Some time ago I came to a decision on the Marriage Equality question. As a straight man and a religious Christian I have always known that gay rights are human rights; voting Yes in the upcoming Marriage Equality referendum was a no-brainer for me. The decision that I came to, as a member of the heterosexual majority and as a leader within a traditionally conservative faith community, was that I would come out and go public with my support for Marriage Equality; helping other Christians to understand that our support and our solidarity is not a betrayal but rather an affirmation of our faith.
Christians are naturally conservative and, in the main, deeply traditional, and neither of these things are necessarily bad for society nor are they always obstacles in the way of progress. Change for its own sake has all too frequently harmed society and hurt people. So too has a complete unwillingness to change. Tradition and conservativism, when working healthily, have always been forces of balance; providing ballast through times of change. As this debate has progressed in Ireland the Christian communities have become increasingly engaged in the discussion, and they have landed on every part of the spectrum of public opinion. Voices in support of a Yes vote have indeed been met with anger and certain forms of violence (so far non-physical thankfully), but this mustn’t deter us in the least. It means that we are doing something right.
Poetry in motion (@TheScarletElf) April 10, 2015
I don’t understand why this Christian response felt the need to inform the Taoiseach, Amnesty International, the UN, and the Pope of my ‘un-Christian’ opinions, but what I do understand is the fear behind the outburst. Many Christians; Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, and the rest (with respect), over Ireland are afraid of this change. Yes, generations of institutionalised bigotry within the Church against LGBT people have made hatred and violence possible, and it has left many, otherwise good Christians, confused on this question. Confusion leads naturally to fear, and fear – sadly – bears the ugly fruit of anger and even violence.
What can be done? Well, the situation is far from hopeless. Fear and anger are at least responses, and as such should be seen sympathetically as first steps. Christianity was born into violent persecution, and even today around the world Christians are persecuted for their faith. Christians understand persecution, and we understand the need for solidarity and education in order to overcome difficulties. Our goal then is to bring the confused and the fearful to a place of understanding where solidarity can begin. We are working for the same thing, only we don’t all know that yet.