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The most senior Catholic Cleric has criticised Government plans for same sex marriage. Cardinal Keith O’Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland has given the most recent opinionated view on this polarising debate.
The Church of England went first last weekend with their disdain and disapproval of UK Government plans to consult on legalising same sex marriage. I’ll be honest I thought this was already legal, I mean we are in 2012.
We all know of opposite sex marriages that simply haven’t worked, ending in damaging divorce. Does this mean the institution of marriage as it is known is simply outdated and no longer fit for purpose?
The war of words and rhetoric between the state and religion is not anything new. Marriage in its weird and often clandestine journey has been a private, religious and then state matter. Now it is a bit of everything, something and nothing.
Cardinal O’Brien says that same sex marriage is set to redefine reality and “dismantle the universally understood meaning of marriage“.
Well let’s take a look at this reality that he thinks is being redefined.
You have countries where arrangements of the very young continue to be part of marriage. We have cultures where having one partner is not considered the norm.
Marriage with its chequered history has fuelled the notion of women having fewer rights. This practice continues in many cultures and not just the obvious ones that will spring to mind. “Man and Wife…” are three words I find quite objectionable.
I am not obsessively focussed on the inequality of women. I am more a get on with it Armchair Guru. However in a modern society where a woman becomes a wife while a man stays a man, even if it is because it’s just twee and how marriages were ordained is still a bit strange. However choice is choice. It wouldn’t be my choice and I know it isn’t everyone’s.
We still have countries where marriages that end leave the woman as a pariah and untouchable. Even as a widow you can be seen as tainted, your life over when your partner died. No-one wonder they felt the need to throw themselves on the funeral pyre. I suspect it was less about a broken heart and more about a destroyed life.
Cardinal O’Brien I beg to differ that there is any universal understanding of the meaning of marriage. Even in the religion that O’Brien represents marriage is extended to incorporate young girls who adorn themselves in white at their first holy communion to become a bride of Christ.
I think we can safely say that marriage has many definitions and means different things to different people too. Like religion who is to say whose version is right? Can we not start from a place that what works for you is fine and what works for me is fine too, so we start from cooperation and not a fight?
The significance of Cardinal O’Brien’s outburst isn’t so much about same sex marriages for me but more about highlighting how outdated and out of touch religion really has become. It also shows how the relationship with God has evolved, many have a relationship that is likely to be based outside of the rules and sometimes shackles of religion.
This saga certainly doesn’t endear me to Catholicism or any religion for that matter. Marx was right when he said religion was the opiate for people. It can make you a drone. It can make you closed minded.
On the other hand the quote: ‘Guns don’t kill people – people kill people’ springs to mind here as being religious doesn’t mean that you will be closed minded and preaching indirect or direct harm towards sections of society. Religion is simply a tool interpreted by the individual to justify their beliefs. Maybe religion isn’t the issue but people’s misrepresentation of it!
There is however a higher probability that in the name of God much will be prejudiced and abhorred. My god is better than yours…we’ve heard that playground chant for a very long time.
Marriage isn’t about God unless you want it to be. Marriage isn’t an institution that is owned by any Church as much as any other religion cannot claim ownership or copyright over this universal choice. It certainly used to be, but those days are gone and the institution of marriage has moved on.
In the same light the State doesn’t control marriage either on its own or in partnership with the church. The biggest feature of marriage, speaking for the UK, are the people who choose to get married. Therein lays a holy trinity if ever there was one, the church, the state and the people.
What Cardinal O’Brien shares is the opinion of his religion and sadly it creates harm and division. You can’t be gay and Catholic or gay and Church of England either. Ostracising some whose choices you don’t agree with is bullying and dressing it up with religion is so passé.
Lord Carey said of the same: “an act of cultural and theological vandalism”. Harsh words also but for both it’s their choice and for that I accept their words but am not moved by them to influence me. The right to speak is equal but we must learn to speak of choice, cooperation and harmlessness. Just because you don’t agree doesn’t make anyone wrong.
Same sex marriage is not against religion but it appears religion is against same sex marriage.
From a Spiritual perspective, which is not organised religion, being harmless is a basic tenet of being human. Living without the need to control and coerce others to your way of thinking is also a basic fundamental aspect of community cohesion and good community development.
Is it your business or mine who gets married to who? No, is the short answer. The law provides space for all types of union for those who choose to create their lives with others as a way of protecting all concerned under the morals of law and not religion. But even the state cannot get too heavily into the business of marriage.
Marriage as a choice is something that is best left between those who choose to do it. If marrying someone who is the same or the opposite sex is your choice, then that is simply what it is. On this occasion good on the Government in helping protect those who are in unions that are classed as marriage.
It is time to live in tolerance and time for religion to modernise and stop being stuck in the muddle ages! Or to quote Ben Summerskill – Chief Executive of gay, lesbian and bisexual charity Stonewall: “Our strong advice to anyone who disagrees with same-sex marriage is not to get married to someone of the same sex.” I suspect this will be the case and my advice is make marriage a union of love. If religion wants to judge your love, let them and don’t get sucked into the fight with them, just be part of the wave of change!”
If churches don’t want to welcome same sex marriage then boo hoo to them as my understanding of God, naïve and unacademic as it maybe is that God doesn’t judge only man does, God simply loves.