Friday, June 13, 2008

Good on you Mrs Robinson!

The Christian Institute reports, Tuesday, 10 June 2008
"There is a “witch hunt” against Christians who declare their beliefs on homosexual practice, says the Ulster MP reported to police for expressing the Bible’s teaching on sexual ethics.

Iris Robinson, DUP MP for Strangford, used the biblical term “abomination” to describe the practice of homosexuality on a radio programme last Friday. A complaint was made to the police.

Last night Mrs Robinson, wife of First Minister Peter Robinson, told the BBC: “I am defending the word of God.

“I think at the moment there is a witch hunt to curb or actually stop or prevent Christians speaking out and I make no apology for what I said because it’s the word of God.”

Mrs Robinson pointed out that her criticism was directed at the practice of homosexuality, rather than homosexuals themselves.

“I was very careful in saying that I have nothing against any homosexual,” she said. “I love them; that is what the Lord tells me, to love the sinner and not the sin.”

The complaint to police against Iris Robinson is the latest in a series of attempts to prevent Christians from expressing their orthodox beliefs on homosexuality.

Roman Catholic adoption agencies that have existed for many years, successfully finding loving homes for children, face closure because they won’t place children with homosexual couples. One agency in Westminister is fighting the matter.

A Christian registrar in Islington is facing the sack because of her religious beliefs on marriage. An employment tribunal will decide later this month whether she is being discriminated against.

A few weeks ago homosexual campaigners said they wanted the Earl of Devon’s castle to be slapped with a huge inheritance tax bill because he won’t allow civil partnership ceremonies to take place there.

In 2003 the Anglican Bishop of Chester who was investigated by police because he gave an interview to his local paper pointing to research showing that some homosexuals had changed to heterosexuality.

In 2005 Police questioned the family-values campaigner, Lynette Burrows, after she expressed the view on BBC Radio 5 Live that homosexual men may not be suitable for raising children.

In 2006 Sir Iqbal Sacranie, then head of the Muslim Council of Britain, was investigated by police after he said on BBC Radio 4’s PM Programme that the practice of homosexuality is not acceptable.

None of these investigations resulted in any charges.

In December 2006 Lancashire police settled out of court with a pensioner couple who had been investigated by officers because they criticised their local council’s ‘gay rights’ policy.

The police admitted their actions were wrong and changed their policies to take more account of religious liberty and free speech."

6 comments:

Mark, London said...

I followed a link to your blog and was intrigued. You seem a reasonable fellow and are of course entitled to your views, which you state clearly and without 'side', which I applaud.

I wonder how you might respond to the oft-cited argument about homosexuality and the Bible that in crusading against tolerance and equal rights for gay people, and using the Bible in justification for condemnation, you are in fact picking and choosing the bits of the Bible that you wish, in order to support your argument and ignoring bits that might indicate that taking the Bible literally as the word of God leads you into contradictory and morally-questionable territory (such as, for instance, various passages in Exodus and Leviticus that clearly condone slavery, that blasphemy should be punishable by stoning to death (Leviticus), that shellfish is an 'abomination' (Leviticus again) and so on...)

My mother, who is a practising Christian, has been accepting and loving of me, her gay son, and my partners (when I have them).

Her view is that God would not have created homosexuality if He did not think it served a purpose. Her belief is that it is not a choice (who, after all, she quite rightly says, would choose to be bullied, abused and discriminated against) and she takes a very dim view of Mrs Robinson's arguments.

Her view, further, is that taking parts of the Bible literally in order to underpin discrimination brings the whole of the Christian church into disrepute.

In fact, I wonder if you had come across the study by Italian scientists of some tens of thousands of familes which found that the daughters of families with a gay male in them were more fertile than others (sounds like a divine purpose going on there to me...)

I respect Christians' right to believe what they like about any subject, as long as their behaviour does not infringe upon the personal liberties of others, and the matter of treating all men (and women) as equals under the law.

Muslims and Christians alike need to remember that while being gay is not a choice (if you doubt that, let me tell you about the first, often miserable 23 years of my life), anyone can choose to become a Muslim or a Christian at any time or indeed to leave either faith.

I respect your right to believe what you want. But I believe to argue that you should be protected by the law for choosing to preach hatred against anyone is standing on very dodgy moral ground.

Graham Weeks said...

Thank you for the kind remarks. You write, "you are in fact picking and choosing the bits of the Bible that you wish, in order to support your argument and ignoring bits that might indicate that taking the Bible literally as the word of God leads you into contradictory and morally-questionable territory (such as, for instance, various passages in Exodus and Leviticus that clearly condone slavery, that blasphemy should be punishable by stoning to death (Leviticus), that shellfish is an 'abomination' (Leviticus again) and so on...)"

With respect all your above examples are from the Hebrew Scriptures and should be addressed to a Jewish objector to homosexuality, not me. The New Testament condemns homosexual acts. It does not condemn any food, execute blasphemers nor condone slavery.

All people are equal before the law. Not all acts are.

As to Christians and Muslims having a choice but not homosexuals, I deny it. Christians yes. Muslims will tell you they are born Muslim and the penalty for apostasy is death, a rather stark choice. Whether the homosexual has made a conscious choice is not germane to my argument. I would never condemn the orientation per se, only the outworking in homosexual acts. We are all born sinners. What our particular sinful proclivities varies but none of them are to be excused because we were born that way. We are all born fallen creatures in need of redemption. The Christian gospel offers hope for change.

I am not preaching hatred of people but God's condemnation of sin.

Mark, London said...

Thanks for that. It was my understanding that Leviticus, while obviously part of the Hebrew Bible, was also part of the Old Testament, and hence the word of God, in the eyes of many Christians. That St Paul seems to 'revise' certain of its pronouncements on food, for instance, is, I understand, the subject of continuing debate in theological circles.

Separating the 'act' as you say, from the fact of being homosexual is somewhat spurious. You have no proof that I or any other gay man actually commit any sinful acts, as you put them. Surely, in your world-view, that sin is a private matter between the sinner and God. If I had murdered someone, for instance, but no-one knew about it, I could take that to my grave and be applauded as an upstanding member of society. God would be my judge.

Many Christians I know believe not only that being gay is fine, but that civil union (in the interests of equality) is also fine, so I do not seek to judge a group of people based on the stated views of some of them.

To claim that you - or Mrs Robinson - separate the act from the person is somewhat disingenuous. For instance, would you - or she - have a problem placing adoptive kids with a celibate gay couple? I suspect she would. I think her claim that she 'loves homosexuals' is also highly disingenous.

Personally - and I have got into trouble with some gay men over this - I do not happen to believe that gay men should create children. Personally, once again, I do not feel that this is God's/The Universe's path for me, but I would not seek to stop others doing it, nor would I preach against it. If gay men or women are looking to adopt children, perhaps from a troubled background, I would place the principles of charity and of love above any others. If something were to happen to my sister, for instance, I would be proud and consider it my duty to be Guardian to my niece. It would be a strange world, I think, where somebody else decided that I was not 'suitable' to look after her and put her in foster care or somesuch.

I have to say that I prefer the brand of Christianity that my mother chooses to follow - open, loving, merciful and compassionate - to the bitter and shrill Robinson message.

Graham Weeks said...

The New Testament writers changing the food laws is not really an ongoing debate. They did. There is no such change in the views on sexual ethics except for the change in relationship between church and state. Where the Jews enforced God's law by civil law, for example stoning adulterers, the church does not use civil sanctions.

"Separating the 'act' as you say, from the fact of being homosexual is somewhat spurious. You have no proof that I or any other gay man actually commit any sinful acts, as you put them. Surely, in your world-view, that sin is a private matter between the sinner and God."

Sin is not a private matter. from the beginning in Eden, sin had cosmic consequences. It affects the crreated order and society.

What homosexuals do in the bedroom I do not need to prove. If they are sexually active it is sin. If they are not, why are they making such a fuss?

I find the concept of " a celibate gay couple" stretches my credulity. So I would not want to have them adopting.

I trust I do not sound bitter and shrill as you judge Mrs Robinson to be.

Mark, London said...

No, you certainly don't sound bitter or shrill...this seems to me to be a reasoned debate.

I have to confess that I am curious to know why it is such a huge issue for the Christian church (threatening schism etc) as there seems to be relatively little in the Bible about it, at least according to Wikipedia (I don't know if you have seen this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bible_and_homosexuality ) and, frankly, there seem to me to be rather more important issues for the Church to get to grips with (poverty, knife-crime, alcohol and drugs etc etc)

Oddly, my partner's father is an Anglican minister; I guess i may ask him!

Graham Weeks said...

Do ask him I'd be interested to hear his answer. Mine would be that it goes to the heart of Biblical authority. Does the Bible give some time and culture transcending moral absolutes or not?