Lynne Featherstone

MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

my blog
Lynne's Parliament and Haringey Diary, established 2003

Who Owns Marriage?

This is the comment piece  published inside the Telegraph today.

It’s an interesting question and a pressing one in the debate around equal civil marriage. It is owned by neither the state nor the church, as the former Archbishop Lord Carey rightly said. So it is owned by the people.

The fierce debate over the past few weeks has shown people feel very strongly about marriage. Some believe the government has no right to change it at all; they want to leave tradition alone. I want to challenge that view – it is the government’s fundamental job to reflect society and to shape the future, not stay silent where it has the power to act and change things for the better.

I believe that if a couple love each other and want to commit to a life together, they should have the option of a civil marriage, irrespective of whether they are gay or straight.

We are not prioritising gay rights, or trampling over tradition; we are allowing a space for the two to exist side by side.

I want to set the record straight once and for all: we are not changing religious marriage. We respect and value the vital role religion has to play in our society. We understand how strongly some religious groups feel about the issue, which is why we are listening and we want to work with them. But there are a range of other views we need to listen to as well.

I want to urge people not to polarise this debate. This is not a battle between gay rights and religious beliefs. This is about the underlying principles of family, society, and personal freedoms.

Marriage is a right of passage for couples who want to show they are in a committed relationship, for people who want to show they have found love and wish to remain together until death do them part. Why should we deny it to people who happen to be gay or lesbian who wish to show that commitment and share it with their family, friends and everybody else? We should be proud of couples who love each other and a society that recognises their love as equal.

That is why you will not find us watering down this commitment.

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone

Sat 25 February 2012
Tweet thisShare on FacebookAdd to DeliciousDigg itLibDig this

Comments

  1. Ben says:

    Amen Grace!

  2. Adam says:

    @ Grace

    Great quote from Jesus. His English was superb wasn’t it. It is always particularly pleasing to see his words reproduced exactly as he would have said them. CNN must have caught the interview.

    Maybe, on balance, it should be given as much credit as believing the world was made in six days, the bloke who did it took a break on the seventh, the first fella who turned up was called Adam, his unfortunate sidekick (presumably unwed) who turned up second and must therefore forever be inferior was called Eve, there was this talking snake (again word perfect in English) and it all went apple shaped from that point on.

    For once I agree with Lynne.

    Marriage is a human created establishment. It crosses many cultures and beliefs. It certainly wasn’t invented by Christians. I don’t personally believe it’s necessary, but for a lot of people it is a symbol, celebration and culmination of love. Celebration of love should never be subject to a debate over gender any more than it should ever have been over race. If two men want to get married or two women want to get married to celebrate their love and to have whatever society they live in acknowledge it- because that is what they have decided they want- that is a matter for them. It sure as heck beats hate and war.

    I would like to think that Jesus (in whatever language) would have approved.

  3. Grace says:

    @Adam

    I think you missed the vital qualifying part of my response, which is that for Christians marriage is between a man and a woman.

    I take it from your language you do not believe in Christianity, although your last sentence suggests that you may believe that Jesus lived on earth.

    Although perhaps I’ve got that wrong too.

    Anyway, you have your opinions on what constitutes marriage and I have mine, both of us have people who agree with us, so we have to find a way of co-existing, being able to state differing opinions without coming to blows. I hope you would agree with that at least.

    One thing which I do not understand though is the use of the word ‘consultation’ with respect to this issue, when in the next sentence we are told that even if hundreds of thousands disagree it is going to happen.

    So you need not worry on that score.

    But then as a Christian I am not worried either, because my faith leads me to believe that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord.

    You seem to find my use of scripture offensive, however it is part of my faith so is the language I use. Obviously if you do not believe in God it will be meaningless to you, and again you can take that view without it affecting me at all.

  4. Ben says:

    @Adam. When you took the decision to dismiss the Bible as fairytales did it also cross your mind to consider the flaws of the origins theory you have adopted as factual? On the one hand you have the Biblical account that an eternal and immense God created everything. On the other you have the once upon a time there was nothing, then by complete random chance the big bang happened and the world is formed coincidently in the right place for life to flourish. Somehow again by chance simple life begins and then over millions of years this life evolved into the intelligent life we see today, again all by chance. Hmmmm. I ask you give the Bible serious consideration before you dismiss it so foolishly

  5. Philip Hanman says:

    I love my dog. I love her so much that I would like to marry her. I shall then demand the same legal rights and status for me and Woofie as are enjoyed by a married man and woman. If the Government refuses to grant me this equality, I shall go to the European Court of Human rights on the grounds that I am a victim of blatant speciesophobic discrimination! Come on Lynne! We can’t just stop at gay marriage!

  6. joe says:

    Lynne Featherstone writes a slap-dash page in the monthly pretty-poor low brow listings magazine ‘The Muswell Flyer’
    this month she berates Ken Livingston (on her usual big ticket item… yep you guessed it….bus fares), thus;
    “Livingston promised not to raise fares but did not stick to his pledge when he was Mayor”

    Now, let’s wind that one back and check it again; “Did not stick to…pledge when he was (in power)
    mmmmmmm, sounds familiar that one.

    Tuition fees, perhaps…amongst other things??

    Feel a bit stupid Lynne?… We think so.

  7. dave says:

    @ Grace

    Aren’t you forgetting that the ‘Good Book’ says that “in Christ there is no …. male and female” (Galatians 3:28)

    So what’s the big deal about marriage being between one man and one woman? Clearly the Bible does sanction ‘gay marriage’ after all.

  8. James says:

    firstly @ Dave, I’m assuming you know just how inaccurate and misleading is your little bit of theology there. The Bible clearly rules out gay sex as sinful, and that pretty much covers that one.

    Dear Lynne,

    To say that the church does not ‘own’ marriage is rather missing the point. Marriage has been about in this world for millennia, in Christianity, Judaism, and many other religions and societies. Sometimes it has been polygamous, but often not.. however, apart from perhaps in some ancient Greek city-states and of course in Rome at certain times (civilisations whose morals we want to adopt right??) they have pretty much NEVER included same sex marriage. Now I’m all for a society that tolerates difference and understand that gay couples who choose a civil partnership have the same protection under the law as married couples.. fair enough.. but qualitatively it is not marriage.

    Nor is this a matter of equality.. everyone has the equal right to a marriage, but gay people, for understandable reasons, don’t want one. This is their right to opt out, in a free society, but to undermine and mess up such a special and socially vital institution as marriage to please the likes of Stonewall and your own socially destructive, evidence-free dogma is to wilfully damage our society.And who will suffer? everyone.. and most especially the children. Children who want a mummy and a daddy to bring them up, and a marriage system to help them stay together, and yes it clearly does help people stay together. Children who will then grow up without that stable family.. and we all know what a great society that’s turning out to give us. Please, please rethink Lynne. Gay people can live together and do everything they wish, but the reason they can’t get married is because marriage is a union for life of one man and one woman to te exclusion of all others, for child rearing plus other things. It’s not discriminating against men that they can’t get pregnant is it? No, because it’s the way things are.. and so it is with marriage. It has alerady been defined.. by time and space and cultures across the globe.. so find another way for gay couples to commit to one another.. ohyeah.. civil partnerships! :)

  9. “It is owned by neither the state nor the church, as the former Archbishop Lord Carey rightly said. So it is owned by the people.”; that is clearly not what the Archbishop meant and you know it! His clear implication is that marriage is owned by God; and in that he is right.

    Unless God declares he has decided to change his Institution of Marriage, it cannot be changed; and any law that attempts to do so is mere pretense and play-acting. Don’t forget that the entire basis of marriage is God’s Sovereign work in joining two persons as one flesh – and unless you can force God to do that with persons of the same gender, then your cause is futile.

  10. dave says:

    @ Vincent Murphy

    Marriage in the Bible

  11. dave says:

    My last message was also for James and others who agree with him

  12. Paula says:

    The u tube video is very funny.

    My stance is that Vincent gives the solution, religious folk can consider equal marriage ‘a mere pretence and play-acting’ and just get on with their lives. Having that opinion will not impact on those who intend to taken advantage of long overdue rights.

    Indeed, those who do not have faith might even consider religion ‘a mere pretence and play-acting’ but, as there are some more enlighten religions that do accept the concept of equal marriage, we need to find ways of encouraging rather than offending such religions.

    Peaceful coexistence must be the aim.

    Paula
    (a recovering Catholic)

  13. Thanks dave. Amusingly put together video, but does not speak to the point in the slightest. Doesn’t alter the fact that man can’t redefine what God has both instituted and personally effects.

    Can you and your mates decide amongst yourselves (e.g. over beer) to change some laws? Perhaps declare that people who drink beer don’t need to pay income tax? I’ve no doubt you could make a big show of it and get a 100% vote around the table… but would it actually have changed anything? Would you actually now be exempt from tax?

    You and your buddies are competant to decide who pays for the drinks and who’s going to be your designated driver: but you just don’t have the power to change that which which is instituted and enforced by a higher authority. In the same way, the government of this nation – whatever it declares – has no power to change that which is both instituted and enforced by God.

    Paula suggests that Christians can consider two persons of the same gender pretending to be married as `a mere pretence and play-acting’; however, she misses that Christians will be discriminated against for doing so without an ironclad protection of such a right. What will happen when a Christian refuses to record two men as ‘married’ in a database? What will happen when a Christian refuses to refer to a man as the husband of another man? Don’t tell me nothing will happen!

    Please think carefully before you try to do something you can’t actually do, and end up causing serious problems for those who realise they just can’t go along with your plan.

  14. Paula says:

    @ Vincent
    Paula suggests that Christians can consider two persons of the same gender pretending to be married as `a mere pretence and play-acting’; however, she misses that Christians will be discriminated against for doing so without an ironclad protection of such a right. What will happen when a Christian refuses to record two men as ‘married’ in a database? What will happen when a Christian refuses to refer to a man as the husband of another man? Don’t tell me nothing will happen!

    Those of us who do not have faith will not be asking to be recorded in your database!

    I feel sorry for those who do have one of the less enlightened religions and are LGB and / or T who would like to take up the option of equal marriage. I believe that such religions ought to now be considering how you treat such folk and that is where the ‘database issue’ might be relevant. You bring up a good point.

    As is usual in the UK, unless such ‘rules’ are specified in the legislation, it will be down to the Courts to decide what happens. This, I imagine, is why Lynne has launched a consultation to truly gather all perspectives. ‘You’ have the opportunity to articulate such situations, in detail, that may be problematic to you, with a view to such being included in the Bill.

    I suggest that ‘you’ generate ‘case studies’ to indicate the problems that equal marriage will cause you in the context of possible infringement of equality legislation. They need to be very specific so government can understand the issues.

  15. Glenys says:

    To all who ask how marriage will affect me personally, and with a note to Paula that this will also cover the question of how it impacts the future of societies:

    I have, since posting last, discovered that one year after redefining marriage, Spain also redefined the titles of Father and Mother on its birth certificates to “Progenitor”. Whilst searching for follow-up information on this, I then found references to Elizabeth Marquardt’s talk in Dublin, 2008, “How Redefining Marriage Redefines Parenthood”. It can be read in full at http://www.marriageresourcesforclergy.com/site/Articles/articles025.htm and other places (search: HOW REDEFINING MARRIAGE REDEFINES PARENTHOOD
    Elizabeth Marquardt).

    Simply because my status as the wife of a husband is firmly and legally established gives no right to any one or any legal body to initiate a chain of events that WILL ultimately result in my descendants being denied that legal status. It will NOT stop where the government says it will. It certainly didn’t in Spain! And as is evidenced by other laws and their misapplication, it will not be long before it is a criminal offence to use the titles associated with both marriage and parenthood.

  16. Ben says:

    @ Paula.

    I’m afraid your completely missing the point. The reason homosexual “marriage” is a problem is ultimately because it is an offense against God. This isn’t about trying to reach a compromise between Christians and those of no faith. God has a name for all sexual activity outside of a hetrosexual marriage such as lustful thoughts, pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexuality, etc, namely God calls all these activities sin. Our country and people can call all these activities whatever they want but as far as God is concerned He still calls them sin. One day we all have to stand before the judgement seat of God. It behoves all of us to repent of our sins (and in God’s sight we are all as equally deserving of hell as each other) and come to God begging Him for mercy through the Lord Jesus Christ.

  17. Completely ignoring the one or two posts here which are thinly veiled homophobia using the Bible as an excuse, history teaches us that when a law such as this is passed, in an amazingly short amount of time people except it into common culture quite happily and none of the disasters predicted happen at all.

    When the laws were changed to decriminalise homosexuality, it was predicted by some religious leaders and many others that society would be undermined and collapse within a matter of a few years. And of course, none of that happened. Nobody’s god reeked vengeance against mankind, the UK is still here, and child abuse is still carried out mostly by heterosexuals.

    The only change I would make to the current proposition is that churches should have the right to marry same sex couples should they wish – especially as despite the hype there are various bishops and other clergy who think same sex marriage is not problematic.

    It seems wrong to me that the government should make it illegal for same-sex couples to get married in the Church – if we are going to allow churches to opt out, surely it is fair to also allow them to opt in!

    At the moment the argument (especially on the Thread – sorry, Lynne!) seems to be based around all religious people against and all atheists for. And that is simply not representative. There are plenty of religious people who have no problem with the proposal, and I would imagine there are atheists who do.

  18. Thanks Paula; I’m not thinking about a personal database here – for example, were a Christian working in a government office (social security agency, registrar, etc.) which does require storing marital status, would they be permitted (without risk to job or discrimination at the point of employment) to refuse to record such a status as mentioned?

    In the private sector, an example might be a hotel – would a Christian be entirely protected if he refused to write “Wedding Reception for Mrs. and Mrs. Smith” on the functions listing? If the hotel decides to dismiss the employee, will the employee get the full support of the law in bringing a case for wrongful dismissal?

    The number of situations is practically limitless: the only real solution is to declare that the recognition of such a status is always discretionary, and that refusal to recognise such a status in any circumstance, by any person be protected against any charge of discrimination, subjection to dismissal, or similar.

    I hope that helps you understand some of the things that particularly concern me;

  19. Alison says:

    It is quite astounding how people use such poor excuses to justify their homophobia – because that is what this is about. It is not about what God said – simply because the Bible is not what God said, but is what man has written and then translated and then translated again. Language and meaning changed during all that time so meanings changed. Of course, it would be interesting to find exactly what part of the Bible justifies this homophobia, because it is quite amazing how many other rules from those same parts have now been discarded. I just wonder what clothes people are wearing …….?

    This consultation is not about attacking the Church – they are more than capable of doing that themselves – but is about according equal legal status. And no, Civil Partnership is far from equal legal status.

    In fact, this consultation will enshrine discrimination in law. This is because numerous religious organisations support same sex marriage but will be denied the right to carry out such marriages simply because certain religious organisations are homophobic. Pure and simple.

    These proposals are attempting to deal with discrimination, but actually make sure that certain Religions can continue to be homophobic at the expense of other religious organisations and, of course, many of us who are, and always have believed in God.

    And now, I am off to claim my slaves from over the border, after all, the Bible permits that.

  20. Ben says:

    @ Alison

    Alison this is absolutely about what God has said. God is the one that calls sexual impurity sin. I have pasted a section from the Bible which is quite clear on these things.

    “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God”

    What this passage shows is that there is hope for those who commit any/all of these sins (and any other sin for that matter). If we turn from our sins in repentance and come to God with faith in the life, death and resurection of the Lord Jesus Christ all our sins are forgiven. What this passage shows that all Christians in and of themselves are equally sinners (“and such were some of you”). Christians aren’t good people in and of themselves, they are saved bad people and as a result of the mercy they have recieved through Christ they strive to live holy lives that glorify God.

  21. Paula says:

    Hi Vincent

    I better understand where you are coming from. 
    Case law determines that a public official cannot claim religious beliefs as a reason not to fulfil a public duty eg refuse to conduct a civil partnership ceremony if a Registrar.  

    We also know that those Christian B&B folk, in the private sector, could not deny the service to a gay couple.

    As for your example, it would be against christian principles to have Mr and Mrs on the invite etc as it would imply that the female was a divorcee but I do see your point as it would appear that treating a gay couple differently would be discrimination under current legislation.

    In the examples you gave, one could argue that if the religious person felt so strongly about dealing with LGB&T folk, that person should have the courage of their convictions and resign. LGB&T folk would never get away with denying service to a person who was wearing a religious symbol on the basis that the server did not have faith. My view is that folk should be allowed to wear such symbols but not be allowed to canvass their beliefs unless invited to do so.

    What we appear to have is a situation where those of faith want a special right to discriminate on the sole basis of rights confirmed by scripture. Those that do not have faith cannot be persuaded by any arguments based on scripture. 

    As I said, you need to articulate your concerns as it might be possible to make concessions  - I don’t know!

    Glenys

    You gave me the impression that one can choose ones sexual orientation as you said you did. I am sorry if i misinterpreted what you said. For you, that indicates you might be B in LGB&T. Nothing wrong with that. As a woman with a trans history, I am legally married to another woman. Neither of us has been able to switch to a lesbian sexual orientation from heterosexuality. For the vast majority  it is not a matter of choice.

  22. Alison says:

    @Ben.

    God did not write those words, but man did.

    Sorry but you believe in words interpreted in modern English that are actually from ancient English, translated from Latin which itself was translated many years before from Hebrew.

    But ignore the fact that much is lost in translation and ask where those words came from in the past. God did not write those words man did, and many many years after the events to which they supposedly relate.

    Learn what your Bible truly is before claiming it is the word of anyone other than those that were determined to spread Christianity. When was the Bible constructed, what was it constructed from, but more importantly, why was it constructed? Think carefully, because your very actions are proving that a Roman has achieved exactly what he set out to do.

    Can this justify anyones homophobia? I think not. It is sad that those of you who care to use a book to justify your homophobia seem to know so little about it’s origin.

    But lets stick with it. You claim your book is right? So I assume you obey every rule in your book? I could bet all the wealth in the world that yo do not. Not least because of the contradictions in the Bible.

    Should we not be talking about what is quite simply right? Love? Understanding? Tolerance? Not forcing beliefs upon each other? There is only one of these that most religious people have demonstrated and that is the last.

    My sexual orientation does not affect you in any way whatsoever and is a matter between me, my wife, my family and God. Your sexual orientation is similar – I couldn’t care less, after all, some of my best friends are straight.

  23. @Vincent

    At the end of the day, laws passed must be followed by the citizen. This can seem a little unfair, sometimes, especially if a law comes in AFTER a person becomes a citizen. However, case law has show time and time again that you cannot have exceptions – if an exception becomes law, then it is no longer an exception, er, if you see what I mean.

    So, no, as Paula said, a receptionist would have no legal grounds to refuse to recognise a persons marital status – just like they would have no grounds to refuse to recognise that status currently.

    @Ben

    You are coming from the point of view of someone who believes in a god. However, there are a rather large number of people that really don’t believe in any god, those that believe in another explicit god and those that believe that there may be a “god” type figure around somewhere, but he did not write any bibles or give people the words to write.

    So, arguing that something must be so because a god says so is meaningless to someone who does not believe that god exists.

    I am an atheist, but I think the Christian bible makes a pretty good book of philosophy. But like any book of wisdom, there are parts of it that I can agree with and parts of it that make me wince!

    Interestingly enough, my mother is a practising Christian both in thought and deed and apart from doing what might be called Christian Works she also attends church several times a week and is very much involved in the communion.

    However, she finds that parts of the bible make her wince too – her comment is that it is nice to see that as a society we can mature and grow, including understanding that our forbears may have got some things terribly wrong. She believes the negative attitude of her Church to homosexuality and same sex marriage is one thing they have got wrong. She is 90, by the way, and if a 90 year old who has been a committed Christian her entire life can stand up and tell a Bishop that he is blinded by his own dogma, then perhaps others can too.

  24. Thanks @Liberal Majority and @Paula. Your answers are just as I fear: despite the reassurances, it seems likely that persons who find that recognising such persons as married is not compatible with their faith will not have the freedom to do so without facing adverse consequences. I have participated in the consultation, so these points should be available to the relevant persons.

    Incidentally I am in full favour of those in civil partnerships having the same rights as those who are married; I don’t see any religious reason to object to this. Such things are civil issues and so are rightly decided by civil government; however to a Christian marriage is not a civil issue, but an Institution of God which is produced by God directly acting to join a man and a woman as one flesh.

    To say that a man and a woman are married is not to say they’ve had a ceremony, but to say that God has joined the two persons as one flesh: which is why as a Christian I cannot call married those coupled contrary to God’s Institution – whatever the civil law may claim.

  25. Alison says:

    “…an Institution of God which is produced by God directly acting to join a man and a woman as one flesh.”

    Curious. Then, presumably, no such institution could occur in any people who have not recognised your god? And yet there are numerous examples of people having no knowledge of Christianity who had their own version of marriage.

    But where do you get the idea that it is an “Institution of God which is produced by God”? I have always been very religious, and yet I have never ever believed such things. In fact, if you study the history of marriage, you will find that the Church was a late comer to marriage. I suggest a little bit of study here would be a good idea, before making such far reaching claims.

    I would also point you to the fact that a religious marriage consists of two elements and these are the religious and civil elements. These have existed ever since the Parliament defined what marriage is. On the two occasions on which I got married (both IN CHURCH), these elements were clearly in existence and explained by the person officiating. The religious service is one element and was a commitment I made in the sight of God, but certain things, required by law, had to be said during that service. Those are legal requirements, not religious ones. Unfortunately, the infidelity of the person I married caused the destruction of that promise, and yet some Churches decry divorce in all circumstances and yet others are understanding – how can that be reconciled when both are true Christian Churches? Of course, the Bible does allow divorce – so why do some Churches refuse to acknowledge that?

    You cannot have it every way, so do you follow the Bible 100%? You cannot ignore some rules and yet insist so vehemently that other parts must be followed. I have NEVER come across a single person that does follow the Bible 100% and I am certain you are no different (any of you who claim the Bible is the word of God). How do you reconcile your failures to follow the Bible with your attacks on people, such as me, who failed in their relationships with men, no matter how hard I tried, and yet have had the most wonderful 17 years in a wholly monogamous, loving and supportive relationship with just one woman? Every day, I pray that my health will improve so that we can share many more years of true happiness.

    And before anyone asks, I did not end my marriages, and I would have stayed in them, despite how bad and wrong they were.

    It is strange, but I never had any desire for same sex marriage until it became absolutely clear that certain people (mainly in the name of religion) were determined that Civil Partnership is not equal to marriage. That is absolutely clear and there is a court case that has already been soundly lost, where a religious organisation is backing further challenges on the basis that Civil Partners were being treated the same as unmarried people. I changed my view simply because the real issue for challenging same sex marriage is the desire to ensure that same sex couples are treated as second class citizens.

    The Church, and the minority of the population that supports their view, are fighting a rearguard action, not to protect marriage, but against homosexual people.

  26. Ben says:

    @ Alison

    You have raised a number of points across a couple of posts to myself and I assume Vincent. Looking at your posts collectively it seems there are two main issues that you raise that are a reoccurring theme of yours, namely

    1) That the Christians posting on this thread are badly read and researched both in terms of their knowledge of the Bible as well as Church history

    2) That Christians don’t live 100% consistent lives and this therefore discredits any statements they make about what the Bible says about human behaviour

    I will do my best to answer these two areas

    1) Firstly I confess that my knowledge of the Bible, its history and the history of the church is not as extensive as it should be (I’m sure most Christians would also confess the same thing about themselves). Thank God my salvation is dependant on the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ and not in my academic achievements, abilities and good works! Nor do I need to have dotted every i and crossed t of Bible knowledge and apologetics before I am in a position to believe the message of the Bible. The dying thief mentioned in the gospels didn’t have a degree in theology and yet he was saved through simple faith in the Lord Jesus. All he knew was that he was a guilty sinner on the brink of death and he cried out to Jesus for mercy.

    However while my salvation does not depend on my knowledge please do be assured that I (along with many Christians) take the study of the word of God very seriously and devote a considerable amount of time to reading and studying it as well as reading theology books etc. Don’t assume that every statement we make is a result of mere prejudice and not something we have given any great thought to. When Vincent makes the statement that marriage is an institution of God he is in fact correct and not showing the ignorance you unfairly discredit him with. If you look at the book of Genesis chapter 2 and verse 24 you will read the following: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”. Thus right back in the creation week we see God mandating marriage (a term Christians call a creation ordinance). If you then turn to the New Testament and Mark chapter 10 verses 6 to 9 you find the Lord Jesus reaffirming this truth as well as expounding it further. Thus as Christians we are not claiming the church founded marriage, it did not, but we are claiming that God founded marriage and this union was and should remain between a man and a woman.

    2) As a Christian do I claim to obey the Bible 100%? Sadly I can’t lay claim to that nor can any other Christian. Much as it pains us, we like the entire human race are sinners. A key Bible verse that sums this up is “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1 v 8). Thus if any Christian claims to be sinless they are in fact showing that they are not Christians and that the truth of God is not in them. However thankfully the Bible doesn’t stop there and the following verse says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. Thus while Christians do fail and do sin they also repent of these sins and failings and know the rich forgiveness of these sins. Does this then allow the Christian to live a life of willing and unrepentant sin? No, God forbid! Verse 6 says “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth”. Thus while Christians often do fail and fall into sin you will not find a true Christian habitually living a life characterised by unrepentant sin.

    Please also do not misunderstand the Christians hope and trust. The Christian is saved not by the good life they live but by the merits of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was the only person who lived a life 100% consistent with the word of God, and just as the sins of Christians are credited to his account (the sins he suffered for on the cross), his perfect life and righteousness are credited to the Christians account.

    The Bible cuts to the quick in exposing our sins and declares “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3 v 23)” and as we all know being told we are morally bankrupt sinners in the sight of God is very painful and hurtful to our pride. However, wonderfully the Bible contains the glorious good news of the Gospel that“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, (1 Timothy 1 v 15)”. Thus there is hope for a free and full forgiveness to those who turn from their sins in repentance and come to God with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Are we then unloving to warn sinners that unless they repent of their sins and come to God begging for mercy they will be lost forever? I don’t think so. If you saw a man wearing a blindfold walking towards the edge of a cliff I’m sure you would do your best to warn him of his danger even if he said, “I’m in no danger, leave me along, let me do as I choose, how does what I do have any affect on you?” Ultimately how you personally live your life is unlikely to have any direct impact on mine and vies versa. However I would be failing in my duty if I did not warn you of the consequences of unrepentant sin. While I have never been gay I once hated God and found the idea that I was accountable to Him repulsive as I wanted to live my life my way and indulge my love of sin. But the grace of God opened my eye to my need of a saviour and showed me that my sins could be forgiven through the Lord Jesus Christ

    I pray that God will open your eyes to your need to of saviour and show you the wonderful power of forgiveness in the Lord Jesus Christ.

  27. dave says:

    Anyone notice that some Christians go on and on about religious freedom, but when it come to the freedom of other religions or denominations, they soon change their tune.

    Why don’t they just say what they mean: “If you don’t believe in my God, you’re going to Hell”

    Come on Christians, say it. You know you want to!

  28. Alison says:

    @ Vincent

    You entirely miss the point. You as a Christian are selective about what to obey from a book written by man, not by God, but by man. You use that as a veil for your homophobia. You need to seek forgiveness for that sin.

    “I pray that God will open your eyes to your need to of saviour and show you the wonderful power of forgiveness in the Lord Jesus Christ.” If you had read any of my posts, then you would know that I do and have always believed in God. I have no reason to seek forgiveness for my sexual orientation, because this is how God made me.

    If you had read my posts, you would have realised that I was married, and intended to stay so. I fought against things I knew all my life, I attempted to be something I simply wasn’t. My life fell apart. I will not bore you with the details, but my life became intolerable. For that part of my life I sort forgiveness and I received forgiveness. I set out to live the remainder of my life as a single woman, but the Lord ensured that my path crossed with another woman of Faith who I had known since I was still at school.

    As hard as it may be for you to accept it, there are many faiths that actually are wholly accepting of homosexual couples. Why is your Church so out of line? Particularly with the number of pedophiles that seem to make it into the ranks of the Church.

    It is a strange thing, but I still have never been able to get a simple answer: what are you afraid of? If you are not gay, then you will never experience a gay relationship, so equal rights are an irrelevance to you. The only real explanations must be that you wish to subjugate other people, or that you have intense internalised homophobia.

    I truly feel sorry for you, your repentance will need to be massive.

  29. Ben says:

    @ Alison. One quick question which may help some of us try to understand where your coming from. What exactely is your faith? I’m intrigued as you talk of a god in some capacity as well as forgiveness yet evidently you discredit the Bible

  30. Alison says:

    @Ben

    Simple, I describe myself as a Christian and one that considered studying Theology, but realised the truth before it was too late. I have spent a long time trying to understand what the Bible is and why it was created. Understanding that it was created by man as a tool of control did not damage my faith, merely reinforced a belief in God over man.

    Reality is that there is a massive difference between a belief in God and belief in the Church. My belief is in God, but despite protestations that I am wrong in saying this, other religious people on here have a belief in the Church and not in God. The Church is a man made institution, God is not. the Bible was created by man to justify the intolerance embedded in the Church. God is a God of love and not of hatred.

    Try and find one word of love posted by the religious faction on this thread

  31. Ben says:

    @ Alison

    I have not got time to reply in depth now (busy day today) but will try to reply to some of your points later in the week if I get time. Any particular points you would like me to focus on?

    The one point I will make now is one I made earlier. The message of God being what it is as told us in His revealed word the Bible, how then is telling people the truth unloving? Surely it is by far the more unloving to not tell people and let them perish in their sins? Do you really think we like telling people they are going to hell? Far from it. I would much rather be able to tell people that everythings ok, however that would not be true and therefore painful as it is we have to be faithful to the word of God the Bible

  32. Alison says:

    The lack of love is demonstrated by the refusal to even listen: in youreyes there is only one way and there can be no compromise.that is a lack of love. Try truly listening to real people.

    And my final word: LEARN WHAT THE BIBLE REALLY IS.

  33. Ben says:

    @ Alison

    I’m sorry Alison but I still fail to see how refusing to compromise on absolute truth is lacking in love. There are such things as absolutes, right and wrong and the word of God is the foundational authority. Also please be aware that because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean I haven’t been listening to what you have said. I certainly have tried to respond to the questions/points you made though short of writing a weighty tome you can’t respond to everything.

    The Bible is the word of God. Once I used to hate God and His Bible, but through his mercy he has saved me. May the same one day be said of you.

  34. Alison says:

    Oh dear Ben,

    I feel so sorry for you. You have been so badly indoctrinated, that you cannot see fundamental truths. I have provided you with so very much information, and yet you cannot truly challenge it.

    You claim your bible must be obeyed, and yet you do not follow all the rules in that book.

    There is no hope for you, and the forgiveness you may seek will never be yours. The Bible was written by mortal man. Pure and simple. If only you would be honest with yourself, then you would see the truth. Belief in God is true, but you do not believe in God, but in a man made creation pretending to be god.

    Stop worshipping man and worship God. It is your only Hope.

  35. Ben says:

    @ Alison

    It does rather seem our debate hinges on the authority of scripture. I believe wholeheartedly it is the word of God, you quite clearly don’t. If you would be so kind as to lay out for us exactely why you don’t believe it to be the word of God and I will respond laying out why I believe it is the word of God.

    My next question is a very important one. We are all sinners, I am, you are, every human is. How then can you (according to your beliefs) be accepted, justified and know forgiveness from a holy god? In your beliefs who is in charge, god or Alison? does Alison submit to gods authority or does god submit to Alisons authority?

  36. Glenys says:

    Hi Paula,

    “You gave me the impression that one can choose ones sexual orientation as you said you did. I am sorry if i misinterpreted what you said. For you, that indicates you might be B in LGB&T. Nothing wrong with that.”

    My words were: “I do have choice over my sexual preference. How far back in my life the choice goes is irrelevant. I can change the choice any time, either to the opposite, or to abstinence. I think the same is true for most people.”

    Anyone who is physically able to can change their choice of sexual preference. It’s like any other decision: either you do it that way or you don’t. The reasons why may vary from person to person. But it is still a choice, and abstinence is as much a choice as any other.

    I am neither L, nor G, nor B, nor T. How curious that your thinking I might be one such should bring forth an apology. Did it really change your perception of everything I’d posted before that much?

    You may – or may not :) – be intrigued by this Bible verse: Isaiah 56:3-5 Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

    This is quite specifically addressed to a group of people, difficult to define with today’s terminology, but from the context defined as “men who could be trusted in a ruler’s harem” – so men who were either emasculate or effeminate, and who could not of themselves have children.

    The key phrase here is the one that applies to any other human choice or behaviour – regardless of the reason why you have it: “choose the things that please me”.

    It pleases Him when we choose what is in keeping with His directives. He has never rescinded the criteria that marriage is one-man-one-woman-for-life, and any other pairing is not acceptable. The sole exception allowed is that divorce is permissible when and only when the other spouse has comitted adultery. This does not mean that a person has to live with an abusive partner, they can separate for a time to get help.

    In this respect – as in many others – LGBT misses the point again. Just because you also have a sin which directly contravenes the purpose of Creation, this is not the only reason why you are just as condemned as everyone else is. Every human being has thousands of incidents across their lives, because we are all born as sinners. We are all born into this condemnation.

    People who argue that God is love, and saying that He would condemn people to hell is misrepresenting Him and His Bible are unquestionably confused about the reason why He is love: He is love because He sacrificed the Lord Jesus to rescue the entire human race after it condemned itself. We chose to disobey Him. He did not force us to disobey Him.

    God is a God of Justice. Without that justice He couldn’t have shown us His love :)

  37. Paula says:

    @ Paula

    “You gave me the impression that one can choose ones sexual orientation as you said you did. I am sorry if i misinterpreted what you said. For you, that indicates you might be B in LGB&T. Nothing wrong with that.”

    @ Glenys

    My words were: “I do have choice over my sexual preference. How far back in my life the choice goes is irrelevant. I can change the choice any time, either to the opposite, or to abstinence. I think the same is true for most people.”

    Paula – True for most people???

    I do not believe that it is (apart from the abstention option). I believe that you are in a minority here. If what you say is generally the case, I do not think that a sizable part of the population would risk being rejected by family and be subject to discrimination and physical assault. They would surely ‘opt’ for heterosexuality (and ‘cis-genderedness’) if they actually had a choice?

    You have no idea of the hell that I have been through for over 50 years trying not to do anything about my transsexuality. The only choice I have made on sexual orientation is to abstain as both my spouse and I are heterosexual. females.

    @ Glenys

    I am neither L, nor G, nor B, nor T. How curious that your thinking I might be one such should bring forth an apology. Did it really change your perception of everything I’d posted before that much?

    Paula – I apologised already that I had misinterpreted what you had said but you did say quite specifically that you could choose your sexual preference. I could not possibly offer an apology for interpreting what you said as being ‘B’ in LGB&T. This would imply that there was something negative about being bisexual. You have to learn that being gay/lesbian/bisexual and / or transgender is part of the spectrum of ‘normal’. It is the way folk are born and for you to seek to impose religious dogma, on such folk, is plain wrong.

    We are the way we are, based on the way we were born. You are so wrong that we choose to be the way we are. Be very clear, it is not a lifestyle choice. Indeed, religion is (totally) a lifestyle choice but nobody is interfering with your right to have such views. I want the basic rights that you and most already have. I do not think that the State should force me to divorce to get such basic rights. That is precisely why equal marriage must be instigated. You can’t stop same sex marriage as folk like me are already in one.

    I am not sure there is any middle ground to share and that disappoints me. It should be live and let live.

    I hope your husband continues to do well.

  38. [...] It’s an issue that is being effectively pushed by Lib Dem Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone, whose views on the topic you can read here. [...]

  39. James says:

    Thank you, Lynne, for all your hard work on this. This is something to be so, so proud of.

    Britain will be a better country for it and you have played an integral role in bringing the legislation through.

  40. Glenys says:

    Dear Paula,

    I’m sorry for the delayed reply, we’ve had quite a lot on.

    I agree with you that I am in a minority in your world. Equally, you are in a minority in mine. Mine is based on an understanding of what human biology is intended to be, regardless of genetics having caused problems for individuals.

    I am not seeking to dismiss those problems, or to trivialise them. I am sorry that I gave that impression, as I have valued our conversation. As I said before, you have helped me to understand a very real problem, which Christians do need to face and understand. But whether like myself you believe in less than 10,000 years of human biology, or whether you believe in hundreds of thousands/millions years (depending whose guess you read) of human biology, there is inescapably only one choice for the continuation of the human race.

    I had never come across the term cisgender before. I looked it up and found this discussion: http://aelphabawest.wordpress.com/2009/05/20/on-the-term-cisgendered/

    Evidently there is as much furore going on inside LGBT (should that be LGBTQ+ ?) as outside of it.

    I am told that civil partnerships have exactly the same legal rights as marriage. Marriage being only between a man and a woman, then your marriage does need to change to a lifelong committed civil partnership. Commitment is not at doubt, equal legal rights are not at doubt. Definition is the issue. Marriage is for opposite genders. Civil partnerships are for same genders.

    Whatever ‘world’ anyone reading this lives in, however, it is a world made by God, belonging to God, and ultimately, we are all answerable to God. We may not like the circumstances of our individual lives, but there are still ways to be able to live them by “keep(ing) my sabbaths, and choos(ing) the things that please me, and tak(ing) hold of my covenant”. Isaiah 56:4.

    I have had – and still have – to make significant baseline changes in my life. The same is true for every person who asks for Christ to be their substitute to God. What I have to change might well be laughable to you. Before I became Christian I had broken all Ten Commandments. After I chose to become Christian I broke all Ten again, by intention if not by actual achievement. I am no different than any other person just because I am Christian: I still sin every day. But by Christ’s sacrifice, I can go to God and ask for forgiveness, and learn (painfully slowly because of my own stubbornness) how not to sin that way. Stacked up against the total number of lies, swearwords, immoral thoughts, rages, and jealousies… sexual preference either inside or outside of myself barely even makes the scales tremble.

    Based on what you have told me about yourself, I say there is a happiness available for you and your spouse in this world of God’s. It’s whether you would consider it with an open mind that makes the difference.

    My husband is doing amazingly well. His most significant trigger will be faced next Tuesday, and I am very proud of him for handling it as well as he is.

    I will remember you before my Lord often, Paula. I hope one day to meet you in front of Him too.

    Regards
    Glenys

  41. [...] It’s an issue that is being effectively pushed by Lib Dem Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone, whose views on the topic you can read here. [...]

Website terms of use

Published and promoted by and on behalf of Liberal Democrats, 62 High Street, Hornsey, N8 7NX.

Site produced by Puffbox in association with Harrisment.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.