Wednesday, 6 February 2013


The following is my response to a tweet of someone I follow: Fiona Hanley @GreenClouds4. I have posted her original tweet first, followed by my response.

#equalmarriage Nobody's arguing that the bible is a complex document, that there are contradictions, that it has some daft stuff (killing infants etc) anyone with a lick of sense ignores. It was authored through centuries of oral tradition, and translated through several dead languages. So some confusion about what exactly was meant in what instance is understandable. Much more likely Jesus was discriminating against the one way street practice of patriarchal polygamy than against gay couples when he said marriage was between a man and woman. We just don't know. However for the prevention of doubt and given the complexity of what went before Him, Jesus had two laws. And He said "All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." No wriggle room, no exceptions, no qualifications, no room for misunderstanding whatsoever. One of these laws was "Love your neighbour as yourself." So there is no "Separate but equal" (the clue is in the 'but'). Civil partnership is not marriage, it is less than marriage. Don't forget when equal marriage passes into law, the Church of England will still maintain that some people's love may be sanctified in the House of God and some people's may not. This is in direct violation of a very simple, beautiful and stern law Jesus was at pains to point out is inviolate. I hope some day Christian opponents of marriage equality will change their minds and in the meantime it behoves them to consider the above before lobbying politicians that some people's right to love is less equal than others.

Before I respond, I would like to state that there are two arguments against same sex marriage – SSM (as opposed to equal marriage as no one is advocating un-equal marriage, certainly not the churches). One is based on the religious argument while the other is based on reason flowing from human nature, understanding and experience. However, because you specifically argued the religious (Christian) position, the focus of my response shall solely be the Christian position, which for avoidance of doubt, is unequivocal and not subject to doubt. I will address your points using the same sequence employed by you.

Number 1: Sacred Scriptures does not contradict itself. As Christians (Catholics specifically) we share a common believe that God either inspired the writings and/or writers of the pages of the Sacred Scriptures. So whether it’s a cultural legend, poem, historical narrative or account, vision, prophecy, letters, e.t.c, whatever the intention of the autograph (by the original writer / author) of the pages of Sacred Scriptures. Once it has been canonically established by the church that these particular writings has been inspired by God; collectively as put together, they tell us God’s word. Therefore, though Sacred Scriptures has several authors, there is only one primary author, God. If this is correct, the autograph of the pages of Sacred Scriptures did not err or misrepresent God’s message as He the Primary Author inspired the writings and/or the writers and since God cannot contradict Himself, it is safe to conclude that Sacred Scriptures, put down as intended in the autographs, all of whom/which were inspired by God, has no contradictions. This is what all Catholics Believe.

Number 2: If the position above is accepted, the critical challenge now is interpretation of these pages. Now, for it to be accurate and hence reveal God’s intention, it must take into consideration the context in which it was written, what the writers intended while writing and the type of writing it is (cultural legend, poem, historical narrative or account, vision, prophecy, letters, e.t.c).  Therefore a couple of things should be noted, First special care is taken, in the process of interpreting sacred scriptures. It is to this end that Pope Leo XIII urged correct hermeneutical methods should be employed in adequately interpreting these sacred texts.  In doing this he was affirming the solemn definition and confirmation of the councils of Trent, Florence and Vatican I. Secondly, the interpretation of Sacred Scriptures cannot be effective without the aid of Sacred Tradition (the Gospel which was put under the care of the Apostles by Christ himself and who in their own part and by their Oral preaching, way of life, observance and liturgy handed them on the Bishops their successor to preserve). By implication, correct interpretation of Scriptures cannot be done without the aid of Sacred Tradition. To this end, the works and examples of early church Fathers (those who were followers of the Apostles and/or followers of their followers) together with the works of biblical scholars, exegetes and theologians who in rendering their service to the church play a crucial role to scriptural interpretation. Since Christ entrusted his Holy Apostles with the task of preserving and passing on, unadulterated, his word and since the Apostles in turn handed on that responsibility to their successors, the Bishops, it behoves that the authentic interpretation on matters as related to faith and morals and as contained in Scared Scriptures or Tradition lies definitively with the Magisterium (the College of Bishops with the Pope as the visible sign of their unity) of the Church. This has been the belief of the Church and was reaffirmed by VATICAN II. This is what all Catholics Believe.
Note: The teaching of the Magisterium of the Church on Same Sex Marriage is a matter of public record and is unequivocal.

Number 3: I would like to move on to your interpretation of the relevant passages of scriptures. You said
‘Much more likely Jesus was discriminating against the one way street practice of patriarchal polygamy than against gay couples when he said marriage was between a man and a woman’.  We just don’t know.’
Ok, giving that Jesus Christ explicitly stated that Marriage should be an indissoluble union between a Man and a Woman (his wife) and this account is clearly reported by the writers of the Gospels attributed to at least Mathew, Mark and Luke, what can the rest of scriptures tell about Christ’s view on SSM? Focusing squarely on Paul’s writing (without considering all other texts both old and new which unequivocally condemns homosexual acts, to which makes it impossible to consummate a union of two people of the same sex). Paul, that tireless worker of Christ and Apostle to the Gentiles, explicitly condemns homosexual acts in strong terms in his letters to the Romans, to the Church in Corinth, to his companion, Timothy when exhorting him, under the inspiration and instruction of Christ. In using such strong adjectives, Paul confirmed what other scriptural writers had already made clear on God’s condemnation of such acts.

Number 4: The question of Love. When Christ was reaffirming the teachings of the 10 commandments to love God with all our hearts and minds and to love our neighbor as ourselves, was he talking about marital love or the need to be charitable to one another including our enemies. It would in fact have been highly inconsistent and contradictory of Christ to have been speaking of marital love in that instant and yet condemn polygamy. That would have been a direct affront against the 6th and to some extent the 10th commandment. What kind of Love was he talking about? It could be argued that during his time the understanding of Marriage could have tilted more towards propagation of generation and family life. It is therefore unlikely that Christ would have also made room for SSM when teaching to love our neighbors as ourselves’. Not to forget to ‘love our enemies as well’.

Putting all these in consideration, it is very surprising to maintain that Christian Morality as taught does not concretely condemn SSM.

Special Note: No Catholic is allowed under the guise of his faith to condemn, discriminate, abuse, insult, assault, torture, persecute or attack people who are inclined to have Same Sex attraction. The church absolutely forbids and condemns such acts. There is clearly a distinction between condemning Homosexual acts and attacking People with same sex inclination.

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