Thursday, 11 January 2007

Christians: "Get Over It and Get On With It"

It is not very often that I find myself agreeing with religous people. I was all the more surprised this morning while listening to Thought for the Day on Radio4 to find myself not only nodding but even quietly clapping at what the Rev. Joel Edwards, the general director of the Evangelical Alliance, was saying.

On their website, the Evangelical Alliance is calling the Regulations a "threat" but while "strongly support[ing] the right of concerned Christians to protest outside Parliament, the Alliance is not convinced that in the present case this type of response is necessarily the best way to express their understandable and real concerns about the threat posed by the regulations."

On the whole the Alliance seems quite happy with the regulations and only expresses concern that the wording of the regulations is too open too interpretation and might make the doctrinal exemption unworkable. They are not asking for further exemptions or a repeal of the regulations. This is I think the position or something very close to the position held by the vast majority of Christians.

The huge amount of media coverage given to the controversy around the Sexual Orientation Regulations made me forget that the 2000 or so people who attended the protest in Westminster the other day are nothing but a tiny, blinkered minority whose faith is both atrophied and calcified.

Rev. Edwards' basic message this morning was that "Christian rights and freedoms are not as important as serving people." Reminding people of the story of the Good Samaritan. That is to say, you might not like the regulations but they are not that bad after all and in any case you have better, more important things to do. Get over it and get on with it.

Here is the full text of the programme:
Jesus had very little to say about sex. Paul on the other hand said quite a lot about it. And by the 4th century, Augustine - arguably the most important Christian theologian of all times - was so tormented by his own sexuality and guilt that his own Confessions would have made front page in any tabloid.

Anybody who thinks that the Christian Church is preoccupied with morality and human sexuality can be forgiven for one very good reason: it's because we are!

But then so is the gay lobby. In fact I think in the sex-obsession war, gay and lesbian people win hands down.

So when the Government introduces a piece of legislation called the Sexual Orientation Regulations no one should be surprised if the headlines paint a picture of an all-out war between the leading contenders in the sexuality debate.

But this debate is about a lot more than sex and sexuality. It's a conflagration of competing rights between people of faith and the gay lobby. How will we conspire together to protect the gay community from injustice - without kicking Christian conscience to touch? And the government which applauds itself on its own equality track record is uncertain precisely how to referee this democratic competition.

Frankly on both sides of the argument the stakes are high.

Christians are anxious about losing power and influence. They're worried about losing the freedom to believe. But they're also worried about something else: losing the freedom to serve. Because there's a lot more to Christian faith than sex.

Serving is the thing.

In the New Testament Jesus told the classic story of the Good Samaritan in which a Samaritan found a battered Jewish enemy by the roadside. Rather than walking on the other side, the Samaritan risked his own life to rescue and find accommodation for him - presumably in an enemy Samaritan inn. Remarkably the inn-keeper said 'yes' and the Samaritan left his enemy having paid his hospital bill in advance.

In finding justice for the gay community the Government has a serious obligation to respond to the sensibilities and real fears of the faith communities.

Undermining faith is not just bad politics; it's an act of social vandalism.

But if they don't Christians will still serve. For that is what Jesus would do. For Christian rights and freedoms are not as important as serving people.
Christians should not stop to serve because Jesus would not. This should be food for thought for those bishop of the Anglican Church (like The Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali) who threatened to do just that in order to try and blackmail the government to rescind the regulations.

Where I stopped nodding and clapping is when Mr Edwards said that the "Gay Lobby" thinks more about sex than fundamentalist Christians. Yes, gay people do think about sex but certainly not in the obsessive way so Christians do. And certainly don't go on about it in the public arena, unlike Lord Tebbit, for example, who never misses an opportunity to mention sodomy, even within the most inconguous contexts.

Unlike some Christian people, gay people are not talking about sex when asking for those regulations. They are talking about respect, equality and tolerance. It is about treating people as individuals equal to other individuals not as hated stereotypes or second class citizens. Things that those Christians are quite happy to have for themselves but are obivously not so keen to share with others.

In the event, I think that, although for some people this controversy is really about homophobia, for a great number of prominent Christians, this is about lose of power and influence. They simply can not accept the fact that after about 2000 years of moulding society and ruling people's lives in all impunity, other outlooks on life have come to the fore and asserted themselves as vilid alternatives to their philosophy. They can not be content with getting on with their own lives, the way they want without the chance to impose their ways on other people.

The world is moving on but these people are still content to follow verbatim an often contradictory book written thousands of years ago for different people, mores and times. Others are thankfully living with their own time.

Further reading:
* Faith groups are misrepresenting sexual equality rules, say critics, Ekklesia.
* Anti-gay rights activists do not represent most religious opinion, say critics, Ekklesia.

Previous Posts:
* Further "Christian" Attacks
* Sexual Orientation Regulations - The Demo
* Anti-Freedom Demo Today Outside Parliament
* Sexual Orientation Regulations, Letter To Ruth Kelly
* Sexual Orientation Regulations, The Saga Continues
* Anti-Gay Christians Strike Again - Part 2
* Anti-Gay Christians Strike Again

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately I believe there faith is making them blind to the fact that they are “not” helping themselves.

    When those suicide bombers blew themselves up, killing a load of people in London they did it because there brothers and sisters were/are suffering (As they see it) because of western Christian values imposed upon them (like the Crusades) and that’s why hardly any Muslims were at the demonstration, because they are quietly smiling to themselves with regards to the way the Christians are being treated. If I was an MP I would treat the Gay community far better than I have done in the passed because that could bring an end to the war.

    And very recently some government ministers have shown sign’s of surprising gay friendliness.

    Queer West


Please leave your comment here. Note that comments are moderated and only those in French or in English will be published. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and to leave a thought.