As I enter this fracas, I humbly acknowledge that I do not speak as the authority on this topic (or, for that matter, on any of the topics that I write about). In the past few months New Zealand media have treated us to the musings of many worthy contributors well-read, well-researched, well-experienced, well-thought and well-lived. The opinions and beliefs are (might I say) as varied as the entrants in New Zealand’s Got Talent.
And still, here I am adding my voice to the mix. Because I can. Because I want to. And because, the only way that we can find a positive, life-giving direction forward is to understand the concerns, the fears, the aspirations, the hopes and the ideals that each person, on all ‘sides’ of this Bill are carrying. Understanding starts with hearing. Truly hearing and wanting to understand.
When each voice is heard, you realise that at many levels, this debate is much bigger than a Marriage Amendment Bill. This is about identity, belonging, safety, and knowing that you’re OK. It is about acceptance and forgiveness and judgement and miscommunication. It’s about being heard and understood.
I’m not saying that everyone can be right, that “what’s right for you is right for you, and what’s right for me is right for me”. I’m an absolutist. I believe in absolute truth, wrong and right. I believe that those who genuinely desires truth (and not just the experience of seeking), who continue to pursue it even when it comes in forms unsavoury or surprising, will find it.
This is where my journey has taken me so far. This is what I believe is true.
Homosexuality is not right: You’ll probably not be surprised to read that I take my measure of truth from the Bible. In my view; history, church tradition, and my own experience of life have shown the Bible to be accurate, inspired, and I believe – the word of God. The Bible is pretty clear that God made man for woman, woman for man, and sex for man and woman together. As a side note, I think that our biology also hints at this intention; the way that a man and woman fit together, the fact that it is a heterosexual union that creates children.
Maybe this sounds harsh, but let me ask you; Would you say that lying is wrong? Yet who amongst us would claim not to have chalked up a few white lies in our lifetime? Most people feel that to label a behaviour or lifestyle as ‘wrong’ is to be judgmental. To put up walls, to make someone feel less than. But we are all in the same boat. No-one has all the answers, no-one has a perfect record.
Stating a belief about a certain behaviour is just that. A statement of belief. In an article, it can seem a little cold.In the context of a relationship on would hope that it was followed by a conversation of how we both honour and love each other, even if we live different belief systems. I can acknowledge the validity of a person, even if, after listening and understanding their perspective I question the validity of their belief.
Homosexuality is not marriage: In the beginning (of most creation stories in fact) the Supreme Being creates the world, culminating in the creation of a man and woman/Earth Mother and Sky Father/Ranginui and Papatuanuku, who continue to multiply and diversify and produce offspring to populate the earth. Marriage was instituted as a covenant, initiated by God, and lived out between a man and a woman.
It’s original purpose was not to be a symbol of love and commitment, although these things flowed out of it. Marriage was a tool of creation, primarily the creation of children, reflecting the beauty and nature of the Divine Character who so carefully crafted this order. Marriage (and it’s definition) are intrinsically bound in it’s beginning.
If homosexual couples asked to abolish the use of the term ‘homosexual’ and call everyone ‘heterosexual’, I’d eat my hat, and then I’d argue that we can’t do that – because you don’t fundamentally change the definition of a term. You could come up with a new name, but you can’t call homosexuals heterosexual because they’re not. In the same way, two people: man and man, or woman and woman, no matter how much love and commitment characterises their relationship, they don’t fulfill the definition of what marriage is.
In saying this, often heterosexual marriages fall far short of fulfilling this picture of marriage. Sad, yes. But an argument for gay-marriage? I think not. It seems to make more sense to put resource and time into strengthening heterosexual marriage than to use it as an excuse to campaign for something else. If gay-marriage is to become legal, it needs to be on it’s own benefits rather than on the shortcomings of other models.
No-one has the right to judge: Enough said. I’m preaching to the choir here. However, ‘no-one has the right to judge’ does not equal ‘no-one has the right to make absolute statements’. I can say that i believe homosexuality is wrong, whilst acknowledging that I have no knowledge of each person’s background, past, childhood experiences, relationships history, personality, worldview, trauma, greatest aspirations etc. I can make a judgement call on an idea/lifestyle. It’s not my job to judge a person.
All people need to feel accepted: I find it interesting that Jesus Christ attracted tax collectors and prostitutes and repelled religious folk. Churches and church-folk (myself included) could do well to take a few pages from his book, or, you know, quite a few pages maybe. He didn’t condone or brush over lifestyles and behaviours that he acknowledged as being wrong and unhealthy, but people who were around him knew that he loved them regardless. If you’ve been burned by the Church, or bible-bashers in the past, I’m sorry. I hope you are able to see the shining love from the face of the Master behind the flaws and failings of His followers.
So, where to from here? Personally, I want to be more committed to listening. And discussing the things that really matter with people who really care. In terms of the Marriage Amendment Bill, I'm opposed because I think it falls short of achieving what proponents believe it will, and it fundamentally opposes my belief of what marriage is and should be. If anything, what the ongoing debates, the internet skirmishes, and the Facebook encounters have shown me that there are strong feelings on both sides, and people want to be heard. I also want to look for solutions. Why are so many marriages failing and what can be done about that? Why are so many young people (especially homosexual) committing suicide, and what can we do? what do I think marriage is supposed to be – I mean I have some theories, but what about the practical ‘what it actually looks like? If I want to get married one day, it’s probably a good thing to have nailed down, or at least nailed down a bit more.
Before I end, I want to acknowledge my friends; "gay", "lesbian" and "straight", who graciously allow me to shape my thoughts and sound ideas off them in the context of our friendship. I hope that my heart appears between the lines and that you are able to hear and understand what I am trying to say. Feel free to share your thoughts also - Let's have another internet discussion!
Kia whai ngā tāngata katoa i te rangatiratanga i roto i te pono - Let us pursue the truth, each and every one of us.