Saturday, January 26, 2013

Same-sex marriage: the battle intensifies

David Cameron and Nick Clegg appear determined to push through legislation redefining marriage in order to allow same-sex marriage. ("David just won't be told," the Prime Minister's mother, Mary Cameron, is reported as saying.)

The bill outlining the change had its first reading on Thursday and was published yesterday. MPs will have a debate and vote on it for the first time on Tuesday, February 5.

The Government says there will be adequate protection for religious bodies who do not want to hold same-sex marriages and for teachers who do not want to teach homosexual marriage as part of sex education. Opponents deny this; they say such protection or lack of it will be in the hands of European judges, who have already shown that people with a conscientious objection to homosexual marriage can lose their jobs.

It is not certain that the bill will be passed. Considerable numbers of MPs say they are ready to vote against it, and if the House of Commons passes it, it is said to be likely to have a hard time in the Lords.

Christians say marriage has been between one man and one woman throughout history, and is the basis of a stable society. They suggest the proposed change will not give homosexuals rights they do not already have with civil partnerships, and will have the effect of destroying traditional marriage.

It is remarkable how Christians came together to fight the proposed change. They quickly formed the Coalition for Marriage, which organised a petition that gained a record-breaking 600,000 signatures, which the Government is now trying to ignore.

Organisations including the Christian Institute, CARE, Christian Concern and the Christian Medical Fellowship have now called a national day of prayer on the issue for Sunday, February 3 - a week tomorrow. Suggested prayer topics can be seen here. Voice for Justice UK says that although the Government will place all its resources behind the bill, the result is not yet sure. "If something is right, it remains worth fighting for."

The organisations continue to ask people to write to their MP, asking him or her to vote against the bill. A CARE briefing, Twelve compelling reasons for rejecting same-sex marriage, can be downloaded here.

The World Prayer Centre in Birmingham calls the bill "an attack on the social and spiritual life of our nation." It points out that the following prayer has been said every day that Parliament has been in session since the 17th century:

Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her Government, to members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of Your Spirit.

May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals; but laying aside all private interests and prejudices, keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind.

So may Your Kingdom come and Your name be hallowed.