Tuesday, August 23, 2016

On the blessing of same-sex "marriages" - in which I make one specific point

When I was an ordinand in training, one of the cries of the doctrine department was “we distinguish!”. And indeed we must. But we must distinguish discerningly.

Conservative evangelicals are convinced from the Scriptures and tradition and reason and experience, or so we claim, that same-sex sexual relationships are wrong.

But, one might say, is there not much in such relationships to celebrate and thank God for? Must we not distinguish? As with a heterosexual relationship, could we not ask for God’s blessing on all that is good in the relationship without condoning anything that is bad?

One approach might be to reject the premise of the question and claim that there is nothing good in same-sex sexual relationships. But this will not do. Or at least not in a way. Clearly same sex sexual relationships contain much that is good: love, kindness, mutual help, faithfulness and so on. Some are wonderfully moving and inspiring examples which put many heterosexual marriages to shame.

But moral actions are not only to be evaluated piecemeal and in the abstract. They must be taken as a whole and concretely too.

We must say that all that is proper only to a marriage which is found in a same-sex sexual relationship, however laudable it would be in a marriage, is out of place and misdirected in a same sex sexual relationship.

Allow me an analogy. Now, I know this is dangerous. The headline writers just love “Vicar compares homosexual marriage to X” but I hope you will see the very specific point I want to make.

Consider a bank robbery. Is there not much in it that is good and commendable? A man wants to provide for his children. He co-operates wonderfully with his friends to whom he is politeness itself. He has the most fantastic skill as a safe-breaker. Does it make sense to celebrate those things? Yes and no. Are they goods? Or could they be goods? Yes. But they are misdirected and out of place in a bank robbery. Do they make the bank robbery good? No. Could one bless the bank robbery? I don’t think so. Not on these grounds at least.

If a case is to be made for the blessing of same-sex relationships, it is not this one.

No comments: