Marriage (Same Sex Couples)
Memorandum submitted by Ryan Burton King (MB 53)
1. To the House of Commons Public Bill Committee,
2. My name is Ryan King. I am in my early twenties, live in the London Borough of Haringey, and am completing a BA (Hons.) course of study with the University of the Highlands and Islands by full-time distance learning. I am an active participant in local action groups and am the assistant p astor of Grace Baptist Church in Wood Green. In summary, I oppose the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill on the grounds of nature, Scripture, religious liberty, protection of the divine institutions of marriage and family, the welfare of ch ildren, the perpetuation of humanity , and the prosperity of the nation.
3. The proposed legislation will effectively redefine ‘marriage’ and make it legally available to same sex couples. As a keen observer of t his debate, I was present for the second reading of t he Bill on Tuesday, 13 February 2013 until the motion was made to adjourn. Most of the arguments in support of the Bill were reactive to the varying positions of its opponents, and little was said by way of attempting to make a substantive case for the Bill. In light of some of the arguments made on the day, I would like to make the following observations.
4. It seems that some of the Members of the House are confusing the life-long commitment of being in a marriage with having a wedding , and the idea of love with the institution of marriage . This confusion is not in any way helpful. Is love really the only proper guide for who should and shouldn’t be married? If so, then the government should not prohibit any form of sexual union, regardless of current taboos and how obscene or perverted it has previously been deemed. The incestuous relationship of Patrick and Susan Stübing of Germany is a case in point (‘ Brother and sister fight Germany ’s incest laws’ , The Guardian , 27 February 2007). We are told that the siblings ‘fell in love’ and at the time of the article’s publication, had four children together. It is the fair and legitimate concern of many, including myself, that legalizing same-sex marriage on the grounds of ‘love’ will be one step closer to allowing other unions not acceptable under this country’s laws.
5. Opening the institution of marriage to s ame sex couples was compared to abolishing slavery. On several occasions, the Bill was equated with the Civil Rights movement with references to Rosa Parks and quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. sprinkling the dialogue. As a student of history with a great interest in the Civil Rights movement , I must say that this lowered the level of the debate by insinuating that the Bill’s honourable opponents are to be compared with white supremacists and racist bigots . To quote Lord Brennan QC ( "Eight Centuries of Law Obliterated over Night", The Telegraph , 13 March 2012 ) ,
‘ The exchange of views and argument should be frank yet reasoned and reasonable, for secular bigotry today is as unacceptable as religious zealotry was in the past. We must recognise that marriage has established historical, sociological and religious foundations. Such statutes as affect it are designed primarily to regulate its legal consequences. Such a heritage cannot sensibly be equated to the denial of equality or to the practice of discrimination. Marriage is surely not the mere provision of goods and services by its participants, or churches or ceremonies that solemnise it. ’
Not only do we see a lack of civility, but a lack of knowledge.
6. Firstly, no one (at least of a respectable and responsible nature) is denying the full and total humanity of gay people, who are, with everyone else in the world, made in the image of God. The enslavement of Africans was just this: it was built off of lies (springing from gross misinterpretation of Scripture, might I add, of the biblical word ‘slavery’ and the context in which it is used ; one has only to read 1 Timothy 1:10 for a biblical approach to this atrocity), hatred, and the deluded notion that black people are basically sub-human beasts of burden. Slavery went against nature, by imprisoning those who ought to be free and treating them as animals. Marriage as the union of one man and one woman, an institution given by God from creation, is the opposite of this: it is wholly natural, created not only for pleasure but for the propagation of the human race (although in a fallen world, this is not always physically possible). Taking a relationship that absolutely can not achieve the intentions of the Creator, nor seeks to fulfil the productive possibilities of biological science and calling it ‘marriage’ for emotional, sentimental, and subjective reasons, is, in fact the unnatural thing to do. It is therefore nonsense to claim, as did one MP, that denying marriage to gays is like forbidding inter-racial marriage. Inter-racial marriage is the union of a man and woman , who may, if able, naturally produce offspring and is therefore w holly natural. Gay ‘marriage’ is none of these things.
7. Secondly: the Civil Rights movement was a broad-sweeping campaign by people suffering under (or identifying with those who suffered under) an extension of slavery: racial segregation. The belief that humanity is divided into different races primarily distinguished externally by the pigmentation of one’s skin is one of the most blasphemous ideas to enter into the heart of man, for in it the very pinnacle of God’s creation - the reflection of His own image and likeness – is torn to pieces and scattered across an idolatrous pyramid chart of colour-based classification. The resulting hate-filled behavioural standards of subjugation, segregation, and discrimination without a shadow of a doubt rank among the most vile and despicable atrocities committed on the face of the earth. In its most prevalent form, historically and in the present day, it has been revealed in the way in which white people have treated and at times still continue to treat black people. It has no place in the body of Christ, as it does not demonstrate unity with His sinless mind and sanctified members nor does it display his selfless walk and sacrificial love. Those in whom any trace of it is found are like people who with their tongue ‘bless our Lord and Father, and with it…curse people who are made in the likeness of God’ (James 3:9). Martin Luther King’s dream was about overcoming something that was unnatural, not embracing the unnatural; in King’s only recorded reference to homosexuality, he speaks of it as a ‘problem’ and points to a ‘solution’ and his own daughter, Bernice King is well known for saying, ‘ I know deep down in my sanctified soul that he did not take a bullet for same-sex unions. ’ Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, founder and president of The Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny told the Christian Post ( ) , ‘ Nothing indicates that he would think homosexuality is from God, normal and something that we should take on as right…He wouldn't tell us to hate homosexuals, but to show them how to overcome sin.’ Quite different from the picture painted by some MPs. Saying a Divine i nstitution should not be open to human interpretation is quite an opposite matter from racism. Again, while they are different things, thi s proposed legislation with its accompanying philosophy and the slavery and segregation that once plagued the West are the same in one area: they are unnatural.
8. Arguments were also made on the grounds of what Jesus would have done in the situation. Presumably Members of the House who generally take little interest in Jesus’ words felt compelled to do this given the constitutional status of the land as ‘Christian.’ It was indicated quite strongly by some, that Jesus would have taken the side of the Bill. Unfortunately for these Members, Jesus does not, in fact, take sides. He is a side. And if indeed they wish to know where Jesus stood, so they may stand with him, they must move beyond their woefully inadequate interpretations of the Golden Rule and the Great Commandment. Was the Golden Rule (Matt. 7:12) not a part of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), and does not this sermon, far from reducing sexual ethics to me rely transitory cultural taboos, set the standard even higher ? ‘ Yo u have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery." But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart’ (Matt. 5 :27-28). But the argument is raised that this relates to unfaithfulness of any kind, and Jesus surely would have no problems allowing the marriage of a committed, loving couple whatever their gender. Why then does Jesus always speak of marriage in the context of one man and one woman? There were practices of polygamy in his human ancestry – even King David took many wives (his behaviour is historically recorded, not practically endorsed), but Jesus gives us monogamy. There was homosexuality in his day , but Jesus gives us one man and one woman. Jesus would likely ask proponents of this legislation, ‘ Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, " Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall bec ome one flesh"?’ (Matthew 19:4-5).
This is Jesus’ definition of marriage.
9. It is insufficient to quote only Jesus on the matter. Most of the New Testament letters are written by the Apostle Paul. Paul is well known for writing a beautiful chapter on love (1 Corinthians 13) that is often quoted at weddings. Everyone remembers: ‘If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…’(1 Cor. 13:3-5). But Paul is not saying that whatever qualms a person may initially have, love ultimately views everything as acceptable. The next verse (v.6) reads ‘it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.’ Within the same letter, Paul speaks plainly when he deals with a situation involving a man and his father’s wife (likely his stepmother) who were having a sexual relationship. They likely said it was ‘love’, but Paul says it is wrong. Fleshing out God-honouring principles of sexual behaviour, Paul refuses to rejoice in any wrongdoing and sternly asks, ‘ Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom’ (1 Cor. 6:9-10) . But Paul is very familiar with the love about which he later writes, and notes the forgiveness and transformational power that it holds: ‘ And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God ’ (1 Cor. 6:11). It must also be said that in 1 Corinthians 7, he outlines principles for marriage specifically, and there is no way that one can legitimately infer that he leaves the institution open to everyone who is loving and committed: it is obvious in the text itself, and in its context, that marriage is only between a man and a woman.
10. Hopefully having clarified and defended the biblical and orthodox Christian view of marriage, the essence of which is shared by the majority of people belonging to all manner of different beliefs and faith systems, I would now note other problems with the Bill. The first of these is religious liberty, a foundational component to any truly free society. I am aware of various ‘locks’ that have been placed on the Established Church, excluding it from conducting gay marriage ceremonies but what of those who in some way or other are non-conformists (of any religion)? What of para-church ministries and organizations that faithfully uphold traditional marriage? What of teachers whose consciences, shaped by religious beliefs or not, will not permit them to teach lessons advocating and promoting gay marriage? What of registrars who have held their posts for some time and cannot - again because their conscience does not allow it – oversee gay marriage ceremonies? What of anyone for that matter who publicly and in an appropriate manner voices dissent and refuses to conform to something that to them will do injury to conscience and damage society? I am aware that religious organizations are permitted not required to marry gays, but it has been acknowledged even by the Bill’s supporters that no total assurances may be given of these ‘protections’ until they are tried in court. The implication here is of course that they will be tried in court, as activists tend to make an issue of targeting groups and individuals unwilling to comply. This will undoubtedly have social and economic implications, but before such practical matters are even considered we are confronted with the potential denial of religious liberty on a vast scale in our institutions of learning, our places of work, and our houses of worship. Might I plead with you to fully consider and scrutinize the Bill, and not even risk endangering the vital liberties of a person’s faith and practice in keeping with the moral law?
11. It has been argued that opening marriage to same sex couples will actually strengthen the institution. How can this be, seeing as it opens it up to those for whom it is not intended? To argue on the basis of ‘inequality’ is foolish, as there are many laws that may be subjectively interpreted as ‘unequal’ because they legally deny something to someone. If denying something to someone makes them unequal, then are we saying that respectful and responsible young people under a certain age are unequal when the law denies them alcohol and sex? There are things that serve a place and a purpose which most definitely are not for everyone. Marriage is for a man and a woman, who are united not just for pleasure but, where possible, for posterity and the perpetuation of the human race.
12. How can the Bill be said to strengthen marriage, if it brings with it no requirement of consummation (without which a marriage may be legally voidable), and no requirement of faithfulness? The Bill provides that adultery, which is grounds for divorce, will continue to be defined as sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex. There is no offence of this manner for the proposed gay ‘marriages’, so it is clear then that divorce law will be fundamentally different in many aspects. A heterosexual couple vows to forsake all others and remain faithful to one another (tragically, this is not always upheld as it should be, but the principle remains). Gay couples do not have to make any such vow as they cannot divorce on grounds of adultery and so are not held to any standard of faithfulness. Does this not actually produce the inequalities which proponents of the Bill so dread and demonstrate core differences between heterosexual and homosexual relationships? Without faithfulness, how can we say marriage is strengthened?
13. How can the Bill be said to strengthen the institution of marriage, if it weakens that for which marriage is intended, namely family? While it has become a trend in social science studies to advocate perceived equal stability in families with same sex parents as compared to families with a father and a mother, a recent study among American children of same sex couples by Mark Regnerus in the Social Science Journal indicates otherwise. Quoting from an article by Charles C. W. Cooke for the National Review examining the study (http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/302319/gay-parenting-bad-kids-charles-c-w-cooke?pg=1):
‘Children with a parent in a same-sex relationship "underperform" in almost every category. Some of these differences may be relatively benign - whether one voted in the last presidential election, for example - but most are decidedly not. One deficit is particularly worrying: Less than 2 percent of children from intact, biological families reported experiencing sexual abuse of some nature, but that figure for children of same-sex couples is 23 percent. Similarly disturbing is that 14 percent of children from same-sex couples have spent some time in foster care, compared with around 2 percent of the American population at large. Arrest, drug experimentation, and unemployment rates were all higher among children from same-sex families.’
This, coupled with the high divorce rate among same sex couples, do not stable families, secure citizens, and a successful nation make.
14. In conclusion, I have also heard it said that we have ‘redefined’ marriage before. This is wrong – laws may have been made in relation to marriage but they never changed its essential nature as the lawful union of a man and a woman committed to each other for life. When such legislation was made, it was not redefining, or even defining marriage. It was simply recognizing it for what it is, and upholding it for the good of the nation. It is the pinnacle of arrogance for the government to presume that it has the authority and ability to alter the meaning of an institution begun at creation, not by any earthly government but by the Sovereign Lord God. How dare we attempt to change the immutable to suit the fleeting and unstable emotions of our society! It is better to be ruled by our thoughts than by our feelings, and better still than acting on what we think, to act on what we from the beginning of history actually know. Rather than a redefinition, perhaps a reaffirmation of marriage, as established by God, is in order.