Speaking in The Newsletter today the public policy officer of the Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland (EANI) David Smyth said:
“While Saturday was a day of celebration for some, it was a concerning day for many.
“Christian opposition to same-sex marriage was never just about protecting churches. It’s always been about the wellbeing and welfare of family and communities for generations to come.
“The whole idea of “equal” marriage comes from a premise that many outrightly reject, that marriage is an inequality to be corrected.
“This change in marriage law was argued on the grounds of equality and love.
“What about ‘equal marriage’ for the bisexual person who is ‘banned’ from being able to marry both their male and female partners?”
First a definition for Mr Smyth:
bisexual (baɪˈsɛksjʊəl) adj
1. sexually attracted by both men and women from freedictionary.com
Another fact about the new marriages that came into law in England and Wales at the weekend is that there is still the point in the ceremony where anybody present knows of any lawful impediment why they cannot be married. This includes an non-dissolved marriage or civil partnership to another individual (even the one that is standing opposite them). So the current law does not allow for anybody to be married to two partners of different genders, they would be subject to the same bigamy laws that apply to heterosexual couples.What Mr Smith appears to be worried about is polyamorous relationships. Definition time:
polyamory (pä-lē-ˈa-mə-rē) noun
the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time from Merriam-Webster.com
You will notice here there is no reference to sexual orientation of the couples involved. However, there are plenty of examples of such relationships in the bible all of which are one man with two or more wives and/or concubines.
However, the one thing that does strike me from this statement is actually the line which says, “it’s always been about the wellbeing and welfare of family and
communities for generations to come.”
Now I certainly have the support of my family, whether as the gay son, brother, cousin or uncle. However, my well being is often under threat from those in the church who condemn me or them for giving that support to me. The same applies to the other LGBT people I know who have grown up and exist in or on the periphery of church life.
Now by outrightly rejecting the idea of marriage equality as the EANI are they also condemning those in the church who are LGBT to a lifetime of singleness without love, or into a marriage with someone they are not attracted to (damaging to two people long term and their family). In doing this are they also condemning love that those individuals may find how can this be good for the wellbeing and welfare of those in families that they claim they want to help.
I have been to a number of funerals in churches in recent years where one of the children of the family and their same-sex partner have been present. Some of these churches are members of the EANI, they are there to offer support to the whole family even the gay child and their partner (whether in a civil partnership or not). This is looking after those LGBT church members and those on the fringe support for their well being and welfare, yet somehow the church wants to continue to fail them day to day on the matter of love.
However, single people in the church after they reach a certain age are always getting asked by the church who and when they are going to marry. There is pressure from well meaning church members to pair up to both spinsters and bachelors at least while they are still in their 30s and 40s to pair up. Yet when you are gay and get asked are you not married yet, the fact that the true reason is because you’re not allowed to be married here, is liable to draw a mixture of reactions.
I say mixture as unlike what Mr Smyth ascertains there is not outright condemnation of marriage equality. There are people within the churches even here in Northern Ireland who feel for those LGBT people that they know in person and their inability to be treated equally in this regard.
So while it may be a concerning day for some when equal marriage was brought in throughout England and Wales:
- It is not condemned outrightly by all in Northern Irish churches
- Polygamous marriage is a separate issue and not solely a subject for bisexuality so should not be used as an argument against for monogamous same-sex marriages.
- If you are really concerned about families and their members wellbeing and welfare support equal love and let them marry the person they love, not condemn them to hatred and denial of support.
1Spalding, L. R., & Peplau, L. A. (1997). The unfaithful lover: heterosexuals’ perceptions of bisexuals and their relationships. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 611-625.