way I'd get married in a church (even if it was allowed).

so have a list of who agrees and who does not and those who are gay would presumably rather have an agreeing celebrant at their wedding.

Or we could just let the church decide to not do gay weddings and leave it to other licensed organisations.

Like maybe having a list of employees who do not want to work on a Sunday might have been a way in the past for a shop opening on a Sunday! Remember that 'issue' of Sunday opening, it was huge, and it was another example of churches feeling that society was being pressed by the culture around!

If the church can't move on with the times then fine, as long as it keeps it to itself. In my job, occasionally I am required to work on a Sunday, I have a choice, but it wouldn't look great if I refused on religious grounds (mostly because I'm not religious, but you get my point!).

Ultimately, I feel sure equal marriage will come in and the church will live with it, but it will make life difficult for some churches and it seems unfair because many will probably end up stopping marriage services to all

Would that be a bad thing? If the church stopped doing weddings at all, the rest of society could just get on with things without the church continually butting in and suggesting it has some kind of ownership of marriage.

I agree totally it was wrong for gay people not to be married but it is not just teh chruch who has stood in the way of that

Mostly it is though. Gay people have fought for their rights more recently than other oppressed groups, but as usual, it's the church which has lagged behind and predictably, it will be the last institution to accept gay rights and only because it kind of has to.

Would it really hurt gay people not to be able to use the services of any wedding celebrant or church? Genuine question.

If they are religious it would probably be a bit miffing.

Brownies and guides for girls, which as a mum to a Bronwie is a good thing 3 even though I totally believe in the equality of the sexes.

It's a bit different when you are dealing with children. It's not really comparable. But incidentally, girls can join the Scouts.

And even thought I Passionately believe in women bishops I don't want the church to be forced to 'allow' women to become bishops, I want the church to work it out itself. Is that being fair or unfair, genuine question.

I think that until the church allows this equality, it's going to be seen as a backward institution.

Greenheart great answers.

Yes, Pedro I agree with the church not having the final say on marriage, marriage pre-dates the church.

The divorce rate of people who marry having not lived together before-hand has traditionally been lower than for those who divorce having lived together. Now, according to the Huffington Post, those things have levelled out, although it still makes a difference if the couple were committted (as in engaged) when they lived together, so it seems living together before getting married is no assurance you will be able to stay married.

www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/movein-before-marriage-no_n_1372687.html

I would guess the Christian B and Bs are not at all worried about people who are gay and staying alone, they don't want gay couples to stay. I don't agree with them, I am just explaining it from what I think may be their viewpoint. Don't 'gay' B and Bs want to attract gay couples or singles? I would think that was what they wanted. I looked and certainly they wanted to attract gay people. All I am asking is if some people want to attract gay people to their b and bs could some others want to attract married couples. Please hear me, this is not my view, I have no problem with whomever is staying at the hotel gay or straight, I am asking if it is wrong. I would certainly say it is wrong to disciminate but there are for want of a word special interest groups where they do have restrictions - Brownies are for girls etc. I totally believe in equality but think it is OK to have girls or boys only clubs. But I don't want those boys (or girls) only clubs running the country.

Do you think it would be OK to run a B and B and not let women stay? Yes. I do and I would be very happy for men who wanted to stay in a male only B and B do so and I would be equally happy for there to be a cab company or b and b that was women only. I don't think most people want to run this type of business because most want to make as much money as they can and limiting your customers would be unhelpful probably! And I would not want the only b and b or hotel or cab company in town to be men or women only! But as a niche market I can see that as woman, maybe travelling alone, I might well want to stay in a female only B and B or travel by female only mini cab or may wish my child to go to a girls' school (I do not want my daughter to go to a female only school, but we do have them in this country and I have heard they are quite good for girls achieving well).

I would see these minor niche areas where limited discriminations are allowed to acceptable, just as I am very happy to use women only toilets in public and I would feel quite uncomfortable using unisex toilets.

I don't see why it is different for children. Are you saying it is OK to discriminate for children but not for adults?

Re - women Bishops - I agree...wink.

pedro you are being very gentle on me! Are you getting soft in your old age!

best wishes,

Actually, Pedro I think you are maybe kinder to me than I deserve! I don't want to sound bigoted at all.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 12-May-13 09:48:34

The divorce rate of people who marry having not lived together before-hand has traditionally been lower than for those who divorce having lived together. Now, according to the Huffington Post, those things have levelled out, although it still makes a difference if the couple were committted (as in engaged) when they lived together, so it seems living together before getting married is no assurance you will be able to stay married.

Ok, well firstly, correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation. Couples are notoriously bad at staying together. But have you looked at the rate of couples not yet married who lived together but split up because they couldn't live together and managed to avoid getting married because of it?

I would guess the Christian B and Bs are not at all worried about people who are gay and staying alone, they don't want gay couples to stay. I don't agree with them, I am just explaining it from what I think may be their viewpoint. Don't 'gay' B and Bs want to attract gay couples or singles? I would think that was what they wanted. I looked and certainly they wanted to attract gay people.

There's certainly nothing wrong with attracting a certain clientele, but actually discriminating against those who are not your target market is breaking the rules.

All I am asking is if some people want to attract gay people to their b and bs could some others want to attract married couples.

As above, attracting is fine. Discriminating is not.

Please hear me, this is not my view, I have no problem with whomever is staying at the hotel gay or straight

I hear you!

I am asking if it is wrong. I would certainly say it is wrong to disciminate but there are for want of a word special interest groups where they do have restrictions - Brownies are for girls etc. I totally believe in equality but think it is OK to have girls or boys only clubs. But I don't want those boys (or girls) only clubs running the country.

I agree!

Do you think it would be OK to run a B and B and not let women stay? Yes. I do and I would be very happy for men who wanted to stay in a male only B and B do so and I would be equally happy for there to be a cab company or b and b that was women only.

Ok, you make a valid point and perhaps gender issues are a slightly different beast now I think about it. But these companies would say "women only" as part of their advertising. These b&bs don't seem to say "no gays".

as a niche market I can see that as woman, maybe travelling alone, I might well want to stay in a female only B and B or travel by female only mini cab

That is fair enough. However, you presumably wouldn't have any problem with a lesbian couple staying in the women only b&b?

or may wish my child to go to a girls' school (I do not want my daughter to go to a female only school, but we do have them in this country and I have heard they are quite good for girls achieving well).

Actually this is something I disagree with, but that's perhaps for another discussion sometime!

I would see these minor niche areas where limited discriminations are allowed to acceptable, just as I am very happy to use women only toilets in public and I would feel quite uncomfortable using unisex toilets.

Yes you're right, I think in terms of men vs women there are sensible occasions when this is necessary. But sexual orientation should not be an issue.

I don't see why it is different for children. Are you saying it is OK to discriminate for children but not for adults?

There are protection issues with children. So I do think it's different. Although not with very young children, more the 6-16 range (slightly arbitrary ages, but I think very young children don't have much of a problem with genders, but as you approach puberty, this can become an issue)

pedro you are being very gentle on me! Are you getting soft in your old age!

I've always been soft (opinionated perhaps, but soft) smile

correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation - is this case what (do you think) is the reason then? No I have no idea who split up without getting married. But I think living with someone and then splitting up could be just as devastating to some as getting divorced.

There's certainly nothing wrong with attracting a certain clientele, but actually discriminating against those who are not your target market is breaking the rules. Wouldn’t a gay person or a gay couple running a b and b wanting to attract other gay singles or couples be rather disappointed to find their rooms filled up with single straight Christian couples? At what point would they say, actually this b and b is for gay people? Just wondering.

That is fair enough. However, you presumably wouldn't have any problem with a lesbian couple staying in the women only b&b? Well my B and B doesn't exist and it isn't for women only confused if it did and if it were then no, I wouldn't have a problem with a lesbian couple staying.

In some ways it doesn't really bother me if Christians are allowed to run a b and b and turn away a gay couple or not but in another way I think that for people running a b and b like that it is their home and their business and as far as I understand they may well not allow unmarried straight people to stay there together either. It seems hard to understand in the moral climate of this day but why should they not be allowed to say this. Does it really hurt people to have one less place to stay in this world? I think it is about the bigger picture and maybe there is a lot of hurt felt by 'the gay community', hurt they received from the church, and for that I am very sorry. I kind of feel this sort of lawsuit and this kind of ruling about a b and b does not remove he hurt or make up for it, it simply may add to perpetuating the hurt.

Actually this is something I disagree with, but that's perhaps for another discussion sometime! What single sex schools?

I am not sure this is asexual orientation question in the case of the b and b; I think it was two people staying together and having sex together in the b and b, that was the concern, not their orientation. But I could be wrong.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 12-May-13 16:02:33

correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation - is this case what (do you think) is the reason then? No I have no idea who split up without getting married. But I think living with someone and then splitting up could be just as devastating to some as getting divorced.

I think people break up for all kinds of reasons. But my point here was that just looking at divorce rates of living together before marriage and not doesn't show the whole picture because the key thing about living together first is finding out whether you are compatible. And there's a lot of people who manage to avoid marriage precisely because they have lived together first.

Wouldn’t a gay person or a gay couple running a b and b wanting to attract other gay singles or couples be rather disappointed to find their rooms filled up with single straight Christian couples? At what point would they say, actually this b and b is for gay people? Just wondering.

Firstly, I'm not really sure why you'd run a b&b specifically for gay people unless there's was some other agenda there or you were making a point against discrimination from christians. But I really I don't think it would be an issue. Besides there's plenty of ways you can put certain demographics off staying with you. Pictures of Satan in the hallway perhaps.....

In some ways it doesn't really bother me if Christians are allowed to run a b and b and turn away a gay couple or not but in another way I think that for people running a b and b like that it is their home and their business and as far as I understand they may well not allow unmarried straight people to stay there together either.

If you didn't like driving people you didn't know around in your car you wouldn't be a taxi driver, so why run a b&b if you don't want certain people staying in your house, especially when it's a topic like. Fair enough if you don't want an escaped convict, but just because someone is gay? You would clearly be in the wrong business.

It seems hard to understand in the moral climate of this day but why should they not be allowed to say this. Does it really hurt people to have one less place to stay in this world?

In the case of the couple who were turned away, it did hurt them because they'd explained the situation to the owners at the point of booking, but weren't turned away until the arrived. There was nowhere else to stay and it cost them additional travel costs and I think they lost money from something they'd booked to do which they were unable to go to.

Actually this is something I disagree with, but that's perhaps for another discussion sometime! What single sex schools?

Yes. Don't agree with them. Don't agree with faith schools either. Personal opinion though.

I am not sure this is asexual orientation question in the case of the b and b; I think it was two people staying together and having sex together in the b and b, that was the concern, not their orientation. But I could be wrong.

Well, that's what they said, but it's hard to tell. If you are that prejudiced against a gay couple that you stop them staying at your b&b then there's likely to be some deeper feeling against it than just having sex in your house.

shockers Sun 12-May-13 16:27:37

I have been giving this a lot of thought today. I didn't go to church last week or this week as I am pondering a response to a request for prayer for the 'right' decision to be taken on this matter.

This is what I've jotted down so far...

Love your neighbour as yourself... I have a secure and loving relationship with someone who understands me and whom I wish to spend the rest of my life with. Is it my decision to allow or deny others that? Not if I'm loving them as I love myself.

If my child came to me and said that they were gay, would I want him/her to be alone and unhappy, serving the Lord, but struggling with feelings of resentment toward an entity who is loving and compassionate and yet punishes them for being 'different'?

I have always thought of God as the ultimate parent... in my mind he would act with fairness, love and compassion, as would I.

It suits me fine if more Christians come to the conclusion that homophobia is wrong, but I wondered if the bible was really that ambiguous. Much as I dislike the religious position on homosexulality they were basing it on a real quote that I'd read for myself.

Leviticus 20:13 KJV seems pretty straightforward.
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death

I've just been reading that the literal translation says something like.

"a man who will lie down with a male in beds of a woman."

Or more comfortably in english:

"a man who will lie down with a male in a woman’s bed"

This suggests several things to me.

#1 That god thought it was ok to have same sex, but if you did it in a bed which belonged to a woman you must be killed. A bit harsh?

#2 If this is what the mainstream church has been using as justification of homophobia then they have been extremely dishonest.

#3 if the rest of the translations are like that then Christianity is based on soap bubbles and wishful thinking.

I always knew there were subtle differences of opinion over certain words. I never used translation as an argument because I felt it would just be pointless nit-picking, but that doesn't say anything like what the KJV says. Can I expect the rest of the translations to be just as loose?

Back hi grin, will let someone wiser 'enlighten' you, there are more passages but not tons.

Some fabulous Christian accepting websites, like this one.

canyonwalkerconnections.com/ten-things-i-wish-i-knew-ten-years-ago-about-gay-people/

If you really want to look at the argument against and for 'gay' relationships presented in an evangelical way with references this long but fascinating sermon actually manages to present both sides of the 'arguement'.

www.upworthy.com/every-biblical-argument-against-being-gay-debunked-biblically?g=2&c=go1

Back I would certainly not call those who I know and love for are Christians and who feel the Bible forbids gay relationships are 'homophobic'.

My dear old friend Wickipedia says of homophobia it is "Homophobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). It can be expressed as antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, or hatred, and may be based on irrational fear.... Homophobia is observable in critical and hostile behavior such as discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientations that are non-heterosexual."

As I said before many evangelical Christians would feel living together without being married is wrong but would not act in a non-loving way to those who do.

But I am aware the evangelical part of the church has for the most part seemed (I know there are exceptions) to take a very strong stand against equal marriage and this is part of a feeling I think of making a stand and a fear of negative repercussions that they then may be required to marry gay couples in church or employ gay married clergy. I think these fears are understandable which is why I said upthread that I think fear is a factor. Clearly fear is mentioned in the description of homophobia above but the fear that I think is mentioned in the wickipedia description is fear of gay people or homosexuality in general. I wonder if in certain parts of the church it is more a fear of repercussions about what will happen to churches, which is a different thing.

God Bless everyone, perhaps a note to any atheists and Christians reading this who do not agree with me, it is only because I and those like me who are thinking all this through, because we are passionate about God and passionate about people that we who are struggling to make sense of these 'issues' bother. It would be easier to say no to everything or yes to everything but of course we are all working through what we believe and I hope we can do it with love and compassion for all.

Back I would certainly not call those who I know and love for are Christians and who feel the Bible forbids gay relationships are 'homophobic'.

sorry that should read ...

Back I would certainly not call those who I know and love WHO are Christians (AND who feel the Bible forbids gay relationships) 'homophobic'.

Shockers I hope you find the answers you are searching for.

Pedro thought I had replied to you but it seems to have gone astray!

I think people break up for all kinds of reasons. I agree, but the evidence seems to be that living to gether first doesn't stop you breaking up, or make it less likely, which you 'seemed' be suggesting up thread.

living together first is finding out whether you are compatible. Compatible to get married? And there's a lot of people who manage to avoid marriage precisely because they have lived together first. But there may be a lot of people who lived together and then broke up, maybe many years later. This may well have been devastating for one or other of them and the lack of legal clarity around kids/property/money etc may have made it worse.

Firstly, I'm not really sure why you'd run a b&b specifically for gay people unless there's was some other agenda I meant gay people running a b and b for other gay people and being unhappy to find it being used by hetrosexual couples. I mean they would want to run it for the benefit of gay people....

No I am not making a point against discrimination from Christians.

If you didn't like driving people you didn't know around in your car you wouldn't be a taxi driver, so why run a b&b if you don't want certain people staying in your house...

Of course they want people staying but that is not the same as renting out rooms to people who they would feel uncomfortable having stay. You can say no smoking in your hotel room, for example.

In the case of the couple who were turned away, it did hurt them because they'd explained the situation to the owners at the point of booking, but weren't turned away until the arrived. There was nowhere else to stay and it cost them additional travel costs and I think they lost money from something they'd booked to do which they were unable to go to.

I don't know which case you are talking about, specifically. Can you supply a link. I was just talking about it in general.

Well, that's what they said, but it's hard to tell. If you are that prejudiced against a gay couple that you stop them staying at your b&b then there's likely to be some deeper feeling against it than just having sex in your house. I don't know the case you are refering to so could not really say about that.

Can you think of any situations where it is OK to discriminate (you personally think not you personally descriminate)?

Good night Pedro. wink

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 13-May-13 09:24:22

I agree, but the evidence seems to be that living to gether first doesn't stop you breaking up, or make it less likely, which you 'seemed' be suggesting up thread.

I don't think it makes you less likely to break up, but stops you spending a lot of money on a wedding if you discover you are not compatible.

Compatible to get married?

Compatible full stop.

But there may be a lot of people who lived together and then broke up, maybe many years later. This may well have been devastating for one or other of them and the lack of legal clarity around kids/property/money etc may have made it worse.

Might also be easier when there's no legal matters involved. I know a girl who's been getting divorced for nearly three years now and there's only a house to deal with no kids, no other complications.

I meant gay people running a b and b for other gay people and being unhappy to find it being used by hetrosexual couples.

I don't think it would be right to only allow gay people to use the b&b, that would be exactly the age discrimination.

I mean they would want to run it for the benefit of gay people....

That's ok, and you can do things to promote the place as somewhere for gay people to stay, but they shouldn't be able to stop straight people staying if they wanted to.

Of course they want people staying but that is not the same as renting out rooms to people who they would feel uncomfortable having stay. You can say no smoking in your hotel room, for example.

Smoking is very different. Apart from there being laws around it, it has a detrimental effect on the room and would put off non-smokers using the room afterwards.

You can certainly have things which shouldn't be done in the room for legal reasons (drugs, etc.) or for reasons of maintaining the property (smashing the tv, smoking, etc), but purely based on someone's sexual orientation is just wrong.

niminypiminy Mon 13-May-13 11:08:41

Backonlybriefly: I think you are playing the 'let's interpret selected Bible verses absolutely literally and without any regard to context or scholarship, and then say that any Christian who does not do the same is not a real Christian' game. That's not a game I am willing to get into.

As Greenheart has said the Bible is a complex document. I suggested a way forward is to weigh the fairly small number of verses that deal with sexual acts against the large number of passages that set out the ideal of fidelity and love in human relationships. I stick by that, and I am prepared to defend that theologically.

It's easy for this kind of conversation to get stuck in details, like the B&B example. But the real test is what we do. Do our gay family and friends see us a Christians living out kingdom values? do they see us welcoming the stranger? do they see us loving our neighbour as ourselves? If they see that it will because we are building the kingdom where we are: we are welcoming them and loving them.

And, as I said before, since Christianity has love at its centre, the only question that is really relevant is 'are gay people able to love selflessly, to be faithful, and sacrificing in their relationships?' If they are -- and my own knowledge of the lives of my family and friends tells me that it is, then that is all the answer we need.

Italiangreyhound fair enough. (I'm taking a look at the links ty) When I say 'homophobia' I'm mostly thinking of those who thump the pulpit and say that homosexuality is the work of the devil and must be stamped out. I am truly amazed that they are basing it on something the bible doesn't even say (unless those translations I have seen are direct lies. After all I don't speak the language so I can't check).

It's always been possible to work around the passages in the bible by talking of metaphor and such, but I thought the bible literalists were at least being consistent. After all if you genuinely believe that these are your god's direct words - that the creator of the universe has told you to do something - it must be hard to disagree. If they know the bible may not even say it in the first place then my estimation of them drops further.

For those who think the bible was not dictated directly by god there is room to choose an interpretation. That many are looking for a way not to see it as an order is a good and hopeful thing.

niminypiminy "without any regard to context or scholarship".

I pointed to a scholarly disagreement in the translation and expressed my surprise.

niminypiminy Mon 13-May-13 12:45:55

I'm not biting. Engage with what I am saying, if you like.

niminypiminy Mon 13-May-13 12:46:52

(PS I'm going to be offline now for a couple of days so can't join in the discussion till I'm back)

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 13-May-13 18:28:15

And, as I said before, since Christianity has love at its centre, the only question that is really relevant is 'are gay people able to love selflessly, to be faithful, and sacrificing in their relationships?' If they are -- and my own knowledge of the lives of my family and friends tells me that it is, then that is all the answer we need.

Except that's your opinion and there's a ton of Christians who disagree with you and take a different interpretation.

Pedro re living together I have to emphasis again that this is my view for me. I married a few years back and I have been truly blessed with most amazing (and at times amazingly annoying!) husband. I know lots of people have had a shitty deal from marriage and relationships and would be in no rush to get married again but would not want to be alone either. My friend is in just such a situation. She is not a Christian and has never asked for my views on sex before marriage and I have never sought to offer them (as far as I remember). When things were on the rocks if she asked my advice I tried to give it as best as I could to her situation, neither encouraging her to marry nor to stay single nor to live with him. Just to do what is right for her. I can see your point about long drawn out divorces and I think that the reason God is keen on commitment is for our protection, not to get our hearts stompped on, and not to tie us into unhappy long term relationships.

Back you said For those who think the bible was not dictated directly by god there is room to choose an interpretation. Christians tend to talk about the Bible being God-breathed and not 'dictated by God', people under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote it (not God sent it by fax). Just my view.

I am truly amazed that they are basing it on something the bible doesn't even say... I don't know what you mean at all, Back. The parts that speak about homosexuality are in the old and new testament, you can Google and read them. They appear to clearly say no to homosexual sex but there are various arguments about the meaning might be in context. I can see how easily and clearly it would be possible to make an argument either may from individual passages. What Ninnypinny and others are talking about is the context they are set in (or so I believe).

Sorry either *way8 from individual passages....

madhairday Mon 13-May-13 19:50:13

I like the caterpillar and butterfly analogy, green - that describes something of my experience - I remember the days of wanting everything to be so black and white, and gradually emerging into a deeper and fuller understanding with more fuzzy lines (but much more fun).

wrt translation BoB, that's why the church must teach people to look at the bible exegetically and hermeneutically, and not take it word for word literally - to use their God given brains, in fact. Nowt wrong with a bit of textual and contextual criticism and understanding. I believe the bible is inspired by God, and also believe God expects me to do all I can to understand what it is saying, to appreciate each genre, each analogy, each story and each nuance. A lifetimes work, really...

Shockers how are you doing? Did you get any further in your thinking?

RufflingFeathers any thoughts?

Just remember you said you ad no time to write properly. PM me if you would rather, if you want to I mean!

Pedro how goes it?

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Wed 15-May-13 10:25:24

I can see your point about long drawn out divorces and I think that the reason God is keen on commitment is for our protection, not to get our hearts stompped on, and not to tie us into unhappy long term relationships.

I think it's important to step back for a moment and look at what marriage actually is.

Marriage is an entirely human invention. It doesn't occur anywhere else in the animal kingdom. Sure, you have animals who mate for life (and others who don't!) but that's all to do with evolved survival techniques. You'll find that animals who pair up for ever will tend to share the care for their offspring which is clearly beneficial.

Marriage though, is a tool of law. It binds two people legally. This brings benefits within human society. But it's also a tool of security. The perception is that if some agrees to marry you, they are committed to the relationship. The perception comes from two angles, one is the vows which you take to commit to the your partner (though in the end, these are merely words and anyone can say them as part of a ceremony whether they mean it or not) and the other is that legally it's a PITA to separate from marriage so why would anyone bother marrying if they intended to end it.

That is a very cynical view of marriage, granted, and it's far from the commitment I made to my wife, but that's a very personal commitment which one makes to oneself.

So honestly, I don't see that marriage itself has any bearing on the success of a relationship, if you are genuinely committed to each other then your relationship will flourish, if you are not, then it probably won't. As such, I don't treat marriage as anything particularly special to my relationship. Not that it didn't mean anything to me to marry my wife, it did. But if we hadn't, I wouldn't feel any differently about her. It's a social statement to marry and carries some legal benefits. But to suggest that it would be wrong to live with someone or to sleep with them before you marry, to me makes no sense whatsoever.

So honestly, I don't see that marriage itself has any bearing on the success of a relationship, if you are genuinely committed to each other then your relationship will flourish, if you are not, then it probably won't.

Pedro clearly in light of the fact that gay people would like the chance to get married it has some bearing on a relationship. I grant you it's 'power' has been misused and to some degree it has lessened over time as it has become easier and easier to not be married having been married (which I don't see as a bad thing). However, the ideal would still be for me, and I expect for many others, to be married to the same person for a long time, to raise your kids (if you have any) with that person. It is to some seen as a gage of how committed people are, although clearly that is not always the case, either in the amount of commitment found in it or the lack of it, or the amount of lack of commitment found outside it.

Marriage is an entirely human invention. It doesn't occur anywhere else in the animal kingdom.

Pedro, I am not sure what you mean by the animal kingdom example. My response would either be well... dah (with all respect wink... animals don't use flush loos or books or eat soup, so what, it doesn't devalue those things for me as a person! Or I might say 'how do you know they don't marry? When a herd of elephants get to chatting who knows what is said!

Clearly for humans marriage is very important and that must be one of the reasons gay couples want to do it.

I think marriage has an important role in society, if nothing else it gives a definition and boundary to a relationship which is very clear and some people I know have found it to be very important (although I would not hesitate to say as before that it can be misused and abusive etc and in that sense it certainly cannot be a guarantee of any kind of relationship other than a legal and in some cases a spiritual (some would define it as such) decision to stay together with one partner for as long as you stay married.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 16-May-13 19:09:14

I think if marriage itself gives you a spiritual drive to stay with one partner then fair enough, but I'd argue that you don't need it if your relationship is strong enough.

There are three reasons I think gay people want to be able to marry. Firstly, there are those who consider it a special union which they would like to enter into. Secondly, it's about equal rights, why shouldn't they be able to get married. And thirdly, there are legal benefits to it.

When I say I don't think it has any bearing on a relationship, I mean I don't think that a relationship necessarily improves or is damaged by marriage.

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