Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Bonhoeffer and Williamson

I've been trying to ignore the issue of gay marriage legislation, which recently passed (easily) through New Zealand's parliament. New Zealand is the 13th country to legalise same gender marriage and the first in this part of the world.

But now it's likely to garner a bit of attention even in that part of the blogosphere  Otagosh inhabits. Over in the States biblioblogger Jim West, never a limp-wristed wilting flower when it comes to expressing an opinion on other people's bedroom behaviour, has leapt into the fray after a press report today that most churches are shying away from change. Apparently Jason Goroncy, a Dunedin Presbyterian blogger and scholar of note, is about to weigh in too.

Marriage is a funny thing, and of course, as Bonhoeffer memorably pointed out (I believe in his Ethics, it's been a long time since I cracked open that tome) predates the churches' takeover of the nuptial niceties by... well, forever. 

While some Christians supported the legislation, what was noticeable in the lead up was the fury, indeed the hatred of many within the so-called Christian lobby, directed toward those suspected of offering it support. Do they, I wonder, not have any gay and/or lesbian siblings, work colleagues, children or grandchildren? For most of us it might be a case of better to marry than to burn, citing the bachelor Apostle Paul, but for non-heterosexuals the options are all in the burning.

For most citizens the churches' views are largely irrelevant, as they are on most other social issues. Homophobia has been gradually crumbling for many years, and that's a good thing. It was only in the 1980s that homosexuality was decriminalised in this country, and I well remember a petition being placed in the foyer of St Michael's Lutheran Church in Lower Hutt that opposed even that. Lutherans in this country have, it seems to me, always been on the wrong side of social change, and that probably goes double in Australia. Perhaps that in part explains why their congregations, including St Michael's, have continued to downsize and disappear. But of course they are far from alone. Fundamentalists - whether they acknowledge themselves under that label or not - seem incapable of thinking beyond their pre-packaged proof texts, and to hell with the ethics.

Those who know me also know that I'm no fan of Maurice Williamson, a minister in the current National-led government. But to give the guy credit his speech (see the attached clip) during the parliamentary debate was simple brilliant. 


  1. Homosexuals people, the same as you and me. They couldn't change their sexual orientation if they tried (and many have). If you believe in God you'd have to say God made then that way. Being the same as you and me, they should have the same rights and privelidges as the rest of us.

    Lutherans have been on the wrong side of social change? Really? Yes, them and every other flavor of Christianity. From slavery, to torture, to despotism, to women's rights, to gay rights, over the decades and centuries the christian churches have fought against fairness with every ounce of their strength.

    Christians? Hate? You can believe that! In my long life, I've encountered no bigger haters than Christians. We need to pray for them, for they know not what they do. They think they're soooo right about everything, not realizing how obvious to outside viewers is their hypocrisy.

  2. Human sexuality is a very complex issue. There are those with orientation, and those who float back and forth between teams. Some try to seduce outside of their own group those whom they see as their "type", and others stick to within. The Gay lobby has done much to dissipate the fears of straights, but is their official stereotype accurate? Who really knows?

    Christians tend to disapprove of people who sin differently than they do. Fact is, all of us have temptations, and Christianity defines all sin as sin, whether you cheat on your taxes, or commit some sort of sexual sin.

    Here's what I worry about: This marriage issue appears to be non-threatening, however, what it does is to legitimize same sex activity. What do people do who believe in the legitimacy of heterosexuality? They look amongst the general population for partners, lovers, girlfriends, or wives, and actively attempt to pick them up. Society actively encourages this as healthy. Nobody thinks anything of someone who behaves in certain ways in the supermarket, at a bar where dancing and live music are taking place, or at the gym. After a few years of gay marriage legitimizing the homosexual lifestyle, are we suddenly going to see an explosion of same sex pick-up attempts? It could actually happen. There could be all manner of unintended consequences to this, and because of the ways in which the media has framed it, nobody is thinking it through to conclusion.

    I don't believe we should return to the days when homosexuality was classified as a mental illness, with electroshock therapy being one of the "treatments", but current trends have probably already put this issue out of control, and maybe somebody ought to be pumping the brake pedal just a bit.


  3. "All we are doing with this bill is allowing two people who love each other to have that love recognized by way of marriage. That is all we are doing."

    If that is true, then you cannot see what's wrong with or be opposed to a father and son marrying each other, or a mother and son or daughter (or all)? How about a brother and sister? (If you use the genetic argument, then remember that kin-folk can adopt just like homosexuals can.)

    No, there is but one sexuality, that is the natural sexuality that all people are born with the ability to do...to reproduce mankind. Anything outside of that is a broken sexuality that needs love and grace and support. That doesn't include churches marrying gay couples or even openly homosexual priests or ministers. Sure, some churches do it, but it grieves the Holy Spirit.

    1. No, there is but one sexuality, that is the natural sexuality that all people are born with...

      Except some people are not born with what you think of as "natural". You should have said "normal"...and isn't it so much more normal to be born female than male? So, what's your excuse? Why did you choose to be born male?

      "grieves the holy spirit" - yeah, in your imagination. You don't know any holy spirits or any other kind of spirits, so how would you know if they are grieved or not?

  4. If you can acknowledge that father/son and mother/daughter sexual relationships are just as normal as homosexual relationships, then we can discuss. They can't be more or less "normal" than any other type of sexuality if you support homosexuality. Corky fails because he doesn't fully address my comments.

    1. You're on the wrong side of history, my friend. And on the wrong side of morality. Mankind is evolving into something better. Country after country, and state after state in the U.S., are doing the right thing and changing their laws to treat homosexuals as equal citizens. Muslims, Catholics, Fundamentalist Protestants and other backward thinkers are trying to hold back this progress, as they always have in such matters, with disingenuous arguments like those you cite. Please - as Bob Dylan once wrote - please get out of the way if you can't lend a hand.

    2. The Skeptic: you also didn't answer the question of morality that father/son and mother/daughter sexual relationships are just as normal as homosexual relationships. Sorry, you fail.

    3. Sorry Mark, YOU fail. The question is a logical absurdity. The two groups are not equivalent, in fact they overlap, and one is not "just as normal" as the other. A father/son relationship would be just as wrong as a mother/son relationship for multiple reasons including cultural taboos, genetic risk, minor/major illegality and power issues. Such a relationship could be heterosexual or homosexual and would be wrong in either case.

      Obviously, the question you seem to think is so important is just a "red herring" and has NOTHING to do with homosexual/heterosexual relationships between consenting adults.