Thursday, 8 March 2012

Gay Marriage - an ex-choirboy's perspective

As an ex-choirboy I know everything there is to know about marriage.

Honestly, there's nothing that's a mystery to me.  From my point in the pews near the ceiling of the local church, I could look down upon the whole thing in much the same way one may look down on a football match from a (much more comfortable) box seat.  But while the bouncy ball of football fate may be fickle, the game of Wedding is much more easy to read.

Once, I and my be-cassocked brethren sang The Locomotion from our lofty position.  Complete with actions.  That marriage was going to do well.

Once, the bride collapsed into hysterics when asked 'Do you take this man...'.  That marriage...well...what do you think was going to happen?

But the most important thing, by far, was the way the bride and groom looked at one another.  If they looked with true love you knew that the marriage would be successful and joyful (for the most part) no matter how much Australian pop or inappropriate laughter was involved in their lives together.

So as an ex-choirboy who knows everything about marriage, it surprises me that some people think that gay marriage is wrong.  How can any marriage be wrong if it's about love?

But no, says Lord Carey, marriage is actually about these things;

Children and Tradition

OK, call me silly, but surely that means that any couples wanting to get married should first have a fertility test, right?  Only those capable of squeezing out at least five infants in the first ten years of life together should be allowed to marry, right?

Forgive my Classicist-Choirboy thought processes, but Musonius Rufus worked this out many many many many many years ago.  Marriage, he says, is not chiefly about the begetting of brats, because, you know, animals produce offspring without a ceremony and we're perfectly capable of it.  Marriage is about;

"...complete companionship and concern for each other..."

and it is destroyed when one party sets their mind entirely on what is outside of the marriage, rather than the wellbeing of their other half.

Even if it were about children, though, why should we stop infertile couples from marrying?  They could always adopt, right?  And if an infertile heterosexual couple can adopt, surely so can a gay couple?  And arguments against the ability of gay couples of raise children sort of went out of the window when this chap spoke.

So there's tradition.  Cool, I like tradition.  So which tradition do we follow?  Ancient Spartans staged a mock kidnap and shaved a woman's hair before dressing her in military attire.  I can see that going down well in the UK.  Just imagine all the enraged hair-dressers who'd be losing out on income?

Tradition's a funny argument.  For many many years in the UK there was no religious or ceremonial element to marriage and all people had to do was live together and consider themselves to belong to one another.  Traditions change.  And as any ex-choirboy knows, love trumps tradition.

And anyway, how was Kylie traditional, eh?

Then there's the argument that gay people can already become civil partners and that's as good as marriage.  OK, so if we define Lord Carey to no longer by human but just a bipedal life-form, that'll be ok then, right?  I mean it's just the same thing by another name.  He doesn't want to be human.  It's just a word.

Honestly, how anyone can make that argument without rolling their own eyes at themselves is beyond me.  Of course everyone wants to be married.  And of course using a separate terminology is going to make it second class.

Finally there's the argument that this is another of a long line of attacks on Christian values.  As a Christian I guess I should be very worried by gay marriage.  But I'm not.  I'll tell you why.

One of the examples given of previous attacks was the hotel argument.  Now, as a vaguely liberal sort, I should be appalled that someone should want to exclude certain people from their guesthouse.  I'm not, though.  I think that's fine.  What I do believe, though, is that there should be some consistency.

So you think being gay is wrong because it's "written in the bible".  Fine.  Firstly, make it plain and clear that that's what you believe.  After that point, you have a few more obligations.

There are seven deadly sins.  And this is how they relate to B&Bs.

1 - Wrath - No action films must be available on television lest the guest be allowed to get too worked up.  Likewise bills must be extremely reasonable.

2 - Greed - So no excessive luxury in the room, nothing aspirational or impressive.  We're talking monk-cell levels of accomodation.

3 - Sloth - Check-out times must be 4am or earlier and beds of nails must be rusty and barbed.

4 - Pride - The removal of mirrors, those free packets of shampoo and the little books of matches that you can pull out to say 'Oh, what these?  Oh yes, we just went away for a few days in was such a lovely little place...'

5 - Lust - So you must make sure that any guests (of whatever sex) bring with them appropriate night-time attire to discourage lustful thoughts (I suggest one of these*).

6 - Envy - All rooms must be exactly equal.

7 - Gluttony - No full-english-breakfasts can be served.

Anyone not complying to all these points should be prosecuted for hypocrasy.  Which in my Britain is a capital offence.

Really it comes down to 'He who is without sin' coupled with a bit of 'love thy neighbour' and topped off with a liberal sprinkle of 'judge not lest ye be judged'.  And I feel that applies equally well to the marriage debate.

But most importantly, God is Love.  That's the strongest message in the bible and one that should be kept at the forefront of the mind.  If people love one another, then that union has of itself something of the divine.  That means that whenever a couple fall in love, Christianity is strengthened as there's more of a divine presence on earth.  To exclude certain couples on the merits of their sexuality is to exclude God.

So sayeth the choirboy.

*although in my case, I'd be left in a likely position to break sin no.1


  1. Have you responded to the government questionnaire on gay marriage? A good opportunity to put your thoughts across I thought. I'm with you - everybody being treated equally. Also, I know quite a few gay Christians who would love nothing more than to have their union blessed by the church. That may be a while away yet, but there does seem to be an assumption by many that all those naughty gay people can't possibly be Christians too!

  2. I have indeed, thank you! Hope you and the growing bundle of joy are doing well. Hopefully talk soon.