As Ireland gears up in 2011 for the first Civil Partnership ceremonies, here is a very good post and discussion from a civil and sharp blog that I’ve only just started reading – Daniel Kirk’s (of Fuller Seminary) Storied Theology.
Here’s a key bit from what he says:
To my fellow Christians: when we try to make society after the image of the Bible as we read it, we become perpetrators of the injustice, impression, and baptizing of cultural status-quo that Jesus came to root out, free us from, and transform. The fight over legalized gay partnerships is but the latest in a long string of episodes where we have failed to bring to the “other” the freedom and justice we believe God wants for all people.
Or, if that language sounds too loosy goosy to you, try this. We have refused, in our fights for “religious ethics in society,” to love our neighbor as ourselves, we have not yet learned to “do unto the other what we would have done to us.”
I’ve just written an article on evangelicals and civil partnerships in Ireland and come down pretty much where Daniel Kirk is – that Christians are in a new post-Christendom context that requires much thought on what battles should be engaged in. And in this case, rather than ‘fighting’ to hold onto or impose our beliefs on others, it is the wisest (and most Christian) option to contribute to constructing a society that can embrace an inclusive form of genuine pluralism. It is ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ sort of question.
The law gives a framework for how we choose to live our lives in a plural and secular democracy, it is not to be confused with a tool to defend or ‘restore’ Christian morality to the nation.
The comments in Kirk’s post capture the tensions and real questions – no-one is saying that it is an easy or obvious issue. I appreciate the real concerns of those who take a different view.
One side is asking: Are we to expend most of our energy on defending the legal remnants of Christendom? Will such a defence in the courts even be possible anyway? When Christians do fight such battles, do they end up as the oppressors, too often justifying the (unjust) status quo?
Others respond: Is it not Christian’s duty to be salt and light? Is gay marriage detrimental for society and should be resisted? Has not Christendom brought much good that should be preserved? Is Kirk’s view (and mine) a weak retreat from the public square in the face of aggressive tactics from an increasingly antagonistic secularist legislature?
Have a read and make up your own mind – well worth it. This stuff ain’t going away any time soon.